Tips for coping with holiday stress

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Do you feel more stressed during the holiday season?

While this time of year can be a time of joy, many people can also find it stressful. Between family and work gatherings, holiday financial pressures and consumer overload, the holiday season can certainly take a toll. And what if you're alone at this time of togetherness?

Here are some helpful tips:

- Set realistic expectations about what you can accomplish over the holiday season. Try to establish some balance between what you do for others and what you do for yourself.

- If spending time with family is stressful for you, set limits on the amount of time you spend with them.

- Consider sharing the holiday meal preparations with friends and family to ease the load.

- Holidays can bring up feelings of loss and a sense of being alone and disconnected. If you have a friend or family member you can talk to, try to spend some time with them or connect with them on the telephone.

- Some religious organizations or groups have special services you can attend for people who are alone during the holidays. This can be a good opportunity to talk to others and meet new friends.

- The holidays can be a tempting time to overuse alcohol and other substances in order to relax. For someone with a substance use problem, this can be a particularly difficult time with all of the socializing that occurs and because our society promotes the use of substances at these times. Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can help people reduce the harms related to alcohol use.

- Volunteer. Food banks and other organizations often need help at this time of year. This is also a good way to meet new friends and help those in need.

- Give yourself permission to feel any sense of loss or emotions that can surface during the holiday season.

- Do something enjoyable for yourself. See a holiday movie or treat yourself to a new book.

If you experience distress during the holidays, please do not hesitate to contact your family doctor or visit your local hospital emergency room.

Geographic location: Canada

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