Holiday mental health awareness

WINDSOR COUNTY – With the arrival of the holidays, children are home from school, visitors stop by, and routines are disrupted. “For many, the holidays are a stressful time, increasing feelings of depression, loneliness, overwhelm, and anxiety,” says Kate Lamphere, LICSW, director of Adult Services at HCRS. Stay safe during the holidays by keeping the following points in mind and using the resources below.

Watch stress levels

The holidays are a festive time but can also be a stressful due to social obligations, expectations, and even sad memories. “Practice mindfulness, check in with friends and family, seek support and maintain a regular routine,” says Lamphere. If you start to feel overwhelmed by sadness or anxiety, reach out to your physician, a professional mental health counselor, or call a crisis hotline. “HCRS has a 24-hour hotline. If you are in crisis, having thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself over the holidays, please give us a call at 1-800-622-4235.”

While social activity is great for mental health, it’s also important to balance busyness with downtime – you don’t have to accept every social invitation. Take the time to recharge for yourself and for your family. De-stress by calling a friend or going for a walk. Try to take a break from screen time and social media, if only for 20 minutes.

Store prescription medication safely

One of the most common ways prescription drugs are abused are when they are found in the home of a family member or friend. Stay safe by locking prescriptions in medicine cabinet or investing in a medication lockbox. Dispose of unwanted or expired medication by dropping it off at your local police department or fire station or by returning it with a mail-back envelope through the Vermont Department of Health.

Use recreational substances responsibly

The holidays are a time when adults may indulge in alcohol or recreational cannabis. Do not drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or other intoxicants and keep these substances out of the reach of minors. An open bottle of wine left on the dinner table means easy access, as does unsecured marijuana. Place both medical and recreational marijuana in lockboxes to prevent abuse from under age users and to prevent accidental ingestion by children and pets. Signs of marijuana ingestion in young children include extreme fatigue and difficulty sitting up. If you suspect your child has consumed marijuana, call 911 or visit your local emergency department immediately.

Prescription drug safety and disposal resources:

Mental health and substance misuse resources:

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