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!
Nicole Ayers, M.a., LAPC, NCC
Think back on your adolescent years (between the ages of 13-24). Can you think of a time where you look back and say, “What was I thinking?” Of course you can! And I can too! (Hello, hair dying fiasco of 10th grade.) However, sometimes we have a difficult time understanding why the teens we love do what they do and say what they say. Adolescents make some (seemingly) crazy decisions and say some crazy things.
Between the ages of 12-25, the brain undergoes massive reorganization. Like a hardware or software upgrade on your computer, the adolescent brain goes through a season of “remodeling.” The good news is: the remodeled brain is faster, stronger, and smarter!
So yes, parents and teachers, this is a good thing!
During this time in brain development, changes are slow going, and more and more connections (through neural pathways) are made in the brain. The neural wires are firing quicker! This means that over time, teens experience better decision-making, better impulse-control, the ability to set long term goals, and the understanding of rules and ethics. (And we wonder why our teens are so tired! Their brains are working on overdrive!)
Key aspects of the adolescent’s developing brain are (1) sensation seeking, (2) risk taking, and (3) social reward and peer-approval seeking.
1. Sensation seeking
2. Risk taking
3. Social rewards & peer-approval seeking
The decisions your teen’s brain makes are not random! The sensation seeking, the risk taking, and the social, peer-approval seeking - They all serve the purpose of making brain connections that lead to healthy development and relationships later in life.
As a parent, or a mentor to teens, you can help the brain do its job by encouraging your teen’s healthy independence and exploration of the world around them. And, yes, in a few short years, they will look back and most likely say, “What was I thinking??”
References: Baird, 2011; Dobbs & Cahana, 2011; Felix, 2017
I was hiking with a friend the other day and apparently we got off the trail somehow. I call it lost, not exploring! The trail was clearly marked but we were not paying close attention to the signs, so we were not on the trail.
When I’m not listening to God’s sweet voice, I lose sight of God’s purpose and plan for my life. I tend to make choices that cause roadblocks to God's best for me.
We ended up going through unmarked territory of thorns, snakes, and unknown creatures, and I suddenly became distrusting of the friend who was leading us. Sticks were in my hair, spider webs in my face, YUCK! This friend kept showing me this little blue dot and it’s relationship to the red line and assured me we were close to the marked trail that we needed to be on. He actually told me the little blue dot said walk through 20 creek beds in 40-degree weather with my hiking boots on! What? Trust the little blue dot?? I became cold, tired, and frustrated, not to mention my toes were numb.
My fearless friend was patient with me and wanted to continue going down the path we were on. I became bossy, impatient and insisted we go another way instead of following that darn blue dot and where it said we needed to go. “No! I want to do it my way.”
Sooo, he allowed me to trudge off in a direction that was slippery and thickly wooded. After bleeding and having my jacket destroyed, my friend tried to show me the little blue dot again and its relationship to the red trail. I finally raised my voice and said, “I don’t care about the little blue dot. I want to get to safety and a marked trail. I want to get to the waterfall.” He let me go my own way again, but eventually I gave up. Ugh!!
I finally submitted to the little blue dot and my hiking buddy and we found the trail that led to a beautiful waterfall that was majestic, peaceful, and refreshing. Such a calming place to rest and see God’s workman ship. Trusting and not fighting against the little blue dot really did create less chaos and quickly got us to our final destination.
I chuckled as I thought about my life and the resistance I give God in regards to His path for my life. I don’t always trust Him. I want to do things my way. God lets me try my own way for sure, knowing those painful lessons will bring me back to His loving arms and the path that is best for me.
So now, when I think of the little blue dot, it reminds me that I don’t have to always do things on my own. I can trust God and other people. I can enjoy the journey a little bit more knowing that His love is BIGGER and he just wants me to trust him in all things and enjoy the journey.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
By: Laura Lee Baker, M.A., NCC, LPC
While jogging today (I say that loosely), I began to think about the seasons. When I think about all four of them, I realize it is important to not rush through them because I can enjoy all of them if I reflect on the purpose behind each one. I could look at the dried up creek bed and see it as a gross, disgusting mess and discard it as an eye sore. Or I can look forward to God's faithfulness and see the beauty and possibility. I can trust that the creek bed will be flourishing and gushing full of fresh water very soon. Beauty to be inhaled.
Spring is a time of planting and renewal. Summer is a time of growth and flourishing. Fall is a time of preparation and reflecting. Winter is a time of struggles and rest.
When I ponder the seasons of life, it is apparent that even during the cold, dark days of winter, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, whatever the type of struggle, growth and positive change occur in my life if I allow it. If I focus on the hurt and the pain and not the hope of possibility, I can stay stuck in old patterns of defeat and anger.
It is important for me to reflect on the future and the areas I need to develop regarding my relationships as well as my future goals and not quit because the months seem so daunting and lonely. Spring is around the corner. God designed the seasons that way.
Transition can be hard, but fresh hope and life begin by trusting in the possibility of the future. I can plant seeds by investing in others and myself so that by the time summer comes I can bask in the beauty and freedom that summer brings. Even towards the end of summer, the heat can set in and if I am not careful my focus can go back to the past and the lessons I have learned can be forgotten.
I am thankful for the seasons and the constant repeat of rest, renewal, growth, and at times difficulties. But I know that I do not walk alone and my Father in Heaven will never leave me or forsake me. This is where hope and trust intersect.
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Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.