Larry James' CelebrateLove.com BLOG

Thursday, December 6, 2018

5 Quick Tips to De-Stress During Holiday Time!

Filed under: Guest Authors,Holidays,Relationships — Larry James @ 2:26 am
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Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, Guest Author

Relax2.jpegWho said, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, the holidays are stressful.

When we experience stress, our bodies react by setting off our “fight-or-flight” mechanism. The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that served to alert us to danger in caveman days.

When we perceive an attack, our body’s alarm system goes off. Adrenaline is pumped through our body and prepares us to either fight off the attack or flee from it. When activated, our blood pressure increases and rushes to our muscles, awareness intensifies, eyesight sharpens, pupils dilate, impulses quicken. We are physically and mentally preparing to meet the perceived threat. Once that threat is over our bodies relax and go back to a state of calm.

In this day and age, we still have this mechanism but the “threats” – rush hour, a deadline on a project, a fight with our spouse, being overworked – don’t necessarily stop. Many people end up in a chronic fight-or-flight state. The accumulation of stress hormones ends up causing physiological damage to our bodies in the form of illnesses like high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, and depression, to name just a few.

Having taught Stress Management courses years ago, I learned two types of stress exist: Distress and Eustress. We all know what Distress is, but Eustress was something new to me.

Eustress is the kind of stress we experience around the “good” events that happen in our lives: buying a new house, getting married, having a baby, celebrating holidays.

Positive changes in our lives create stress, just like negative ones. The difference is: When we experience Distress, it’s likely we will remain in a stressed state. With Eustress, we go through the positive event and then return to a state of equilibrium.

Whatever type of stress you experience, but especially with Distress, it is vital for your mental, emotional and physical health to have an awareness of how stress affects you and take action to decrease it.

I’d like to share some quick and practical steps you can take to make this holiday season as stress-free as possible.

Here are 5 quick tips to keep your cool during the holidays.

1. Become more mindful about how stress is showing up for you. – All of us are so busy, especially at this time of year, we don’t stop to pause, to breathe, to take note of the state of our bodies and minds.

Creating more awareness of our specific sources of stress allows us to make changes, even if they are small. It’s easy to get caught up focusing on all the things we can’t control and sink into victimhood.

Take a moment during the day and before you go to bed to think about your level of stress. Ask yourself where the stress is coming from – not enough sleep, too much to do, feeling disconnected from your partner.

Then ask yourself what you can do to decrease these stressors. For example, plan to go to bed earlier, ask yourself what tasks you can delegate or postpone, do connecting things with your partner. Little changes can make a big difference.

2. Do 10-15 minutes of stress management each day. – It could be doing a meditation or guided imagery; listening to soothing music; deep breathing; progressive muscle relaxation; or aromatherapy. Even 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference. You can find these techniques online or in apps. The two apps we love are Calm and Insight Timer. Check them out.

3. Focus on what you can control. – Consciously think about the areas where you do have control and how can you decrease your stress. Examples would be:

• Order gifts online instead of going to the stores.
• Buy groceries online and have them delivered.
• Don’t cook everything from scratch.
• Ask others to bring a dish if you are hosting dinner.
• Say no when others ask you to do something extra.

4. Turn off your devices. – The constant noise we live with from devices is like never before. We rarely experience quiet anymore. The pinging of messages or emails that come in, the “bad” news that is constantly playing on TV 24/7, the gadgets we have all around us keep us stressed and put us in a continual fight-or-flight mode. Ask your family to do the same, especially at meal time.

5. Lower your expectations. – Life isn’t perfect. Anticipate that something will go wrong. Picture what stresses you out the most. Ask yourself, “And what if that did happen; then what…?” Keep playing out that line of thought until you determine the worst-case scenario. It’s not usually as bad as you think. For instance:

• “What if our dog ate the turkey?”
• “I wouldn’t have any food to serve my guests.”
• “And then what…?”
• “I’d order in Chinese food or pizza and it would be a Thanksgiving we’d never forget.”

Bonus Tip: Connect with your partner every day. – At times of stress we may get so focused on what needs to get done that we ignore our relationships. Be mindful of your partner and take a few minutes each day to check-in with each other. Share how you are feeling. Ask your partner to “just sit and listen.” Venting can be very helpful. It makes you feel you are not alone or isolated with your stressors.

Give your partner a 10-second hug every morning and every night. (10 seconds is longer than you think.) You will feel more connected and more relaxed.

header_block_resized.png © Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, therapist in Owings Mills, Maryland. You can visit Relationships Work online at: http://www.RelationshipsWork.com. Follow them on Facebook.

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CLoveLOGOLarry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ comment Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

7 Strategies to Survive the Holidays When You’re Hurting

Filed under: Health & Wellness,Holidays,Personal Growth,Relationships — Larry James @ 10:30 am
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Bob Hollander, JD, LCSW-C and Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, Guest Authors

• My wife is having an affair. It hurts.

