Just when you think you are looking forward to the holidays this year, it hits you. You feel overwhelmed, anxious, exhausted and stressed. You may even feel a deep sense of sadness. This is not an uncommon occurrence. The holidays can be very trying for many, sometimes stirring up old memories and bringing back many emotions. We would like to offer you some ways to help you avoid the holiday blues and make this season as merry and bright as it can be.

Don't forget to "S.E.E." This acronym stands for "Sleep regularly, Eat well and Exercise often." No matter how busy your days are, if you make time for yourself and put your health first, the rest of the chaos will seem much less overwhelming. Try not to overeat or drink too much alcohol to cope with your stress. It will only make you feel worse in the long run.

Ask for help. Whether you have far too many items on your checklist or you just need some emotional support, it is critical that you ask for help. Delegate holiday tasks to everyone involved in the holiday festivities. If you are having a difficult time with your emotions, talk to a friend or professional, or seek help from a local support group. Do not put pressure on yourself to manage everything alone.

Be realistic. The over-commercialization of the holidays can put unrealistic pressures on you to create the ultimate holiday experience for your family and yourself. Take a moment to step back and set more realistic and achievable expectations for yourself and the time you spend with family.

Make a list and check it twice. Keeping yourself organized with a list can help you manage exactly what you have left to do. Be sure to prioritize your list and reconsider anything that falls at the bottom. How important are those last remaining items to your family's holidays, anyway? Be sure to keep checking off items on your list. That sense of accomplishment can feel extremely rewarding.

Make a change. If old traditions are making your holiday too difficult, make a change. Consider traveling this holiday or starting a new tradition with friends and family.

Find humor in everything. Laughter is a powerful inoculation against depression and stress. Keep trying to find the humor in all that you do and try not to sweat the small stuff. It may seem easier said than done, but by allowing yourself the freedom to laugh, you just might find the humor in all the hustle and bustle after all.

If you are unable to shake the holiday blues this year, please call North Hills Hospital at (817) 255-1000. We can refer you to a physician who will discuss your difficulties and offer you the assistance you need. We are here to help you find a way to make these holidays not so blue after all.