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Mental health during holidays is coalition focus

The Hillsdale Daily News - 12/21/2017

Dec. 21--HILLSDALE -- While the holiday season can be a time filled with joy, love and family, financial stress, busy social calendars and high expectations during this time of year can make the season less than merry and bright for many.

With mental health being of prime concern during the holidays, the Hillsdale County Suicide Prevention Coalition has teamed up with Mental Health First Aide USA in spreading the word about the focus.

The #BeTheDifference focus is Healthy Holidays, giving the coalition opportunity to share valuable information.

Coalition member Ruth Brown said taking time for self-care can make a huge difference when it comes to staying happy and healthy through the holidays.

"The main thing we want to get across to people is that 'you're not alone,'" Brown said

She noted the Coalition has successfully implemented a depression support group that has been meeting monthly at House of Refuge Church in Hillsdale for the past two years. The group meets at 4 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at the church at 123 East Carleton Road, Hillsdale.

On Jan. 11, a meeting is planned on how the focus stretches from the holidays into the new year.

"Our focus is: 'Resolve to Make a Healthy, Happy Holiday' and that goes into January," Brown said.

At a recent coalition meeting, members discussed what their favorite holiday self-care tips were.

"Some of our favorites included spending time with people who support you," Brown said. "We also talked about surrounding yourself with positivity."

Another area discussed was to set boundaries for yourself based on what you know you are able to handle. Then, let partners and family know what your boundaries are ahead of time, so that they don't expect more from you than what you can give, Brown said.

"Allowing yourself to be a blessing to others is another good one," she added. "Sometimes we may think that there are just too many concerts and parties to attend, so it would be better to stay home. It's better to keep in a routine, because you may be a blessing to someone else by going."

Brown gave the example of two men who recently attended a coalition meeting and ended up helping each other out by networking.

"If one had stayed home, then that connection wouldn't have happened," she said.

Being an encourager is another way to overcome pressure, Brown said.

"Give encouragement, love and acceptance instead of being judgmental and negative," she said.

Coalition member Marcie Nye said there is no question that many people have difficulty with the holidays.

"Sometimes the expectation of a perfect celebration trips people up, and memories of past Christmases can cause people sadness and stress," Nye said.

Some of the points she took away from the meeting are:

Taking time to be quiet and center yourself by reading inspirational literature, Bible verses, or a devotional, like "Our Daily Bread," for example. This can be very calming.

Making sure to maintain good eating and exercising habits, which can be essential to the mental as well as the physical state.

Sharing ideas about getting sufficient sleep and not overindulging in drinking, in order to avoid problems with insomnia and alcoholism.

Thinking about helping others and giving of yourself, which is a wonderful way to lift your spirits and enjoy the meaning of the season.


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