• I wonder if we’ll make it to next Christmas. I’m so sad. This could be our last holiday together.

• I want to divorce my husband, but I have to wait until after the holidays. The anxiety is killing me.

• This is the first year since we split. Everything’s changed. It’ll never be the same.

• My kids are going to be with my ex for the holiday. I feel so lonely.

• As a relationship therapist, these are the kinds of things I hear from individuals and couples in my practice.

• The holidays can be incredibly painful when you’re hurting.

In your mind’s eye, you picture everyone else having a jolly time – cheerful and excited; enjoying the holiday season; decorating; cooking; singing; giving and receiving gifts. Yet you are suffering. You feel so alone. You may have sad or anxious thoughts, such as:

• There is nothing to celebrate this year.

• I’m so depressed; I just want to stay in bed.

• I don’t want to decorate.

• I’d like to go to sleep and wake up when it’s all over.

• I’m going to skip the holidays this year.

• I’m so isolated.

I want you to know that although you feel alone, you are not. There are many people who feel sad, depressed, or anxious this time of year.

When life is on the upswing, the holidays may bring added joy and happiness. But when that’s not the case, the holidays may highlight your unhappiness and distress, especially if you are facing the loss or potential loss of a significant relationship.

After all, the holidays are not really about the gifts, the songs, or the pretty decorations. They are about the relationships we have, the people we are giving to or receiving from. They are about sharing the songs and the decorations with others, about eating the latkes or drinking the eggnog together.

I recall one of the times I hurt during the holidays. I grew up in Baltimore. My dad was a cardiovascular surgeon who specialized in emergency medicine. Several years after my parents’ divorce, my dad was offered an opportunity to develop an emergency trauma center at the University of Oklahoma, similar to the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. I understood why he couldn’t pass up this opportunity, though it meant he would live 1,334 miles away. He left. As a going-away gift, I gave him an album with pictures of me and my siblings.

It was hard that first year. I went out to visit in December. He and my stepmother hadn’t made any close friends. So, for the holidays they had an “orphan’s dinner.” They rounded up people they worked with and neighbors who didn’t have family locally and invited them to bring a dish to the dinner – and they had to dress like orphans. It was actually fun and we had a very nice time. It’s one of the memories that has stayed with me. I admired the creativity. Instead of focusing on their loneliness, they created a new tradition, which went on for years.

If you are hurting because your relationships are not on solid ground this year, you have some choices to make. You have some control.

Here are seven strategies to survive the holidays when you are hurting:

1. Accept Your Feelings

Sit with your feelings and acknowledge them. Even the most intense feelings will lessen over time. After unthinkable losses, people are more resilient than they imagine. In my practice, I’ve journeyed with people for 25 years through tremendous hurts and losses, through the most painful periods in their lives. I’ve had my own share of pain and losses, too. We can’t imagine surviving them until we do. And then we thrive once again.

2. Be Kind to Yourself

At difficult times, we are more likely to think negatively, to criticize or berate ourselves. Thoughts start with, “If only I had …”; “I wish I would have …”; “I’m worthless because …”; “I’m a failure because …” Validate your feelings; they’re real. But don’t stop there. Work on changing your thoughts to more positive ones.

Ask yourself, “If my child or best friend was saying these things, what would I tell them?” Tell those things to yourself. Love and embrace yourself and your inner child.

No to stress! 3. Take the Stress Off

Often, we put pressure on ourselves, especially when it comes to cooking and gifts. Do you:

•  Think you should make every dish instead of asking others to bring something?
•  Believe all the dishes and desserts should be homemade from scratch?
•  Obsess about getting the “perfect gift”?
•  Spend more money than you can realistically afford?
•  Wrap every gift meticulously?
•  Go overboard on cleaning and decorating?
•  Feel you have to attend every function you’re invited to?

Take the pressure off. These are things you can control. Buy some ready-made food. Ask others to bring a dish or dessert. Get the “good enough” gift. Do less decorating, wrapping, cleaning. Or say, “I wish I could host this year, but I can’t.”

When you are hurting, reach out to friends or family for support, even if you have to push yourself.

4. Connect with Others

When you are hurting, reach out to friends or family for support, even if you have to push yourself. Feeling connected to others is often what soothes our pain. Go to some of the events you’re invited to, even if you stay for only a short time. Remind yourself the holidays are about sharing with others.

5. Start New Traditions

The one thing we can count on is life always changes. Eventually, all traditions end. Kids grow up, marriages end, a family member passes away, and your children start their own families. Traditions feel good because they are familiar. They reassure us that the world is safe, that there is something we can count on. Many of us don’t like change, but none of us can escape the fact all traditions change eventually.

6. Help Others

One of the best ways to not feel isolated is to volunteer where others need help. Work in a soup kitchen, serving meals to people who are poor or homeless. Find a charitable or religious organization in your community and attend an event to pitch in. Volunteer at a hospital.

