Mental health professional shares ways to cope with stress, anxiety during holiday season

PITTSBURGH — For many Americans, the holiday season is full of cheer, from decorating to celebrating it’s the most wonderful time of year, but for some, it can be challenging bringing on “Holiday blues.”

While the CDC estimates that about 8% of American adults have depression, experts believe that during the holiday season, November and December, those numbers soar.

“Holiday blues are very common,” explained Dr. Channing Moreland, the Chief Operating Officer of Sanant Counseling & Wellness.

Moreland is a licensed counselor and says while the holidays may bring on cheer for many, they can also trigger stress, presenting unique challenges like anxiety.

“It could be just the hustle and bustle of just preparing for a meal, going shopping, cleaning your house, preparing for guests that can be stressful and overwhelming,” Moreland, said.

For those who have experienced loss, the holidays can be overwhelming. Experts say often people experiencing this will isolate themselves or may unfortunately become irritable at gatherings. That’s why Moreland said if you notice these behaviors in a loved one, start a conversation.

“It’s OK to say, ‘I noticed you are quiet. I notice you are sad. I noticed that this is the first year without your loved one. How are you feeling?’” Moreland said.

But, if you recognize that you are experiencing anxiety, fatigue, irritability or just feeling unlike yourself, it’s OK to ask for help.

“Delegate, delegate, delegate! Ask for help we often feel like we must do it all on our own, but asking for help can be helpful for us,” Dr. Moreland said.

Experts believe that the winter months along with the holiday season can be the most difficult; from finances to grief to stress, but clinicians suggest creative ways to cope:

Creative Coping Tools:

  • Getting outdoors / Exposure to sunlight
  • Exercising
  • Journaling
  • Maintaining normal sleep patterns regardless of your schedule

“It is so OK to not be okay,” Moreland, encouraged.

For most people the “Holiday blues” are temporary, but Dr. Moreland said if these feelings do linger, it’s okay to seek professional help, which she explained can be as simple as flipping over your insurance card or contacting your employer.

“I think one of the most underutilized benefits is if someone is employed using their Employee Assistance Program with that you typically get some free counseling support and sessions,” Dr. Moreland, said.

To contact Dr. Channing Moreland you can visit, www.sanantcw.com

If you are feeling depressed and feel like you need help, especially if you are having suicidal thoughts, you can call the suicide prevention hotline at 800-273-8255.

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