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.
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!
M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D, LMFT
As I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I tend to over schedule, over socialize, over spend, and I get overwhelmed. (Merry Christmas!) Like a clown juggler, I attempt to balance my schedule, socializing, finances, health, and holiday cheer (I think). Then I strive to focus on the One who made Christmas possible. Ironic, don’t you think?
In my constant flurry of activity, perhaps it is time to STOP! Perhaps I can take a deep breath of fresh air and consider some advice from the One who has made Christmas possible.
My Father tells me to "preserve sound judgment and discernment." He tells me to "never let it out of my sight." It does not take a doctor to know that there may be a problem here. He also tells me that If I follow this path of "sound judgment and discernment," I will "go forth in safety and I will not stumble." That sounds like a good deal to me (and, let me tell you, I know a good deal when I see one, because, as you may have guessed, I have practiced looking for good deals a lot!). Also, I need all the help I can get in the "not stumbling" part. I have been a stumbling kind of person my entire life! But, I digress, that is another story for another day.
Back to the sweet deal of walking the "sound judgment and discernment" path. This sounds like a sweet deal to my simple-minded ways. Oh, but it gets better! He also tells me that if I follow this path, I will "lie down without being afraid, and my sleep will be sweet." Sleep that is not out of pure exhaustion can be sweet (at least that is what I tell myself). Really? I am a skeptic! If a deal sounds too good to be true, don’t trust it! Right? But, this is my Father who is telling me this! He says that He is my confidence. But I am a pretty self-reliant, logical woman with a few degrees and several years of experience. Yet He tells me that my confidence should be in Him, not in myself?
My faithful and trustworthy Father who made me, who has sworn to protect me, equips me and teaches me how to do this complicated thing called life. He tells me to STOP! So I take a deep breath, and I am quiet and still, inside and outside. He reminds me that He loves me! He delights in me. He is patient with me when I go off on my own agenda, because He knows I will always return. He knows me well, because He made me, just as I am.
I am & always will be broken and in recovery.
I am & always will struggle with being too blunt to be socially acceptable.
I am & always will struggle with vacillating between being too honest and too quiet.
I am & always will be a skeptic of what appears perfect.
I am & always will be driven to find a way, when others say, there is no way.
I am & always will be unimpressed with social status and authority.
I am & always will struggle to understand social cues.
I am & always will be in recovery from asking too many questions in pursuit of truth.
I am & always will struggle with not fitting in with the majority.
Yes, I am messy and broken. I will forget some things. Dinner may get burnt or forgotten. My Christmas gifts may not be exactly as others want them to be. I will likely not get the best deal out there. I will disappoint those around me.
But, I know who my Father is! So, for now, I accept that I am incapable of the Christmas juggle. My confidence must come from my Father. Not from myself.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
Broken and in recovery…just as I am,
M. Diane Pearce
Co-Founder of Legacy Strategy, Inc.
(For further study, see NIV Proverbs 3:21-26, Zeph. 3:17)
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Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.