Understanding Holiday Stress-Revisited!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 11, Number 12

The holidays are upon us. For some, December is a very joyous time and for others, it is filled with stress and obligations. The holidays also bring into focus our memories of earlier times in our lives and how things have changed through the years. By the way, how did we ever get along without cell phones? Despite these changes, we move on adjusting to the demands of our lives.

This month’s E-Letter is about Understanding Holiday Stress-Revisited! A reprint from an earlier E-Letter, it is still relevant today. Instead of it being a time of peace and good will towards man, many of us find the holidays to be filled with frustration, demands, and pressure to shop and find great deals. The E-Letter also contains Dr. K’s blog and Paul Dolnick’s article about psychoeducational testing. And our email of the month is about thoughts from Steven Wright. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the numerous comments and messages of support we have received.

We soon will be celebrating a New Year and our practice wants to wish all of our readers a very Happy Holiday season. May we all be blessed with peace, health, and happiness in 2017.

Practice News

New Address: Please note the change of address:

5551 N. University Drive, Suite 202
Coral Springs FL 33067

The building is located at the Northwest corner of the Coral Springs Professional Campus and at the intersection of University and Westview Drives.

The office is being dedicated to the memory of Jill Kimmel who was a counselor, administrator, and friend of the practice.

Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s placement in school, this would be an excellent time to have them evaluated. Typical parent questions have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at their school. Our practice does the different types of evaluations to help answer those questions and information about them can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel or Paul Dolnick.

Practice Opportunity. We are looking for a licensed clinician to join our collegial group practice. The therapist must be experienced and motivated to provide quality behavioral health treatment for a variety of problems and patients. Specialties in child and adolescent treatment, addictions, and relationships are desirable. Being bilingual would be a plus. For further information or interest, email DrKimmel@KimmelPsychology.com or contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Support groups. Our ongoing weekly therapy groups have been quite successful. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on what is often overlooked… increased stress during the holidays. While we live in already stressful times brought on by multiple things to worry about courtesy of the media, the holiday season seems to have its own level of increased stress. Many, many people feel depressed, worried, and lonely. Often they will isolate themselves. Others busy themselves with escapist activities such as shopping, partying, overeating, and drinking. Television shows and the movies give us the “standard” that everybody should be happy and having a good time. If you don’t fit this “standard”, then something must be wrong. The key to managing our emotions during the holidays is to understand why we feel stressed and what we can do about it.

In addition, the holidays bring excessive and unrealistic demands. There may be so much to do in a short period of time that one never completes their to-do list. Compounded by the excessive and unrelenting advertisements about sales and discounts even on your phone, a person often gets caught up in having to buy and having to get the best deals in a hurry. The more 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 lost to holiday parties and gift giving.

Holiday stress also comes from our memories of our past and what the holidays were like earlier in our lives. This inevitably highlights those we have lost in one way or another and can rekindle hurt feelings. Practically, people have to deal with more traffic, crowded malls, longer lines at restaurants, and incessant commercials.

To manage your stress, it is important to first acknowledge that you are stressed. Recognize 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. Realize that this holiday does not have to be perfect. Remember the true meaning of the holidays and start a new holiday tradition.

We offer the following information on Understanding Holiday Stress-Revisited:

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


  • 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

      • 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
        5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
        Coral Springs FL 33067
        Copyright © 2016; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

        Benefits of Psychoeducational Assessments

        The following article was written by Paul Dolnick, our psychometrician:

        For most parents, their children’s success in school is a paramount concern and area of focus. Parents, along with invested educators, want students to flourish academically. Achieving this goal takes the coordinated efforts of parents, educators, and of course the student themselves. But not every student enters the classroom armed with all of the tools necessary for success, and not every teacher is concomitantly armed with the knowledge of how best to reach every student. For many students, the best educational methods that will give them the most optimal opportunity for success, lies in finding their inherent strengths and weaknesses. This is most fully realized through a thorough psychoeducational evaluation.

        A psychoeducational evaluation is an individually administered battery of tests. These measures may be used to seek answers to a question about a student’s struggles and their strengths and weaknesses. It can also provide baseline data about the student’s current level of academic achievement and/or cognitive functioning and can be used to measure future growth.

