Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping


Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression.


The following information was provided by Mayo Clinic Staff


The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it’s no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.


But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.


Tips to prevent holiday 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.


1. 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.


2. 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.


3. 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.


4. 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.


5. 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.


6. 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.


7. 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.


8. 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.


9. 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.


10. 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.


Holiday Drinking: Keep it Safe

The holiday season is officially here, so let’s keep in mind our safety during this wonderful time of the year. The following article provides great insight into holiday drinking safety and what you can do to protect you and your loved ones while enjoying your holidays! Happy Thanksgiving!


Holiday Drinking: Keep It Safe



Every holiday season, people have to deal with the increased pressures and stress that the holidays place upon most of us. Whether we’re traveling to be with family or doing our last-minute gift buying, most people feel under pressure during the holidays.

As you might suspect, the holiday season then becomes one of the most dangerous times of the year for alcohol-related accidents and death. There are several reasons for this:

  • More people drink during the holidays due to numerous parties and other festivities.
  • Many holiday drinkers don’t drink often, so they have a lower alcohol tolerance. These people often underestimate their level of impairment and sometimes even drive when they shouldn’t. When arrested for drunk driving, these people often show a relatively low blood alcohol content yet they are very intoxicated.
  • Problem drinkers and alcoholics love the holidays because there are more social occasions to drink. They say they feel more “normal” because the occasional drinkers are also more likely to abuse alcohol during this time of year. Consequently, people with alcoholism drink and drive more frequently. Unlike occasional drinkers, they have a high tolerance for alcohol and can consume large amounts before showing effects.
  • The holidays are busy and stressful. People are hurrying more than normal and winter road conditions make driving more dangerous. Add alcohol to this scenario and you have a recipe for disaster.

Avoiding Alcohol-Related Problems

You can make your holidays happier and safer by following these five simple tips for consuming alcohol in moderation throughout the season:

  1. Just say no.
    Resist the pressure to drink or serve alcohol at every social event. Just because it’s there does not require that you drink it. There is no law stating that alcohol is a necessary ingredient for holiday cheer. Don’t feel like you have to drink just because your host offers — it’s not rude to choose a non-alcoholic beverage instead.
  2. Offer nonalcoholic beverages.
    If you want to serve alcohol to your guests, offer nonalcoholic beverages as well. Make your guest feel as comfortable choosing a nonalcoholic beverage as he would choosing alcohol. You can do this by putting nonalcoholic drinks in a prominent, easily accessible place and by asking guests what they would like to drink, instead of pointing them to the bar or handing them an alcoholic drink when they arrive.
  3. Designate a driver before the party begins.
    If you or your friends are going to a party and plan to use alcohol, decide in advance who will be the designated driver. Decide that drinking and driving is not an option.
  4. Choose your number ahead of time.
    If you are going to drink, do what responsible drinkers do. Decide ahead of time how many drinks you will have and stick to it. A blood alcohol content chart can help you understand the relationship between the amount of drinks, blood alcohol content and level of impairment.
  5. Remember that alcohol is a complement, not the purpose.
    Sometimes we lose sight of a holiday celebration or party and see it as a chance or opportunity to drink socially. While it is such an opportunity, the main purpose of a party is to have fun with people you know. Drinking is always an option and optional, and it is as much as a choice as it is a responsibility. Keep this in mind throughout the night. If you find yourself going overboard, find a friend or loved one, and explain you’d like to go home. You can stop yourself before you go too far, you just need to choose to do so.

You can ensure your holiday season is a relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful one as long as you remember to drink in moderation, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Don’t become another drunk driving statistic, and try to remember the reasons people celebrate at this time of the year.

APA Reference
Edwards, D. (2006). Holiday Drinking: Keep It Safe. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from

UWRF is a Tobacco-Free Campus

UWRF wants to support a safe and healthy learning and working environment for all of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.   This is why on July 1, 2013 the UWRF campus went tobacco-free including e-cigarettes.  To learn more about the policy visit the Tobacco-Free Campus website at for more information on the policy.


