The holidays often present a dizzying array of demands — cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones for other reasons, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief.

If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out friends, family members, community, religious or other social events or communities. Many may have online support groups, social media sites or virtual events.

Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

Stick to a budget. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for meal planning, shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

Take a break by yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.

Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. For more information about Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family and Community Health programs, contact Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension Agent for Family and Community Health at 903-590-2980 or email at cmjones@ag.tamu.edu. Like our Facebook page: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Smith County. Stay well and stay safe.

 
 

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