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The holidays don’t have to be perfect

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POSTED December 19, 2012 5:30 p.m.


209 Health & Wellness

The holidays are right around the corner.

For some folks, the expectations of Thanksgiving, Christmas and even New Years’ may be running at an all-time high, while the bills and other personal woes continue to stockpile.

Worse yet are those having to deal with the loss of a loved one.

“The holidays are when you miss them the most,” said Carrie Lane, who is the manager of bereavement and spiritual services at the Hospice of San Joaquin.

Each year, she conducts “Coping with the Holiday” workshops at the Stockton Hospice House at 3888 Pacific Ave. The two-day workshops are held Nov. 10 and Nov. 14.

Lane noted that dealing with the holiday blues may differ from person to person. “It’s not a one size fits all,” she added.

Gone but not forgotten, Lane recommended honoring the memory of that loved one at the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table.

The Hospice does just that with the Tree of Lights – each string of LED lights represents the passing of a loved one to cancer in their respective communities – in Manteca, Tracy, Lockeford, Rio Vista and, for the first time, Ripon, to kick off the holidays.

In Manteca, the first Hospice office recently opened at 178 W. North St. near Maple Street, with new support groups starting up in January, according to Lane.

Other ways to deal with the loss of a loved one during the holidays include lighting a candle and putting up a special Christmas ornament in their memory.

“It’s always good to share those old pictures and talk about the good times,” Lane said.

Meanwhile, Psychology Today offered several suggestions on easing the burden come this time of year. In “10 Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues” by Mark Sichel (The Therapist Is In: What I know about therapy) some of tips on that list included:

• Be reasonable with your schedule. Don’t overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion as this makes people cranking, irritable and depressed.

• Organize your time based on priorities and stay the course.

• Don’t expect the holidays to be same as when you were a child.

• Change things up by volunteering to serve holiday dinner at a homeless shelter or work with the number of groups that help underprivileged or hospitalized children. No one can be depressed when involved in community service.

• Plan unstructured, low-cost fun activities such as taking a drive to see the Christmas-decorated homes or go window shopping.

• Drink in moderation. Alcohol is a depressant and, thus, can contribute to depression and anxiety.

• Make time for yourself by doing physical and wellness activities (aerobic exercises, yoga, massage, or brisk, fast walks).

In addition, the demands of the season – shopping, cooking, travel, houseguests, family reunions and office parties – coupled with overeating, overdrinking, and fatigue could affect the mood changes in a person.

Lane believes people should lower their expectations come the holidays.

“We want things to be like what we see on TV and what’s portrayed in the media. But reality is the holidays are never this fabulous Norman Rockwell painting,” she said.

Change, in this case, can be good.

“Don’t be afraid to change a tradition and make a new one,” said Lane. “For example, let someone else host the meals.

She added: “(The holidays) don’t have to be perfect.”

For those having a tough time financially, she suggested that they should express their situation to other family members.

“You might have to think outside the box,” said Lane.

Drawing names from a hat and buying a gift – those involved, for example, can jot down three items at a price to be determined on their wish list – for just that one person is one option.

For more information on coping with the holidays, call Hospice at San Joaquin at 209-957-3888 or log on to

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