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Don’t Let the Holiday Blues Get You Down
Tips to Combat the Holiday Blues
Columbia, MD, 12/10/19— For many people, the holiday season is a time of celebrations and cheer but, for some, this season can bring more misery than merriment. With high expectations around gift-giving, decorating, feasting and family gatherings, feelings of disappointment, sadness, fatigue, frustration or being overwhelmed are not unusual.
Psychologists point out that there is a difference between the holiday blues, which are often temporary and go away once the season ends, and more serious conditions such as depression, seasonal affective disorder and anxiety disorders.
“If people are already experiencing stress or sadness in other areas of their life, they may be especially vulnerable to these feelings during the holidays,” says Kimberly Campbell, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and President of the Maryland Psychological Association. “However, the holidays can be a great opportunity to enhance psychological well-being.”
The Maryland Psychological Association and American Psychological Association offer these tips to combat the holiday blues:
Take time for one’s self — There may be pressure to be everything to everyone. But people should remember that there are a limited number of hours in a day so it’s important to prioritize. Take care of the activities and traditions that are the most important and remember that sometimes self-care is the best thing people can do. Individuals should go for a walk, spend time with a friend, watch a movie or take time out to listen to music or read a new book. Everyone needs time to recharge their batteries — by slowing down, people will actually have more energy to accomplish their goals.
Volunteer — Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter where families can volunteer together and support their community. Not only is giving back a great way to spend time with loved ones during the holidays but helping others has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall mood.
Have realistic expectations — No holiday celebration is perfect. View inevitable missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin the holiday; rather, it will create a family memory. If the children’s wish lists are outside the budget, talk to them about the family’s finances this year and remind them that the holidays aren’t about expensive gifts.
Remember what’s important — The barrage of holiday advertising can make people forget what the holiday season is about. When the holiday expense list is running longer than the monthly budget, scale back and be reminded that what makes a great celebration is loved ones, not store-bought presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.
Seek support — Talk about the anxiety, stress or sadness with friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help people navigate their feelings and work toward a solution for the holiday blues. If these feelings persist, consider seeing a mental health professional such as a psychologist. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies on adjusting goals, so they are attainable as well as help change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.
To learn more about mind/body health or holiday stress, visit www.apa.org/helpcenter and follow on Twitter at @APAHelpCenter. To find out more about Maryland Psychological Association visit www.marylandpsychology.org and follow on Twitter at @MDPsychAssn
If you’re looking for a psychologist in Maryland, check out MPA’s referral service.
The Maryland Psychological Association in Columbia MD, support the psychologists in Maryland in advancing the science and practice of psychology for the health and welfare of the public.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes more than 118,400 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.
Current Statements of the MPA Board of Directors
MPA Board Statement on the Passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings
The passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings is a huge loss for our country and particularly the state of Maryland. Beyond his work as a civil rights leader and public servant, Rep. Cummings was a fierce advocate for mental health especially in the area of Trauma. In August, he hosted a forum in Baltimore to explore solutions to childhood trauma. We hope that the foundation he created in addressing trauma will continue with our local, state and federal legislators. We at MPA extend our condolences to his wife Maya, their family, friends and colleagues.
MPA Board Statement on the El Paso and Dayton Mass Shootings
This weekend, we witnessed two mass shootings within a 24-hour period targeting families shopping for back to school items and young people enjoying a Saturday night out with friends. What happened in El Paso and Dayton was nothing short of appalling.
We’re encouraged by the robust dialogue on the listserv. We can all play a role in finding solutions from speaking out against racism and bias, to encouraging more support for mental health services to contacting our elected officials about access to assault weapons. Regardless of the exact cause of this weekend’s mass shootings, we as mental health professionals can no longer deny that something must be done to help our communities feel safe and supported.
Below is a list of resources from APA. Please share them with family, friends and colleagues.
- Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting.
- Helping children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting.
- Warning signs of youth violence.
- Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention and Policy(an expert panel report).
- APA’s Gun Violence Prevention Efforts.
MPA Board Statement on the tragedy at Tree of Life Synagogue
This weekend’s tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh marked another mass shooting in our country, this time targeting the Jewish Community. Saturday’s shooting in Pittsburgh was an atrocious act of violence.
Jewish Americans carry a longstanding burden of genocide and trauma. The impact of this event can be profound. As our neighbors and nation mourn, MPA offers its support, thoughts and condolences with those impacted.
