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 Freedom's Way Ministries, Inc.

    “you shall know the trut​h, and the truth shall make you free"

                                                                                         John 8:32

"Tips for coping with stress, depression and the holidays"

(mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle)

Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression

1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones for other reasons, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.


2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities.  If you're feeling stress during the holidays, try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat.  Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.


3. 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.  Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate.


4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances, 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.


5. Stick to a budget. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

  • Donate to a charity in someone's name.
  • Give homemade gifts.
  • Start a family gift exchange.

6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Shop online.  Plan your menus, make your shopping list.  And make sure to line up help for meal prep and cleanup.


7.Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.


8. Don't abandon healthy habits.  Overindulgence only adds to your stress.

Try these suggestions:

  • Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga.
  • Avoid excessive tobacco, alcohol and drug use.
  • Be aware of how information culture can produce undue stress and adjust the time you spend reading news and social media.

9. Take a breather. Find an activity you enjoy and take a break by yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include:

  • Taking a walk at night and stargazing
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Reading a book

10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling 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, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.


Take control of the holidays

Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.