Signage outside the new Kaiser Permanente Mental Health and Wellness Center in Watsonville, CA.
(Kaiser Permanente)
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Coping with holiday blues: Kaiser Permanente provides tips to reduce stress, anxiety and sadness

Presented by Kaiser Permanente

While the holidays can be a cheerful time for many, they can also be some of the most difficult times for others. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to making those hard times a little bit easier by sharing tips to reduce holiday-related stress, anxiety and sadness.

The holidays can be a joyful time filled with “good tidings and cheer.” But not everyone feels happy during the holiday season. The long-lasting COVID-19 pandemic has led to job losses causing economic difficulties and family stress. Many are worried about not having enough money or time to get everything done. The holidays can also leave people feeling isolated or lonely.

For some who may have lost loved ones or friends due to the pandemic, this time of year may bring up feelings of sadness and even depression.

woman looking out a window

“Talking about your feelings with a family member or close friend can be a start to shaking off the holiday blues. Try not to isolate yourself. It’s ok to ask for help and let others be there with you, especially if you’re going through the grieving process.”

— Richard S. Galvan, LCSW and Manager of the Kaiser Permanente Watsonville Mental Health and Wellness Center

Watsonville mental health center
Exterior of the new Kaiser Permanente Watsonville Mental Health and Wellness Center.

Richard S. Galvan, licensed clinical social worker and manager of the Kaiser Permanente Watsonville Mental Health and Wellness Center, says it’s not always easy to explain why you are feeling down during this time of year.

But the “holiday blues” is a real phenomenon that can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive drinking, overeating or insomnia.

“Taking care of yourself will help you deal with stressful situations during the holidays,” Galvan said. “Drinking too much can affect your mood and amplify negative feelings.”

Here are some ways to cope with the holiday blues from Licensed Clinical Social Worker and manager of the Kaiser Permanente Watsonville Mental Health and Wellness Center, Richard S. Galvan:

Rick Galvan, LCSW, being interviewed
Rick Galvan, LCSW, being interviewed in the reception area at the Watsonville Mental Health and Wellness Center.
(Kaiser Permanente)

  • Be realistic: Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you. Discard the rituals that you don’t truly enjoy but may feel obligated to do, like sending out holiday cards to everyone, extensively decorating or preparing a six-course meal.
  • Know your spending limit: Money worries are among the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. Try to resist the “holiday hype” of retailers. Set a budget, and don’t spend more than you’ve planned. Resist buying gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
  • Learn to say no: It’s okay to say “no” to events or gatherings that aren’t meaningful to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to do the things that bring you the most joy.
  • Give something meaningful: You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. The gift of shared time or experiences creates lasting memories. A photo album or scrapbook of those experiences can also be meaningful. You might want to express your appreciation with a handwritten letter. Use words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are to you.
  • Get enough sleep: Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night to ensure you are well-rested and energized, which can help improve your mood.
  • Exercise regularly: Even a brisk 10-minute walk a couple of times a day, can help to get your heart rate up and clear your head. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.