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Make wellness a priority this season

Steve Wengel, MD, Sarah Fischer, PhD, and Priya Gearin, MD

Steve Wengel, MD, Sarah Fischer, PhD, and Priya Gearin, MD

The holidays evoke visions of joyful family celebrations, holiday decorations and busy social calendars. But for many, the holidays also can be a time of heightened anxiety, depression, stress and grief.

UNMC Wellness Team

The UNMC Wellness Team includes Steve Wengel, MD, assistant vice chancellor for campus wellness; Sarah Fischer, PhD, director of wellness programming; and the newest member of the team, Priya Gearin, MD. Together, they:

  • Provide resilience training;
  • Consult on wellness-related research projects;
  • Offer individual coaching; and
  • Serve as wellness navigators, linking to other resources on and off campus.

Whether someone is troubled by the weight of world events, holiday stressors and unrealistic expectations, fewer daylight hours or the sadness of having lost a loved one, job or relationship, UNMC leaders encourage staff, students and faculty to make their personal and mental wellness a priority this holiday season.

“It’s an incredibly complicated time of year,” said Steven Wengel, MD, assistant vice chancellor for campus wellness. “Expectations run high and, coupled with the unimaginable global suffering we’ve seen in the media, life can quickly become overwhelming.

“Mental health matters for everyone, so, as the holidays approach, it’s OK – and normal – to juggle feelings of joy with bouts of sadness, grief and stress, and prioritize self-care with friends or professionals.”

The UNMC Department of Psychiatry reminds us to:

  • Set realistic expectations, be kind to yourself and show grace to others who may be experiencing unknown difficulties.
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity of experience and prioritize experience rather than hustle.
  • Give yourself permission to slow down.
  • Remember what’s important during the season.
  • The scope of global suffering can make one feel helpless, so do what you can, where you are, to better your corner of the world.
  • Seek help, if needed, for anxiety, depression or substance use disorder. It’s not uncommon for people to be impacted by seasonal affective disorder or loneliness in the fall and winter. 
  • Set boundaries and respect those of others. If you have disagreements with loved ones, it’s OK to change the subject or say, “I won’t talk about that topic today.” Or if all else fails, leave early.
  • Schedule time for the things that enhance your resilience, such as exercise or coffee with friends or colleagues.


  1. Sarah A. Gloden Carlson says:

    Thank you for you do to support wellness for our UNMC Community! These are important reminders.

  2. Anne Wilber says:

    We have the most stellar wellness dept! Thank you for all you do!

  3. Dr. Howard Liu, Chair Dept. Psychiatry says:

    Always proud of our inspiring wellness team! Drs. Wengel, Gearin and Fischer are doing so much for the culture of health across our UNMC and Nebraska Medicine campuses. They embody the principle of, “Never worry alone,” which can save lives in healthcare and science.

  4. Marina says:

    Thank you, Wellness team!
    It may seem ‘simple’ to remember to relax and take care of one’s own full-spectrum wellness, but with end of the semester/ holiday stress, it can feel like a daunting task.
    These type help immensely.
    I especially like the idea to schedule time to relax, so it is a strs uttered priority.

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