Tips for coping with the holiday sadness, anxiety

And Blueprint Psychiatry's Dr. Crystal Nelson says between all the family get-togethers, to-do list, and the bills, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

"We have really high expectations about the holidays," Dr. Nelson says. "Everyone is a bit more keyed up, a bit more stressed out, and then, again, the expectations that this is supposed to be joyful and relaxed and wonderful."

But, Dr. Nelson says, the holidays can be rough, especially for people with depression.

So, make sure you're getting enough sleep.

Try to exercise -- even if it's just for a few minutes-- every day.

And try to keep your eating on track.

If you're someone who struggles with depression, Dr. Nelson says, stay in touch with your mental health provider, or find a support system.

"It could be the local church," Nelson says.  "It could a group. Now with the technology, there are a multitude of ways of getting the social support that are cost-efficient or free."

Next, Dr. Nelson says, let go of your inner control freak.

"The truth is we have very little control over most things," she says.  "You really only have control over how you're going to react to things."

In other words, you're not in charge of making sure everyone around you is happy.

"So, all I am responsible for is setting my intention," Dr. Nelson says. "How do I want this to go?  What do I want to do? What do I want to wear to the party, or what do I want to eat at the party? But I don't get to control every aspect, whether or not everyone enjoys the party or everyone things that my place setting is perfect."

If you're grieving, the holidays can be especially rough because of all the emphasis on traditions and rituals.

"I encourage my clients to make it a tradition to create new traditions," Nelson says.  "Novelty is a great treatment for depression. So, if you are alone for the holidays, don't plan to have a typical Thanksgiving dinner, maybe you do something you've never done."

Finally, Dr. Nelson says, anxiety is common, but it doesn't have to be crippling.

"Anxiety is about nothing more than I'm imagining a bunch of things that haven't happened yet, and my body believes me," she says.

"I tell my clients, watch what little children do.  What do little children do?  Little children just give their attention to something else."

So, when you're feeling anxious, try to refocus your attention.

"I don't want to spend this holiday alone, so I distract myself," Dr. Nelson says.  "Go be around some people. So now you're giving attention that you're not spending on the holiday season alone.  Unless you're being chased by a bear, there is probably nothing in your present circumstances that is anxiety-inducing."