Psychologist Elaine Rodino’s Tips on those Holiday Blues

Published in on December 19, 2022

It is a visible sign of the approach of Christmas.  Houses are decorated with colorful Christmas lights with wreaths with red ribbons hung on the front doors of homes throughout the community. But planned gatherings next weekend with family and friends may not bring the joyful feelings and closeness you might expect, rather. isolation and loneliness. 

Increased demands of family obligations during the upcoming holidays, from last minute shopping trips for gifts, baking and cooking, cleaning, to hosting parties, getting your Christmas cards in the mail, and even unrealistic expectations can oftentimes produce extra stresses, feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.  

During her 43-year career as a licensed practicing psychologist in Los Angeles and at State College, Pennsylvania, Elaine Rodino, Ph.D., a fellow and former president of the American of the American Psychological Association’s division of psychologists in independent practice, has had a longstanding interest in the holiday blues and has helped many of her patients cope with this issue over the years. 

No formal condition but it’s a “real” condition

During an interview on Speaking of Psychology, the flagship podcast of the American Psychological Association (APA), Psychologist Dr. Elaine Rodino noted that there’s no formal diagnosis of holiday blues, but it is a real condition. “It’s a condition that usually appears around the holidays and then fades away sometime in January,” she says.

According to Rodino, feelings can vary. To some people it’s a feeling of malaise, tiredness and they just can’t get to things. For others it’s the “traditional bah-humbug attitude,” she said, noting that “they hate the holidays and just can’t wait until they are over.”   

In counseling sessions during holidays, Rodino says conversations always come up as to how the patient will “get through the holidays, what they’re doing, what the stresses are, and how they’re going to deal with getting together with the family.”

Rodino, who has been quoted on the topic over the years by the LA TimesChicago TribuneNew York TimesBoston GlobeWebMD, and many magazines, offers these tips to cope with the stresses and anxiety triggered by the upcoming holidays.

Be conscious of your spending especially this year with soaring inflation and high interest rates. “Especially large families where each person usually gives to every other person there can be a plan to have a grab-bag of names and buy only for the person whose name you pick out of the bag. I have heard of this plan working well in a number of families and groups,” says Rodino.

Rodino suggests that if you know of a person who had a loss this year or has recently become single, it’s good to invite them to join you and your family for any holiday events or dinners. “People who are alone can take the initiative to create a gathering of others and have a potluck party.  This can be planned for Christmas or New Year’s, too,” she says.

“COVID is not totally gone and this year the flu and RSV are creating illnesses and hospitals are near capacity in many places. Continue to take precautions,” adds Rodino.  “I suggest that people get their immunizations for COVID and flu.  It may not prevent you from getting sick, but it will most likely be a milder case,” she notes.

“Don’t be intimated if you want to wear a mask. Just because you may feel like the only person wearing a mask, if that’s what you feel is safe, wear that mask,” recommends Rodino. “I’ve known people who say they knew they should have kept their mask on, but no one else was wearing one,” she says.

Don’t talk politics if everyone’s not on the same political page

Rodino warns that in family gatherings unless everyone is on the same page, politically, try not to bring up politics or issues that are politically split. “The slightest mention of one of these topics could seem okay at first, but then can slowly escalate to high levels of debate and arguments,” she says.

It is important to be very aware that some people may be recently sober, says Rodino. “If someone declines a drink of eggnog, etc. do not insist.  Likewise, if you are newly sober you may want to party with other sober friends,” she suggests. 

“Some people may also have eating disorders and may also be triggered by insistence that they try a certain dessert, or have seconds,” adds Rodino. 

Take care of your self-care during this time of year. “Consider taking time for yourself.  Take a break from shopping and all things related to the holidays. A walk, a warm bath, a massage, or even just reading a book can do wonders to renew your energy,” she notes.

Become aware of your own expectations and that of others as to what you “should” be doing for the holidays. “Take time to figure out what you really want to do, who you want to spend time with, what you want to buy. You don’t need to follow traditions that no longer have meaning for you. You can start your new ways of celebrating the holidays. That may even include leaving town and going on a vacation,” she says.   

Rodino says, “Why not spend some time reviewing your plans for the holidays, and make wise decisions now, so you can really have Happy Holidays.”

To listen to APA’s Blog with Dr. Elaine Rodino speaking about holiday blues, go to


AARP study shows Seniors favor a good life, over a lengthy one

Published in RINewsToday on September 26, 2022, 

Even with many older adults facing health challenges in their later years, they maintain an optimistic view of their aging and expect their lives to improve as they grow older, according to new research findings from AARP in collaboration with National Geographic Partners. The study found that three-quarters or more of those age 60 and over have at least one serious health condition, nearly half rate their health as very good or excellent.  

“The insights in this [57 page] study demand that we reexamine our assumptions about aging, especially outdated stereotypes around growing older,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP in a statement released on June 1, 2022, announcing the findings of the study. “Far from being dragged down by worries about their health and finances, adults in their 70s and beyond are optimistic and positive about their lives.

They have a clear-eyed view of what it means to age, and they want their final decades of life to be independent and healthy – as they define the terms!” she says. 

According to the Second Half of Life Research study, Americans are doing more to stay healthy as they move into their later years.  They are more likely to take control of their health by getting health screenings, eating more produce and monitoring their sugar intake. And having more healthy years matters more than simply living longer – most respondents say that they were interested in a hypothetical pill that could slow down aging, but far fewer would take a pill to extend their life by a decade. 

