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Putting your mental health first this holiday season

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but not everyone sees this as the most wonderful time of the year.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Twinkling lights, Christmas trees and Santa and his helpers are everywhere you look now that Thanksgiving is over and the transition to Christmastime is here.

For some, this is exciting! For others, it can hurt.

"You're struggling to be in that holiday mindset when you have these other things going on in your life and that would be understandable," said licensed professional counselor Melissa Rose.

She said holidays can heighten emotions, and it's important to feel those emotions all the way through.

RELATED: Resources: Where to find mental health help in East TN

"It could be a job loss or financial struggles in your life at the moment, or the loss of a loved one," said Rose. "You're going to have sadness or frustration or whatever feeling you're experiencing and just acknowledging that as normal."

Prioritizing your mental health is still important year-round.

"Life doesn't stop just because it's the holiday season," said Rose.

If being with or without family this year has you hurting, there are ways to take care of yourself.

Find health ways to cope.

Get outside. Listen to music. Call your mom. If you know alcohol or other drugs worsen your feelings, work hard to find safer vices. Addictions can heighten around this time of year.

Take time for yourself.

It's okay to say "no" to some things you're expected to do every year if it means getting some much needed rest and alone time. Experiencing holiday traditions in a more peaceful mindset will help you enjoy those moments, instead of dread them.

Check in on your loved ones.

Telling people you feel a little different this year will help those who need to talk know you'll listen. Even if people seem happy, there's always the chance they're hoping someone will ask them how they really feel.

Make new traditions.

It doesn't take money or a road or plane trip to make memories with your family that will outlast any physical gift. Quality time can help you and your loved ones feel more at peace.

"Just let yourself be and allow it to look however it looks and just try to make the best of the time that you have," said Rose.