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Tips to manage stress over the holidays

by on December 07, 2016 4:57 PM

PORT MATILDA — The holidays are here, and with all the parties, shopping and festivities, it can be an exhausting time for many people. All these extra obligations and responsibilities can create feelings of stress, anxiety and depression in people, said Dr. Paul Damaske, family medicine physician at Geisinger Gray’s Woods.

“The holidays are supposed to be a time to be with family and friends and togetherness,” said Damaske. “But all this extra added pressure, the commercialism, the heightened expectations and constant busyness can be overwhelming for many. It can be a real stressful time.”

Along with the stress of the season, many people may become saddened by remembering the loss of a loved one who is no longer around to share the season with them. In this time of family celebrations, many people who have dealt with recent divorce or separation from family members may also feel that pain a little harder. All this can lead to feelings of depression and hopelessness, said Damaske.

“Feelings of loneliness can lead to depression, and so it is important for people to be aware and have a plan to keep themselves healthy over the holiday season,” he said.

If you are starting to feel stressed or sad, Damaske and Geiginger have some tips that may help.

Set realistic expectations for your holidays.

Focus on the memories of your family and friends together having fun and enjoying each other instead of trying make the perfect party or buy the perfect gift.

Give back, and give thanks.

Find a way to give back to the community, or to people that you know who may need extra help. This can give you a new perspective on the holidays and what is important.

Don’t overschedule.

You don’t have to attend every event that you are invited to. Keep some time for yourself and your immediate family.

Make a list.

With everything that needs to get done over the season, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Being organized can help keep you on track and keep stress at bay.


Don’t forget about taking care of yourself. Exercise will help you feel good about yourself and has been shown to ease stress.

Stick to a budget.

Be aware of how much you are able to spend on gifts, and stay within those parameters. Financial stress can be a big burden.

Watch your alcohol consumption.

While that drink might ease your stress at first, in the long run alcohol is a depressant and can lead to anxiety and depression.

If you feel like your stress or anxiety are becoming something that you can’t control, it is important to get help, said Damaske.

Depression can leave people feeling sad and discouraged, and may cause people to eat and sleep more or less than normal. Anxiety can cause feeling of fear, heart palpitations, a sense of loss of control, numbness or tingling in extremities and a fear of dying. If you are feeling these symptoms for the first time, or they are worsening, it is time to speak to a doctor, said Damaske.

If you are unable to get a hold of a doctor and need help immediately, call the Community Help Center at (814) 237-5855 or Centre County CanHelp at (800) 643-5432.



Vincent Corso is writer for Town&Gown and the Centre County Gazette.
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