Dealing with holiday stress

QUAD CITIES (KWQC) – The holidays season, for some, is a time of the year to look forward to. To others, the holiday season is difficult and can cause overwhelming amounts of stress. Between buying presents, hosting family, and traveling this pressure can cause unhealthy behavior.

“People don’t sleep as well, they are burning the candle at both ends, they don’t eat as well, [and] they stop exercising,” said Vera French Mental Health Center Clinical Director, Chris McCormick.

Can holiday stress levels boil over and become dangerous? McCormick says yes.

“There possibly could be an increase in suicidal behavior if individuals are involved in intense conflicts with their families,” said McCormick.

The Clinical Director stars talking to her patients about the holiday season a few months early.

“If they are already depressed there’s a seasonal influence to that, so I start talking to people beginning in October about the upcoming winter and the holidays,” said McCormick.

But the holiday season is not the peak time during the year for these type of deaths.

“There are more suicides in the spring than there are in the winter time,” said McCormick. “April and May you have a higher peak than the holiday season.

These trends are something that Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson knows all too well.

“I can’t tell you how many people say to me, so are the holidays harder on you because of the spike in suicides,” said Gustafson.

But the coroner also explains, the holiday season is not when suicides hit their peak.

“It’s usually the spring time when suicides increase,” said Gustafson.

But, this season can serve as a reminder to remember your health during the winter.

“I think holiday stress is relevant for everyone, whether you have issues with health or substance abuse,” said Gustafson.

McCormick also told KWQC that it is important to remember that the holidays are not about the money spent or having the “perfect” holiday season.

“Dial it down take care of yourself you know,” said McCormick. “Stop trying to make everything perfect.”

In order to ease holiday stress, be mentally prepared and try not to overspend on presents. For more information regarding suicides and holiday stress click here.

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