Holiday Stress

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Coping with Holiday Stress:

The holiday is a time to gather with family, friends, fun, and food. Holidays can be a lot of fun or produce a lot of stress. We have to meet certain deadlines and many demands to prepare for the holiday. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the holiday may produce even more stress. Here’s few of tips for anyone who might be struggling during the holidays.

1. Plan ahead. Social situations or large crowds can be stressful for someone with PTSD, anxiety, or depression. Find out ahead of time who and how will be attending the gathering. The more information you have, the less unpredictable the situation will be for you.

2. Manage Your Time. Make a list what needs to be accomplished and make plans for addressing issues. Stick to the plan as best you can.

3. Be part of the solution. Learn problem-solving skills. They can improve your ability to cope.

4. Seek out support. Take a friend or relative whom you trust with you when you go to a social gathering or shopping. Social support through a friend, family, support group or therapist can also be useful in coping with symptoms.

5. Preparation. Practice your coping strategies that you have been learning with during group or individual therapy when you are relatively relaxed.

6. Personal Time. Take time for yourself. Get physical—Take a brisk walk or be physically active in another way. Take a ride on a bicycle, or motorcycle.

7. Positive Self Thoughts. Stress is often associated with negative, self-critical thinking. Focus your attention on positive thoughts about yourself and others.

8. Expressing yourself. Keeping your thoughts bottled up can increase stress. So speak up in respectful ways. Sharing your ideas and feelings in a polite yet assertive manner can help reduce your stress level. To the extent that you trust family members, discuss the things that may be triggers or stressful to you about the holidays. Be open and honest about what you need to enjoy the holidays.

9. Spirituality. The holidays are a time when many people place more emphasis on spirituality. Focusing on spirituality may be one way of connecting with the holiday season that is not stressful or uncomfortable for someone with PTSD, anxiety, or depression.

10. Redefine what the holidays mean. The holidays are a time for celebration, and this can happen in many different ways. Celebrate your way! For example, volunteering your time at a homeless shelter or a hospital. Giving back and helping others can be an effective way of recovering from trauma.

However you celebrate the holidays, make sure you take the time to enjoy them. These are just a few strategies that may be effective. Take a chance to come up with your own so that you enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. For example, for several years I took trips out of the country during the holidays and explored new cultures.

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

The Vet Center Call Center 1-877-WAR-VETS is an around the clock confidential call center where combat Veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life. The staff is comprised of combat Veterans from several eras as well as families members of combat Veterans.

How do you manage stress around the holidays and year round?

I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving whether at home, or wherever you may find yourself.

With Gratitude,
 Michael D. Gatson

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