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The Mental Health Connection - December 2023

Reflecting on the past year, we are grateful for the meaningful connections we have built together. Your expertise and compassion have contributed immensely to the success of our shared mission. Together, we have created a supportive and collaborative community that is making a difference. We look forward to further collaboration, growth, and shared successes in the coming year. 

Wishing you and your loved ones a festive holiday season filled with laughter, love, and moments of respite. We look forward to another year of working together to promote mental health and well-being.

Happy Holidays,

Annette Conway


Help Therapy

December is Universal Human Rights Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month and National Stress-Free Family MonthUniversal Human Rights Month

In 1948, the United Nations established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document outlines universal human rights that should be recognized and protected globally. This month encourages us to recognize our shared humanity despite diverse cultures and beliefs. By doing so, we contribute to promoting and protecting the fundamental rights and dignity of every individual.

Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)  imposes some of the most stringent standards in the world for toys. CPSC requires testing by independent, third-party laboratories, enforces strict limits on lead and phthalates for toys and also stops dangerous toys from being imported and sold. When shopping for toys, consider the safety and recommended age range of children for each toy. Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. The group encourages everyone to consider if the toys they wish to give suit the age, individual skills, and abilities of the individual child who will receive them, especially infants and children under age three.

National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month

The holiday season brings a surge of tasks, accelerated time, and the looming pressure of family obligations and traditions. While achieving an utterly stress-free experience may be a lofty goal, we can enhance our enjoyment of this festive period by effectively managing our expectations and stress levels.If traditional holiday practices contribute more stress than joy, it might be time to embrace change. Taking control over the holidays, rather than letting them dictate our actions, is key. Evaluate longstanding traditions that no longer bring happiness and consider alternatives. Challenge yourself to break free from activities driven by habit rather than enjoyment. Remember, you have the power to make choices that prioritize your well-being during this festive season.

Navigating Emotional Turbulence at Family Gatherings

Dealing with difficult people at family gatherings can be particularly challenging due to the emotional ties and shared history. But there are strategies you can employ to handle such situations more effectively and with less stress. Here are five ways to deal with difficult people:

Remain Calm

Family gatherings may bring up strong emotions, but staying calm is important. Take deep breaths and avoid reacting impulsively to provocations. Maintaining composure will help prevent the escalation of conflicts during family events.

Empathize and Understand

Recognize that family members may be dealing with their own issues that may be affecting their behavior. Try to understand their perspectives, even if you disagree with them. Empathy can foster better communication and contribute to a more harmonious family atmosphere.

Set Boundaries

Communicate your boundaries and expectations, especially if specific topics are off-limits. Establishing ground rules for discussions can help create a more respectful environment. If a family member consistently crosses boundaries, consider addressing the issue privately and assertively.

Choose Your Battles

Family gatherings are not always the best time to address every issue. Some conflicts may be better suited for private discussions outside of the event. Prioritize maintaining the overall positive atmosphere during family gatherings and focus on resolving more significant issues separately.

Seek Common Ground

Find shared interests or common ground with family members. Emphasizing shared positive experiences or values can help redirect conversations away from potential conflicts. Building connections on commonalities can contribute to a more enjoyable family gathering.

Consider this scenario:

At a holiday family get-together, there's a heated political discussion between two relatives with opposing views. The conversation becomes more intense, and it's starting to affect the overall atmosphere of the gathering. Both individuals are visibly upset, and other family members feel uncomfortable.

In this scenario, take a moment to compose yourself before getting involved. It's essential to approach the situation with a level head. Try to understand the perspectives of the relatives concerned. Acknowledge that political discussions can be emotionally charged, and people may hold strong beliefs based on personal experiences.

If the discussion is becoming too disruptive, consider stepping in to suggest a change of topic. Politely let them know that political discussions can be divisive and that the goal of the family gathering is to enjoy each other's company. It may require taking the two people aside and letting them know their behavior is unacceptable. Redirect the focus to a more neutral or positive topic. Find common ground that can bring people together. There may be shared family memories or interests that can be discussed instead. Shifting the conversation to a more unifying topic can help diffuse tension.

It's important to remember that family dynamics can be complex, and conflicts may have deep-rooted histories. While these strategies can be helpful, they may only resolve some issues. In cases of persistent difficulties or strained relationships, seeking the assistance of a family therapist can provide additional support and guidance.

Socks for Seniors Drive 

We're excited to highlight the "Socks for Seniors Drive," put on by the SDCCOA each year, with Help Therapy as a sponsor. Help them surpass last year's success by donating socks—crucial for seniors. Consider contributing today; details can be found in the flyer here.

One of the drop-off locations is at the Help Therapy office, located at 3636 4th Ave, Suite 304, San Diego, CA 92103.


Serving Seniors

Serving Seniors is a San Diego nonprofit providing impactful programs and life-sustaining services to seniors aged 60+ living in poverty. Programs include meals, affordable housing, social and supportive services, lifelong learning, and health and wellness services. Click here for more information.

OG Yoga

OG Yoga offers trauma-informed yoga, meditation and well-being to marginalized youth, adults and seniors facing homelessness, poverty, abuse, addiction, behavioral challenges, incarceration and reentry. Click here for more information.

This Month’s Tip

8 Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

Self-care is especially important during stressful times—like during the holiday season. Here are some eight self-care tips to consider during the holidays to keep your well-being in mind:

Learn to Say No: Don't be afraid to say “no”. You can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all. Be selective. Decline invitations or commitments that may add stress to your plate. It's okay to prioritize your well-being and say no when necessary.

Set Boundaries with Technology: Take breaks from screens and social media. Constant connectivity can contribute to stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Designate specific times to unplug. 

Practice Mindfulness, Meditation and Gratitude: Regularly reflecting on what you’re grateful for can shift your focus toward positive aspects of your life, fostering a sense of contentment. Mindfulness and meditation can also help center your mind and reduce stress. Consider incorporating short gratitude, mindfulness or guided meditation sessions into your daily routine.

Spend Time Outdoors: Whether it's a walk on the beach, a hike, or simply sitting in a natural setting, connecting with nature has been shown to positively affect mental well-being.

Maintain Healthy Eating Habits: While enjoying holiday treats is okay, balancing your diet with nutritious foods is essential. Stay hydrated and be mindful of your eating habits, which can affect your mood and energy levels.

Exercise Regularly: Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. It can even give you more energy to do more things on your “to-do” list.

Prioritize Sleep: Ensure you are getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to stress and impact your overall well-being. Establish a bedtime routine to promote restful sleep.

Create Relaxation Rituals: Establish relaxation rituals to help unwind. This could be anything from taking a warm bath, practicing yoga, or listening to calming music. Find activities that bring you peace and incorporate them into your routine.

Remember that self-care is a personal and ongoing practice. Don't hesitate to explore new activities that bring you a sense of peace and joy. 


National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month

All December

See beechacres for more information.

Seasonal Depression Awareness Month

All December

See for more information.

International Human Solidarity Day

December 20, 2023

See United Nations for more information.

Do you have something to share? We’d love to hear about your successes and accomplishments! Contact us at

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