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Coping skills for holiday stress

While the holiday season is often full of joy, connection and celebration, for many of us it is also a time of stress. For someone managing mental health issues, the stress can aggravate conditions and cause unwelcome struggles. Common sources of stress over the holidays include social expectations and commitments, demands on time (travel, parties, performances, etc.), the financial pressures associated with gifts and travel, and loneliness for those who aren’t able to spend this time with loved ones.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offered a host of strategies for managing your mental health during the holidays. Visit www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2017/Managing-Your-Mental-Health-During-the-Holidays for additional tips.

Key things to keep in mind include:

– Stay in therapy. Don’t cancel therapy sessions to make space for other activities.

– Mindfulness. Some mindfulness practices are particularly helpful for coping with the challenges of holiday stressors.

– Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol. There is a 20 percent overlap between people with anxiety or mood disorders and substance abuse disorders, and substances can exacerbate symptoms; instead use mindfulness techniques or other healthy coping tactics.

– Soak up the sun. Mental health benefits of spending time in nature include stress relief, better concentration, lower levels of inflammation and improved mental energy.

– Set realistic expectations. Avoid the stress and anxiety as a result of comparing yourself and/or your life to what you think “should” be by setting goals and plans that are achievable and sustainable without extreme changes all at once — think establishing an exercise routine by walking three times a week instead of vowing to do CrossFit every day.

Plumas Rural Services  increases awareness and intervention skills throughout Plumas County by delivering training workshops, including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), which offers an overview of mental health issues, how to identify those at risk and how to connect people with local resources.

MHFA specifically covers substance use disorder, seasonal depressive disorder, resources (such as therapy, support groups, health care providers, peer support) and self-help strategies (such as self-care, social connections). These trainings are provided in all parts of the county free of charge to participants.

If you find yourself in need of support during this holiday season, PRS offers many services to support your mental health. With a team of highly skilled, compassionate therapists, the agency’s Counseling & Psychological Services offer clinical therapy to help you manage your mental health needs.

PRS’ Mindful Living Services offers training on how to practice mindfulness in your daily life individually and with your family. An 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction class will be offered in the spring and private one-on-one coaching is also available. Therapeutic services can be billed to your insurance as well as offered on a private pay basis; mindfulness training is a private pay program.

For more information about MHFA trainings available, call 927-5833. Counseling & Psychological Services can be reached at 283-3960 for information on therapy or to make an appointment.

To contact Mindful Living Services, call 283-3611. Information about these services can also be accessed at www.PlumasRuralServices.org.

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