Having Holiday Happiness!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 12, Number 12

December is often a stressful month for many people. True, it is the holiday season. Yet for some, they are overburdened with too many things to do, too many expectations to meet, and too much food and drink. Many of us remember past family holidays and the losses we have suffered during the years. The emphasis of this being a time for family, which is seen in commercials and television shows, only highlights this emptiness. We are also reminded that another year has passed and that we didn’t accomplish all we said we would at the beginning of the year. Some people call this the “Holiday Blues.”

However, this can also be a time for Holiday Happiness. It all depends on the choices we make. We can give in to the stress or we can decide to make this a meaningful holiday season. Our December E-Letter is about Having Holiday Happiness. Dr. Kimmel continues his blog and our email of the Month is about Mysteries. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the numerous positive and compassionate comments we have received.

Practice News

Stacey Mednick. We are very happy to announce that Stacey Mednick, LCSW, has joined our staff as a psychotherapist. Stacey is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been providing psychotherapeutic and psycho-educational services to children, adolescents and their families in South Florida for over 12 years. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Florida Atlantic University. Stacey has provided behavioral health services in the home, private practice, and academic settings. She specializes in working with childhood and adolescent behavioral and emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and anger management. She also works closely with parents and families in order to provide them with communication skills, coping skills, support, and the tools necessary to overcome challenges. Stacey has extensive history in working with children, adolescents, and adults with a history of trauma, as well as grief and loss. She is able to provide psychotherapeutic services in the office as well as in your home. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Stacey, call our office at 954 755-2885.

Dr. Akiva Daum. Dr. Akiva Daum is a multiple Board Certified Psychiatrist who sees patients eighteen years and older for a limited number of hours a week. He specializes in Addiction Psychiatry and will also see patients who are in need of general psychiatric care. His special interests include treating patients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders as well as chronic pain and addiction disorders. He has taught and supervised other psychiatrists, medical students, residents, and fellows. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Daum, call our office at 954 755-2885.

Community Outreach. Our staff is available to present discussions and programs geared to educating the public about Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction, Eating Disorders, Anger Management, Stress Management, Overcoming Trauma, Dealing with Grief, and the March of The Living. If your organization, church, or synagogue would like to have a complementary speaker on this or other topics, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Psychological Evaluations. Our practice conducts psychological and psychoeducational assessments to help answer questions about ADHD, school placement, test accommodations including the PSAT, SAT, GRE, etc., gifted class placement, and psychological diagnosis. Information regarding the tests can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel or Paul Dolnick.

Downloads of handouts from our previous E-Letters can be found on our website, https://kimmelpsychology.com/e-letters/. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


The holiday season is often a time of stress and depressed feelings because of unrealistic expectations and demands placed on people. Many people suffer from the “holiday blues” as they feel overwhelmed, pulled in different directions, have memories of past holidays, spend too much, eat too much, and are worried about getting everything done. This time of the year is often packed with constant activity including holiday parties, visits from family members, traveling to see family, shopping, eating, and drinking. Those of us who have suffered losses find it difficult to watch family oriented shows and commercials on television as they highlight the loss. For many, the holiday season is a difficult time.

Yet the holiday season can also be a time for happiness but it takes work. We cannot just expect to be happy because it’s the holidays or we see happiness on television or we bought that gift we have been waiting to get. Happiness can be achieved this season as long as one actively pursues it. The field of positive psychology has shown over and over again that doing positive activities increases happiness and well-being. One must be proactive and determined to be happy in order to feel happy.

There are some simple and basic strategies that if followed will turn the holidays season into a happy time. Research has shown that participating in holiday rituals and traditions increases positive well-being and decreases loneliness. Developing a personal ritual or tradition can also makes the holidays feel more meaningful. Making time for yourself will lower your stress level and give you the opportunity to recharge yourself. Set realistic expectations so that you don’t get caught up in feeling like you constantly have to do more. Develop and attitude of optimism and give gratitude for what you have. Consider volunteering to help those who are less fortunate because giving can be more satisfying than getting. Do random acts of kindness because they feel good. Take care of your body and don’t overindulge in alcohol or eating as they will eventually create more anxiety for you. Keep a personal holiday journal or take pictures to remember your own experiences. Reflect upon those who are important in your life and connect with those people whom you haven’t had contact with in a long time. Exercise and use relaxation techniques to keep you from getting stressed. Watch holiday movies and listen to holiday songs.

