The “most wonderful time of the year” can be extremely stressful. But with a little planning, and positive thinking, it doesn’t have to be. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)’s Division of Behavioral Health offers smart strategies for beating the holiday blues:
Stick to a budget: Financial pressures are one of the most common holiday stress factors. Before you shop, determine what you can afford to spend and stick to it. Enjoy holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday light tour, movie night in your home, go or check out holiday books from the library.
Manage expectations: Be aware of unrealistic expectations and worrying about how things “should” be. The holidays don’t have to be perfect to be joyful. Relationships are complicated. Families change and grow, traditions can change as well.
Say no to excessive commitments: No one can do everything. Saying yes when you want to say no is a recipe for resentment.
Reach out for support and companionship: Connect with friends and family members if you feel lonely or isolated. Reminisce and talk about pleasant memories from past holiday celebrations.
Volunteer: Lonely? Consider volunteering to help a neighbor or friend in need, or working a shift at a local soup kitchen to make meaningful connections. Complete a random act of kindness.
Celebrate responsibly: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and do not mix it with medications. Avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events; instead, enjoy food, non-alcoholic beverages, music and pleasant company.
Build in time for yourself: Do at least one thing you enjoy every day, no matter how hectic your schedule. Get plenty of sleep. Take a walk, listen to music, or read a new book.
Take the season one day at a time: Focus on things you can control and accept help when it’s offered.
Eat healthily and drink plenty of water: Sensible meals and keeping hydrated will help stabilize your energy levels. Have a healthy snack before holiday gatherings so that you don’t overindulge.
If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed, reach out to the Nebraska Family Helpline, 888-866-8660. Trained Helpline operators screen calls to assess immediate safety needs, identify the potential level of a behavioral health crisis, make recommendations or referrals to appropriate resources, and help callers connect to emergency resources or providers. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Helpline is supervised by licensed mental health professionals.