Mental Health Authority Speaks out about Holiday Stress

“If you happen to find that the holidays are generating more personal stress and anxiety than usual, you are not alone,” said Richard R. Karges, Hopewell Executive Director/CEO, a leading authority on mental illness.

“The good news is that the holiday season does not have to be that dreaded experience you felt was inevitable.”

Karges, who oversees one of the largest therapeutic farms for persons with mental illness, offers some do’s and don’ts you might consider this holiday season to help make your experience more enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding.

According to Karges, “you should focus on the real meaning of the holiday season.”

First, you should be careful not get too distracted by the holiday commercial and media hype, according to Karges. You don’t have to compete with friends and neighbors around or worry about how much money you spend, gifts you buy or number of cookies you bake. These material things often take away from the season.

At times, people dawdle too much on the nostalgic past. Actually the past may not have been quite as good as you now think it was. On top of that, you should not dwell on past holiday letdowns—in terms of people and circumstances that did not live up to your expectations.

“What is helpful to do is take the time to reflect, on a personal level, on the true meaning and reason for the holidays,” Karges points out. “This is a good time to recognize and thank others. Remember those who have been particularly good to you during the year.”

“Now is the time to enjoy positive and rewarding holiday moments,” said Karges. “Then you will be able to take these good experiences and place them in your memory bank for future reference.”

Getting through the holiday season can, for many, be particularly stressful and sometimes physically exhausting. Whether it be from hiking through crowded shopping malls, driving in bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic, coping with the kids on school break or visiting grandma across town, it can be a time when external demands and expectations are high and, conversely, where time, money and relationships can be stretched beyond their usual limits.

“By keeping a few simple guidelines in mind,” Karges concluded, “you will stand a better chance of enjoying the holiday season this year. Often during the holidays we pause to gaze at the bold new year ahead. We begin to reflect on ways to improve our life and the lives of those near and dear to us.”

Information, Tours and Consultation Available

As a therapeutic working farm, Hopewell offers numerous programs that successfully help people with mental illness achieve their potential and contribute to society.

Source: Hopewell is a nonprofit, private-pay facility. It is licensed and certified by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and was the first therapeutic farm community in the United States to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for Therapeutic Community: Mental Health (Adults).

Hopewell is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the American Residential Treatment Association (ARTA). Research projects are carried out at Hopewell through a partnership with Case Western Reserve University.

Information, tours and assessments are available by contacting Beth Orr, director of admissions, at 440.426.2009 or visit www.hopewellcommunity.org.