(COLORADO SPRINGS) – One of the most wonderful times of the year can also be one of the most stressful. Whether you might be overwhelmed financially or grieving a loved one, experts say step one is to acknowledge that it’s ok to not be ok.

Usually, when we think of the holidays we think of joy and Christmas cheer, but what many forget to acknowledge is all the stress, anxiety, and even sadness that can also come with the holidays.

“You’re going to see everybody else’s Christmas, and it’s all going to seem perfect in a picture, on TV, or whatever. But, in reality, life’s not perfect and life can be messy,” said Christopher Heberer, City of Fountain Chief of Police, and Suicide Prevention Board Co-Chair.

While the end of the year is a great time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, the holidays can also be a reminder of what we have lost.

“When you’re missing your family member or you’re missing someone that you love dearly… Initially, that first Christmas without that person is going to be really, really hard,” said Heberer.

“We have to allow ourselves that space to grieve. Sharing stories together about that individual and how they impacted our lives and allowing each person to express emotionally where they’re at,” said David Galvan, Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention Partnership Trainer.

Experts say the first step to tackling stress and anxiety throughout the holidays is to acknowledge the emotions that you are feeling.

“It’s really a sign of strength to ask for help and say, ‘I’m not ok’… Don’t keep all your emotions bottled up… or they’re going to come out in ways that can negatively impact your life,” said Heberer.

Evaluate the situations you are about to get into, but also, check in on yourself.

“Where am I at before I get into there? You may not be in a good place with a sibling. You may not be in a good place with your job, with your spouse, etc. Take a second to like evaluate that, and then go into the situation and say, I’m choosing to be a part of this,” said Galvan.

Make a plan on how you are going to set boundaries so that you can create the best environment for yourself and everyone else this holiday season.

“Everything from, do I need to pause and just say this is where we are at this financial limit and we’re going to do that and be ok with that. And then even to say, ‘hey, I need a break from this family dinner’… I think creating those boundaries is super helpful and is done well if we communicate them earlier than later,” said Galvan.

If you are feeling the stressors of the holidays, experts from The Suicide Prevention Collaborative urge you to seek out community, whether that be through family, friends, religious groups, or other social events. If you know of a loved one that is struggling, reach out for help. For the Crisis Hotline dial 1-800-273-TALK or text “TALK” to 38255. For the National Suicide Hotline dial 988.