Stress and the Holidays

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past. View article sourced here

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

Donate to a charity in someone's name.

Give homemade gifts.

Start a family gift exchange.

Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

Get plenty of sleep.

Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include:

Taking a walk at night and stargazing.

Listening to soothing music.

Getting a massage.

Reading a book.

Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.


Managing Holiday Shopping and Financial Stress

The holidays are just around the corner and only the most savvy of us have everything under control. View article sourced here

• Write down the amount you want to spend in each category of holiday expenses. Gifts are only the beginning -- don't forget to account for travel costs, postage and shipping, decorating, greeting cards, entertainment and photos.

• List the people you plan to shop for under the gift category, then divide up your budget accordingly. Limit your budget to what you can afford right now and avoid a financial stress in the New Year. If you spend $500 on a credit card at 18% interest, and pay the minimum each month, it'll take you seven years -- and cost $365 in interest -- to pay it off. Consider setting a dollar limit on gifts or drawing names among extended family, roommates or co-workers.

• Jot down any gift ideas that you might have for the people on your list. Comparison-shop online before heading to the store. (Don't forget to include shipping costs in your calculations if you decide to buy online.)

A dash of planning and dab of creativity can also help you keep your entertainment costs under control:

• Invite guests to bring something to share at a potluck dinner.

• Serve brunch, throw a finger-food party or host a wine and cheese tasting instead of a full-blown turkey dinner.

• Co-host a party with a pal or sibling, and share the cost.

Make sure you set a dollar limit for your soirée. And list the items, ingredients and décor you'll need and how much each will cost.

Remember, that the best gifts don't have to cost money. If you're financially challenged this year, offer up your time babysitting, cooking meals, house cleaning, massaging, sewing, knitting, transporting, or whatever else you're good at. Clip a picture of the service you'll provide and be clear on how often, as in "I'll babysit one weekend a month from February to June." Or better yet, make your own coupon book.

Happy Ho Ho Ho!


I, Tara Maxwell, will be off for several days during the holidays. There is no one to answer your calls and emails while I am away. I will return all messages after my return. Please contact crisis services for immediate support at 705-728-5044 or contact CMHA Simcoe County's On-Duty Worker at 128 Anne St., South in Barrie or call On-Duty Worker at 705-726-5033.


Please feel free to visit the website for more information here


If someone you know is thinking and/or interested in going to talk with Canadian Mental Health Association of Simcoe County about their services. Their On-Duty location has moved.

To talk with the On-Duty Worker (Monday-Friday 9am-4pm) please call 705-726-5033.

Walk-In, without an appointment, Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.


Barrie Family Support Group

Canadian Mental Health Association of Simcoe County offers a support group designed for family members and friends of persons with a mental illness and/or substance issue. Barrie Family Support Group Date: Second Tuesday of every month (except July & August) Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm Location: 21 Bradford St., Barrie (Boardroom at Canadian Mental Health Association of Simcoe County) For more …

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Thank you to everyone who has supported Family Mental Health Initiative of Simcoe County when you dined at Boston Pizza Barrie and submitted your receipt. Check out what's on the menu, click here


Did you know? You can easily support Canadian Mental Health Association of Simcoe County's local mental health & addiction awareness campaign "Start Talking." The image below walks you through the process. You can start to make a difference by clicking here



Number of FMHI's E-Notice Subscribers: *Some organizations/companies have firewalls that are preventing the e-notice from being received to emails. You may find your personal email will allow the e-notices to open. Older E-Notices:

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If you are interested in receiving one of the kits available, please print and complete the order form and mail or fax to FMHI attention Tara Maxwell fax: 705-719-0908 

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Are you looking for other organizations and resources? Here is a list of organizations within Simcoe County, Muskoka Region, Ontario and across Canada. If you have questions regarding services from another organization, please contact them directly, thank you. 

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Crisis Service

The Simcoe County and Muskoka Addiction & Mental Health Crisis Line is for youth and adults. Crisis Services offers individualized support to assist the person in the resolution of the emotional and personal crisis. Telephone, mobile and residential crisis services are available. 705-728-5044 / 1-888-893-8333 

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Family Mental Health Initiative of Simcoe County

4 Checkley St., Barrie ON L4N 1W1

705-725-0363 / 1-800-324-3252