MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been called the most wonderful time of the year, but many things can trigger depression during the holidays.

“It certainly can be a tough time, and it’s okay to just acknowledge that,” Psychologist Dr. Cheryl Bemel said.

Bemel is a psychologist at Allina’s West St. Paul Clinic. She says spending too much time on social media, checking out other people’s lives, can be harmful.

“What we see out there in social media is only a snippet of what is really going on in someone else’s life. So social media leads us to compare what we have with what others have,” Bemel said. “The fact is whatever we have, most people want more.”

Then there’s the money issue, tied to all that shopping for more and more gifts.

“It’s best to go with a list of what you want, and who you want it for,” Bemel said. “The dark side is, of course, the financial side of overspending and then facing that, come New Year and come the credit cards and what’s due.”

For some people there’s grief, triggered by memories of holidays past and loved ones we’ve lost. Bemel’s advice is to simply acknowledge it. Talk about it.

Part of healing is just putting the feelings into words. Part of healing is just being able to verbalize what’s inside of us. Getting it out. …”

Bemel says parents of young children should find a way to get away from the kids for a bit — allow yourself to take a break. Get a babysitter and go on a date.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to skip our normal exercise routine during the holidays because we get so busy, but the doctors says that’s a mistake. There’s a great mental health benefit to working out or walking or running. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which help you handle stress better. You feel better.

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