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Find your holiday happiness with help from Center for Healthy Living

The holidays are here, and it’s important to remember that some individuals will experience the holiday blues. Increased stress affects everyone and brings out an increase in symptoms for people who suffer from depression.

“Depression and fatigue are common responses to the stresses of the holidays,” said Sara Primeau, licensed clinical social worker at the Center for Healthy Living.

“Fatigue affects everyone,” Primeau said. “One wise mother noted that preparing for the holidays was akin to having a part-time job in addition to her regular, busy schedule.”
Stress is caused by having excessive demands on our time. 

“An increase in activity at home, work and school can leave the best of us a bit topsy turvy,” Primeau said.

With more than 36 years of experience in her field, Primeau understands the impact the holidays can have on individuals and families.

“Family gatherings remind us of old conflicts and competitions,” she explained. “You see people you may avoid the rest of the year. There is often pressure to report about your achievements of the past year – which may lead to reawakening of competition among family members. The first holiday following the loss of a family member can be terribly difficult. The holiday season evokes thoughts and feelings of the past.”

In order to remain on track and enjoy your holidays, it’s important to maintain a regular schedule. Primeau offered the following tips:

  • Get enough sleep. The optimal amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours.
  • Maintain regular eating habits. Don’t skip meals, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages excessively.
  • Reach out to family and friends for support. Get another family member to help make adjustments in the family get-together traditions.
  • Give yourself permission to skip parties and events if you are swamped at work or just too tired.
  • Try out some new ways to celebrate. Is it necessary to buy gifts for everyone?  Consider drawing names for a gift exchange among adults.
  • Carry-out pizza makes a great holiday meal.
  • Relax your standards, all cookies don’t have to be homemade.

In addition, Primeau said being aware of the symptoms of depression is especially helpful. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Isolating self from family and friends;
  • Low energy or fatigue;
  • Critical of self, low self-esteem;
  • Poor appetite or overeating;
  • Poor concentration difficulty making decisions;
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia;
  • Feelings of hopelessness; and
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation.

If the symptoms persist for at least two weeks, Primeau encourages you to utilize the Employee Assistance Program at the Center for Healthy Living for help. To schedule an appointment, call 49-0111 or schedule via the employee portal. If you don’t know what to do, you can always call the Center and ask to speak to one of the counselors.

The Employee Assistance program counselors, Primeau and Nancy Cook, licensed social worker, are located within the Center for Healthy Living on Purdue’s campus – 1400 West State St., West Lafayette – and are available to help all benefits-eligible employees including those who have opted out of Purdue medical coverage. Spouses / same-sex domestic partners and dependents covered on a Purdue health plan also are able to use the services at the Center.

The Center is open for medical visits Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lab hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Employee Assistance counselors are available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Employees seeking immediate after‑hours assistance with suicidal thoughts may contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or go to the nearest emergency room for evaluation.

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