43°F
weather icon Clear

Got the holiday blues? You’re not alone

Since therapist Sheldon Jacobs lost his grandmother two years ago, he’s felt a little blue around the holidays.

“The holidays haven’t seemed quite the same,” the North Las Vegas resident said, adding he’s been feeling “down and out that she’s not here.”

“It’s kind of left a void, her not being here,” Jacobs continued, noting that his family’s Thanksgiving tradition was a “huge dinner” that brought together family, friends and the foster children his grandparents had helped to raise.

The loss of a loved one, the unrealistic expectations, the hustle and bustle — all these things can cause stress and even despair over the holiday season, said UNLV psychologist Michelle Paul, who recommended some coping strategies.

The holidays can amplify all sorts of feelings, she said, and the loss of a loved one may be experienced more deeply.

“Holidays have a lot of tradition around them,” said Paul, director of The Practice Mental Health Clinic at UNLV. “With tradition come memories attached to spending time together celebrating the holiday.”

After the loss of a loved one, “You can’t help but remember them and wish you were together,” she said, describing this experience as a “hole that can’t be fixed or filled.”

Paul recommended “making space” for all the feelings of the season, including sadness. “By all means, allow yourself to grieve. … We can both grieve and really miss our loves ones, and we can also enjoy who we have time with at this moment.”

Jacobs said that spending time with his wife and two children, “to see them smile and to see them laugh,” was helping to raise his spirits this season.

Stop ‘shoulding’ yourself

People have a lot of “shoulds” for themselves during the holidays, Paul said, and not just around what they think they ought to be feeling.

“We are wired to belong,” Paul said, and “one way to belong is to compare.”

During the holidays, we’re receiving “lots of messages about what the ideal is,” as in “if you put the holiday together this way, then you’re going to have happiness” — an illusion that can create not only money woes but disappointment.

“When you have the sense you should be, or should feel” a certain way, “implicit in that message is judgment.” But really, she said, “there are very few actual ‘shoulds’ in this life.”

Instead of “shoulding” and punishing self-talk, Paul called for reflection. She suggested that people step back and think about what they want the holidays to represent and then to “make an intentional choice to behave in service of these values.”

Acting in accordance with values doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In the spirit of giving from the heart, “one thoughtful gift may be better than 10” other gifts. Paul’s college-age son learned to play a song for her on his guitar, and she said she couldn’t think of a better holiday gift.

For people who feel they’re getting less than they’d like to from the holiday season, they may want to try engaging in active giving as an antidote.

Know thyself

Other antidotes involve self care. She recommended that people get full-spectrum light, exercise, avoid carbs that can make them sluggish, get enough rest and “avoid too much indulgence.”

“Self-awareness is important — and self-reflection,” Paul said.

“For me exercise is a big thing. It’s my self care, how I manage my stress,” said Jacobs, who runs 5 miles a day. “That helps me to stay balanced and centered.”

He also watches his diet, noting, “obviously at the holidays, it gets a little trickier.”

Jacobs, a family and marriage therapist, ticked off his own holiday guidance for clients: “Doing things you enjoy doing. Being around people who care for you and are supportive of you rather than people who are negative and can bring you down.”

Avoiding substance abuse and instead adopting “positive, healthy coping tools rather than things that make it worse.”

And, he said, “I’m a big proponent of whatever it is you’re dealing with, talking about it instead of repressing it,” be it to “somebody you feel safe with” or a therapist.

In an article on the UNLV website, Paul recommended taking stock at the holidays, including looking at what your personal sources of stress are and asking yourself, “If I could change one or two things to feel better, what would they be?”

“If you lost a loved one, for example, celebrate that person’s life, or change up what might have been a holiday routine with that person,” she said.

Jacobs said he has found it therapeutic to write about his grandmother in a memoir he’s working on. “It helped me to feel better, but it also helped me to put in perspective what she meant in my life.”

The effort, he said, is something “that I know she’d be proud of.”

