PUBLISHED: 2:47 PM on Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Reduce holiday stress, depression
Holiday stress and depression are typically linked to three things, relationships, finances and physical demands, according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic.

Relationships: Families come into contact this time of year, and tensions can occur when ongoing conflicts arise once again among family members.

The holidays can also be depressing for people who don't have family to share the holiday experience with.

Finances: Christmas presents, decorations, food, drink - it all costs. Holiday overspending happens every year in many households, and it can be the source of frustration and worry once all the gifts are unwrapped.

Physical demands: Shopping, cooking and attending gatherings can be exhausting. People's schedules get out of whack around the holidays, and routine sleep and exercise cycles are often put on hold.

Tips to reduce holiday stress:

• Acknowledge your feelings - If you feel blue because you can't spend the holidays with those who are closest to you, it's OK to express your feelings. Take some time to cry.

• Seek support - If you're feeling isolated and depressed, seek the company of family, friends or community. Consider volunteering at a local community or religious function.

• Be realistic - Traditions evolve over time as families grow, merge and move. Sometimes, age-old traditions aren't possible when families live apart. Try finding new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing photos or videos.

• Stick to a budget - Decide how much you can spend this season before you start shopping.

• Plan ahead - Set aside certain days for shopping, cooking, visiting friends and other activities. Prevent last-minute shopping for ingredients or gifts when the crowds are out.

• Learn to say no - Don't overcommit yourself. Limit which activities you'll be involved in.

• Don't drop healthy habits - Keep your sleep and exercise cycle going through the holidays. When it comes to food, indulgence is OK, but avoid a holiday feeding frenzy that you'll regret later.

• Take a breather - Make some time for yourself. Even 15 minutes of time alone can be refreshing.

• Rethink resolutions - Unrealistic resolutions can set you up for failure. Don't try to change your whole life. Instead, focus on a small, more specific goal.

• Forget about perfection - Holidays aren't always as perfect as we'd like. Accept and expect a few bumps in the road.

• Seek professional help if you need it .