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Truth or Lies? Holiday Blues

Do you find that current events in your life, separation from family, divorce, and economic woes affect your mood around the holidays?

What is the “Holiday Blues”? Conflicting or mixed emotions about the holidays because of life changing events, economic concerns, and relationship issues (i.e., partnership, marriage, family). How we interact with others is an indication of what has changed in our lives or vice versa what has not.

According to Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "I think a lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year…Many feel miserable, and that's not only for people with clinical depression."

Here are some examples of how one could feel around holidays:
• I feel down, because it’s the holiday…I feel like this daily.
• I’m stressed, but I don’t know why? I can’t concentrate and I feel miserable because I don’t have any money… • I feel hopeless, worthless
• I wish things were better…I’ve lost interest in doing anything.
• I wish my life was more like his or hers…I feel guilty.

It would be helpful to focus on how to minimize negative ideas or thoughts about the holiday season.

Here are a few tips to help one get out of the “Holiday Blues”:
1. Reality Check. Stop trying to please everyone during the holiday season if you are not committed to doing it all year long. This is the most challenging around Christmas, trying to fulfill someone’s wish you cannot. Take care of your own mental health needs FIRST.

2. Give to yourself. Although holidays are giving season, don’t forget to give to yourself. For example, give yourself more quality time, relaxation, exercise, and more gifts to improve your own state of mind.

3. Don’t be the Savior. Everyone has different family dynamics, acknowledge the complexity of your family. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to abide by the overall message of the holidays, “PEACE and UNITY.” In spending time with your family don’t try to stand out, compete, and/or try to be the hero/heroine.

4. Don’t Compare. It is a common mistake to compare your family or cultural way of celebrating the holidays resulting in pressure to be the perfect family for the “perfect holiday.” Remember: there is not a perfect family or perfect holiday, because everyone has stressors and challenges around the holidays

5. Volunteer. Get connected with community, social, and/or religious organization. This is a great intervention for individuals experiencing loneliness and isolation. Volunteering and giving back can provide a major source of comfort when you are helping someone less fortunate.

To avoid the holiday funk, never use the “Holiday Blues” to scapegoat life’s challenges and stressors. This could be a warning sign that an individual is experiencing Recurring Depression better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can occur around the same time every year, for example, you can start in fall, winter or spring and continue through out each season as well. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we URGE you to make an appointment to see a health professional.