How to Cope When the Holidays Aren’t So Jolly | PCOM Perspectives
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How to Cope When the Holidays Aren’t So Jolly 
A Conversation with Dr. Lisa Corbin

December 18, 2023

President and CEO Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, was joined recently by Lisa Corbin, PhD, LPC, NCC, on the PCOM Perspectives podcast to discuss how the holidays can impact people’s mental health and talk through ways to cope with any difficult feelings the season can bring.

PLAY PCOM Perspectives: How to Cope When the Holidays Aren’t So Jolly
Lisa Corbin, PhD, LPC, NCC
Lisa Corbin, PhD, LPC, NCC

The holidays can be a time of celebration as people mark the season by decorating their homes, gathering to enjoy family time and traditions, and indulging in delicious food. On the other hand, the last few months of the year can be tough for those who don’t feel as excited about the celebrations.

“Sometimes we go into the holiday season, and we think we have to be joyful and be happy, and for some people, that really isn’t the case,” shared Corbin. “Maybe they don’t have the support system that other people have, and that can really exacerbate symptoms of depression or even anxiety.”

Corbin noted the various reasons people might not be in the holiday spirit, including financial strain, family dynamics, and the winter season, with shorter days and less sunlight.

“People might have also suffered a significant loss,” she said. “And they’re realizing that person is not around or not there.”

Even before she suffered a significant loss herself, Corbin witnessed how each person she worked with grieved differently, noting that it’s not always a linear process.

To uplift students and staff during this time, Supporting One Another as we Rise (SOAR), an informal all-campus colleague resource group, hosted an event on November 15 about maintaining your mental health throughout the holidays.

“The idea came from me thinking about the personal pain I experience during the holiday season,” shared Monica Jones, Assistant Director of the Student Wellness Center and SOAR Village Facilitator.

“During holiday gatherings, most people look forward to the joy they experience with their villages,” she said. “However, some people are not available or present to share in creating new memories with us, which also brings a little sadness during the holiday season.”

Jones explained that many people don’t feel comfortable discussing sadness or are unaware of healthy coping skills.

“I thought it was important to bring awareness to those of us suffering in silence and offer resources from an expert,” she said.

In his conversation with Dr. Corbin, Dr. Feldstein acknowledged the difficulty of medical school and the pressure students can face both in and out of the classroom.

“You’re coming into an entirely new situation,” he said. “The amount of information they have to learn and process is overwhelming. It’s often equated to drinking from a firehose. It’s a whole new environment, and that’s going to make anybody anxious—that’s a normal response. I worry more about people who wouldn’t be anxious when they start medical school.”

Throughout the conversation, Dr. Feldstein highlighted the mental health services offered at PCOM. He also stressed the importance of sharing more openly how feeling anxious can be a normal emotion, acknowledging that students are not alone in their feelings. A sentiment shared by Obadiah Mshindi, Network Engineer for Information Technology Services and SOAR Village Facilitator.

“It is important to be mindful that some of our very own co-workers, classmates, faculty, and students may be dealing with things we may not be privy to or aware of,” said Mshindi.

“In general, we at SOAR believe that mental health is part of self-care, and during the holidays, this may require some extra TLC and attention. Mental health and wellbeing is important for everyone.”

To hear the full conversation or listen to past episodes of PCOM Perspectives, visit Spotify, Soundcloud or the Office of the President.

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For the past 125 years, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education, operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and school psychology. The college also offers graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and school psychology. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit or call 215-871-6100.

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