Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coping During the Holidays

We all look forward to the Christmas holiday and many time have expectations on what they should look like. We have memories, images of media Christmas on commercials telling us how wonderful this season should be, magazines filled with happy families and beautiful gifts and holiday parties - everything looks so perfect. But reality is most people, especially during this time in our world, do not have the money to make it a "perfect" Christmas in terms of what society tells us what is "perfect", most people have some sort of crisis or at least disappointments going on in there lives so often our anticipation and excitement turns into feelings of depression and/or family disharmony.

Part of what happens in the holiday season, in terms of mood changes and anxiety, may occur because of the stressfulness of holiday events. It may also be caused by overeating, and fatigue. The demands of the season are many: shopping, cooking, and travel, house guests, family reunions, parties, office parties, and extra financial burden.

Sometimes people who are not generally depressed actually struggle with holiday depression. Symptoms can include headaches, insomnia, uneasiness, anxiety, sadness, intestinal problems, and unnecessary conflict with family and friends.

Here are some tools to get through the holiday season well as ways to prevent problems and misery for yourself and your loved ones:

1. Have an attitude of gratitude. Misery and gratitude cannot occupy the same space in our psychological house, and we have the power to choose between these emotional states. Keep it simple and keep in mind the "Reason for the Season" Christmas is a time of reflection of why we celebrate, it's about family and friends and just spending time together. Don't allow all the outside influences to affect your expectations of what this time of year "should" be like.

2. One golden rule to getting along with responsible for how you behave, You certainly have no control over how your relatives behave. The most important part of avoiding holiday stress with our families is for each of us to feel in control of our own behaviors, attitudes & feelings. If you know in your head and your heart that you've acted like the best parent, child, brother, sister, friend that you know how to be, you can walk away from any difficulty feeling good about yourself. Use Romans 12:8 as your guide. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

3. If you're feeling depressed and lonely, volunteer with groups that help children, the homeless, or the aged and disabled at the holidays. There are many, many volunteer opportunities this time of year. No one can be depressed when they are helping others

4. Decide upon your priorities and stick to them. Organize your time. Be reasonable with your schedule. Do not overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion--this makes people cranky, irritable, and depressed.

5 Remember, no matter what your plans, the holidays do not automatically take away feelings of aloneness, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear. In fact many times it magnifies it - lower expectations and keep a positive mindset. Ask a friend to keep you accountable.

6. Plan unstructured, low-cost fun holiday activities: window-shop and look at the Holiday decorations. Look at people's Christmas lighting on their homes, , etc.--the opportunities are endless.

7. Do not let the holidays become a reason for over-indulging in food and drink and create unnecessary weight gain and fatigue . This will create depression and anxiety. Keep up with your exercise routine or start on.

8. Give yourself a break; create time for yourself to do the things YOU love to do.
If you keep only one thing in mind to combat the holiday blues, make it be to remember: The choice is always yours: The sky is partly sunny, and the glass is half full, if you want it to be that way. The "blues" confront all of us, particularly at holiday time. It may be caused by the memory of loss, feelings of disappointment, or just being run down from parties, overeating, and shopping. But for many of us, holiday depression can be a choice we, in effect, choose to make. If we choose not to make this choice, we can choose instead to focus on the partly sunny skies and revel in our gratitude for our bounty, health, hope, and our courage to face each day with hope and determination.

and this is our HOPE:
Luke 2:9-12
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

A New First

Paul and Renee

There are many firsts in life, the first step, the first day of school, the first baby and on and on. Well, when you get into your fifties (can't believe I'm there!) you don't have as many "firsts" and when you do they aren't always positive. :-)

Well, I had a new first last week and it was a positive one. As many of you know I am a counselor and life coach. I work for two counseling agencies, PathSeeker Center and Faith and Hope Care Center. I have the opportunity occasionally to do pre-marriage counseling with engaged couples preparing for marriage.

I was seeing a sweet couple who I really connected with back in January and at the end of our sessions they asked me if I was authorized to do weddings. Well, I was ordained years ago as part of my requirement for my counseling degree so I told them I could but that I thought they should get someone who has done a wedding before. They continued to say they wanted me to do it and I continued to tell them that I have never done a wedding so I may mess their whole ceremony up. Well, they were a very determined couple and I really felt good about their marriage so I said I would do it.

The wedding was set for Dec 11 and it was at the beach - so Friday the day had finally came and I prepared the best I could and God was good and the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome and it was an amazing wedding. I walked away so glad that I said yes to them. It was right up there with being one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had.

So my take away from this is that no matter where we are in life we need to be willing to do something different and get out of our comfort zone. God never stops challenging us to continue to grow in all areas of our lives. Don't take the easy way but take the way that God leads you to take even if it's uncomfortable (and it will be) because in the end there will be great rewards and fulfillment when we are willing to stretch and grow.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Romans 8:37 (New Living Translation)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Do Cat's Like Hats?

No, I do not think cats like to wear Christmas hats or any other type of hat like dogs do. :)  I bought my kitty the cutest Christmas hat and here is the reaction I got. Just thought I send a little Christmas cheer today!

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Will not Live in Fear! Part 2

As my last post stated fear causes us to want to flee what God wants us to confront.  We have to choose to be confident instead of fearful.  The devil hates confidence.  Again, you may not feel it but you can act confident. 

When God gave Joshua the job of leading the Israelites into the promised land, He said, "Be strong, vigorous and very courageous.  Do not be afraid."  Joshua 1:9

"Courage is not the absence of fear but it is the progress in it's presence."

Every time God leads us into a new area that will be better for us.  The Devil will launch an attack of fear against us.  Fear is the opposite of faith.

Here are some tips on overcoming fear in your life and your thinking
  • Confess with your mouth " I am a person of faith, I think faith, I talk faith and I walk in faith."
  • Meditate on scripture about faith.  Hebrews 11:6
  • Isolate repetitive fears (monitor them) and make a decision to overcome them - most fears are irrational. 
I have put this in a previous post but I I'm going to put it in this one again because it is something worth repeating.

Beth Moore had a great way of looking at fear. She told of a fear that was gripping her, it was tormenting her and finally God spoke to her heart and said, "Beth, What if it happens. What will you do." Beth replied, "I will be devastated! I will hide, I will cry, I will feel like my life is over." Then God spoke to her heart again and said," Then what" she replied," Well, I will tell people how bad it is, I will grieve, I will feel like I could never minister again." so He said, " Then what?" so she said, "Well, eventually I would start praying and reading your word and get back up and start moving forward because I know that you will help me and give me the strength." And then Beth said she realized what she said and that is was all true. Even if her worst fear came about, and usually they don't she would have the Courage eventually to get back up and keep going.

When you feel fearful, ask yourself what is at its source? Walk through Beth Moore's scenario of fear and see if your outcome isn't the same.

Romans 8:31  "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"