Coping with holiday stress - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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Coping with holiday stress

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ATLANTA -

The holidays are all about family and coming together. But if you're single, divorced or apart from loved ones, this time of year can be tricky.

Karon Ferguson, a counselor who leads support groups for people who are grieving, or divorced, says take care of yourself.

"It's best not to try to be happy based on commercials, or the media. It's difficult when you try to force yourself into thinking that's the way it should be when it's not," said Ferguson.

Ferguson is a trained counselor with the interfaith non-profit Care and Counseling Center of Georgia. She leads divorce recovery groups, and caregiver support workshops, at a local church.

Ferguson says if you've had a rough year, you will probably be feeling a lot of emotions during the holidays.

"The anger, the resentment, the sadness, the grief -- all of those things.  If you're in a divorce, of if you've lost someone, a death, or perhaps you're single and can't go home for the holidays, those emotions can be overwhelming, and they're OK," said Ferguson.

And it's also OK to practice a little self-compassion.

"Compassion means taking care of yourself. Taking time to relax. Reaching out to friends," said Ferguson.

And if the old way of celebrating no longer works, try creating your own traditions.

"Making a gratitude list.  Being grateful for what you do have.  Joining a support group," said Ferguson.

If you've got family, but are dreading the holidays because they drive you crazy in large doses, Ferguson says acceptance is the key.
   
"Accept the fact that Aunt Ethel is always going to be Aunt Ethel, and you can't change her, but you can change how you react to her," she said. "So, maybe take it in small chunks.  If you feel the tension rising then take a time out, take a walk.  Go outside for a little while."

This may be an especially good year not to talk politics, and if you're doing the hosting and pretty much all of the work, seek help.

"If you have a lot of people coming, ask for others to bring a covered dish or something," said Ferguson.

And remember, Ferguson says, just like your family the holidays don't have to be perfect to still be really, really good.

Ferguson says if you're already feeling a little stressed about the next six weeks, it might be a good time to prioritize. She suggests making a list of the things you want to do and can do and then letting go of all of the rest of the stuff you should do.

If you're worried about Thanksgiving, take a deep a breath and remember, this too shall pass.

For more information about support programs offered by the "Care and Counseling Center of Georgia," go to www.cccgeorgia.org

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