Understanding Holiday Stress

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

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

Volume 6, Number 12

December and the holiday season is here. We would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers the best of the holiday season and a very Happy New Year filled with joy, peace, and good physical and mental health. At this time of the year, I am always reminded of a song by John Lennon. His lyrics seem to become more meaningful as each year goes by.

Happy Christmas

So this is Christmas And what have you done
Another year over And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one The old and the young

A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear
And so this is Christmas For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas For black and for white
For yellow and red ones Let’s stop all the fight
A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear

And so this is Christmas And what have we done
Another year over And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one The old and the young

A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear

In this December E-Letter, we present information about Holiday Blues, our Ask the Doc question relates to sobriety during the holidays, and our email of the month is about struggles of a butterfly. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback..

Practice News

Group Therapy. Dr. Jim Kaikobad has been running a support group for teachers. While this group is full, he will be starting another group for those who find great frustration in their jobs. If you are interested in more information, please call the office at 954 755-2885 and leave a message for Dr. Kaikolbad.

Qualified Supervisor. Dr. Joel Kimmel has recently been certified by the State of Florida to supervise mental health counselors seeking supervision to meet the licensing requirements in Florida. If you or anyone you know needs a qualified supervisor to meet these requirements, contact Dr. Kimmel for further information.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. We have been certified by the Department of Children and Families, State of Florida, to offer the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, this 4 hour class is state mandated for divorcing parents of involved children. This course is intended to teach parents about the effects divorce has on children, to lessen the impact of difficult transitions, and to improve the ways they communicate with each other and their children. Our course is provided live and in small groups. Please contact our office at 954 755-2885 for further information.

Hoarding: We invite you to visit Denise Champagne’s blog about her experiences working with JZ, a hoarder. Her thoughts and pictures of JZ’s home are posted on the following site: http://a-hoarders-journey.blogspot.com. We think you will find it very interesting and you can post your thoughts and comments directly to Denise.

Low cost counseling: Denise Champagne has attained her Master’s degree in counseling and will be obtaining her hours towards licensure under the supervision of Dr. Kimmel. Because of this, we are able to offer low cost counseling. She is seeing some patients and is available for new patients. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling but just cannot afford it, please call the office and ask for Denise. All treatment provided by Denise will be reviewed and supervised by Dr. Kimmel.

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

Understanding Holiday Stress

Our E-Letter this month focuses on the very timely topic of stress during the holidays. This holiday time often brings excessive and unrealistic demands, memories of happier times, and reminders of the loss of loved ones. There seems to be so much to do in a short period of time that one’s to-do list can take over control of one’s life. Compounded by the excessive and unrelenting advertisements about sales and discounts, a person can get caught up in trying to get the best deals and the best gifts for family and friends. The most important message of peace on earth and good will towards men hardly gets mentioned. The values of one’s religion, including the birth of Christ and the miracle of the Hanukkah candles, are easily subdued by the presents and gift giving.

In turn, people feel quite stressed to meet the demands of getting everything done in time, to make this holiday the best and most perfect, to attend or have parties, and to deal with holiday visitors. It is also a time where we think back about our past and what the holidays were like growing up. This inevitably highlights those we have lost in one way or another and is a reminder that we are getting older. Practically, people have to deal with more traffic, crowded malls, longer lines at restaurants, and incessant commercials. This is often a time when people eat too much, drink too much, spend too much, and do too much.

To manage your stress, it is important to acknowledge how you are feeling and how your body is reacting to the stress. Make sure you take time-outs to relax and remember what is important. Eat properly, get enough sleep, and if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Watch your budget so that you keep your finances in check. Prioritize your spending and set a plan of how you will go shopping. Realize that this holiday does not have to be perfect and do the best you can. Remember the true meaning of the holidays and perhaps, start a new family holiday tradition.

We offer the following information on Understanding Holiday Stress:

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice— Dave Barry

What to Know!

  • Thinking about the holidays often reminds us of the past when times were easier, we were more innocent, and we were closer with our families
  • The holidays also often remind us of the losses of loved ones, unresolved family issues, and painful childhood experiences that are still open “wounds”
  • Thinking about the holidays causes us to create unrealistically high expectations of being happy which can never be met leading to disappointment and frustration
  • Holiday stress can come from the heightened demands of entertaining, attending parties, buying gifts, cooking, decorating, cleaning, and sending cards
  • Holiday stress is also realistically caused by crowded malls, unrelenting commercials about buying gifts, increased traffic, longer lines, and more visiting guests
  • Stress from the holidays can be due to reflecting on family changes including marriages, deaths, divorces, births, relocations, and remarriages
  • Many people are overwhelmed due to pressure to make it the best and perfect holiday
  • Economically, today more people are worrying about having the resources to spend, keeping their jobs, and not losing their financial safety net
  • With the unprecedented abundance of discounts and sales, people often feel stressed to take advantage of these sales and worry about getting the best deal
  • Advertising, too, creates the illusion that joy and happiness come from buying some product that you can gift wrap, wear, play with, or eat
  • We often deal with holiday stress by too much eating, drinking, spending, socializing, partying, shopping, and having too many activities
  • Physical responses to holiday stress include headaches, exhaustion, excessive eating and drinking, stomach aches, insomnia, and isolation
  • Other reactions include feeling impatient, depressed, worried, irritable, lonely and sad

What to Do!

  • Acknowledge your feelings and watch how your body is reacting to the holidays
  • Take time for yourself; go for a long walk, get a massage, read, write, meditate, etc.
  • Have realistic expectations and don’t expect everything you do to be perfect
  • Do not compare this holiday to the past and focus on the present
  • Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise
  • Start a new holiday tradition
  • Set a holiday budget and don’t equate love with how many expensive gifts you buy
  • Share holiday responsibilities so no one feels overly pressured
  • Don’t let your “to-do” list control you; you control the list
  • Limit your drinking or don’t drink at all
  • Pace yourself; set a schedule, plan your activities, and do only what you can
  • Remember the values of the holidays and do not let shopping define the holiday
  • Prioritize the important activities, visits, shopping, etc. and let go of impossible goals
  • Do not put all your energy into getting things done in one day, spread them out
  • Fight loneliness by volunteering to help others or being with family and friends
  • Seek professional help if you are feeling persistently sad, anxious, or overwhelmed

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

LW writes: My husband has been in recovery for about 10 months. He is an alcoholic and used to get drunk frequently and then we would have huge arguments. Our 2 kids are worried that he will drink during the holidays as am I. He says that he has it under control. What do you think he should be doing to avoid relapsing?

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: The holiday season with frequent parties and numerous commercials about good cheer and enjoying oneself often threaten those in recovery. Your husband will probably be around a number of people who drink and memories from past drunken holidays will put him at risk. However, if he follows the program, he will make it through these days. First and foremost, your husband should be attending several AA meetings a week. He also should be calling his sponsor daily as well as several people in the program. He would also benefit by not going to any parties where alcohol is served. If he does, he needs to order club soda or water and remove himself as far as possible from the bar. He will also need to minimize his interactions with those who do drink. It would also be a good idea if he shares his thoughts and any urges to drink with you and at AA meetings. If he follows the above, he will have a very good chance of maintaining his sobriety.

If you would like to discuss this further, you are welcome to call me at (954) 755-2885.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Miles B. for sending us the following email:

Struggles of a Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared and he sat and watched the butterfly as it struggled for several hours to force its body throughthe little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared it had gotten as far as it could. The man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would expand and be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent its whole life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly. What the man, in kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved freedom.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through life without obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been. And… we would never fly.

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.