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Stress can arise from financial strain, dealing with difficult relatives or trying to create the perfect holiday, said Michelle Martel, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.
Also, the holidays can bring up sad memories for people who have lost loved ones, she noted in a university news release.
But there are things you can do to reduce the risk of stress and mood problems during the holidays, Martel said. For starters, she suggested the following:
- Get as much sunlight as possible. Reduced exposure to light and less vitamin D from sunlight have been linked with depression. If you can't get outside, consider using a sun therapy light. Be sure you get enough vitamin D in your diet or take a multivitamin.
- Get plenty of exercise. If you can't get outdoors, try a gym or walk the halls at work or at a mall. Exercise benefits both mind and body.
- Plan stress-free family time. For example, get dinner delivered and don't feel obliged to go to every holiday get-together put on by family and friends.
If family time is stressful or you don't have family to spend time with, make plans with friends or try to get away for the holidays, Martel suggested.
If you're struggling with your mental health, get help, she advised.
"Planning ahead for addressing stress is definitely key. Sometimes the best gift you can give your family is taking care of yourself," Martel said.
-- Robert Preidt
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