These acts of kindness not only help the community, they serve to remind you that you are not alone and there are people who have suffered (or are suffering) more than you. This is not meant to invalidate your own suffering, but to remind yourself that pain is a part of life – and it will pass. Helping others may give you a different perspective on your suffering and make you feel more connected.

7. Practice Self-Care

When you don’t have anyone there to care for you, you must care for yourself. Being alone won’t last forever, even if it feels that way. Some suggestions:

•  Cook your favorite meal.
•  Try not to overeat.
•  Get seven to eight hours of sleep.
•  Meditate or listen to soothing music.
•  Stay away from alcohol; it’s a depressant.
•  Don’t use drugs to cover up the hurt. You may only create another problem for yourself and your family.
•  Treat yourself to something special that you wouldn’t ordinarily do – a show, a pedicure, a spa day.
•  Explore nature. Bundle up and go for a walk. Breathe in the cold air. Practice mindfulness.

Now it’s your turn. What are you going to do to survive the holidays? If you need help, coaches are here to support you.

“What’s difficult in life is to stay centered when somebody does or says something that tempts us to close our hearts because their heart was closed. That is hard. But that is also how we grow. We go through those circumstances in order to evolve into people who can hold to our loving center no matter what the world throws us.” ~ Marianne Williamson

BONUS Article:  Rx for the Holiday Blues!

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, therapist in Owings Mills, Maryland. You can visit Relationships Work online at: http://www.RelationshipsWork.com. Follow them on Facebook.

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CLoveLOGOLarry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ comment Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s Relationship Pintrest Page at: http://www.pinterest.com/larryjames2012/relationships-blog/

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to Keep Holiday Harmony with Your In-Laws

Filed under: Holidays,Relationships — Larry James @ 10:30 am
Tags: , ,

Bob Hollander, JD, LCSW-C and Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, Guest Authors

HolidayHarmony.jpgGoing home for the holidays? Many people do. If you are close to your in-laws, consider yourself lucky and enjoy your holiday season. For the rest of you, keep reading. There are ways to minimize difficulties with in-laws if you and your partner prepare upfront.

Many couples in our practice are doing just that – talking with each other about how to manage and reduce the stress around visiting each other’s families. It’s especially complicated when there are blended families. The best defense is a good offense. So, set time aside for you and your partner to create some holiday harmony.

Here are 5 steps to keep holiday harmony with your in-laws.

1.  Have Realistic Expectations.  Anticipate the issues that will arise and plan for them. You can predict who is going to be the backseat parent, who will talk your ear off without asking you one question about yourself, who will comment on how you are dressed, or worse yet, how much weight you’ve gained, who will gossip about other family members in the room.

The good part about being able to predict this, is that you can anticipate and prepare responses up front, instead of being caught off guard and reacting emotionally to things that you should have known were going to happen.

2.  Plan Your Responses.

  • Pick your battles: Sometimes the best response is “no response” – walk away, go to the bathroom, or bite your tongue.
  • Acknowledge and redirect: When your mother-in-law tells you how to discipline your son, say “I understand that’s how you see it.” This acknowledges you’ve heard her, and shuts down the conversation. Then move on to another topic.
  • Assert yourself: When appropriate, be authentic and direct. If your husband’s grandmother says, “I liked your hair long. Why did you cut it,” you can say, “I appreciate your opinion; my husband loves the new style.”

3.  Don’t Take It Personally.  I remember a quote from Wayne Dyer that I have often thought of at times when I felt someone was judging me: “What you think of me is none of my business.” Keep that thought in your back pocket and use it.

Remember, we can’t pick our families and we certainly can’t pick our in-laws. Marriage is a package deal and that’s what we sign up for. Whatever they think about you or say is more of a reflection about who they are, than of you.

4.  Stick Together.  Operate as a team. Maintain your empathy for each other and look at things from each other’s perspective. Your partner needs to not make you wrong for your feelings and reactions; you must be mindful that no matter what the baggage is, most people still love, and feel protective of, their parents and other family members.

5.  Plan Your Exit Strategy.  Decide up front when you will leave, but maintain flexibility. Remember, it is only one day, and you are doing this for your partner.

Preparing for holiday visits to family is a great way to head off difficulties; work on communication and listening skills; create a deeper sense of connection with your partner and set yourself up to have a wonderful time.

BONUS Articles: Have a Happy Holiday & a Prosperous New Year!
Rx for the Holiday Blues!

Copyright © 2015 by Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD. Lori Hollander, LCSW-C, BCD, is a licensed counselor and co-founder of Relationships Work, an innovative therapy practice and online resource center. Together with her husband, Bob, they encourage couples to consciously co-create their relationships in order to achieve a deeper, more intimate connection. You can visit Relationships Work online at: http://www.RelationshipsWork.com. Follow them on Facebook.

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CLoveLOGOLarry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ comment Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

NOTE: All articles and “LoveNotes” listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

letsbefriends2

Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Networking BLOG” at: http://NetworkingHQ.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s Relationship Pintrest Page at: http://www.pinterest.com/larryjames2012/relationships-blog/

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