ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Once again, and seemingly out of nowhere, the holidays are upon us and, with the holidays, can come the "holiday blues."

The "holiday blues" can stem from a variety of sources - current events, personal grief, loneliness, illnesses of all kinds, economic concerns, separation from family members and relationship issues like separation or divorce.

These feelings can easily be made worse by stressors, many of which are experienced in this season alone.

Many of us feel obligated to host and attend holiday get-togethers, but we can only attend so many of these during the holiday season before running out of time.

Our attempt to be everywhere and everything to everyone can quickly complicate our holiday season.

In order to make your holiday season less stressful, please consider the following strategies:
• Don't worry about how things should be. There is a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays.
We tend to compare ourselves with the idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays. Avoiding this will lower your stress during the holiday season.

• Be realistic. You can't please everyone the rest of the year, so why try during the holidays?
Saying no, to going to gatherings or to a present on someone's wish list that you simply cannot find, can be one of the most challenging parts of the season. But, your own mental and physical well-being should come first.

• Don't try to be a superhero (or heroine).
We all have complex family dynamics. Acknowledge them, but also acknowledge that, despite the season's near-universal message of unity and peace, it's not a realistic outlook. If you must spend time with people you have conflicts with, try to limit your exposure.

• Volunteer.
Volunteering can be a great source of comfort. Simply knowing you are making a small dent in the lives of people who are not as fortunate is a great strategy if you feel lonely or isolated. Consider seeking out other community, religious or social events.

• Keep your own well-being in mind.
Yes, the holidays are technically the season of giving. But that doesn't mean you should take yourself completely out of the equation - instead, add yourself to it.

Give yourself some time away from the hype, even if it's just for half an hour a day.

Exercise can also help, with its known anti-anxiety, anti-depression effect. Even a small amount of exercise, such as parking further from the store, can do much to improve your state of mind.

• Make sure the "holiday blues" haven't become a scapegoat.

You could be experiencing Recurrent Depression with Seasonal Pattern or another biological or psychological cause.

If these are persistent feelings, make an appointment with someone in your employee assistance program. Anniston Army Depot's EAP can be reached at Exts. 3812, 3617 or 5246.

NOTE: Article adapted from www.nami.org/holidayblues#.