Laura Lee Baker, MA, LPC, NCC
Have you ever found yourself dreading the holidays because you are still trying to recover from last year? Over spending, unmet expectations, exhaustion, and weight gain are just a few repercussions from holiday burn out. I can remember past holiday seasons being over booked, stressed out, always trying to make people happy, that I did not even have a chance to really enjoy friends and family. My focus was on “the task,” not connecting to others and celebrating “The Reason for the Season.”
How can you celebrate what is really important to you this holiday season instead of trying to meet unrealistic expectations? What are you trying to teach your children? How do you enjoy family and friends while setting limits and saying "No" during this time of year? Understanding your boundaries and the why behind the things you do is vital to avoid potential stress overload.
Below are a few things to consider:
1.Know your why and what you really want to be celebrating over the holiday season. What do you want to remember when the holidays are over? Make sure that activities you plan or participate in reflect your “why.” For my family, it's celebrating the birth of Jesus. What does that look like for us and how do we want to do that?
2. Why am I spending this?
Set a budget and make a list of gifts you need to buy so that you are not over spending. Be creative. Draw names. Don’t buy for people out of guilt, or because you “have to.”
Make cookies or spend time with loved ones instead of gift giving. Give gifts to those less fortunate instead of only to each other. These are just a few ideas.
3. Why am I saying yes?
Look ahead at your calendar and don’t over book. Learn to say no to parties or activities that you truly don’t have time for. Don’t say yes to things like volunteering, etc. out of guilt. Make sure it fits in with your “why.” Pause before saying yes to activities. And please remember, it's okay if you don’t win the “best decorated house.”
4.Why do we do this?
In regard to blended and extended families, be creative. You don’t have to schedule Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings on the same day. Instead of going to 20 family members homes and eating 20 thanksgiving meals, consider alternating holidays every other year. Gather on or before Thanksgiving or Christmas. Consider a progressive dinner. Set a time limit at the homes you visit. These are a few creative examples to prevent burn out.
5. Why am I eating this?
For those of you who don’t want to gain weight from all the sugar cookies and pie overload, plan what you'll be eating ahead of time and stick to it. Just because Granny wants you to try her pecan pie doesn't mean you have to. Stick to your game plan and try not to eat out of guilt or stress. If you are bringing a dish, make one that you know fits your balanced eating plan.
6. Why do I set limits?
Alcohol, sugar, and sleep deprivation can increase stress levels. Tempers flare and conversations can become heated without personal limits. Be intentional with self-care even when traveling or having visitors. It's okay to take some time for yourself to recharge.
7. Last but not least: Enjoy your family and friends. Don’t forget those who are less fortunate or who are alone and missing their loved ones.
Know your WHY and be thankful for all that God has blessed you with this holiday season.
Photo taken from: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1505537/images/o-HOLIDAY-STRESS-facebook.jpg
M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., LMFT
When doubts creep in or we grow tired and weary, God has some advice for us. Abba Father knows best the ‘what’ and the ‘when’ of my needs more than I. Whether I am in want of recognition, comfort, or guidance, He tells me what to do, in no uncertain terms and with no candy coating. He is ‘to the point,’ time and time again! In Deuteronomy 10:20, He says “HOLD FAST”! We will be at peace if we can listen to His advice to us as His children.
H - Humility In the Soul
Humility puts into perspective how very little power I have & how much power He has. (Deut. 9:5-6)
O – OBEY GOD’S WAYS
Observing & Obeying His ways gives us strength to do what He has called us to do. (Deut. 11:8-13)
L – LAY CLAIM TO WHAT HE GIVES
Laying claim and holding onto what He calls us to do (and where He provides for us to do it), no matter how small the territory or how big, is an act of obedience. (Deut. 11:24-31)
D – DEFENDING and LOVING THOSE IN NEED
Because we all have been or will become weak, poor, aged or alone, He asks us to defend and love those who are in need, following His example and command. (Deut. 10:17-20)
F – FEAR GOD ALONE
Having a fear of God that outweighs our fear of a circumstance or a person is the path to ensuring that I will not lose my way. (Deut. 6:13 and 11:12)
A – ASSURANCE COMES FROM GOD
Being assured by God requires that I see that my strength comes from His mighty power and outstretched arm. My confidence does not come from my own skills or integrity. (Deut. 9:3-4)
S – SERVE GOD’S AGENDA ONLY
Serving God’s agenda and being careful, lest I get distracted by what may even appear to be good, will ensure that the responsibilities and territory that God wants me to manage will be given to me by His strength. (Deut. 11:16-24)
T –TRUSTING IN HIS WAYS
Trusting in God’s redemption of myself and those I care for, more than I trust in my own logic, requires that I believe in His plan and in His Great Power. (Deut. 9:23-29)
Love the Lord your God, walk in His ways and Hold Fast to Him!
M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., LMFT
Finding myself having an intense reaction to others, because I feel slighted, discarded, overlooked and without value warrants a renewal of practicing meditations on truth. This calls for an adjustment of my auto-pilot or muscle memory reactions.
When someone says or does things that hurt me, it is time to consider and think on what I know to be true.
Help me to remember and rest in the awareness that…
I know that God values me as His own, because He made me.
I know that God calls me by name, because He rescues me from myself.
I know that God calls me to do for others, because He equips me.
Help me to remember and rest in the awareness of these truths, especially when I am hurt by the unavailability, abandonment, forgetfulness or unkindness of others.