Faculty, staff and students who see individuals smoking on university grounds are asked to inform these individuals politely that University policy prohibits smoking anywhere on university grounds. The following are suggested scripts to use as a helpful resource


Example Script #1:

Situation: You see a person using tobacco products on UW-River Falls’ property.

Response: “Hello. I want to make you aware that we are a tobacco-free campus. Tobacco products are prohibited on our grounds. We would appreciate if you would not use tobacco products while visiting our campus. Thank you for your cooperation.”


Example Script #2:

Question: “Where am I allowed to smoke?”

Response: “If you need to smoke or use tobacco products you will need to leave the campus. You can find a map to help you identify university property at”


 Submitted by:   Keven Syverson, Ph.D., MPH

Beware of disturbing trend: Candy laced with prescription or illicit drugs

Wisconsin Poison Center wants parents to be aware of a new trend spreading across Wisconsin that’s all trick and no treat.


Suckers and toffee are being melted down purposely and laced with crushed prescription drugs or powdered illicit drugs. In particular, stimulants such as amphetamines have been discovered in these “treats.”


The intent is to mimic an ordinary candy sucker so it’s hard to detect. Lacing candy with drugs also seems to be the latest way teens and young adults are consuming drugs secretly at parties.


Kids are consuming marijuana accidentally


Similarly, with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in some states, more kids are consuming marijuana accidentally because it’s laced in brownies, candy or cookies. Trafficking of marijuana from states where it has been legalized has led to the importation of marijuana into Wisconsin, often hidden in food products. During the past year, Wisconsin Poison Center helped manage at least eight cases of unintentional marijuana ingestion by young children.


It’s not always easy to tell if a child has ingested marijuana, especially if the source is not identified or recognized immediately. Right after ingestion, a child might appear overstimulated, but things may slow down quickly, even to the point of dangerous levels of sedation.


If you suspect any type of ingestion of hallucinogens or stimulants, call Wisconsin Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for help.

 Posted on October 21, 2013 by Meg Lesnick

Meg Lesnick- Meg Lesnick, external relations specialist, Wisconsin Poison Center


The Wisconsin Poison Center, located in Milwaukee, provides 24-hour, toll-free poison information for all individuals in Wisconsin. For any poison emergency, call (800) 222-1222

September is National Recovery Month

The following facts are from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Behavioral Health is Essential to Health…

  • In 2012, 43.7 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older (18.6 percent of adults) had a mental illness in the past year.
  • In 2012, 34.1 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older (14.5 percent of adults) reported receiving mental health services in the past year.
  • Among adults aged 18 or older in 2012, 9.6 million (4.1 percent of adults) had serious mental illness in the past year.
  • Among the 43.7 million adults aged 18 or older with any mental illness in 2012, 17.9 million (41 percent of adults) received mental health services in the past year.  Among the 9.6 million adults with serious mental illness in 2012, 6 million (62.9 percent of adults) received mental health services in the past year.
  • In 2010, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people aged 25 to 34,  and the total number of suicides and alcohol- and drug-induced deaths is greater than deaths caused by traffic accidents, HIV/AIDS, and breast cancer combined.
  • In 2012, 22.2 million people aged 12 or older were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year.
  • In 2012, 20.6 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem, but did not receive treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.
  • In 2012, 8.4 million U.S. adults reported having co-occurring disorders, meaning they have both a mental and a substance use disorder.

Individuals with mental illnesses have increased risk for a number of physical health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and smoking.   Half of all lifetime cases of mental and substance use disorders begin by age 14 and three-fourths by age 24. 

Prevention Works, Treatment is Effective, and People Recover…

  • The first symptoms typically precede a mental and/or substance use disorder by two to four years, offering a window of opportunity to intervene early and often.
  • Early treatment for mental illnesses can help delinquent adolescents avoid violent futures.
  • Scientific research shows that treatment can help patients addicted to drugs stop using, avoid relapse, and successfully recover their lives.
  • Approximately three-quarters of Americans believe that recovery is possible from addiction to substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and marijuana.
  • Two-thirds of Americans believe that treatment and support can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives.

