Today I am thankful for

Being Thankful at the Holidays

By | Coping, Emotional, Family, Gratitude, Holiday, Mindfulness, Thankful | No Comments

Does your family go around the table at Thanksgiving and have everyone say what they’re thankful for? This seems to be a common tradition at the beginning of the holiday season, but as the season progresses, we see more and more of us lose sight of this gratitude.

The holiday season is bombarding us weeks before it even begins; with commercials, ads, a full calendar, cooking stress and much more. Our society has turned the holidays from a warm and welcoming family gathering, into a greedy, commercialized, stress filled, over expectation suffering holiday. It is no news that holiday stress is becoming an all time high over the last few years. All you have to do is google, ‘Holiday Stress’ and hundreds of links come up about coping with the holiday stress, how to avoid it, or how to skip it all together. Northeastern Psychology Professor David DeSteno says that we can actually alleviate some of the holiday stress by practicing active thankfulness and gratitude. The general idea is the more you can focus on what you are thankful for, the more your emphasis on what is important during the holiday season shifts.  From gifts, schedules, and trying to please everyone, to gratitude for what you already have, the family you can spend time with, and the traditions you participate in.

He says the best way to accomplish this is to add it to your daily routine. If you start your day with a cup of coffee, take a moment at your kitchen table and tell yourself a few things you are thankful for that day. If you read a book before you get into bed a night, tell your partner or write down in a journal some of the small things through out the day that you are grateful for.

David DeSteno goes further to say, by doing this we have better impulse control, we’re easier to talk to, we have more empathy for those around us and actually choose to be active in our short and long term relationships.

This can be a great way to reconnect with yourself around the holidays. We so often put self care last when we’re so busy worrying about pleasing everyone else. There are so many people in the world that have much less than us.  Being grateful for what we do have can help us refocus on what really matters as the New Year starts. 

Nostalgia and the Holidays

By | Coping, Emotional, Family, Holiday, Nostalgia | No Comments

Right around Thanksgiving, those familiar holiday songs start playing on the radio, and the decorations are in full force. If you’re anything like me, you look forward to the holidays every year. I often think why I love the holidays so much? They were much more enjoyable as a child. Now we have to coordinate plane tickets, which family gets what day, how to stay on budget, and indulging but not overindulging. But even with all the holiday stress, that familiar nostalgia starts to creep in come November.

We start to set up holiday decorations after Thanksgiving, and my husband finally gives in and lets me listen to Christmas songs on the radio in the car. As a child, Christmas was so wonderful. My whole family together, the decorations, the almost unbearable anticipation for Christmas morning. I loved it all. I still love it, even though it will never be the way it was when we were younger. But nostalgia helps get me through, helps me to hold onto the memories of the holidays when we were kids.

The holidays as an adult give us a chance to bring our past traditions to light, or to make new traditions. It gives us a chance to go through old photographs, or celebrate the life of a loved one we lost. And it doesn’t matter how old you are, eating and decorating cookies is always a good time.

What I have noticed over the years, is while my nostalgia for the holidays seems to grow each year, my husband does not share my enthusiasm for all things festive. Why is it that some people love the holidays, while others loath them? Does everyone feel nostalgia in the same way? Can nostalgia have a negative impact on our emotional state, especially around the holidays? Dr. Kristine Batcho, a Nostalgic Expert (who knew there was such a thing!) answers these questions along with some others regarding Nostalgia and the holidays. Whether you can’t wait to listen to holiday music and watch old movies, or you’re counting down the days until January 2nd, The Biltmore Psychology and Counseling Team wish you and yours a very happy holiday season.

What do you need this holiday season?

By | Coping, Emotional, Health, Holiday, Mindfulness, Stress | No Comments

Have you ever really asked yourself what you actually need during this busy holiday season? Not to be confused with what you want, but really think about what you need? Is it some alone time? Is it some self care? Is it a new tradition? Or perhaps an old tradition to keep your positive emotions flowing. Whatever you may need this holiday season, take a moment to really think about it. Write it down. Make it happen. Encourage others around you to do the same for themselves. If we all take a moment to figure out what we need to make this holiday season warm and wonderful for ourselves, then we can in turn make the holiday a memorable one for others. Linda Esposito at Psychology Today has some great questions to ask yourself, and tips for setting goals for yourself during this stressful time. 

Why Do We Over Eat at the Holidays?

By | Coping, Emotional, Family, Health, Holiday, Mindfulness, Stress | No Comments

When we think about the holiday season, we often think about all the delicious food that will be floating around our homes, our offices, our kids schools, our churches. It seems the more the food, the more the merrier. But it can come at a cost if we aren’t careful. There are many reasons why we over indulge during the holidays. Our families might place significant importance on certain meals. Or we might have clients, friends, coworkers bring goodies to celebrate the season. Whatever the reason, holiday food and over consumption go hand in hand.

However, scientists actually have a term for why we continue to eat even though our stomachs are full and we know we should stop. Ingestion analgesia is the brains’ way to ‘defend eating from ending’. We actually block out the negative physical feelings of our stomachs as they are being pushed passed the uncomfortable. Ingestion analgesia takes it ones step further by blocking our negative emotional responses to over eating as well. The more we eat, the more our bodies feel like we want to eat more. So physically our bodies aren’t sending the correct messages that our stomachs are full. And emotionally our brain isn’t telling us that we’re full, and that we should stop and digest. If it seems like we don’t have any control physically or emotionally, what can we do?

Taking a moment around a meal is important in the way we process and enjoy food. Eating mindfully, taking breaks, and really tasting your food can help our bodies adjust to the holiday feasts. Chewing slowly to allow your digestive system to adapt to the food your consuming. A suggestion might be to remove yourself from the area or room the food is in, so you’re less likely to be near it and constantly going back for more.

There is no doubt that the season brings delicious, nostalgic, and euphoric symptoms for us and our families. But trying to focus on other traditions that don’t involve food can be a good way to take a break from all the temptations. Also making new traditions, like taking a family hike before the big dinner, or a bike ride after dinner can be a fun way to add physical activity. Enjoy everything about the holidays, even the food, but trying to be mindful and healthy can help ensure the start of a great New Year. If you’d like to read more about why we over eat during the holidays, take a look at Gary L Wenk’s article on Psychology Today!

How To Survive the Holidays Single or Divorced

By | Coping, Emotional, Health, Holiday, Relationships | No Comments

While going through a difficult break up or flying solo is tough enough, during the holidays it can be even tougher. We have this idea as a society that holidays are so much better in the arms of a loved one, shouting at the mountain tops how happy we are in our current relationships. There are plenty of us who spend the holidays single, and get by just fine. Lisa Bonos at The Washington Post has talked with some singles to hear how some of the unattached like to spend the holidays.