LINCOLN, Neb. — The “most wonderful time of the year” can be extremely stressful. But with a little planning, and positive thinking, it doesn’t have to be. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)’s Division of Behavioral Health offers practical strategies for beating the holiday blues:

• Stick to a budget: Financial pressures are one of the most common holiday stress factors. Before you shop, determine what you can afford to spend and stick to it. Enjoy holiday activities that are free, such as looking at a holiday light tour, hosting a movie night in your home, or checking out holiday books from the library.

• Manage expectations: Be aware of unrealistic expectations and worrying about how things “should” be. The holidays don’t have to be perfect to be joyful. Relationships are complicated.  Families change and grow, traditions can change as well.  

• Say no to excessive commitments: No one can do everything. Saying yes when you want to say no is a recipe for resentment.

• Reach out for support and companionship: Connect with friends and family members if you feel lonely or isolated.  Reminisce and talk about pleasant memories from past holiday celebrations.

• Volunteer: Lonely? Consider volunteering to help a neighbor or friend in need, or working a shift at a local soup kitchen to make meaningful connections.  Complete a random act of kindness.

• Celebrate responsibly: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation and do not mix it with medications. Avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events; instead, enjoy food, non-alcoholic beverages, music and pleasant company.

• Be kind to yourself: Have the courage to say no to your negative self-talk. You are doing the best you can with the holiday noise and stress.

• Build in time for yourself: Do at least one thing you enjoy every day, no matter how hectic your schedule. Get plenty of sleep. Take a walk, listen to music, or read a new book.  

• Take the season one day at a time: Focus on things you can control and accept help when it’s offered.

• Eat healthily and drink plenty of water: Sensible meals and keeping hydrated will help stabilize your energy levels.  Have a healthy snack before holiday gatherings so that you don’t overindulge. Enjoy holiday treats in moderation.

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed, there is help and there is hope, especially from these organizations:

• Rural Response Hotline. The service offers access to attorneys, financial advisers, mediators, clergy, behavioral health professionals and others. The hotline also provides no-cost vouchers for counseling services. Call 800-464-0258.

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line. The national network of local crisis centers provides free and confidential support to people in crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 800-273-8255. To reach the Crisis Text Line, text GO to 741741.

• Veterans Crisis Line. The service provides access to qualified responders in the Department of Veterans Affairs, many of them veterans themselves. And it’s not just for veterans — anyone can call. Call 800-273-8255 or text to 838255.

Nebraska Family Helpline. The service provides access to trained counselors, available all day, every day and night, as well as children’s behavioral, family issues and mental health referrals. Visit or call 888-866-8660.

Nebraska LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors). LOSS teams include trained professionals acting as volunteers, bringing immediate support to those who have lost a loved one to a completed suicide. Visit for a map with phone numbers of LOSS teams across Nebraska.

Boys Town National Hotline. The service provides access to specially trained counselors all day, every day, for all teens and their parents — not just boys. Call 800-448-3000. A TDD line (1-800-448-1833) also is available for speech-impaired and deaf callers.

Like these tips? Be sure to follow DHHS on Facebook and Twitter.

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