What Makes Holiday Happiness!

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

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

Volume 8, Number 12

We would like to start off this month’s E-Letter by wishing all our friends and readers a Happy Holiday Season and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous, and joyful new year. The holidays seem to have come quite quickly this year and before we know it, we will be in 2014. We hope that you can look back over 2013 and see it as a year filled with satisfaction, accomplishment, and good mental and physical health.

In our practice, we have already been making plans to offer some new services and growth opportunities. We suggest that you set aside some time before the New Year to think about what you want to accomplish, how you can keep yourself healthy, and how you can grow and develop as a person. In this month’s E-letter, we provide information about What Makes Holiday Happiness, our Ask the Doc question is about asking for a raise, and our email of the month is about Things You Need to Know About Sleep. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and comments are welcome.

Practice News


Dating After 50 – Navigating Scary Waters

Join us in February for the first of our exciting Discussion Forums …Dating After the Age of 50.  If you now find yourself dating and are in this age group, you may find it to be a stressful and scary experience. The forum will provide an opportunity to meet new friends, find new activities, and feel better about the dating game. Five weekly sessions will be held beginning on Wednesday, February 12th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  Denise Champagne, MS, LMHC will lead the discussions. Please contact Jillian at 954-755-2885 to pre-register. Cost: $60 for 5 sessions, payable at registration.  Groups will be limited to only 15 attendees. As we expect this to be a very popular forum, we suggest that you register quickly.

Dr. Joel Kimmel recently spoke at Temple Beth Emet on the topic of Boys To Men: Growing Pains. He met with a group of 30 fathers and talked about being role models, how to deal with oppositional behavior, and what to expect as their sons entered the teen years. He then met with their sons and discussed the special father-son bonds and how to accept no for an answer.

Research Study. We are continuing to participate in a research study with Life Extension Institute assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Informal results continue to show success for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at the above number.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Our practice is one of the few offices certified to provide the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, it is required by the State of Florida for all parents divorcing or separating even if not legally married. We have provided this course many times and have designed it as a 4-hour, one-session presentation that focuses on ensuring that parents protect their children from the effects of divorce or separation by setting aside their differences and focusing on the children’s need for both parents in their lives. The course also provides information about divorce as loss, gives an overview of the Florida laws and statutes related to divorce and custody issues, and offers information on how children react to divorce based on their ages.  The course is offered live on a flexible schedule, based on the availability of those attending the course.  Please contact our Administrative Assistant, Jillian, at 954 755-2885 for additional information.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on how to be happy during the holiday season. Much has been written about the holiday blues and we thought it was about time to write about what to do to have happy holidays. These days can be quite frustrating and stressful. There are a lot of expectations to meet and obligations to fulfill. Little attention is focused on the meaning and values of the different holidays. Instead, attention is given to too much shopping, too much eating, too much drinking, too much partying, too many gifts to get, too many people visiting, and too much spending.

But you do have a choice about how you handle the holidays. Happy people do things to increase their level of happiness. They socialize with other happy people, they don’t set impossible expectations, and they view the world from a positive point of view. The holidays are a great time to maintain a positive outlook. While it may be tricky because of the extra holiday stress, be determined to have a positive attitude. Embrace the saying that the happiest people do not have the best of everything but that they make the best of everything they have.

Research has shown that there are three main things that contribute to true holiday happiness. They consist of expressing gratitude, spending time with family, and helping others. Gratefulness should start with Thanksgiving but it is important all year long. Train yourself to pay attention to what you appreciate rather than what bothers you. Being connected to family and friends gives you a sense of support and belongingness. It allows you to feel that you are not alone and that you are important to others. Just plain helping others also makes you feel good. It distracts you from your own problems and fills you with satisfaction knowing that you have made another person’s life better.

Specific actions you can take to keep your holidays happy are as follows:

  • Keep a gratitude journal to list what you are grateful for
  • Make a list of happy events and read it
  • Exercise which improves both your mind and your body
  • Smile at others and be friendly
  • Do not excessively eat, drink, or use drugs
  • Do not overspend and think you have to get everyone you know a gift
  • Consider that things are good enough and do not have to be perfect
  • Do not get caught up in commercialism and think you have to take advantage of every holiday sale
  • Buy only what you can afford to buy
  • Socialize with positive and happy people
  • Be optimistic and savor the moment enjoying the here and now
  • Look to help others less fortunate and make a contribution to their lives

The holidays can be a happy time if you make a conscious decision to be happy and follow the above suggestions. Rather than placing high demands upon yourself, going into debt shopping, and worrying about what you still have to do, focus on the holiday values, helping others, connecting with family and friends, and expressing thanks for the blessings you do have.