        These assessments are typically lengthy and involve the administration of tests such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale and the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement and Cognitive Abilities. These, along with other tests, are useful in assessing functional levels in the academic areas of reading, writing and math, along with the cognitive skills that are required for academic success such as reasoning, visual motor processing and integration, memory and attention. The results of a comprehensive assessment will identify strengths and weaknesses, and if present, allow for the diagnosis of any specific learning disabilities. Upon completion of the testing, a report is reviewed with and given to the parent. This report includes classroom, instructional, and further testing recommendations if needed.

        Of utmost importance, the results of such an evaluation when shared with a student’s school, will allow for more precise educational strategies based on their individual needs. It can also inform whether a child requires any accommodations or an individualized educational plan (IEP) to optimize their learning and ultimately their success.

        If you want to know your child’s learning style or have any questions about psychoeducational assessments and the educational or mental health needs of your child, please contact us so that we can discuss them at your convenience.

        Dr. K’s blog

        December 19, 2016

        Another month has gone by and it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the holidays highlight the emptiness and the loss. These are very difficult times and the powerlessness of not being able to change what happened is overwhelming. Keeping busy helps as it distracts from the grief yet even around people I feel alone. I grapple with acceptance and I am not there yet and probably won’t be for a long, long time.

        I also realize that I have changed. No longer do I have my best friend to travel with, to talk to, to learn from, and to share my private thoughts. My wife and I grew up and grew together and we shared many, many wonderful experiences. Now those experiences are over and all I have left are the memories and the possessions. Yes, my children are wonderful and we have a very good relationship. But they too have their own grief to deal with.

        I have found that death is the hardest part of life. Rationally, I understand that we will all pass at some time. But are we ever prepared for it? I give thanks that my wife did not suffer long; that is a blessing in itself. But I miss her.

        I have learned that despite all we control in our life, we are never really in control of what matters the most. I am glad that we had such a close and warm relationship yet, precisely because of this, it hurts now that she has passed.

        November 21, 2016
        It is now 2½ months since my wife died and the transition to acceptance is extremely difficult. Cognitively, it sounds like an easy task. But emotionally, it is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever faced in my life. I have spoken with others who have lost loved ones who seem to be the only ones who can understand what I am going through. They know the depths of emptiness and loneliness that one can only experience when one loses one’s partner. It is almost like a club of grievers who never ever really stop grieving. They just seem to put it aside to go on with their lives for the sake of themselves and others. They say that it gets better but the pain never leaves.
        How does one go from sharing everything with another to being alone? Things we were going to do, places we were going to travel to, renovations to the house, movies we were going to see, friends we were going to visit, and new experiences we were going to learn from are now all gone. They have to be done by me alone and yes I will do some of these but it is not the same. Ideas that I usually bounced off my wife or opinions where I needed her input now have to be decided only by me or by family and friends. Everything has changed internally since I am now a “me” and not a “we”.
        Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it has always been a family holiday for us. Yes I will be with my adult children but our loss will be paramount. As we always do, we will give thanks for our health and everything we have in life. We will also give thanks for having had my wife in our lives for as long as we had her. We will also give thanks that she is suffering no longer and we will remember her joy, her wit, her love for people, animals, and books, and her love for us.

        Email of the Month

        We would like to thank Steve K. for the following email:

        Thoughts from Steven Wright

        If you’re not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he’s the famous Erudite (comic) scientist who once said: “I woke up one morning, and all of my stuff had been stolen and replaced by exact duplicates.” He sees things differently than most of us. Here are some of his gems:

        1 – I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
        2 – Borrow money from pessimists — they don’t expect it back.
        3 – Half the people you know are most likely below average.
        4 – 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
        5 – A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
        6 – A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
        7 – If you want the rainbow, you have got to put up with the rain.
        8 – All those who believe in psychokinesis, raise my hand.
        9 – The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
        10 – I almost had a psychic girlfriend, but she left me before we met.
        11 – O.K., so what’s the speed of dark?
        12 – How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?
        13 – If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
        14 – Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
        15 – When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
        16 – Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
        17 – Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
        18 – I intend to live forever… So far, so good.
        19 – Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
        20 – What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
        21 – My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
        22 – Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
        23 – If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
        24 – A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
        25 – Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
        26 – The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
        27 – To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
        28 – The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
        29 – The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
        30 – The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
        31 – Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don’t have film.
        32 – If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
        33 – If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

        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 © 2016 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.