Each holiday season, people are bombarded with images of happiness. It’s the season for smiles, families, laughter and Hallmark Channel movies about people finding true love. But for many people, this doesn’t match reality. If you feel lonely during the year, that loneliness will likely intensify during the holidays. If you are grieving for a lost loved one, that can also ramp up emotions. Even people with loving families can feel stressed and worn out from the demands of the season. But how can you fight it?


1

If you are lonely or isolated, try participating in community events to meet new people.

There’s caroling in Jackson Square on Dec. 16. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival runs throughout the season. Lake Charles’ Light Up the Lake Christmas Festival begins on Nov. 30.

2

Giving your time to those less fortunate can also be an excellent way to give yourself a feeling of worth and pride while helping others.

For volunteering opportunities across the Pelican State, visit volunteerlouisiana.gov. “Find a way to reach out,” said Josh Parker, a licensed clinical social worker with West Jefferson Medical Center. “It can take your mind off your problems."

3

The Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org) emphasizes the importance of acknowledging your feelings.

If you are in mourning or lonely, it’s OK to cry or express your feelings. Non-stop happiness is not realistic. If the feelings of anxiety or depression become overwhelming, speak to a medical professional. Depression-understood.org/information/louisiana has crisis hotlines throughout Louisiana.

4

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Phyllis Shnaider, a licensed clinical social worker at Ochsner Medical Center, said, “In our world of social media, it can be difficult to avoid comparing yourself with others around the holidays.” If your family situation isn’t perfect and your social calendar isn’t full, don’t make it worse by beating yourself up over it.

5

Set limits.

Holiday stress and depression can also come from having too much to do, too many bases to cover. Parker says you should not be afraid to turn down an invite to a party if you need a night to recharge your batteries. “Do what’s going to make you happy,” Parker said. “Take a little time for yourself.”