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Making lobster and avocado flatbread at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden in Las Vegas
Josh Grimes, chef de cuisine at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, created a lobster and avocado flatbread that also has avocado-creme fraiche spread, yellow tomatoes, red onion and Hearts On Fire microgreens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Riding the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride at Disneyland
What it's like to ride the new 15-minute "Star Wars" ride At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Main St. Provisions is coming to the Arts District - VIDEO
Kim Owens talks about her new Arts District restaurant, Main Street Provisions, which is under construction. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Artist Wayne Littlejohn on “Spin Baby” - VIDEO
Wayne Littlejohn’s sculpture celebrates Las Vegas entertainers. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiësto headlines CES 2020 closing party at Hakkasan Nightclub - VIDEO
Tiesto performs for CES conventioneers and clubgoers during the DreamlandXR Closing Night Party at Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip in the early hours of Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Locals cheer on James Holzhauer at 'Jeopardy!' watch party - VIDEO
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But James Holzhauer would have a better chance at winning “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament if Ken Jennings would stop copying his aggressive betting strategy. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drake's first show of 2020 at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Drake performs at the indoor/outdoor XS and Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ceremony held for Elvis artist Trent Carlini - VIDEO
A ceremony was held for Elvis impersonator Trent Carlini on Wednesday night at The Space in Las Vegas. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Small appliances unveiled in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The small appliances on show at Sands Expo at CES 2020 in Las Vegas include a Keurig cocktail maker, autonomous cooking system, nitrogen coffee ampules and more. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2020: Impossible Foods debuts Impossible Pork in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Before a packed press conference at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Impossible Foods executives introduced Impossible Pork, its newest product. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lady Gaga joins her band leader at his after-hours show - VIDEO
After finishing her “Jazz + Piano” show at Park Theater, Lady Gaga joined her band leader Brian Newman for a rousing version of "Fly Me to the Moon" during his show at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip after midnight on New Year's Day, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Brian Newman rings in 2020 at NoMad at Park MGM - VIDEO
Brian Newman, bandleader for Lady Gaga, performs at NoMad Restaurant at Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
New Year’s Fireworks on the Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fireworks explode over the Las Vegas Strip to celebrate the new year of 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kats hits Las Vegas Strip on New Year's Eve - VIDEO
Man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes covers entertainment on the Strip on New Year's Eve Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Mayfair Supper Club overlooking Bellagio fountains. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
RJ LIVE from Drai's nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Aaron Drawhorn live from Drai's nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip across from the Bellagio fountains on New Year's Eve.
Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina talk about opening International Smoke
Ayesha Curry and Michael Mina, partners in International Smoke, admit things don't always admit things don’t always work the first time. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Unravel the story of House of Eternal Return at Meow Wolf - VIDEO
New Mexico art collective Meow Wolf created the House of Eternal Return in 2016. The group is opening an original immersive experience in Las Vegas next year. (Meow Wolf)
Story behind Spago’s two-pound truffle - VIDEO
Spago chef Mark Andelbradt shares the story of a truffle hunter who found the truffle. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ayesha Curry preps for International Smoke opening
Ayesha Curry talks about preparing for the opening of International Smoke, her collaboration with Michael Mina at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the French Onion Burger at Topgolf in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Kreg Klaver, executive chef at Topgolf at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, makes the French Onion Burger by topping a 7-ounce beef patty with horseradish-Dijon, caramelized onions, Gruyere and crispy onions, on a pretzel bun. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayfair Supper Club preview
The finishing touches are still being put on Bellagio’s new Mayfair Supper club, which is set to open on New Year’s Eve. But the creative team behind the experience gave members of the media a little preview on Thursday in a rehearsal space they’ve been using at Park MGM. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday Honey Toast at Sake Rok in Las Vegas
Bill Lee, executive sous chef at Sake Rok at The Park in Las Vegas, makes Holiday Honey Toast by hollowing out soft white pain de mie bread, coating it in butter, honey and sugar, toasting it and topping with three scoops of mint-chocolate chip ice cream, more honey-butter, gumdrops, candy canes, powdered sugar and cinnamon. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New lunch menu at Momofuku Las Vegas
Chef Michael Rubinstein talks about the new lunch menu at Momofuku. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Cube by Nanotak at Intersect Festival - VIDEO
The cube synced with driving electronic music and glowed with LEDs that twinkled along the cube’s lines. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Elvis Presley tribute artist Trent Carlini dies - VIDEO
Trent Carlini, a renowned Elvis Presley tribute artist who performed at several Las Vegas resorts for almost 30 years, has died. Clark County officials confirmed Carlini died on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at a Las Vegas hospital. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Intersect drone light show - VIDEO
The Intersect Music Festival in Las Vegas featured a special drone light show. (Samia DeCubas)
Shirley Chung is “coming home” for Paired dinner
Celebrity chef Shirley Chung is back in Las Vegas to co-host a sold out collaborative dinner Saturday night at Red Plate in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dandelion Chocolate opening at The Venetian
San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate will open its first Las Vegas café and retail store in The Venetian on Saturday. To celebrate, they’ll be offering guests free hot chocolate. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lbertine Social’s Pastrami Feast
Libertine Social's massive, house-made short-rib pastrami for $175 latter consists of three bones of short rib brined for seven days, smoked for six hours and cooked sous vide for two days before it’s finished in the restaurant’s pizza oven to give it a bark. It’s then carved and presented tableside with an assortment of sides and lettuce for making wraps. What’s “leftover” is then returned to the kitchen and prepared as Reuben sandwiches.
Ellis Island unveils The Front Yard
Ellis Island’s marketing director Christina Ellis talks about the new addition of the Front Yard. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST