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Avoiding the Holiday Blues

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Jean Ince | Domestic Columnist

The holidays are here!
Christmas music can be
heard everywhere you go!
And there’s decorating, baking,
cooking, and shopping,
shopping, shopping to be
done! While the holidays
are supposed to be a time of
peace, joy, and love – we all
too often seem to be angry,
stressed, and blue. Why does
this happen and how can we
avoid it?
The primary reason for
holiday stress and depression
is unrealistic expectations.
From the time we are
children, we start to build up
expectations of what Christmas
should be. In the media
we see perfect images of family,
friends, food, parties, and
gifts. We expect the “Norman
Rockwell” Christmas.
What we fail to realize is
the media images are only
staged scenes. There is nothing
wrong with falling a little
short of perfection. We really
don’t have to keep up with
the Jones and our Christmas
lights do not have to outshine
every house in our
neighborhood.
To help keep your holiday
expectations reasonable, try
these ideas this year:
• Don’t judge the value
of a gift by its price tag. The
best gifts come from a sincere
desire to make a person
happy. If you give from the
heart, your gift will never be
too small.
• You don’t have to do everything
that’s asked of you.
Learn to say no if you do not
have time to do something.
Delegate responsibility to
your children and spouse.
• Share with someone less
fortunate. You don’t have
to look far to find someone
in need. Start by looking in
your neighborhood, church,
or community.
• Remember – your family
is a real family, not a TV
family. There will still be
arguments and rivalries and
criticisms among siblings
— even grown ones! You may
not be in control of other
people’s actions, but you can
certainly control your reaction
to them. Take this year
as an opportunity to learn
forgiveness and acceptance.
If all else fails, take a time out
with a sympathetic listener
and vent your frustrations.
• Remember that things
will occasionally go wrong.
Your kids will get dirty and
make noise. You will forget
to buy batteries, thaw the
turkey, or take the cookies
out of the oven. Planes will be
delayed, relatives will get tied
up with other responsibilities,
and the dog will jump on
your favorite party dress with
muddy paws. So what?! Learn
to accept these inevitable
happenings with grace and
style and humor.
• If you can’t be with the
one you love because of
divorce, military commitments,
or finances then find
a creative way to make the
holiday special. For example,
send a special videotaped
greeting to a far away relative,
or arrange to spend another
day together as “Christmas”.
Be creative! If you think about
what’s really important like
love, sharing, and togetherness,
you begin to realize December
25 is only one day out
365 that you have to spread
peace and good will.
One of the best ways to
combat holiday depression
is by participating in activities
with other people. Visit
a nursing home; go to a holiday
service at church. It’s
much harder to be depressed
when you’re doing something
worthwhile with people you
enjoy.
Don’t feed depression by
dwelling on it, but do listen respectfully
to your depressed
feelings and see if they have
an important message for
you. Maybe your depression
is calling out for a major
change in a relationship or in
your lifestyle.
To a large degree, the
thoughts we choose determine
our feelings. Count your
blessings, feed yourself spiritually,
and strive to maintain
an undaunted, positive attitude.
You want to be realistic
about your situation, but, at
the same time, look at what
you have rather than what
you don’t have.
Seeking help with depression
does not mean that you
are crazy or that something
is wrong with you. It doesn’t
mean that you can’t handle
your own problems. Getting
help when it’s needed is a sign
of strength and intelligence,
and not of weakness. Successful
people know when
to seek expert advice. In fact,
some very intelligent people
battled with depression:
Abraham Lincoln, Winston
Churchill, Vincent van Gogh,
and Emily Dickinson, to name
just a few.
Most depression is relatively
minor, but sometimes it
can be quite serious and may
have its roots in a treatable
biochemical imbalance. If you
are experiencing extreme or
extended bouts of depression,
get professional help
as soon as possible. Generally
speaking, depression
responds well to treatment,
and usually does so in a fairly
short time if treated early.
So, this holiday season,
relax and enjoy the most wonderful
time of the year so that
you can have yourself a holly,
jolly Christmas this year! For
more information on family
issues, check out our website,
www.uaex.edu and click on
Arkansas Families. There is a
wealth of information on the
website, plus the opportunity
to sign up for a weekly e-mail
tip on self-help, parenting,
and/or marriage issues. You
may also call the Howard
County Extension Service
at 870-845-7517 or visit our
office located on the second
floor of the courthouse.
Let me remind you
to check out the Howard
County Bake Sale which will
be held Friday, December 18
beginning at 9:00 a.m. in front
of Western Auto. All proceeds
will go to benefit Howard
County EHC educational programs
here in the county.
Recipe of the Week
Here is a great holiday
recipe that is sure to get
you in the Christmas mood.
This recipe was shared by
Joshua Rodgers, a 4-H member
of Teen Leaders and
Sharp Shooters. Joshua says
this is his favorite holiday
recipe.
Wassail
1 48 oz. pineapple juice
1 gallon Apple cider
6 oz. frozen, undiluted orange
juice concentrate
27 Whole cloves
8 cinnamon sticks
Put all ingredients in
a crock pot and simmer. Put
leftovers in the refrigerator
and heat one cup at a time.

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