Today I am thankful for

Being Thankful at the Holidays

By | Coping, Family, Gratitude, Holiday, Mindfulness | 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. 

What do you need this holiday season?

By | Coping, 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, 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, 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.

Managing Adult Sibling Relationships During the Holidays

By | Coping, Family, Holiday, Relationships, Stress | No Comments

When the holidays come around, there are certain relationships that can be more stressful than others. We often find parent and adult child relationships, in-law relationships, and peer friendships can all be strained at the holidays. Sometimes we forget a relationship that can also bring stress at the holidays, are those among siblings. Even more so if we’ve had past animosity with our siblings growing up. We may be harboring some negative feelings towards them without even realizing it.

Thomas G Plante says in his article titled ‘Managing Adult Sibling Relationships During the Holidays’, that learning how to cope, forgive, and move forward with your sibling is necessary to enjoy the holidays. Sometimes sibling rivalry can rear it’s head full force when a family gathering is happening. The holidays are said to bring out the best in people, but we find that it can bring out the worst in those we love the most. It doesn’t seem to matter how old we are, we tend to revert back to emotions that may have plagued our sibling relationships when we were younger.

Being able to effectively communicate with your siblings as an adult is a key factor in the success of the relationship. It can be difficult when there is unsolved tension or when equal effort isn’t put forth by each sibling to mend the relationship. It can also be difficult when you have more than one sibling, or you find that your relationships with your other siblings are not as strained.

There are other factors that can contribute to the strain put on you and your sibling. The distance you live from one another, the difference in age, or the type of relationship each of you have with both of your parents. Finding some time to speak to your sibling alone to resolve some of the issues in a calm matter might be a good start. Possibly trying to reconnect over something that bonded you when you were a child. Or at the very least, trying not to let your sibling bother you, and instead engage with other members of your family who make you feel good.

7 Tips To Reduce Holiday Stress

By | Anxiety, Coping, Health, Holiday, Stress | No Comments

The holidays are upon us, and everyone is looking forward to celebrating this holiday season. What you might not be looking forward to, are the heightened emotions we can often experience as the festivities draw closer.

We might be dealing with family members that are difficult, or the loss of a loved one, or even stress about staying healthy. Emotions like stress, anxiety, depression, or anger can come out at some not so opportune moments during holiday gatherings. So what’s the solution? While everyone is dealing with something different around the holidays, we can all benefit from some stress relieving tips. Connie Bennet wrote an article for Psychology Today giving us 7 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress.

The 7 tips are below, check out her article to read more information on each tip!

1- Take Calm Down Breaks

2- Put on Rose-Colored Glasses

3- Get Moving

4- Go for real food mostly

5- Take polite portions of “comfort” foods and drinks

6- Prepare “Need to do for me” and “Need to do for you” lists

7- Be Generous