“We don’t expect dogs to act like cats – we need to remember that our relatives are going to be our relatives and that’s not going to be different,” Spring said. At Hathaway-Sycamore’s Center for Grief and Loss program, Executive Director Joan Cochran emphasizes “just reminding people that what’s important is connection,” she said. For the children and families she sees, “I think that the stress causes them to be more sad,” she said, “and that the stress can alleviate itself or relieve itself if you connect with what’s important, and that’s helping another person.” Other tips to ease the blues – or prevent them from welling up in the first place – include getting enough rest and relaxation, avoiding dwelling on past disappointments or losses, and enjoying holiday food and drink in moderation. Mental-health assistance can also be reached, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s ACCESS line, (800) 854-7771. “We’re simply here to help,” Kondo said. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson“Especially during the holidays, we see a lot of calls,” said Ken Kondo, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s ACCESS support line. “The other thing, too, is after the holidays we get a lot of calls because if they were in financial constraints beforehand, after the holidays that’s when the reality hits.” For others it can be family members, or the lack thereof, that can bring them down. “For many people, (the holidays) bring up images of how they wish things could be or how they wish they had been when they were growing up,” Spring said. “We’re really attracted to the idea of this being a warm and wonderful family experience.” “This can be particularly painful if it is not manifested,” he said. “Not everybody had a Norman Rockwell Christmas, and for many people, that’s sad.” Rather than letting that weigh you down, however, he suggests focusing on more reasonable expectations. For some, winter’s festivities are anything but merry and bright. The “holiday blues,” experts say, is no myth. “The holidays are very emotionally laden – so many people react strongly to them,” said Bruce Spring, a psychiatrist at Keck School of Medicine at USC. “We have ideas about how things should be, and when things aren’t the way we think they should be, we become upset, anxious, angry, guilty.” Dashed expectations are just the start. With all the office parties to attend, gifts to be bought and food platters to prepare, the winter months can also be fraught with stress and fatigue.