County Dept. Of Mental Hygiene Offers Tips To Beat The Holiday Blues

MAYVILLE – Guests during the holiday season are not always welcome. Stress, anxiety, and depression along with a long list of obligations — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, can cause the holiday season to be less than joyous.

The added stress, in addition to financial commitments, physical and mental health issues, and relationship conflicts that some face can be exhausting and debilitating. For some, getting into the “holiday spirit” seems nearly impossible. Despite the demands of the season, the staff at Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene is here to help.

If someone needs someone to talk to, need a referral, or are looking for support, the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene is available. Services are designed to empower individuals in their recovery from the challenges of mental illness and addictions, with locations in both Jamestown and Dunkirk. Walk-in services and evaluations by appointment are available.. All contacts and information are confidential, and all practitioners are credentialed.

Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene has two locations. The Jamestown Office of Behavioral Health is located at 200 E. Third St. in Jamestown on the Fifth Floor, phone: 716-661-8330.

The Dunkirk Office of Behavioral Health is located at 319 Central Ave. in Dunkirk, phone: 716-363-3550.

Both clinics are open Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

With a little planning and some positive thinking, people can find peace and joy during the holidays.

Here are some tips compiled by Misty Pennington, LMSW, Program Coordinator at the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene adapted from the Mayo Clinic and to help prevent holiday stress:

Realize that some things are out of one’s control. We cannot control the weather, the traffic, or the actions of other people. When we fight against what is out of our control, we often end up feeling more miserable and stressed out. Instead of stressing about what cannot change, give permission to let go of the struggle and move forward.

Acknowledge one’s feelings. If someone close has recently died or are unavailable, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s okay to take time to cry or express feelings.

Reach out. If feeling lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering time 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. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.

Try not to compare. Squash the temptation to compare one’s self to others. Whether on social media or in person, comparing can lead to distorted perceptions and feelings of stress. Believe that one already possess all the qualities necessary to attract happiness and success and realize that the things seen on social media might not be an accurate depiction of reality.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. 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 going gift and food shopping, decide how much money one can afford to spend. Then stick to the budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Instead, try these alternatives: donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts, or start a family exchange.

Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan menus and then make a shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup. Learn to say no. Saying yes when one should say no can leave someone feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

Take care of one’s self. Self-care is a potent remedy for stress. Often, the more stressed we become, the less we take care of ourselves. Self-care is time well-invested and can prevent burn out. Spending just 15 minutes on one’s self without distractions, can really recharge someone’s batteries. Try  exercising, taking a shower or bath, drinking herbal tea, eating a balanced and healthy meal, resting/ getting a good night of sleep, spending time with a pet or friend or engaging in any other relaxing activity that brings peace. It is impossible to pour from an empty cup, so try to replenish as much as possible with healthy amounts of self-care.

Seek professional help if needed. Despite one’s best efforts, people may feel persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, please call us at Chautauqua County Behavioral Health Clinics.

If feelings are too much to overcome by one’s self or someone feels like a friend or a loved one is experiencing a difficult time and needs immediate help, the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline Number is available at 1-800-724-0461. Always, if experiencing a life threatening emergency, dial 911.

The Dunkirk Office of Behavioral Health is located at 319 Central Ave. in Dunkirk, phone: 716-363-3550.