Help me when I am hurting to admit it to you, my heavenly Father, and to the other person when appropriate. Help me to do this without blaming, accusing, or labeling them or their actions. After all, I do not answer for their actions, I answer only for my own. Have mercy on them, as they do not know the effects of what they have done.
Give me courage and strength to change my reactions to others.
Give me serenity to accept where they are at and what they are capable of in this relationship.
Give me discernment to know the difference between what I can change and what I cannot change.
Give me wisdom to only invest my thoughts and energy in changing what I am in control of…nothing more and nothing less.
If I am granted the right amount of courage, serenity, and discernment, I will be equipped to invest with those who are receptive, and I will also be able to ‘shake it off’ with those who are not receptive.
Help me to listen to the voice of truth and reason while never underestimating the power of my emotions.
To ignore my emotion sets me up to have a spillover reaction towards others. To place too much value on emotion will lead me to isolate in hopes of avoiding discomfort. So, there is a delicate balance that I am incapable of managing on my own. This is the reason for me to be conscious of the ever-present help of my creator, my heavenly Father.
To be conscious of His presence, I choose to be mindful and fully tuned into His words more than any other.
For further study: Scripture adapted from NIV Holy Bible, Hosea 6:8, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 10, 12 & 13.
M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., LMFT
Just as a change of season brings a renewal of color and a fresh perspective, our soul longs to embrace a renewed perspective of life itself, at its fullest! Purging the old and embarking on a renewed perspective after a season of loss, dryness, or feeling weathered requires a resuscitation of the heart and a chance for vibrant life once again.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), medically serves patients who are in cardiac arrest and is a component of basic life support when life itself is threatened. Soul level CPR is required for us when the vitality of our soul and ability to relate to others is in jeopardy.
Soul Level CPR:
Cleansing my heart before someone greater than myself, praising someone greater than myself, and requesting from someone greater than myself will resuscitate my soul!
Daily purging out what is in the deep of my soul frees me of defective thinking and the tendency of viewing myself through a faulty lens. We are all vulnerable to viewing ourselves through a lens of shame, pride, negativity, blame, envy, hurt or resentment. Admitting to God aloud, or in writing, that I have weakness in my thought life, frees me from being held in bondage to the weakness. Surrendering and weeding out the build-up of what is inconsistent with my purpose brings clarity once again...renewal for the soul.
Daily writing or speaking aloud my appreciation for what I have been given, protects me from slipping into an attitude of entitlement and pride. Giving credit where credit is due prompts a perspective shift - it protects my heart from laying claim to my privileged state and enables me to avoid an emotional plagiarism. But, with life comes the broken, the poor, the abandoned, the imprisoned, the grief, the despair and the ashes. But, we can thank God for the hard in life, because we know HE will use the heard for a divine purpose! He provides us with good news, options for healing and freedom from captivity. Amidst the hard things in life, divine intervention can bloom! If our hearts are in tune with His ways, He gives us His favor, His comfort, His vengeance on our behalf, beauty, gladness and gratefulness once again...renewal for the soul.
Making a daily appeal to God with a desperate boldness of spirit for Rebuilding, Restoring and Renewing first within me and then for others, is an act that reflects dependence on God. If I choose to accept that I am not meant to fix, adjust, control or tweak others, then I will give up a habitual thought life that is consumed by the things in life that I have no power to change. When I surrender what I am passionate about several times a day, my thought life will not linger in areas that are not healthy for me. As a result, I will have more emotional energy, and I will be dependent on the one who loves me more deeply than anyone else. Requests laid at the feet of God free me up to have peace that defies human understanding once again…. renewal for the soul.
Soul Level CPR requires a frequent surrendering to God and His truth, which results in me living on purpose. God can revive each of us with Soul Level CPR, which protects us from becoming one who is hardened by pride or the challenges of this life.
Praying you are blessed by renewal today.
(Holy Bible, NIV, Psalms 22:9-11& 25, 25:4-5, 139: 23-24, Isaiah 61:1-4)
Jon Hindson, MAMFT, LAPC
Do you find it challenging to communicate with your partner? Are you struggling to be intimate? Does even the smallest conversation or circumstance trigger both of you into an argument? The arrival of significant events such as Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays often serves as a reminder that our relationship with our partner or spouse could use an infusion of something new! Perhaps it could include something that might draw us closer to each other; something that might help us get out of our unhealthy or destructive patterns.
What we ultimately need in our most intimate relationship is a secure attachment in which we truly feel that our partner or spouse has our back. Therapists see “attachment” as a secure bond with another person, and within the context of a partner relationship it also includes knowing that your partner or spouse will turn toward you, give you attention, and provide comfort to you. The problem is that for all of us there are destructive patterns in relationships that can get in the way of having the secure attachment that we crave. Unhealthy patterns can include such things as criticism, resentment, contempt, defensiveness, conflict, and avoidance.
The question that we are seeking to answer then is: “How do I start the process of changing these unhelpful patterns so that I can have a more secure attachment and better relationship with my partner or spouse?” While the answer to this question can be complicated and varied depending on circumstances that each person may be facing, there are some simple guidelines that I believe can jump start us all in the direction of healing attachment wounds with our partner and “choosing love.”
My hope and desire is that we will all begin to see the opportunities we have to choose love, to move toward our partner, and to better understand our partner’s feelings as well as our own. As we celebrate anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays may we each Choose to love deeply the one we have been entrusted to love!
Legacy strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.