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Reduce the 'Holida Blues'

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The holiday blues are caused by many factors: increased stress and fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization and the inability to be with one's family. The increased demands of shopping, parties, and the deadlines to mail packages also contribute to these feelings of tension.

People may also feel pressured to be merry by friends and co-workers. Even people who do not become depressed can develop other stress reactions during the holidays, such as headaches, excessive drinking, overeating and difficulty sleeping.

There are several ways to identify potential sources of holiday depression that can help you head off the blues:

- Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable by not trying to make the holiday "the best ever." Set realistic goals for yourself. Organize your time. Prioritize the most important activities. Be realistic about what you can or can't do.

- Don't drink too much! Excessive drinking
will only make you more depressed.

- Try volunteering some time to help others. Doing something for others can be very emotionally rewarding.

- Don't be afraid to try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a way you have not before. Start a new tradition for yourself, friends or family.

- Spend time with people who are supportive and who care about you. Reach out to make new friends if you are alone during special times. Contact someone with whom you have lost touch.

- Let go of the past. Don't be disappointed if the holidays are not like they used to be. Life brings changes. Each holiday season is different and can be enjoyed in it's own way. Don't set yourself up for sadness by thinking everything has to be just like the "good old days." Look forward to the future.

It is important to remember the "holiday blues" are temporary, usually lasting a week or two. Becoming involved can be your best defense to prevent yourself or friends from feeling the blues.