As the familiar holiday jingle goes “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Well, not for everyone! Surveys indicate 45% of people living in the United States would choose to skip out on the holidays, rather than deal with the stress of it all.

No matter what holidays you celebrate, the expectations during this time can be overwhelming. Tasks such as buying gifts, preparing food, and planning events require additional time and resources which are often already in short supply.

The start of the holiday season prompts us to be grateful and reflect on the meaning of celebrations, traditions, and life. Regardless of which holidays you observe, the season also comes with an abundance of tasks and expectations. Few of us have escaped unscathed from the challenges that we’ve lived over the past year. Many of us have lost loved ones, faced personal health difficulties, or struggled through relationship issues. All these hardships may be making it hard to grapple with the cheerfulness of the season.

In the northern hemisphere, we officially welcomed the season of fall on September 22. While I can appreciate certain aspects of all the seasons, fall ushers in many of my favorite things: colorful leaves, temperatures cool enough for cozy sweaters and the comfort of a warm cup of tea.

Typically, my least favorite trait of fall is the increased hours of darkness. On the autumnal equinox we experience equal hours of daylight and darkness before the hours of daylight progressively get shorter until the winter solstice when light once again prevails.

The summer between high school graduation and freshman year of college is cause for excitement and a feeling of pride. There are many celebratory events to attend and possibly even a college orientation. While it is a milestone that is filled with enthusiasm, it can also take a toll on the student’s mental well-being especially if they are going away to school later that summer.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health refers to our state of mind and includes emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. Our mental health influences how we feel, think and act which can fluctuate over time and with stress. Supporting our physical health, thought patterns, and relationships helps strengthen our mental health.

By now, you may be familiar with the concept of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). ACEs are potentially traumatic events that happen during childhood. They typically involve being a victim or witness of violence, or feeling of insecurity. Exposure to ACEs has been associated with negative outcomes in adulthood like poor mental health, chronic health problems, and substance abuse.

Fence with signs saying Don't Give Up, You are not Alone, You Matter

When most people think of health, more than likely they think of it in the physical sense. Questions that normally come to mind include - Why do I feel sick? What part of my body hurts? Did I pull a muscle? Why is my stomach upset? Are the results to my blood work or recent screenings normal? Well, health, as you may already know, encompasses more than physical health. How a person feels, thinks, and acts are important components of health, particularly mental health.

The start of a new year is often the time when we consider making change in our lives. Whether you call think in terms of resolutions, goals or intentions, the question remains – how can I be a successful change agent? Psychologists who study behavior change provide the following suggestions.