Monarch medical director shares ways to cope with holiday stress, seasonal depression

In addition to holiday stressors, McHale said during winter months with fewer daylight hours, it is also common for people to have seasonal affective disorder. He suggests that type of depression may be treated with therapy, medications, and phototherapy.

McHale shares the following suggestions to help people get through the stress of the holiday season:

      • Take some time out for yourself. Whether you pamper yourself or simply slow your daily pace, lend some time to your own personal needs and try to relax.

     • Eat a nutritious diet; get some physical exercise and plenty of sleep. Also, avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

     • Give yourself permission to express your emotions. If you feel an urge to cry, let the tears flow. Tears can be healing. Experts have found that certain brain chemicals in tears are natural pain relievers. Share the memories and the experience of your loss. Remember, there are no time limits on grief.

    • Begin new traditions and discontinue other stress-filled holiday routines.

    • Find activities that make you laugh. It is okay to laugh during difficult times.

    • Give to others. Reinvest in others as a volunteer or commit to helping with activities or events that focus on others.

McHale encourages those who need support to seek the counsel of a professional. Monarch offers Open Access, a service that allows individuals who need services to walk in for the first time without an appointment. The goal is to provide a comprehensive clinical assessment, a treatment plan, a psychiatric evaluation, with prescriptions if needed, and a referral to the proper level of care.

Monarch also provides group therapy and therapy for individuals who need confidential counseling or support. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (866) 272-7826. 

Established in 1958, Monarch is a non-profit organization that provides support statewide to thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse challenges. The agency is nationally accredited by The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) and certified by The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a Critical Access Behavioral Health Agency (CABHA). Monarch operates The Arc of Stanly County, which is a chapter of The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States. To learn more about how Monarch provides support for people, please call (866) 272-7826 or visit
Media contact: Natasha A. Suber at (704) 986-1582 or