New Wave Nightingale

Tips for avoiding the blues this ­holiday season

New Wave NightingaleCLAYTON, CA (Dec. 8, 2023) — Elvis was never the only one in danger of having a “blue, blue Christmas.”

If you have ever watched the Hallmark Channel, you may have felt the tug of a wistful rope with the capacity to yank you into the pit of depression. Viewed at a vulnerable moment, the relentless images of happy families among perfectly manicured holiday decor can send a great many down a candy cane coated spiral.

Fear not, you are not alone. The holiday season is widely recognized to bear worse things than ugly sweaters and gag gifts. It drags with it a cornucopia of ghosts, disappointment, resentment, regret and even despair.

For many, the whole business is a fruitcake of feelings of failure, a plum pudding of pathos (I could go on …). A sense of humor, however questionable, is vital during these times.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38% of respondents reported increased stress during the holiday season. That can trigger bouts of depression and anxiety and lead to the use of less-than-healthy coping mechanisms.

A 2014 questionnaire administered by the National Alliance for Mental Illness found that 64% of Americans with a mental health diagnosis said the holiday season made their conditions worse. I found no follow-up demonstrating more hopeful statistics in the ensuing 10 years.

So how does one navigate the most wonderful time of the year without losing one’s mind? According to Angela Drake, a clinical neuropsychologist at UC Davis Health, the place to start is managing holiday expectations.

“Often what we are experiencing is a disconnect between our actual situation and what we think it should be,” she says.

Drake advises maintaining a focus on gratitude for the present with as little attachment to outcome as possible. She also suggests maintaining self “check-ins” to proactively manage stress and having a plan to set appropriate boundaries when necessary.

She stresses the importance of maintaining positive social connections as the holidays can be a time of isolation: “The holidays can amplify loneliness, especially when people no longer have family or live far away.”

Drake advocates seeking and building community through churches, clubs, cultural centers and other areas of common interest. To this I would add that finding ways to be of service is a benefit to both the community and each participating individual. Volunteering comes in myriad forms and allows people to use their skills and talents to make a difference. When one is engaged in service, it refreshes perspective while feeding the soul.

An easy place to get a look at the breadth of volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area is through

Let us end the year on an upbeat note; with a link to my holiday song “Solstice with the Mostest:”

I wish you all the best this and every season. We will meet again joyfully in 2024.

Please send comments and question to

Nathalie Montijo
Nathalie Montijo

Nathalie Raven Archangel-Montijo holds a rather interesting array of degrees and certifications, including master’s in nursing and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). She has post-master certification as an adult geriatric primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) and a license to practice acupuncture in California (L.Ac). To round all that out, she is certified in infection prevention and control (CIC) and as an advanced certified Hospice and palliative care nurse (ACHPN).

She also performs in the outlaw country band, Nineteen Hand Horse.