To have holiday happiness, make the choice to actively work to enjoy the holiday season. The rewards can be huge. We offer the following information on Having Holiday Happiness:

No matter what your holiday, It’s a time to celebrate
And put your worries aside
(worries aside),
And open up your mind
(open up your mind)
See the world right by your side …— ‘NSync


  • Holiday unhappiness is often caused by too much family, too much food, too many obligations, too much money spent, and too many expectations
  • The holiday season tends to magnify everything; it is a special time where people believe they should be happy, friendly, loving, and caring but often don’t feel it
  • Additional holiday stress makes it extremely difficult for already stressed people
  • Having a happiness attitude, however, can help deal with holiday stress
  • Deciding to be happy can be quite tricky since these days are filled with the stress of shopping, gift giving, parties, sending cards, and having visitors
  • By reframing your thinking, the holidays can be seen as an opportunity for happiness
  • Positive psychologists believe that pursuing happiness will make you feel better and increase your well-being; they suggest that you actively
  • develop optimistic attitudes
  • express gratitude
  • do simple positive activities
  • be mindful in any activity
  • participate in holiday traditions
  • practice acts of kindness
  • Recognize that you have a clear choice:
  • either give in to holiday stress and likely be depressed or
  • enjoy the holiday season

  • Keep your expectations realistic
  • Be optimistic and know that the stressful holiday season will pass
  • Open yourself up and share with others
  • Express gratitude as a sign of appreciation for what you do have
  • Be selfless and practice acts of kindness
  • Maintain relationships since connecting with friends prevents loneliness
  • Exercise and do not overindulge in drinking or eating
  • Use relaxation exercises to cope with stress and negativity
  • Be charitable, give to others, and help those less fortunate
  • Shop but do not incur large debt as that will bring anxiety later
  • Set small goals and achieve them
  • Journal and/or take pictures of happy holiday experiences
  • Reach out to those you have lost touch with and are important to you
  • Watch classic holiday movies
  • Develop your own personal holiday tradition that is meaningful to you
  • Seek professional help if you feel depressed and are unable to find any moments of happiness

Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
Coral Springs FL 33067
Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

Dr. K’s Blog
December 18, 2017
Today, a patient of mine told me that his daughters were graduating from college in a few months. I was surprised to realize and remember how fast time passes. I know that it does but was nevertheless surprised. It seemed like it was just yesterday, that we were discussing their separating and leaving home for college. We spent many sessions discussing being an empty nester and the changes and opportunities it brings.

Time is relative in that it seems like some moments go on forever and some go so quickly that if we blink we miss them. Life just seems to happen while we are waiting for whatever we are waiting for. While we are looking at what we don’t have and didn’t do, we miss out on what we did do and the wonderful experiences that we did have. I think the answer lies in living in the moment. Taking in as much as we can, both good and bad, is the best we can do.

I recently saw a friend of mine who was depressed about turning 70. We talked and I tried to get him to see that age was just a number and how he viewed that number would determine his mood. I don’t think I got very far trying to convince him that he was not old and was still vital and helpful to so many people. Maybe it sunk in.

For myself, I have been practicing mindfulness and trying to live in the moment. I am looking for stillness and sometimes am successful. I try to use all my senses in savoring the moment and some simple experiences defy description in their beauty. Yet reality and our society seem to have a way of intruding so that stress and worry are created. I look at mindfulness and appreciating natural beauty as the antidote to the constant troubling news and feeling of powerless generated by politicians, news people, and other media types.

The past year has been difficult in some ways yet I have had some wonderful experiences with my family and friends. None of us knows what the new year brings for us but I am determined to enjoy as much of it as I can. It will take work and discipline and sacrifice and commitment. But what is the alternative?

November 18. 2017
On Thursday nights, I take a restorative yoga class. This class is not a typical yoga class. Rather, it is more of a meditation and relaxation class. Guided by the instructor while in postures of relaxation, I find myself letting go and truly relaxing from the business of the week. In fact, when the class is over, few yogis want to leave and “I needed that” is frequently heard.

Although I have been trained in relaxation techniques and use them with some patients, it is hard for me to actually relax. Taking this class has allowed me to experience in some way what my patients experience. True relaxation necessitates the ability to let go; something most of us have a hard time doing. Whether we live hurried lives or we don’t have a sense of safety without our guards being up, relaxation takes practice. Letting one’s guard down takes trust. Letting go takes effort.

