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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

Avoiding Stress And Sadness This Holiday Season

J.B. Hill

The holiday season is supposed to be fun and joyous, yet for many it is one of the most difficult times of the year.  If you are alone and depressed during the holidays, how can you cope? Alcohol abuse and even suicide rates increase during the holidays. Why is this among the most depressing time of the year for so many?

Ellen Williams, administrator in behavioral health and behavioral care management at Baptist Hospital joined guest host Dan Leveton to discuss how to avoid and cope with stress and sadness this holiday season.

"It's easy to feel left out," Williams said, describing the period from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day as a "never ending get together."

"If you're part of that group or those groups, then it's easy to feel like you don't belong, and that can be sad."

The holidays can be especially hard for those who are already socially isolated or lack coping skills. Williams said there aren't usually as many admissions to her unit during the holidays, but that most who do seek services are often dealing with more acute symptoms than during the rest of the year.

There are three types of stress most associated with the holidays; financial, work, and family.

"A lot of times people have difficulty with certain dynamics or relationships, and you're more likely to be in contact with those people or close proximity maybe than other times during the year," Williams said of family stress.

One piece of advice to avoid family issues is not to use holiday gatherings as a time to "clear the air" with relatives by addressing long standing disagreements.

Staying stress free can be as easy as getting enough sleep, reserving personal time, and making plans. Not overeating or drinking to excess can also help prevent stress.

For those dealing with sadness, doing something for others through volunteering can help avoid depression.

"If you can find an organization that's passing out toys to kids, that's a real good way to lift your spirits," she said.

There are many local agencies available for counseling on mental health issues, including the Baptist Health 24-Hour Crisis Line at (904) 202-7900.

You can also find more information on mental health services on the City of Jacksonville's website.

You can follow WJCT on Twitter @WJCTJax.