Dec. 6, 2002-Jan. 16, 2002
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School Reports -- Education, Architecture
NEH awards
Washington work opens intern’s eyes
Superfund sites
Tips for holiday survival
Madison House broadens scope of sharing program
Holiday open house
“A Beautiful Mind” Author to Speak
Lewis & Clark bicentennial

Tips for holiday survival

By Anne Bromley

“The Myth of Magical Merriment.”

That’s what Kit Hennessy of the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program calls her annual presentation, a.k.a. the “Holiday Survival Guide.” In the seminar offered to U.Va. employees, she talks about ways to help people enjoy the season more.

Advertisements, catalogs and store windows shout messages about what a “happy holiday” is all about, what the holidays are “supposed” to look like and how they are supposed to make us feel, Hennessy said. “We all bring with us our own ideas and values, memories and expectations about holidays that also influence how we act, think and feel during this time of the year.”

It is no wonder the holidays may fall short of expectations. Some people may find themselves feeling exhausted, frustrated or disappointed. Others may get seriously depressed.

Faculty and Employee Assistance Program

Call 243-2643 or the 24-hour hot line 800-847-9355 (which pages the counselor on call).

Hennessy also gives the holiday survival seminar to departments upon request.

Counseling and Psychological Services (for students)
Call the main numbers, 243-5150 and 924-5556, for appointments or for daytime contact with the on-call clinician. After hours or weekends, call 972-7004.

For some, the post-holiday letdown may not hit until after the new year, said Dr. Edward Kantor, who supervises the psychiatric residency training at the U.Va. Medical School. But feeling the holiday blues is different from the medical diagnosis of clinical depression, he said. The former doesn’t usually require medical attention.

Reaching out to others makes a difference for those who need help and those who lend a hand. “We get a lot more back from selfless acts of kindness than we get back from elaborate decorations and feasts,” Hennessy said.

In addition, taking care of yourself is vital. Here are a few additional tips Hennessy offers to deal with the typical stresses of the season.

• Watch out for the “shoulds” and “have to’s.” Ask yourself, “What happens if I don’t do this particular thing?” and “Do I really want to do this, or am I doing it out of guilt, fear or for some other misguided reason?”

• Allow for the unexpected – be flexible. Try to get in touch with your “inner child” and have fun.

• If you have recently experienced a major loss in your life, don’t try to pretend everything is just like it was. Recognize your hurt and pain.

• Try to avoid overindulging in alcohol, food or spending. Be aware that they usually make you feel more depressed and out of control.

• Take time for yourself – to relax or to do something you enjoy. Realize that it is OK to say “no” to parties or conflicting demands.

• Ask for help. Many think they have to “do it all” during the holidays to make sure everyone else has a happy experience. Including family and friends in the process not only reduces the workload, but also opens the door to connecting with others.


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