In restorative yoga after a sense of stillness is achieved in a posture, the instructor uses guided imagery to describe peaceful and beautiful scenes to direct our attention towards relaxing. Following the teacher’s imagery, one can transcend the everyday world into the world of the imagery. Worries disappear, muscles loosen and smooth out, and the events of the day are forgotten for a few moments. Some people become so relaxed that they even fall asleep.

Research has shown that relaxation has many psychological and physical benefits. In the hectic and stressful world in which we live, relaxation is not a luxury. It is a necessity. I have found my way to relax in restorative yoga. I hope you can find your way. Consider taking a yoga class.

October 21, 2017
Last night I watched the movie, “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace, Music, and Love”, and was visibly moved by how much our society has changed in the almost 50 years since this festival occurred. As I remembered and confirmed in the movie, the Woodstock community was peaceful and loving. Numerous comments were made about how nice the kids were, how courteous they were to each other, and how helpful they were to each other. This happened despite the quantity of drugs, the rain, the lack of food, the lack of accommodations, and the difficulties in transportation. Townspeople went out of their way to comment on how courteous the kids were saying “thank you” and “please” and asking permission. They greeted each other warmly and were well behaved not wanting to trespass on the property of others. They respected themselves and each other. When food ran out, they shared. When it rained, they shared whatever they had to cover themselves. When disagreements occurred, they settled them peacefully. When someone overdosed or had bad trips, there were others and medics to help them. They worked together to make this temporary society flourish. As Spock says in Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.

Contrast that with today’s society. It seems to me that disrespect has become the norm. The values of our society which has existed for generations seems to have become eroded. Language has deteriorated to the point that curse words are used commonly in language by both sexes in public and on television. Dress has become so casual that in some cases it borders on sloppy and unsanitary. Respect for institutions is not trendy nor important. Values seem to be only important when it serves the needs of the person. Verbal attacks upon others occur daily and fake news and innuendo have become okay to use as fact. People will trample others to get the sale item when in limited quantities. Often, we don’t hear thank you or please even when holding the door for others. Protests have replaced communication, problem solving, compromise, or even mutual discussion. Selfishness and materialism seem to have become the norm and are reinforced by our media. The needs of the one appears to be more important than the needs of the many.

What has caused this in the past almost 50 years? We can point to many factors: fear, anger, the Vietnam War and others, the coming of age of the Internet, advertising, the pursuit of more money at the expense of others, the absence of appropriate role modeling by adults, drugs and alcohol, lies and deceit by politicians, celebrities, and broadcast news, serial abusers, Madoff type scandals, hidden agendas, and a silent society that allows these changes to occur. I am sure we can cite more causes.

Can we ever regain respect for our society to function? I would like to be optimistic and think yes. We see it in the support our nation gives to others when there is a disaster. We see it when individuals volunteer their money and time to help those who are less fortunate. We see it in the dedicated teachers and first responders. We see it in many others who still honor our values.

What can you do? Respect yourself. Follow the Golden Rule. Stick to your standards even though others may not. Say “thank you” and please. Smile at others. Be courteous. Let others get in front of you while driving. Just be concerned about the needs of the many rather than the needs of the one.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this blog, email me your comments at DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com and I will publish them next month.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Mike M. for the following email:


Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, “I think I’ll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out”?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns toast to a horrible crisp which no decent human being would ever eat?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

If the professor on Gilligan’s Island can make a radio out of coconut, why can’t he fix a hole in a boat?

Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don’t point to their crotch when they ask where the bathroom is?

Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They’re both dogs!

What do you call male ballerinas?

Can blind people see their dreams?

Why ARE Trix only for kids?

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that Acme crap, why didn’t he just buy dinner?

Why is a person that handles your money called a ‘Broker?’

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

If a man is talking in the forest, and no woman is there to hear him, is he still wrong?

Why is it that when someone tells you that there are over a billion stars in the universe, you believe them, but if there is a ‘wet paint’ sign somewhere, you have to touch it to make sure?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Is Disney World the only people trap operated by a mouse?

Why do the alphabet song and ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ have the same tune?

Till January…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

If you no longer wish to receive future E-Letter reminders, please send an email to DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com requesting to be removed from this list.

If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.