Groups Who Can Make a Difference…

Faith Leaders:

  • About 36.5 percent of clergy preach a sermon on substance use disorders more than once a year.
  • In 2012, 30.4 percent of youths aged 12 to 17 reported they had attended religious services 25 or more times in the past year; 74.4 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that religious beliefs are a very important part of their lives; and 33.7 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that it is important for their friends to share their religious beliefs.

Youth (ages 12-17) and Young Adults (ages 18-25):

  • In 2012, there were about 2.9 million people aged 12 or older who used an illicit drug for the first time, and more than half of these initiates were younger than age 18.
  • The percentage of young adults 18 to 25 (6.8 percent) who have a co-occurring disorder was the highest among adults age 18 and older.
  • Studies have shown that children with poor academic performance and inappropriate social behavior at ages 7 to 9 are more likely to be involved with substance abuse by age 14 or 15.

First Responders:

  • In the United States, there are approximately 794,300 police officers and detectives,  more than 1.1 million firefighters operating in more than 30,000 fire departments,  and approximately 226,000 EMTs and paramedics.
  • In the United States, 18.9 percent of men and 15.2 percent of women in the United States reported a lifetime experience of a natural disaster.   The effects of a natural disaster can cause mental illnesses, most frequently post-traumatic stress disorder, followed by depression, and then other anxiety disorders.


  • Untreated mental and substance use disorders are costly for states, which can lead to increased spending in various settings, such as hospitals, correctional facilities, schools, and homeless shelters.
  • Research shows that for every $1.00 invested in prevention and early treatment programs, $2.00 to $10.00 could be saved in health costs, criminal and juvenile justice costs, educational costs, and lost productivity.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:  Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-47, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4805. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, p. 1.

Tailgating can be fun AND safe!

Tailgating is a great way to get together with friends and other fans before a game to show your team spirit. However, it can also be a challenging environment to monitor alcohol use.

If you are planning on hosting or participating in a tailgating party, don’t forget to use our safe tailgating tips to make sure everyone stays safe, healthy and happy this football season:

  • Never serve alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age. Separate coolers with adult beverages away from those under 21.
  • Plan ahead for a non-drinking designated driver after the game and make sure your friends do the same.  Be prepared by having the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride.
  • Bring lots of water! It can be hot and alcohol can lead to dehydration, so make sure your party is well hydrated. No one wants to leave an enjoyable experience by ambulance.
  • Provide plenty of food to keep your fellow tailgaters from drinking on an empty stomach, but avoid too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and drink more.
  • Do not push drinks! Drinking at a game is not mandatory for a good time.  Provide non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
  • Beer is just as intoxicating as hard liquor. A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce wine cooler and an ounce and a half of liquor contain the same amount of alcohol.

No matter how you celebrate or who you cheer for, don’t ruin game day by getting a DUI, or much worse. If you’re going to drink alcohol, remember to plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver to help get everyone home safely after the game.


Credit to MADD for this blog: By MADD | October 11, 2013| Drunk Driving (

New online role-play tool helps parents talk about underage drinking with children

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)is launching a new mobile app that features a simulated new video game-like tool to help parents practice tough conversations about underage drinking in a risk-free virtual environment. This comes at a crucial time as the rate of youth alcohol use rises during the summer.

This mobile app is the newest component of “Talk. They Hear You,” SAMHSA’s underage drinking prevention campaign that launched May 2013. The campaign equips parents and caregivers with the information, tools, and confidence they need to start talking to youth early — as early as nine years old –about the dangers of alcohol.
As an evidence-based behavioral tool that uses life-like avatars to engage in interactive conversations, each virtual role-play conversation is structured as a 10 to 15-minute interactive, video game-like experience. Users enter a risk-free practice environment, assume a parental role, and engage in a conversation with an intelligent, fully animated, emotionally responsive avatar that models human behavior and adapts its responses and behaviors to the user’s conversation decisions.
“The summer season is a time of year when families spend a lot of time together,” said Frances M. Harding, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. “Now is the perfect time for parents and caregivers to connect with their children and talk about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Short, frequent discussions can make all the difference. This mobile app provides a safe place to practice these conversations and build confidence.”
Realizing that many parents and caregivers are “on the go,” SAMHSA plans to launch this mobile application in summer 2014.  In addition, SAMHSA will soon redesign the web version of the tool in 3D and allow users to choose from a new selection of diverse avatars.
Thanks to SAMHSA for the information.  For more information about SAMHSA, visit

