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Strategies for coping with holiday blues

Dr. Anne Gearity, a local therapist, says the holiday season is incredibly busy for people in her profession.

MINNEAPOLIS — It's the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

The holiday season isn't always merry with extra stress and other seasonal factors making it tough.

"We're so busy, but we're also encumbered by weather and we're encumbered by our hopes and dreams and disappointments," said Dr. Anne Gearity.

Gearity has a private practice as a therapist and also trains psychiatrists at the University of Minnesota. She noted this time of year is incredibly busy for people in her profession, saying for a lot of people, this time of year is paired with childhood memories.

"As children, we carry a lot of memories of good times but also yearning for it to feel good and those yearnings don't go away," said Gearity.

That, and things are often just harder in the winter. 

"It was really cold on Tuesday, and it was really cold on Wednesday, and it was icy, and things don't feel great, so we live in a Minnesota tension," said Gearity.

Then, top it all off with family elements.

"Family expectations, family hopes and family losses," said Gearity.

So, what can we do about it?

The first thing Gearity suggests: Be OK with change.

"If we're carrying family traditions that are no longer enjoyable, change them," said Gearity. "Slow down, think about what you want and prioritize."

And if you have kids, Gearity said material possessions are not what they'll remember.

"What we remember, as we grow up, is the feel. The feel of things. So, if you are raising your children, make sure to take time to create feelings together that will stick in their minds," said Gearity.

And finally, prioritize positive people. 

"What we know about stress is stress is really hard on our minds and our bodies. One of the ways to reduce stress is good company," Gearity said. "Be with people who make you feel good. And don't be with people who don't make you feel good."

For additional help, 988 is a three-digit, nationwide phone number to help people connect directly with mental health professionals through the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. It is available 24/7.

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