The AARP study also found that the oldest Americans are also some of the happiest people: about one in three people aged 80 and older said they were very happy with their life, compared to just 16% of those ages 40-49. The researchers paired a national survey of adults 18 and older with in-depth interviews to paint a detailed picture of Americans’ outlook on life in the years from 40 to 100, and how those perceptions evolve with each decade. They found that relations with families and friends become an important feature and a source of purpose and joy as we age. Retirement allows one to control their lives and they choose to spend it with loved ones and having hobbies. Travel is expected but falls off as the person ages.  

The AARP study’s findings indicate that as people move into their later years, they don’t seem concerned about the length of their life, and as they live longer it becomes even less of a concern. “Fear of dying is low and drops as you age; feeling the need to prepare grows as you age,” notes the researchers.

On the financial front, just over half of adults 70 and older say their financial situation is excellent or very good – but responses vary widely by household income. More than half of those with an income of less than $30,000 per year rate their financial situation as fair or poor, while 60% of those with an income over $100,000 rate their finances as excellent or very good.

Among adults who are still working, most want to retire at a younger age than they think they will be able to – a gap that gets smaller with age. 

Most Americans want and expect to live independently as they age; only in their 80s did more respondents say they would need support to do so. Living in “my home” is also preferred over living in a retirement community, but this desire declines in the later decades, says the study’s findings.

The AARP Study also found that brain health, independence, and relationships were the top concerns of the respondents. The study’s findings indicate that memory loss was a top concern, too. For the respondents, memory and strength becomes a top concern as the person reached age 50 and over, while fear of cancer became less of a concern.

The study’s respondents expressed fear of becoming incontinent and have diminished hearing in their later years, but fear of diabetes and sexual performance loss declined after their 60s. 

For older study respondents, reliance on Social Security becomes a certainty. Hopefully this finding will reach the ears of Congressional lawmakers as they debate the merits of strengthening and expanding the nation’s Social Security program.

The study’s findings note that researchers also say that fears about the ability to live independently steadily increase over the decades.  Assistance from family and friends are more preferable to respondents when living at home, than hiring help. This preference increases as they age.

AARP’s Second Half of Life study, conducted in collaboration with National Geographic Partners with Heart+Mind Strategies, included an online and telephone survey of 2,580 US adults ages 18 and older, conducted January 7-28, 2022, and 25 in-depth, individual 30-minute interviews conducted virtually from February 22 to March 4, 2022.  Final data have been weighted to the U.S. Census for analysis by age group, gender, census division, ethnicity, and education.

To view the Second Half of Life Study’s report, go to:

For more information, please contact Vicki Levy, AARP’s Senior Research Advisor, at

AARP survey: Close link for women between discrimination and mental health

Published in RINewstoday on Sept. 5, 2022

The Washington, DC-based AARP recently reported the results of its annual survey, Mirror/Mirror: Women’s Reflections on Beauty, Age and Media™. The survey findings indicate that discrimination is a real and common occurrence. Nearly two out of three (63%) women 50-plus say they feel discriminated against regularly. For most American women who experience discrimination, they regularly rate their current mental health lower, on average, than those who do not, and that age, race, ethnicity and/or skin tone, as well as weight, are the most common types of discrimination reported. 

AARP partnered with the NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct a national survey last fall. As to methodology, AARP’s study included a national survey of 6,643 women ages 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish; most were online, while about 100 were via telephone. The survey was weighted to be representative of the segment it represents. 

The survey findings indicate that bias occurring in everyday encounters take their toll on women’s mental and physical health, as well as their finances, and career opportunities.

According to the findings of AARP’s survey, in addition to suffering other forms of discrimination, women 50+ also experience age discrimination, as many appear to be deemed “too old.” The study’s data, released on June 22, 2022, found that ageism seems to be the most frequently reported type of discrimination (48%) among women 50+ who experience discrimination regularly. Among these women, discrimination based on weight appears to have the greatest impact on their mental health, say the researchers.

AARP’s Mirror/Mirror™ survey also reflects the pressure working women feel to look or act a certain way. In fact, more than half (57%) of women 50+ surveyed feel pressured to wear professional clothing at work, while 47% feel they should wear age-appropriate clothing; 43% feel pressured to wear gender-appropriate clothing, and 43% feel pressured to behave a certain way at work.

AARP’s survey findings also found that 67% of working women aged 18-plus reported experiencing discrimination at work that impacted their earnings. Additionally, 87% say they have been overlooked, or devalued; have been passed over for a raise, promotion (42%); been told to behave a certain way at work (38%); were excluded from projects or meetings (29%;) or been unfairly fired from a job (23%).

The survey shows that while experiences of discrimination may vary, women who experience discrimination regularly adapt to it in similar ways. For example, 74% closely observe their surroundings, 58% carefully watch what they say and how they say it, and 51% consider feelings of safety and comfort in their everyday interactions.  

“Every day, the mental health of countless numbers of women is affected by acts of discrimination. Irrespective of their age, ethnicity, or any other factor, women should not have to adapt their behavior to lessen the incidence of discrimination against them,” said Yvette Peña, AARP Vice President of Multicultural markets, announcing the study’s findings.

The survey, key elements of which appeared in a digital and print content collaboration with Allure in their June/July issue, also reveals that younger women are more likely than older women to experience discrimination; they experience more types of discrimination; and they’re more likely to say that discrimination impacts their mental health. However, age discrimination impacts women of all ages. Around 1 in 3 women (30%) experience age discrimination “at least sometimes,” and women age 50+ experience age discrimination at roughly the same rate as women ages 18-49.

To see AARP’s annotated questionnaire:

For details about this study: