SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – The holidays aren't always merry and bright. That's why mental health experts recommend planning ahead to combat holiday blues.
"The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier every year and then it is an abrupt standstill and stop so I would encourage people to really enjoy every day that we are in, so enjoy the weather, enjoy the sights and sounds and enjoy the relationships and the connections that we have," said Suzanne Grimmesey, Public Information Officer and Chief of Strategy an Community Engagement for the Santa Barbara County Behavioral Wellness Department.
The marriage and family therapist said the holidays can be triggering in many ways.
"It can trigger a lot of loneliness, a lot of memories that are not the same, so the things that we can do to manage our expectations; carve out the things that are really important that we know we have control over."
If someone lives in a household where grown children can't or won't come home for the holidays they can plan on other activities.
"Maybe it is baking, maybe it is volunteering, maybe it is putting up different or new decorations, listening to music," said Grimmesey.
She recommends making a calendar of events you wish to do and saying "no" when necessary.
"The season is also a time to court the things that we are grateful for, so maybe it is a good time to write meaningful letters to your children that are not with you, you can reminisce on past memories that way to."
If a loved one has died she recommends attending a Light up a Life event. There are several coming up that are put on by Hospice of Santa Barbara. (hospiceofsb.org)
UCSB student Olayinka Bossa shared her self care tips while sitting by a Christmas Tree at the Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta on Monday.
"I actually have finals coming up I come here I sit in the sun I go out to read I listen to music or I get a drink or bite to eat and that makes me feel much more better," said Bossa.
Santa Barbara City College student Eri Delmarsh loves this time of year but knows it can be hard on others.
"Sometime if you see somebody, and they are not having the greatest time, we've got to just share our love and compassion, give someone a hug," said Delmarsh.
See above, or click here for Suzanne Grimmesey's entire interview.
And for additional help and support Behavior Wellness has an access line at 888-868-1649 that can link callers to resources. The department also has links to walking, gardening and Zumba groups.
There is also a fairly new three-digit National Suicide Hotline at 988.