Holiday Blues Heightened By Economic Struggles
The holidays are primarily a joyful time for most of us; however, this holiday season may be more stressful than usual for some Iowans because of their own financial problems, concerns about the economy, or the continuing recovery from the summer floods and severe weather. Sadness, fear, and anger are normal reactions to financial problems, but it's important to know how to relieve stress and when to ask for help.
"We each have different needs and different ways of coping with stress," said Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Behavioral Health Division Director Kathy Stone. "Financial worries are a source of stress for anyone, and this time of year can make that even more difficult to handle." Stone says there are things you can do to keep stress from interfering with your enjoyment of the holidays:
* Set reasonable expectations. Real life is not always like those holiday commercials on television.
* You can't do everything. Choose things that you enjoy, and take time to relax.
* Know your spending limits and stick to them.
* Choose healthy options when it comes to food and drink.
* If you have family or friends who are important to you, connect with them as best you can. Finances may mean phone calls and e-mail are better options this year than in-person visits. The important thing is to make the connection.
* Stay flexible. Don't let unexpected events or changes in your plans upset you.
Sometimes our best efforts are not enough and stress can reach an unhealthy level. Signs that it's time to ask for assistance include:
* Trouble relaxing or sleeping.
* Avoiding family and friends.
* Irritability, especially directed at others.
* Excessive drinking, or for persons in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse, thinking about drinking or using.
* Overeating or not eating enough.
* Poor work performance.
If you've begun to experience stress that interferes with your daily life, talk with someone - family, friends, or someone at your church or support group. Sometimes it's best to seek help from a professional.