The Wellness Word

November 2017

Stress, Depression, & the Holidays: Tips for Coping

Written By: The Mayo Clinic Staff

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it's no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression

When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, 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.

Reach out
. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your 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. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

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 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 you go 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.

Plan ahead
. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your 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 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.

Don't abandon healthy habits
. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions:
  • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for 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.
  • Getting a massage.
  • Reading a book.

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.

Staff Spotlight: Lynn Uhls

"About five years ago, I started walking with a colleague to get in shape. We eventually got involved in the Mag7 race series, in which I participated in 5K races most Saturdays throughout the year. Having those races on the weekends helped to keep me motivated during the weekdays. We eventually worked our way up to participating in half marathons. We have also participated in obstacle races and trail runs as well. Over this past summer, several colleagues and I tried a new fitness program, Farrell’s Extreme Body Shaping, that incorporates strength training and kickboxing. This program has helped me focus on getting my entire body to be more fit. This fitness journey over the last five years has provided me with more energy, stress relief, and a better fitness level. Doing all of this with friends and colleagues has made it more enjoyable."

Thanks for sharing, Lynn!



  • 1 cup air-popped popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon snipped dried cranberries
  • ½ ounce white baking chocolate, melted

In a small bowl combine popcorn and cranberries. Drizzle with melted white chocolate.

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Exciting News!

The Edge Spotlight: All students volunteer every Wednesday morning at Edgewood Primary School, assisting teachers in the classroom. There are currently ten students total, collectively earning 40 credits in the first term. Most students met or exceeded their goal for the term - and there was a September graduate!

Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

PE Classes of EHS: These classes just completed the 13th semiannual cardboard regatta. A big thank you to Mr. Ackerman for the action shots!

You can click on the photos to make them larger.

Ways to Stay Active During the Chilly Months

Stairs: Running or walking up and down the stairs in your house or apartment building can be a great high intensity cardio and leg workout. If you're looking for something a little more intense, you can try climbing two steps at a time, sprinting a few flights, or doing jumping jacks between floors.

Ice Skating: This is a great aerobic exercise that you can do while hanging out with your friends! If triple axels aren't your thing, try skating backwards, or skate as fast as you can for a couple meters. No matter what you do, make sure you're pumping up your heart rate!

Mall Walking: Do laps inside your local mall, while also window shopping to get some Christmas present ideas. A brisk one-hour walk can burn between 300 and 400 calories.

Active TV Viewing: Jog or skip in place while watching your favorite show. Kick it up a notch and do squats, push ups, or burpees during commercial breaks.

Events This Month!

Peter and the Starcatcher

Wednesday, Nov. 1st, 7:30pm to Saturday, Nov. 4th, 10pm

275 North Jordan Avenue

Bloomington, IN

How does an orphan boy become Peter Pan? Find out in this wildly imaginative prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy. With ingenious stagecraft, music, and magic, a small ensemble of actors plays over 100 roles in this fast moving and exciting adventure.

This event is on IU's campus in the Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center.

For more information, please visit:

The cost is $10-20, per ticket.

Salón Latino Chamber Music Series

Thursday, Nov. 9th, 8pm

200 South Jordan Avenue

Bloomington, IN

“Brazilian Contemporary Music” – Hosted by Marcos Lucas, a free event through Indiana University!

Located in Auer Hall, on the second floor of the Simon Music Center.

This is free to attend.

Bloomington Watercolor Society - Membership Exhibit

Wednesday, Nov. 1st, 9am to Tuesday, Nov. 21st, 5pm

The Vault at Gallery Mortgage

Membership Exhibit for the annual group show reflecting recent works by the Bloomington Watercolor Society. Open Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM.

Admission is free!

Canopy of Lights

Friday, Nov. 24th, 12am

100 West Kirkwood Avenue

Bloomington, IN

Join downtown businesses in celebrating the holiday season as Santa flips the switch to transform downtown Bloomington into a sparkling winter wonderland, featuring several miles of lights. Many special open houses are held in the downtown area during the Canopy of Lights celebration and the event serves as an official kick-off to the holiday season in Bloomington.

Celebrate the sparkling holiday tradition of lighting the downtown lights with Bloomington Brass Band playing holiday tunes. City and County officials as well as other special guests will be on hand to welcome Santa to the stage to light the Canopy of Lights. Costume characters, hot chocolate, holiday snacks and more will help with the festive atmosphere!

For more information, please visit:

The lighting of the Canopy of Lights time is TBA.
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