FREDERICTON (GNB) – As family and friends gather and the holiday song refers to “the most wonderful time of the year,” it is important to remember that for many, the holidays can also add to stress levels, affect mood and be challenging. This is especially true for those suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues.

Although it is easy and normal to feel overwhelmed at this time of year, the Department of Health encourages New Brunswickers to make maintaining their mental health a priority. The department notes many healthy ways to cope with issues that can seem magnified during the holidays.

Stress overload

  • Simplify. Cut your to-do list. Delegate and get help.
  • Make choices that are good for you and your family.
  • Teach others to respect your time and have realistic goals.

Grieving

  • If you are going through a period of grieving this holiday season, examine your holiday rituals and traditions. Keep only those that are enjoyable and meaningful. Create new traditions that fit your current lifestyle.
  • If stressed or lonely, reach out to others for support.

Economic hardships

  • If you are experiencing economic hardship this holiday season, avoid gift-giving frenzies.
  • Use alternative gifts such as something you can make or a card with the offer to undertake a task or chore.
  • Focus upon spending time with friends and family; your presence can be one of the greatest gifts.

Take care of yourself

  • Take time for yourself. Mental and physical recharging can reduce stress.
  • Do not overload your schedule; this puts pressure on yourself and others.
  • Release tension and clear your mind by going for a walk, exercising, listening to music, reading, or some other healthy activity that helps you unwind.

Make mental health your personal priority this holiday, and ask for help and support from family, friends and community service agencies. There are a variety of services and supports available throughout the province for adults and youth. These include:

  • Kids’ Help Phone 1-800-668-6868;
  • CHIMO helpline 1-800-667-5005;
  • Tele-Care 811;
  • Gambling Information line 1-800-461-1234; and