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Here are Some Tips for Dealing with the Holiday Blues

By Jill Koval, Ph.D.
Director, Psychological Services, Shepherd Center Inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Program

Between Halloween and New Year’s Day, “the Holidays” can bring excitement, as well as depression and anxiety for many people. This time of year tends to be one of reflection and anticipation. Reflection often brings back memories, both good and bad; recollection of goals and expectations, met and unmet; and an inventory of accomplishments and disappointments. Anticipation tends to focus on the new year and the hope for good things to occur.

Making self-care a priority during this time can make it more manageable. Here are some tips for helping you to manage the holiday blues:

  • Know that you are not alone in your feelings and give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling.
  • Don’t feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing.
  • Pace yourself, your commitments and your schedule. Do what you enjoy, but don’t feel that you have to do everything.
  • Get your rest.
  • Use time with family and friends to take a break for yourself by letting others help with caregiving responsibilities.
  • Make things easier on yourself: Let others do the cooking or come to you.
  • Think of new traditions and create new special memories.
  • Tell others, such as family members and close friends, how you are feeling and ask for help.
  • Seek professional help through counseling. Call 1-800-273-8255 for emergency help 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

For more information on psychological services available at Shepherd Center, you may call 404-350-7553.

JILL KOVAL, Ph.D., is the director of psychological services in the Spinal Cord Injury Inpatient Program at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. She has worked at Shepherd Center since 1989. Dr. Koval has a doctorate in psyhcology from George Washington University. You may reach her at

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.