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People have such high expectations for the holiday season, wanting things to be perfect, which can heighten anxiety as well as cause overwhelming feelings if those expectations are not realized. Trying to make a perfect holiday can also lead to stress and worry about relationships and finances, before, during or after the holiday.

Stress and worry, along with the pressure to have a good time, can also lead to misuse of alcohol or drugs. For some, this is a self-medication or coping mechanism to try to handle anxiety or depression. Of course, it is a way of coping that can lead to other wellness issues such as dependence or addiction. For others, the decrease in daylight hours may cause some mood changes, even depression. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

Those who are working on moving to long term recovery related to addiction also may experience what some call “triggers” around the holiday season. Loneliness, stress and/or a sense of let down as described above might become an issue to work through.

Walden thanks all volunteers and supporters who join our staff in offering support to those struggling this holiday season. We especially thank Carol and Tom Davis and the entire crew of volunteers who brought Help Portrait Day to Beacon of Hope on Dec. 8. It was an extraordinary experience that made people in recovery and their families feel special and loved.

Walden’s 24 hour crisis hotline is open seven days a week at 301-863-6661. Anyone can call to talk about how they are feeling and seek assistance. Walden’s facilities will be closed on Jan. 1. The Beacon of Hope Recovery Community Center in Millison Plaza is open weekends, including the weekend before before New Year’s Day. The Beacon’s hours are Fridays from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m. Beacon offers peer support, a safe and sober place to be, and activities. For more information about the Beacon of Hope, contact 301-997-1300, ext. 804.

Laura Webb, California

The writer is resource engagement coordinator for Walden Sierra.