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Tips for Managing Stress During the Holidays

Crisis hotline listeners are available to help with problems big and small this holiday season


Well, you made it through Thanksgiving – and the election. Now it's time to relax and enjoy the holidays – the decorations, the music, the good will. Right? Well, maybe not.

If you are like many people, you already are feeling stressed over the holidays – impending family gatherings, shopping for how many loved ones, friends and coworkers, decorating the house – why do those lights not work right every year?

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According to the American Psychological Association, 69 percent of people feel stressed during the holidays due to a sense of having a lack of time, 69 percent by a sense of a lack of money and 51 percent by the pressure of gift-giving. According to Think Finance, 45 percent of Americans would prefer to skip Christmas altogether.

Other general pressures offered by various sources include unrealistic expectations; family pressures; too many commitments; a lack of moderation in eating and drinking; taking on additional workloads (especially women); loneliness; and missing a loved one.

"The holiday season can pose very real dangers through stress and related health problems – even for those of us who 'love the holidays,'” said Joanne Oppelt, executive director of Caring Contact, an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community. "It's important that people know there are others out there to whom they can call for help and support."

Caring Contact has trained volunteer listeners available to help people get through holiday stress or depression. Listeners are trained to provide an empathetic and nonjudgmental ear and all calls are anonymous and confidential.

Callers can reach a caring listener by dialing 908-232-2880.

The hotline also offers the following tips for managing stress during the holidays:

  1. Have Realistic Expectations – Not everything is going to be perfect so do not expect it to be.
  2. Set Realistic Budgets – Spend only what you can afford and talk to your children about not expecting too much.
  3. Set Aside Time for Yourself – Read, exercise, go for a walk or do something else you enjoy.
  4. Say No – Do not accept every invitation or go to every function.
  5. Be With People – Surround yourself with loved ones or, if you are alone, join a club or volunteer at a charity.
  6. Eat Right – Minimize the sweets, take reasonable portions and drink no more than usual.
  7. Seek Direction – Do not feel compelled to surprise everyone with their gift – ask them what they want.
  8. Accept Help – If hosting a party or gathering, let others help.
  9. Keep Decorating Simple – Perhaps deck just one hall rather than all of them.
  10. Set aside differences – Let grievances or family squabbles lie.

“The holidays are a time of joy for many people,” said Oppelt. “But they can be very stressful for many people and even depressing for some. While we are here for people in deep emotional crisis, we are also here for people who are simply overwhelmed by the moment.

"We can help you keep the moment’s stress from building into something more problematic. A call to us when you are overwhelmed can help you release the stress and get back to enjoying the holidays.”

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. Caring Contact also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at Caring Contact should contact the agency at 908.301.1899.

About Caring Contact

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. We attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress and educate our communities about the power of personal connection. We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology. If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880. To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org.

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