Holiday stressed?

Holiday stressed?
Dr. Katy Kamkar

By: Dr. Katy Kamkar

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Holiday parties, gifts, food, family gatherings and carols - these things can bring joy to some people or stress overload to others. Dr. Katy Kamkar from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health shares some tips to help us cope through the strain of the holidays.


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  • Be realistic: Set realistic expectations about what you can accomplish over the holiday season. Try to establish some balance between what you do for others and what you do for yourself.
  • Family limits: If spending time with family is stressful for you, set limits on the amount of time you spend with them.
  • Share workload: Consider sharing the holiday meal preparations with friends and family to ease the load.
  • Connect with others: Holidays can bring up feelings of loss and a sense of being alone and disconnected. If you have a friend or family member you can talk to, try to spend some time with them or connect with them on the telephone.
  • Connect with your community: Some religious organizations or community groups have special services you can attend for people who are alone during the holidays. This can be a good opportunity to talk to others and meet new friends.
  • Know your limits: The holidays can be a tempting time to overuse alcohol and other substances in order to relax. For someone with a substance use problem, this can be a particularly difficult time with all of the socializing that occurs and because our society promotes the use of substances at these times. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has put together Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to help people reduce the harms related to alcohol use.
  • Volunteer: Food banks and other organizations often need help at this time of year. This is also a good way to meet new friends and help those in need.
  • Feel sad: Give yourself permission to feel any sense of loss or emotions that can surface during the holiday season.
  • Treat yourself: Do something enjoyable for yourself. See a holiday movie or treat yourself to a new book.
  • Free help: If you experience distress during the holidays, please do not hesitate to contact your family doctor or visit your local hospital emergency room. There are also provincial services that offer emergency support. For example, ConnexOntario operates three help lines that provide health services information for people experiencing problems with gambling, drugs or alcohol, and mental illness.

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