Maintaining Wellness During the Holidays
In Part 1 of this video, Psych Congress 2021 Co-Chair, Charles Raison, MD, Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Chair for Healthy Minds, Children, and Families, Madison, Wisconson, and Psych Congress Steering Committee Member, Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC, Adjunct Clinical Affiliate, University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, Austin, Texas, sat down in San Antonio at Psych Congress and discussed maintaining wellness throughout the holiday season. Drs Raison and Jain promoted the idea of connectivity and how to manage stress, anxiety, loneliness, and other depressive symptoms that can impede the joy of the holidays.
In Part 2 and Part 3 of this video series, Drs Raison and Jain delve deeper into the idea of connectivity and maintaining wellness to combat depression and other mood disorders, especially with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the transcript:
Charles Raison: Hi. I'm Charles Raison. I am a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I also serve as director of clinical and translational research for Usona Institute, also in Madison, Wisconsin.
Saundra Jain: Hi. My name is Saundra Jain. I'm an adjunct clinical affiliate at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, their School of Nursing. I also have a private psychotherapy practice in Lovely Austin, Texas. So glad to be here with you, Chuck.
Charles: Same. Austin is lovely.
Saundra: We know that holidays are just around the corner. Typically, even pre‑COVID, holidays generate, for many, anxiety, worries about close family get‑togethers.
I'm wondering if you might speak to me. We also have to factor in COVID. How does that impact currently? I wonder if we might speak to social connectedness, any of these other wellness practices, positive psychology, thinking about what's coming. What are your thoughts, Chuck?
Charles: The problem with the holidays is that they put our social connections on display. So that there's all these ways that holidays can be stressful. If you don't have deep social connections, it's a reminder every year that you're alone. That somehow, you don't have that.
It can make people feel...They compare themselves to others. You feel somehow inadequate. I know a lot of us struggle with that. Then if there's conflict in the family, that is also stressful. On the one hand, they're this wonderful opportunity to be together. They can be so wonderful that way.
Sometimes it's hard to get those magic moments on cue. That's part of the holiday challenge, is that sense of, "Oh, is this good enough? Am I as loved as my neighbors?" Those sort of things weigh on people.
I often tell patients that if you find the holidays difficult, one of the things that I've known people to do that has been very beneficial is to think outside the box. Don't feel like you have to be strapped into a standard Christmas or a standard holiday season.
If that doesn't work for you, do something different. Go to the beach. Go on a vacation.
Saundra: It's such great advice. As you're saying that, I'm thinking about patients, and maybe even just friends and family members, stories they tell about that. We have this expectation that it's going to be the Norman Rockwell get‑together, and everything's going to be fine. Even though historically, it has not been.
That preparation for the holidays, trying to manage the thoughts, or change the behavior, which is what you said. Think about the very large meals that usually accompany Thanksgiving, holiday, Christmas, New Year's, all of those holidays happening. How about you don't do that?
Charles: How about?
Saundra: How about you start your own tradition and do a meal at the beach? I'll combine your suggestion with mine. There are ways we can combat that.
Charles: You said something important, which is also changing one's perspective. Not demanding such a high bar of, in this case, we're talking about connectivity. Not expecting these perfections that ruin what is good in the reality of our lives. It's a challenge everywhere, but it's especially a challenge in the holidays.
Saundra: Beautifully stated.
Charles: That's it.
Saundra: We're out of time. That was a lot of fun, Chuck.
Charles: Thanks, Saundra. That was great.
Saundra: This is our own social connectedness.
Charles: Exactly. We love doing this.