The winter season is upon us, which for many means holiday celebrations filled with family and friends.

This builds anticipation for those good times. However, for others this time of year can be a reminder of lost loved ones, lack of access to family traditions or other changes which may bring about stress and anxiety. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, many people can experience feelings of anxiety or depression during the holiday season, and people who already live with a mental health condition should take extra care to tend to their overall health and wellness. A recent survey showed that 64 percent of people with a diagnosed mental illness report the holidays make their symptoms worse.

Community Hospital-Fairfax Senior Life Solutions program is an intensive outpatient group therapy program designed to meet the unique needs of older adults, over the age of 65, struggling with depression and anxiety often related to aging. They focus on helping seniors in the community navigate difficult life transitions and regain their quality of life not just during the holiday season, but year-round.

Gail Heitman, RN, said, “Holidays bring much joy to most but yet many really struggle with depression and intense loneliness during these times. Please be aware and ready to reach out with a helping hand or a listening ear for those in need.”

Below is a list of suggestions which may help counteract the holiday blues:

• Get enough sleep or rest.

• Spend time with supportive people.

• Don’t drink alcohol if you are feeling down.

• Take walks.

• Don’t isolate yourself.

• Forget perfection.

• It’s okay to say no.

• Stay within budget.

• Set reasonable expectations.

• Do something you enjoy.

• Enjoy all the wonderful food, but don’t binge.

• Invite someone who lives alone to dinner.

• Volunteer.

• Celebrate a loved one’s life by sharing positive memories.

• Forgive yourself, we all make mistakes.