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Managing Mental Health over the Holidays

FALLS CHURCH, Va. --

Holidays are a time when families come together to eat good food and spend quality time. They also can be a time of stress whether you are worried about having enough money, hosting the largest family get-together of the year, or traveling long distances.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is important to give yourself a break from holiday stress from time to time to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

The American Psychological Association also has helpful tips for making it through the holidays with your mental health intact.

First, even though you feel pressured to be everything to everyone, you can’t do everything alone.  Everyone will benefit from you taking some time for self-care. Your break can be as simple as taking a walk, getting a massage, or taking time to read a new book. Make sure to get a full night’s rest as often as possible. Slowing down will actually give you more energy.

You should also have realistic expectations because no holiday celebration is perfect. Use a lopsided tree or burned dinner as an opportunity to show how resilient and flexible you are. Mistakes are often what make memories. Make sure to also remind your children that holidays aren’t about expensive gifts, especially if their wish lists are outside your budget.

Remember that you are celebrating your holidays with your loved ones, and that is what makes holidays special. You don’t need elaborate decorations or gourmet food to create a cherished memory.

Finally, if you are feeling anxious, talk to your friends and family. Open and honest communication will help you figure out your feelings and find a solution for your stress. You may also want to consider seeing a psychologist or other trained mental health professional if holiday stress is getting you down.

If you have a mental health emergency go to the nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1. If you just need someone to talk to, there are crisis lines available 24/7.

TRICARE recently updated its mental health coverage and reduced many of its mental health care cost shares and copayments. For more information, go to the Getting Mental Health Care page on the TRICARE website.