Keep the happy in your holidays

Published 12:55 am Saturday, December 12, 2015

By Chelsea Roberts

From the stunning lights displays and festive outings, to the delicious meals and much-needed time with family and friends, the holidays are a favorite time of year for many. For others who may be juggling too many invitations, desperately trying to find the perfect gift, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can be a stressful and emotionally trying time of year.

This holiday season, Andalusia Regional Hospital wants to make sure everyone in the local community has the necessary resources to keep the happy in their holidays. Here are a few simple strategies to help minimize the stress and make the most of the season.

• Set boundaries. During the holidays, we are often faced with multiple invitations to parties and events, requests for charitable donations, and even gift exchanges. One of the best ways to manage your time and your wallet is to prioritize. Keep a running list and decide which invitations matter the most to you. Remember that it is OK to say “no.”

• Take time to connect. Presents don’t have to break your wallet. Consider doing something fun with a friend, like taking a stroll through Candyland on the Court Square, Springdale on ice, or grabbing a coffee at a local coffee shop. Or, consider scheduling time with family and friends to give back to those in need. These are often the greatest gifts and most precious memories.

• Survive the season. One of the most challenging situations people can face during the holidays is celebrating the season after the death of a loved one. For those in our community facing a loss during the holidays this year, here are four tips to help you cope:

1. Create new traditions. As you plan for the holidays, realize that they won’t be the same as they were in previous years. Instead of trying to recreate past traditions, consider creating new traditions. This can help you minimize disappointment.

2. Reduce added presasures. As the holidays approach, take steps to reduce added pressures. Do not feel obligated to take on extra requests or tasks – whether from friends, family or co-workers – and consider shopping earlier.

3. Solicit support. Realize that you don’t have to do this alone. Seek comfort and support from family and friends. Chances are, they are wondering what they can do to support you during this difficult time. You might also consider reaching out to a local church group or the Covington County South Central Alabama Mental Health at 334-222-2523 to schedule a counseling appointment or you could walk in on Thursdays for first time new appointments. If you are depressed, going through a hard time, or just need to talk, this includes people who are thinking about suicide, you may contact National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which operates 24/7. In the event that you require immediate assistance, please call 911.

4. Take it one day at a time. Often, the anticipation of the holiday is worse than the actual holiday. Instead of spending the days leading up to the holiday worrying about how you will manage, find ways to keep your mind busy. Pick up a new book, try out a new hobby or take that painting class you’ve always wanted to try.

At Andalusia Regional Hospital, we care deeply about the health, happiness and well-being of our community. It is our privilege to serve as your healthcare partner, and we wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.

Chelsea Roberts, LGSW, is a patient advocate at Andalusia Regional Hospital.