How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

Date: December 6th, 2019

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Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult, and it can be especially so during the holidays. While nothing can make grief easy to deal with, here are three things that can help you to be gentle on yourself and make it through the holiday season.

Allow Complications

It’s okay if your emotions are complicated. You’re grieving during a time of celebration, which is hard. It’s normal to feel a mix of conflicting emotions, or to feel numb as you simply go through the motions of each day. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time, so whatever you’re feeling is part of your own unique grief process.

Avoid Comparing

After the loss of a loved one, it’s easy to compare this holiday season to the ones you enjoyed together in the past, or even to compare your experience with others. A holiday accompanied by grief will be different. Even if others have experienced a similar loss, your experiences are unique to you. Rather than compare, try starting a new tradition in honor of your loved one, or spend time with close family and friends sharing favorite memories of the person who has passed on. However, pay attention to your emotions: if this is something you’re not ready for yet, that’s completely okay.

Save it for Next Year

If you feel guilty that you aren’t up to doing something in memory of your loved one this holiday season, that old traditions have fallen by the wayside, or that you just can’t face celebrating, be assured: there is truly no need for guilt. Whether we want them to or not, the holidays come around every year. Give yourself a break this year and know that there will be a next time.

If you are struggling to cope with your grief over the holidays, please get in touch with us. Our experienced therapists and counselors can give you the listening ear you need and support you through the process of grieving. Grieving the loss of a loved one during the holidays is painful, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’re here to help.

Tips for Spending Thanksgiving Alone

Date: November 19th, 2019

Filed under: Holidays

Spending holidays alone can be hard, and trying to recreate a big family Thanksgiving when you’re on your own can feel more discouraging than festive. But the truth is, there are ways you can enjoy your holiday, even if you’ll be spending it solo.

Volunteer

You may have fun meeting people at the local soup kitchen, cuddling animals at a shelter, or putting together a basket of items to donate. Helping others is a great way to boost your mood and keep busy, plus you’ll end up with a unique Thanksgiving memory that you can look back on in years to come.

Connect

If you’re spending Thanksgiving alone because you’re far away from family and friends, make arrangements to Skype or FaceTime with them. Connecting with loved ones—even remotely—can help you to feel less lonely and strengthen your relationships.

Rest

Spending a holiday alone is the ideal time to catch up on your Z’s. If you don’t have big plans, take advantage of the rare opportunity to relax and doze. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas if you don’t want to!

Create

Making something with your hands can be soothing, and a Thanksgiving day alone means you have time to do exactly that. Work on a fun project that’s been sitting in the garage for a while, or sit down to a puzzle or craft while you watch a favorite show on TV.

Eat

It’s a key component of any Thanksgiving, and you don’t have to skimp just because you aren’t sharing a meal with others. Make a favorite dish at home, treat yourself to a nice meal out, or splurge on a yummy treat.

Spending Thanksgiving alone doesn’t have to be lonely. It can be memorable, relaxing, and fun. If you know you’ll be spending the holiday alone, planning ahead so you have some activities to look forward to can make all the difference. You may enjoy it more than you expect!

The Facts About Worry

Date: November 6th, 2019

Filed under: Anxiety

Is worry a mental health condition?

Everyone experiences worry, but unrelenting worry that makes it hard for you to focus, sleep, or find enjoyment in life may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a relatively new diagnosis. This, coupled with the fact that worry is a common part of life, discourages the majority of people from getting treatment. However, excessive worry can be exhausting, and it’s important to seek help if worry has become a major part of your life.

Is worry useful?

Sometimes worriers don’t seek help because they feel that worry plays a useful role in their lives. Some people believe that worry helps them prepare for a negative outcome, motivates them to do better, or shows others that they care. However, current research demonstrates that worry does not make it easier to deal with negative events, nor does it appear to have any other benefits.

Ways to reduce worry

Do some realty testing. Studies have shown that most of our worries never come to pass. Not only that, but people are often more resilient than they believe, and when negative events happen, most people are able to find ways to cope. Think about past worries you've had and the degree to which they actually ended up coming true.

