Handling Holiday Stress

By guest blogger Jim Fennel

MANCHESTER – Andy would go to holiday parties every year and see his friends and colleagues cheerfully caught up in the season. They were in good spirits, enjoying a time that many of us eagerly look forward to celebrating every year.

 Andy, however, saw it differently.

“He said he was too burnt out by then to enjoy himself,” says Rev. John J. Mahoney Jr., JCL, LCMHC, who is the Director of Clinical Services for Catholic Charities New Hampshire.

The stress of the season, such as buying gifts for family members when money is tight or being reminded of the loss of loved ones, can wear on people. People can sometimes worry so much about others that they forget about themselves.

Yearly studies by the American Psychological Association reveal that stress, often brought on by financial concerns, affect many Americans and can be heightened from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Even the lack of daylight can be depressing to some people.

Thanks to your support, Catholic Charities is able to help people deal with these issues by offering counseling at our 10 district offices. Counseling services are provided by clinical social workers and mental health counselors licensed by the state Board of Mental Health Practice.

Counseling services are designed to improve the quality of life and include helping people with a variety of personal difficulties, such as anxiety, depression, family conflicts, grief and loss, life adjustments and stress.

Rev. Mahoney says the most effective ways to handle anxiety and depression are self-care measures that include getting enough rest, eating and drinking in moderation, spending time with others, and exercising to increase an overall sense of good physical health and emotional wellbeing.

“Something as simple as calling an old friend or going out for a run or walk in the sunshine can have enormous mental-health benefits,” Rev. Mahoney says.

Turning to your faith is always beneficial.

“Taking time to focus on the spiritual dimension of the holiday season – i.e., the holy-day season – helps us to find serenity in our lives and helps us to center on the spiritual significance, the holiness, of the season,” Rev. Mahoney says. “Spirituality inspires us, gives us hope, buoys our spirits, and shifts us away from the anxiety and depression that come from the demands of the holiday season.”

The holiday season is a time for giving. Just remember that sometimes the best present is the one you give yourself.