As psychologists, we also want to continue to be a resource for support and information. We thank MPA member Barbara Wood for sharing the following resources.
In the aftermath of a shooting, help your children manage distress
MPA Statement on the Definition of Transgender
On October 21, 2018, the New York Times released a story entitled, ‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration.” The Maryland Psychological Association (MPA) is drawing attention to the concerning behavior highlighted in this article, summarized as, “The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.”
Gender identity based on sex assigned at birth, and the genitals that a doctor can observe when a child is born, has been shown to be both an inadequate and a narrow understanding of gender identity. Research done in the fields of psychology, medicine, and sociology indicates that being transgender or gender non-binary is a well-known social phenomenon in many countries and cultures throughout the world. Steps to limit this understanding of gender identity to binary terms (i.e., male or female) or to discredit that sex assigned at birth is not always in concordance with gender identity would be a significant stepping back in time and looking past years of research evidence.
Furthermore, if policies were formed using these narrow definitions, transgender and gender diverse individuals would be subject to discriminatory care in medical, school, employment and other settings. MPA recognizes that research has long-established that gender-identity-based discrimination detrimentally affects well-being across life domains (e.g., Bauer et al., 2009; Clements-Nolle, 2006; Kenagy & Bostwick, 2005; Sperber et al., 2005).
We echo statements put out by many other professional organizations condemning these movements. For additional information, please see statements issued by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and the National Center for Transgender Equality. MPA members have expressed interest in the topic of working with transgender clients. Our Educational Affairs Committee is working on developing such programming for 2019.
MPA Statement on Sexual Assault and Trauma
Conservative estimates of sexual assault prevalence suggest that 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault, including rape. Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors. Beliefs about alcohol’s effects on sexual and aggressive behavior, stereotypes about drinking women, and alcohol’s effects on cognitive and motor skills contribute to alcohol-involved sexual assault.
For victims of sexual assault, the confusion of who is to blame, i.e., “culpability”, is indeed tortuous. Shame and humiliation can follow these women for life and significantly impact the individual’s sense of self-worth. To be sure, given the known statistics, it is likely that many who read this statement have a one degree separation from a victim of sexual assault. These victims are mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses, and friends. They are people we encounter every day.
In the search for the truth, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee need to apply great deference to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during any interview or examination. She should be treated not as an “accuser” but rather as a victim of an alleged assault. Care should be given to avoid shaming or unnecessary mortification towards Dr. Ford during her testimony and their examination, particularly by unskilled committee members or court personnel. The committee should consider that due to under-reporting of assault, many survivors of sexual assault will be watching and wondering if it is safe to tell their story. Furthermore, we caution that many women and men, will be subject to what is known as “secondary trauma.”
We hope that the members of the committee and all of the members of the U.S. Senate will be fully educated and understand the psychological impact on victims of assault prior to their proposed examination of the facts in this case.
Now is the time to show care and compassion and to honor the courage of Dr. Ford and any survivor of sexual assault willing to tell their truth.
MPA’s Commitment to Justice and Advocacy
The Maryland Psychological Association Board of Directors acknowledges the many colleagues who have been and/or have encountered clients, students, or colleagues who have been profoundly affected by the divisive events of the last several months in this country. The APA Code of Ethics states that we should work to, “minimize harm wherever it is unforeseeable and unavoidable”. As psychologists, we not only advocate for the use of psychological science for the creation of policies that promote public good – particularly for those who, due to their identities, are disenfranchised and marginalized – but we do not stand idly by while science is misused or ignored to further marginalize disenfranchised groups.
It is in this vein that MPA and the MPA Board recommit to our value of increasing knowledge, professional competence, and appreciation of all people, those of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, education levels, languages, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, levels of physical ability, and socio-economic statuses. We remain steadfast in our mission to advance psychology as a means of “…promoting human welfare,” and are bound by professional ethics of integrity and justice.
We are here to support you, our members, in your efforts to engage and address the stressors that have arisen. Coming together as a community and using our skills as clinicians and scholars to work towards engaging in constructive and respectful dialogue is essential at this time. In whatever way that you are participating in this mission, we thank you and we ask that you stay engaged with MPA in helping you further these values. Please let us know if there is anything that you need, and how we may best reaffirm our commitments to you and our community.