Substance use during childhood or adolescence is linked to long-term health risks

The risk of developing drug dependence or abuse is greater for individuals who start using these substances in adolescence or early adolescence than for those who start during adulthood. According to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people who start using substances at a young age are at greater risk of needing treatment later. In 2011, 74 percent of people ages 18 to 30 who were admitted for substance abuse treatment started using substances at 17 or younger. The report also showed that 10.2 percent of those admitted for treatment started using at age 11 or younger.


In addition, those who start using substances at a younger age are more likely to be using more than one substance when they are admitted for treatment. More than 78 percent of those admitted who reported starting to use substances at age 11 or younger also reported abusing two or more substances when they started treatment. In contrast, for those who reported starting to use substances at age 25 to 30, less than half as many—30.4 percent—reported abusing two or more substances.


“Early to late adolescence is considered a critical risk period for the beginning of alcohol and drug use,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Knowing the age a person starts the use of a substance can inform treatment facilities so that they can better provide timely and appropriate prevention and treatment programs.”


SAMHSA manages several grant programs intended to prevent alcohol and drug use among youth. Among those are the Partnerships for Success grant program, which is designed to address two of the nation’s top substance abuse prevention priorities: underage drinking among persons aged 12 to 20 and prescription drug misuse and abuse among persons aged 12 to 25. In partnership with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, SAMHSA also manages the Drug Free Communities Support Program, which works to reduce substance use among youth.


The report did show that treatment admissions involving substance use at age 25 to 30 had the largest proportions of primary use of heroin (35.3 percent) and prescription pain relievers (33.2 percent) of any group assessed.


The report entitled, Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18 to 30, is based on data from SAMHSA’s 2011’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) – a national data system of annual admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities. The report also adds to the literature on this issue pertaining to substance use initiation.


The complete report findings are available on the following SAMHSA website:


For more information about SAMHSA visit our website:

Credit to SAMHSA for this information: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Parents, need help with your teen’s alcohol or drug use?

We’re Here to Help. Call Us Today: 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373)

English and Spanish

Are you feeling overwhelmed, stressed or have a specific question about your child’s drug or alcohol use?  Our Parents Toll-Free Helpline is a nationwide support service that offers assistance to parents and other primary caregivers of children who want to talk to someone about their child’s drug use and drinking. Our trained and caring parent specialists will:

  • Listen to your concerns, challenges, setbacks and emotional turmoil that you have experienced with your child’s substance abuse or addiction
  • Help you outline a course of effective action –  whether it’s prevention, intervention, seeking treatment or supporting recovery – grounded in science-based resources
  • Inform you of different resources available to you nationally

Our Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET.  We are closed on weekends and holidays. The Helpline is not a crisis line. If you do not connect with a parent specialist, please leave a message and we will make every effort to get back to you by the next business day. If you are in need of immediate or emergency services please call 911 or a 24 hour crisis hotline.

Our parent specialists speak English and Spanish and are professionally trained parent support specialists and psychologists with years of experience helping individuals and their families prevent and overcome substance abuse problems.

 We’re Here to Help – Call Us Parents Toll-Free Helpline 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm ET (In English and Spanish)

– See more at:

You can help teen drivers be safe!

In 2012, the number of teens killed in traffic crashes increased nearly 20% during June and July.  Young drivers have high fatal crash rates because of limited driving experience and immaturity that can often result in high-risk behavior behind the wheel.

Remind him or her:

  • “No drinking alcohol.”
  • “Buckle up.”
  • “Slow down and respect the speed limit.”
  • “No phone calls or text messaging.”
  • “Here’s how to recognize danger on the road…”

For more information, go to:

Subscribe: Entries | Comments

Copyright © Pierce County Partnership for Youth 2015 | Pierce County Partnership for Youth is proudly powered by WordPress and Ani World.