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Looking for Levity During the Sometimes Stressful, Painful Holiday Season

A depressed woman sits in front of a Christmas tree.

The holidays are usually a time of joy but can be a difficult time for our patients and for those providing clinical care as well.

For our patients, they may be struggling with new health issues, the recent loss of loved ones, or with family issues that are made worse during the holidays. The holidays can also lead to exacerbation of existing mental health issues. It is our privilege to be there for our patients to help them navigate issues they may be dealing with.

As physicians, we may have our own personal issues to deal with. In addition, it may fall to our lot to be on call or work extra over the holidays, so we are trying to coordinate work responsibilities with time off with our families.

On a lighter note, a story comes to mind about a family physician who was approaching their first holiday season as a practicing physician. They were gratified when they received a card in the mail from a patient who had recently established care with them. The physician saved the card for a quiet moment at the end of the day and then realized when they opened the card that it was a stool sample for cancer screening! The physician took heart in the fact that the patient was doing what they had recommended.

So, I am sending you holiday greetings to whatever situation you find yourself, hoping that you can extract yourself from holiday stress and have a joyful time with your family.

Dr. Craig Griebel

About the Author

Dr. Craig Griebel is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.