I copied and paste this from another site. I think it might be useful for some. The holiday season is usually a stressful time for most people; it is even worse for those with mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. However, there are ways to alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding the many events associated with the holidays. Joy Austin, a longtime member of this community, has compiled ten suggestions for coping with the seasonal stress of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve. Most of these tips are good year 'round, too! 1- The number one rule for surviving the holidays is remembering that you can always say "No" and you can always do things more simply, even if that isn't the way it's always been done in the past. 2 - If you're worried about getting the perfect gift for that special someone, but the thought of battling through all the holiday traffic, spending hours finding a parking place, then walking miles through a crowded mall seems too overwhelming for you, then remember that sometimes the best gift is a simple one. You can buy almost anything online from the comfort of your own home. Gift cards are also an easy way to go, whether you want to spend a few dollars on a video rental gift card, or a lot on a gift card for a fancy restaurant. 3 - If the thought of a party, family gathering, or other "mandatory" social event leaves you knotted up with anxiety, plan ahead for some "escape time" for yourself. No matter where you are, if you are suddenly feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, claustrophobia, or simply more emotion than you feel safe showing in public, seek out the nearest restroom and stay inside until you have mentally gathered yourself together. The bathroom is a simple solution that is always available. It gives you privacy to take a few deep breaths, try to calm down, and mentally reevaluate your situation enough to decide if you think you really can calm down, or if you really need to tell the host or leader of the party or social event that you are not feeling well and need to go home. 4 - Do you ever find yourself thinking, "I need a vacation! Not days spent with those people!"? If the family or friends that you are spending the holidays with are going to or already are causing you more stress than you can handle, then reconsider whether spending time with them is really the best choice you could make right now. Most people are afraid to spend the holidays alone, but as opposed to being around people who invalidate you, with everything from guilt-tripping to actual abuse, you might want to consider which situation you would really prefer. 5 - So how do you spend all that time by yourself without getting depressed? Well, here are a few tips. Stay busy. On any day that I am not working, even if it is just the weekend, I make a list of things that I need to do and cross them out as I go. Even on the holidays and during the summer, it helps me to have a list, even if the things on it are very short and simple, like "check mail" or "vacuum." Just being able to look at my list at the end of the day and feel like I have accomplished something helps me feel positive about myself, and actually DOING those things helps fill my day with activity, which doesn't give me as much time for sitting and thinking about loneliness and depression. And if you think there is nothing you need to do, take a closer look at your house. When was the last time you really scrubbed the floor? Everything in the bathroom? Cleaned out the refrigerator? Organized all those papers on your desk? If you look hard enough, it's pretty easy to come up with a list of things to do. 6 - Tip number two for surviving the holidays alone, whatever your reason may be: forget those centuries-old traditions and create some new traditions of your own. This year I had a big pepperoni pizza for my Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed it far more than I would have the traditional turkey and stuffing. Instead of staying up to the wee hours of the morning cooking and baking and cleaning, stay up late watching a favorite movie and sleep as late as you want to the next day. 7 - Get plenty of sleep. Whether you are spending the holidays rushing around doing all of your usual things or planning ahead for what to do with your alone time, sleep is essential. Schedule in your sleep time first when you plan out your day. If you are too tired to think straight, you cannot get anything done efficiently and perhaps not even done at all. 8 - Make sure you eat enough to keep yourself going, and eat as healthfully as you can. When you are under a lot of stress, it is easy to just keep going on manic energy alone. However, when you are running on manic energy, your body burns calories at a much higher rate than normal, so when your body tells you that it is hungry, listen to it and eat something as soon as possible. And to help keep off those infamous holiday pounds despite all the scrumptious goodies around you, buy some fruit or vegetables and eat them first before you eat anything else at mealtime or for snacks. Fresh fruit is especially good for you because it is filling and very nutritious, and the extra vitamin C will help you stay healthy too. 9 - Schedule at least 30 minutes of leisure time a day. If that sounds practically impossible, then you are working too hard. Even when you are under a tremendous amount of stress at work and/or at home, you will be amazed at what just 30 minutes of pure leisure time can do to help you de-stress and more easily cope with the rest of your life. I usually read a book for my 30 minutes, and I love losing myself in someone else's world for a little while. Just not thinking about everything that I have been worrying about all day helps me lower my stress level. 10 - Once again, it is ok to say "No" when you are too stressed, too overcommitted, or just too overwhelmed to take on one more thing. "No, I can't bake cookies for the party." "No, I can't make the office party because my child's class is having their party the next morning and I'm the room mother." "No, I can't make it to church today; I'm just too tired and I need the sleep." It is ok to say no when you really can't do one more thing, and you don't even have to explain why if you don't want to. You are an adult and you can make your own decisions without having to justify them. Too often we let other people manipulate us into doing things that we really don't want to do, but we don't have to let things be that way. Your choices and your decisions are always your own.