Develop problem-solving skills. Rather than worrying about a problem, use problem-solving to tackle the issue. By defining the difficulty, coming up with solutions, and choosing a course of action, you can give yourself power over the things that worry you.

Try new things. Exposing yourself to the unknown may cause a brief spike in anxiety, but by repeatedly exposing yourself to uncertainty in small doses you can learn to better tolerate things that are new and different, thereby reducing worry.

If you feel that you need professional guidance to help you reduce worry in your life, contact our office to set up an appointment with one of our therapists. No one should have to live with debilitating worry, and we can help you develop strategies to reduce worry and feel more happy, calm, and optimistic.

3 Ways to Avoid the Holiday Blues

Date: October 22nd, 2019

Filed under: Holidays

The holidays aren’t a time of joy and excitement for everyone. High expectations, packed schedules, financial strain, and being away from family or friends can all contribute to holiday blues. Most of the time this gloomy mood passes once the whirl of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year is over. But there are things you can do to avoid or lessen the holiday blues.

Set Limits

Time and money are both in high demand around the holidays. Remember that both are precious commodities and you have a choice how you spend them. Set a budget for gifts, food, parties, etc. so you can avoid overspending. The same goes for time. There’s no need to attend every party or visit every friend and relation. It’s okay to decline an invitation, or to decide in advance what time you’ll leave the gathering.

Expect Imperfection

Cultural messages of universal peace and unity can be hard to swallow if your own family dynamics are less than ideal. The reality is that relationships are complicated, and that doesn’t change with the holidays. Recognize that a family gathering or holiday dinner can be accompanied by arguments, tension, or burnt food—and that’s perfectly normal and okay.

Identify Reasons

Chances are, your holiday season comes prepackaged with a massive to-do list. Rather than try to accomplish everything, make another list: reasons for your to-do items. Doing this can help you prioritize and simplify. For example, if your reason for hosting an elaborate party is to reconnect with friends, you could plan a more casual get-together…or just go to a party someone else has planned if most of your friends will be there! And if there isn’t a good reason for something on your to-do list, cross it off.

Holiday blues are a common phenomenon, but doing a few simple things to ease your stress can help you get through the season more easily. If your holiday blues persist, or if you just feel like you could get some extra help to deal with them, contact our office to set up an appointment with one of our therapists or counselors. We’re here to support you at any time of year.

Can Emotions Affect Physical Health?

Date: October 8th, 2019

Filed under: Mental Health

The idea that your mental state is interconnected with your physical state has become well-known in recent years, so it may come as no surprise that emotions can indeed have an impact on physical health. If you regularly experience stress, anxiety, or depression, it’s possible that it’s taking a toll on your body as well as your mind.

Symptoms

Some of the more common physical difficulties associated with mental health include:

Headaches or back/neck pain Upset stomach, constipation, or diarrhea Change in appetite, weight gain, or weight loss Palpitations or high blood pressure Fatigue or insomnia Sweating, lightheadedness, dry mouth, or shortness of breath

Although these are some of the more common ailments, please note that this is not a comprehensive list. You may experience other physical symptoms connected with your mental health. Conversely, these types of symptoms can have a variety of different causes, and may have more to do with lifestyle elements other than emotion.

Treatment

So how do you tell if problems with your physical health stem from the condition of your mind? This can be a tricky area. It’s important to let your doctor know if you think your emotions are causing you to experience physical health difficulties. They can help rule out other causes and treat your symptoms so you can feel better physically while you come up with more long-term solutions.

If you believe that your mental state is causing physical problems or making it difficult to live life to the fullest, contact our office to make an appointment with one of therapists or counselors. They can help you to address the emotional concerns that may be an underlying cause of some of your physical symptoms. As you learn effective ways to cope with stress, calm anxiety, and lighten the burden of depression, you may find that both your mind and body benefit from the treatment.

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