Holiday Season and the Importance of Self Care.

As we embark on this 2020 holiday season, we must first acknowledge how different this season is from previous seasons due to the stressors of the 2020 election, COVID-19 pandemic and our country’s racial reckoning. With all these added stressors we need to make sure to care for ourselves to prevent burnout and cracks in our mental health.

Self care often seems out of reach for BIPOC people and allies as we continue to deal with the daily stressors of fighting, teaching and engaging in social justice for our communities and the communities we love. But sometimes self-care is as simple as saying “no”. Although our society says that this is a time for giving, sharing, and over-extending ourselves in an attempt to show love; this could be the down fall for many who no longer have the emotional reserves from such a stressful year.

Here are a few steps:

Assess burn out. Burn out occurs when people who are usually passionate, and committed become disillusioned. When we think burn out we typically think work, but burn out can impact multiple areas of our life including home. So take a moment to assess.

Assess your boundaries. Boundaries are standards that we set for ourselves that help keep us safe and more importantly help us care for ourselves. Often times during holidays we over-extend ourselves and let go of our boundaries which may initially seem like a thoughtful thing to do but can ultimately leave you worse off. Here are a few types of boundaries:

  1. Physical boundaries
  2. Emotional boundaries
  3. Material boundaries
  4. Time boundaries
  5. Intellectual boundaries
  6. Sexual boundaries
  7. Spiritual boundaries

Assess your budget. Maintaining a budget is a major part of self-care. When we think of how we can become unraveled with the lack of physical, mental, emotional self-care one should expect the same outcome when we do not practice financial self-care. During the holidays, gift giving not only feels good but it also reinforces and occasionally strengthens relationships. However, falling into debt can leave one with a holiday hangover that may be hard to recuperate from.

Although this is just a small list of ways that you can keep self-care front and center this holiday season there are many other forms of self-care that you can say yes to including exercise, quality time with friends and family, reading, listening to music and checking in with a licensed mental health counselor for support.

Wishing you the best and safest of holiday seasons!

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder and clinical director of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services which is licensed in the state of California. IPAS staff are an group of inclusive therapists that focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. IPAS believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life. Call IPAS today to see how the right therapist can help you : 408-359-6700.

Depression and US, part II

During this six part series on depression, I will share some of recent research on depression as it pertains to various groups in the United States. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, with over three million cases diagnosed in the United States per year. Depression is described as a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that can lead to a range of behavioral and physical changes. Some of these symptoms may include changes in sleep, energy level, concentration, and self- esteem. In the most severe cases depression can also cause thoughts of suicide. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the national suicide prevention line at 800-273-8255 or go to your local emergency room for immediate assistance.

Depression Among Asian Americans

            Asian Americans are “the fastest growing minority population in the US” and with nineteen unique ethnicities that include Cambodian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Pakistani, Filipino, Thai, and Vietnamese, detection of mental health symptoms can be somewhat complicated. A significant percentage of Asian Americans suffer from depression, but are less likely to be diagnosed than any other ethnic group.

One major reason for this diagnostic shortcoming is that Asian Americans presentation of depressive symptoms are different than any other ethnic/racial group. Asian Americans “may not report sadness or depressed mood” to providers as their main complaint, so they may not meet the criteria typically used to measure depression. Instead Asian Americans have been found to display more physical symptoms of depression, such as “changes in appetite, headaches, backaches, stomachaches, insomnia, or fatigue.” This may be why Asian Americans are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, and are “less likely to access any depression treatment.”

            Researchers estimate that 26.9% – 35.6% of Asian Americans may have depressive symptoms; 4.5% – 11.3% of Asian American adults meet the criteria for major depression. Research supports that higher rates of depression are found among Koreans and Filipinos, while lower rates are found with Japanese and Chinese ethnicities. Overall, these numbers suggest that there needs to be more research and support for Asian American communities in order to support their mental health.

            Mental health providers can better detect depression and increase mental health services for Asian Americans by understanding diversity, and taking a more insightful approach to diagnostic assessment of Asian American mental health needs.


References: Kim, H.J., Park, E., Storr, C.L., Tran, K., Juon, H.S. (2015). Depression among Asian-American Adults in the Community: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE, 10 (6).

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services. Her practice focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. Dr. Williams believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life.

Call Dr. Williams today for a free consultation: 408-317-0687.