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Tips for the Holidays

Get some tips from your FSAP counselors to help you navigate the holiday season.

The counselors at the UC San Diego Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) recognize that while the holidays can be a time for joy and connection with loved ones, it can also be a challenging and stressful season. Read on to get some tips and insight from the FSAP team for this holiday season. 

Tips for the Holidays During COVID-19

Tips for the Holidays During COVID-19

From Jennifer Triana, LCSW

I recently relocated to San Diego from New York, so of course I had planned to return to the East Coast for the holidays to reconnect with my loved ones. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic that seems to be more stressful than exciting for me this year. Maybe you can relate to my travel-in-a-pandemic angst, you are on budget, or just unable to travel and be with family this year. Either way, you can make this holiday season a memorable one!

After chatting with my family and friends, reading lots of “How to” articles, I have complied a list of my favorite tips for this season. They made me view my situation in a new light, and I hope they do the same for you! 

  1. Ditch the guilt! While many of us find it important to be in the same physical location as our loved ones during holidays, it is equally important to assess if your stress level will allow you to enjoy them. Try communicating to them that this year it is important to you to stay put and ask them to understand. If you need help with how to say this, schedule a session with FSAP to help you!
  2. Say good-bye to FOMO (fear of missing out)! Focus on those who you do have around you and how you can create new memories with them during this season. makes a great point about not having to spread yourself thin trying to see so many relatives and friends.
  3. Schedule a virtual date on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hang Out, What’sapp, etc. Technology can really foster a sense of togetherness, even across the miles. Try to coordinate meal or gathering times and connect on a device that can be adapted to your television for a real feel. You can say what you are grateful for, pray or sing holiday songs together in real time.
  4. Virtual Secret Santa anyone? Websites like,, and are great ways to continue holiday gift giving traditions when we are apart.
  5. Holy days any time: Hanukah in January or Christmas in March. While holidays do have their specific dates, that does not mean we always have to adhere to them. Flight prices drop significantly after the holiday season. Plan to celebrate another month when it is more convenient or realistic.
  6. Comfort food. Ask your loved ones how they make that dish you love, and make it for yourself! Having a comfort dish during the holiday can really make it feel like you are home.

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A Personal Commitment for Five Days

A Personal Commitment for Five Days

From William Youngblood, LMFT

In 2011, Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, wrote the book Flourish. In it he outlined five elements that contribute to well-being. During this time, as personal and professional pressures increase with increasing stressors in our lives, it can benefit us to take simple steps towards behaviors that increase our sense of well-being and increase resilience.

For this five-day commitment, we will use Seligman’s five elements to guide our 5 days of focus signified by the acronym PERMA. Feel free to do each of these days consecutively or accomplish them throughout the holiday season. Most of these commitments will have benefits in more than one area of PERMA.

Day 1: Positive Emotions

Research has found that acts of kindness significantly help us feel better physically and emotionally. For your first day, decide on a random act of kindness you will carry out. Perhaps you can check in on a neighbor, give an inspirational book to someone, pay for the person behind you in line, make it a day of complimenting others, leave quarters at a laundromat with a note wishing someone a great day, or any other random act of kindness. Find more ideas for random acts of kindness »

Day 2: Engagement

When we are deeply and fully engaged in an activity, it greatly impacts our sense of well-being. For your second day, make a list of activities that you get deeply engaged in; then, engage in one of those activities. Consider activities that require a balance of skill and challenge. Options like doing a puzzle, sports, building something, gardening, writing, music, etc. Learn more about the power of engagement »

Day 3: Relationships

Positive healthy relationships allow us to feel connected, understood, challenged, and can offer a pleasant distraction. For your third day, take a moment to write a letter of gratitude to someone in your life. Communicate to them the behaviors they do that you appreciate, what it says about them, and what their behavior communicates to you. For an extra moment of connection, read it out loud directly to them before giving them a copy. Read more about relationships and social connection »  

Day 4: Meaning

Having an understanding about the meaning of the behaviors we engage in can make a significant difference in how we experience them. For example, UC San Diego employees can just simply work a job or they can acknowledge they contribute to a top-ranked university that educates future leaders and conducts research that will changes the world for the better. On your fourth day, take a moment to consider an activity you do often (job, relationship, daily routine, parenting, etc.). Then list your reasons why you engage in this activity. Next refine this to how this activity contributes to higher values in life that matter most to you (accomplishment, connection, compassion, responsibility, etc.). Notice how his impacts your view of this activity. Read more about meaning and purpose »

Day 5: Accomplishment

When we notice accomplishment and areas of growth we feel the positive consequences of our success. On your fifth day, make a list on a piece of paper of three specific concrete tasks that you would like to accomplish for the day. Each time you complete a task, draw a line through it; then, say out loud, “Great! I did it”! Then, of course, upon completing your five days, remember to say out loud, “Great! I did it”! Read a nice summary article about accomplishment »

Music is the Universal Language of Love

Music is the Universal Language of Love

From the Resource Desk at FSAP

Jimmy Cheatham always said – with that big, bright smile – “Music is the universal language of love.” He was a faculty member of UC San Diego's Department of Music for 27 years before retiring in 2005. He provided inspiration and, during this unpredicatable year and holiday season, continues to remind us to connect to life and the world!

Whether you listen to music that brings you comfort and joy (like the jazzy, festive soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas) or enjoy something new, find expression and inspiration through music that can be relatable and universal to all! In case you missed it or you want to be a part of a jam session, here is your invitation to join Jeannie and Jimmie Cheatham and the Sweet Baby Blues Band perform "Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On"