We offer the following information on What Makes Holiday Happiness:

“And So This Is Christmas; And What Have We Done? Another Year Over; A New One Just Begun;
And So Happy Christmas; I Hope You Have Fun; The Near And The Dear Ones; The Old And The Young”— John Lennon

What to Know!

  • There is a strong societal expectation that the holiday season should be a happy one, however, most people find it to be a very stressful time with many obligations to meet
  • Happiness requires having a belief that life is meaningful, joyful, vibrant and satisfying
  • Holiday unhappiness is often caused by too much family, too much food, too many obligations, too much money spent, and too many expectations
  • Recognize that you have a choice to either give in to holiday stress or to enjoy the holiday season
  • Deciding to be happy can be quite tricky during this season filled with the stress of shopping, gift giving, parties, sending cards, and having visitors
  • 42 percent of all Americans are stressed by the pressures of shopping for gifts
  • Men tend to make practical purchases based on what they think the recipients need
  • Women report more holiday stress than men and tend to view gifts as signs of closeness and compatibility in relationships
  • 61 percent of Americans believe that what stresses them the most is a lack of money and 23 percent are concerned about credit card debt
  • Millions of Americans go into serious debt making purchases that will take the entire year to pay off
  • Research has shown that the good feelings received from a gift has more to do with the thought that went into it than how much it cost
  • Research has also shown that purchasers are happier when they pay up front rather than using credit even with low finance charges
  • The simple process of focusing on, writing down, and discussing the positive events in your life can give a boost to your happiness

What to Do!

  • Lower your expectations for how happy the holiday should be
  • Express gratitude and appreciation for what you have
  • Be optimistic, have a winning attitude, and look for opportunities
  • Be selfless and practice acts of kindness
  • Stay connected to friends and support meaningful relationships
  • Use cognitive strategies to cope with stress
  • Develop goals and strive to reach them
  • Exercise, lose weight, and maintain your physical health
  • Slow down your pace of life and live in the moment
  • Commit to helping others out
  • Accept that things can be good enough and that they don’t have to be perfect
  • Think about what is right in life not what is wrong
  • Let go of the old way of doing things and try a new way of doing things
  • Be creative and dare to be adventurous
  • Do what makes you laugh and what you enjoy
  • Seek professional help if you are unable to find happiness during the holidays

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at drkimmel@kimmelpsychology.com

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

SL writes: I work in a very small financial services office, just myself and the owner/boss. He relies upon me for almost everything and I do a very good job. However, my salary is the same as it was when I first went to work for him 5 years ago. He has not given me a raise since I started. I like what I do and the people I deal with. Yet, I have some resentment. How would you recommend that I handle this situation?

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: SL, it sounds like you not only would like a raise but want to be recognized for the valuable job you perform. It is entirely within your rights to ask for a raise or at least a discussion about a raise, and it would be surprising if your boss did not expect it. In order for you to prepare for such a discussion, however, you need to recognize your own value. Enjoying your job is not enough as you need to make a living and keep up with increasing costs. You need to look at what you do, what you have done, and how you have worked to make the company successful. You may have a tendency to ignore or even devalue yourself which allows for you to continue working without recognition. For after all, a raise is recognition of how appreciated and valued you are.

Once you are aware of your value, I suggest that you ask for a meeting with your boss. Do not try to squeeze it in during business transactions, but request a specific meeting without interruptions. This will give it the seriousness it deserves. Prepare beforehand what you want to ask for and why. I would suggest that you start by describing how valuable you are to the company and that you feel that value is not recognized financially. I would suggest that you say that not getting a raise in 5 years is below the industry standard for your position and that you would like him to consider increasing your salary to a satisfactory level. Recognize that you will probably be anxious doing this so rehearse your presentation several times before the meeting. You need to look out for yourself.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Sharon R. for the following email although we can’t vouch for its validity:

Things you need to know about sleep

  1. Sleep deprivation affects the young more
  2. Even one hour more of sleep can help prevent traffic accidents
  3. During the Victorian era, people used to sleep about 10 hours a night, every night
  4. Women need an hour more of sleep than men do
  5. Teens need more sleep, about 10 hours a night, compared to only 6-7 hours for adults
  6. Sleep Apnea is common as about 10% of people suffer from this condition
  7. Heat and insomnia are closely linked so it may be hard to fall asleep when you are hot
  8. Sleep deprivation is a lot like being drunk; 17 hours without sleeping is equivalent to a driver with a 0.05% blood alcohol level
  9. Your brain grows during REM sleep as more neurons bind in your brain and thus increases its mass
  10. The longest period without sleep that has been recorded is 18 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes and the record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

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.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.