By: Stella Michon
Most of the festivities we enjoy during the holidays surround family, friends and above all else-food. Spending time cooking and sharing traditions with loved ones is a beautiful way to connect, but can be stressful to those who struggle with their relationships to food and body image. Challenging family dynamics, travel stressors and the pressure to eat big meals are just a few factors that make this time period particularly triggering.
Below are a few ways to encourage a peaceful relationship with food for the rest of the Holiday season.
Be aware of diet culture: Messages like “new year, new you”, “eat healthy during the holidays without sacrificing fitness goals“, and advice on how to” make up for”/ “reset” after eating throughout the holidays can have damaging effects on those who struggle with food. These messages often convince us that the way to achieve happiness and fulfillment is through changing and shrinking our bodies. I urge my clients to challenge these ideas and search for joy through self-acceptance and trust in your body.
Clear boundary setting: Put a stop to others comments about your food or body. Remarks like, “ do you really need more?” “Have you lost/gained weight?” “What about trying ___” or listening to loved ones discussing their diet plans can make your holiday food experience anxiety provoking. I suggest that clients come up with a simple script each time they encounter this issue. You can practice kindly explaining to others that diet and calories are not topics you want to discuss or try requesting to change the subject.
Create like-minded community: Perhaps you have a friend of safe person who is also working on making peace with food- can they attend holiday events with you? If not, are you in touch with a community of people who are on the same journey? I suggest starting by checking out accounts like @trustyourbodyproject, @chr1styharrison, and the @intuitive_rd to start this community online.
Change the focus of your health goals: You can still prioritize health and well being without traditional diet and fitness goals. For example, consider reframing your goals from weight loss or body changes to increasing strength and aiding in stress relief and sleep. The goal here is to step into food choices and exercise from a place of self-love instead of self-loathing for a more restorative and compassionate experience.
By: Katrin Steinert
Holidays can become a stressful time when we include families, friends, traditions, traveling, and unspoken dynamics. Thanksgiving can be a time for gratitude and reflect on what positive intentions can be set for the rest of the year. Here are a few ways to explore gratitude and positive intentions during the Thanksgiving holiday:
Affirmations: Create a new affirmation that is spoken every day in order to create gratitude and appreciation for one-self.
Reflection: Mentally reflecting on what the past year has brought, the wish for what the new season will bring and ways to achieve the goals will help shed light on what you are grateful for.
Meditation: Meditation can help you focus the mind and be present. Being present helps you be one mindful which allow space to invite what you are most grateful for. It blocks out all the noise and focus the mind on what is important.
“When life throws you lemons make lemonade” but how do we do that? A lot of our instincts when something does not go correctly is to react impulsively with strong emotions. Some situations require us to react emotionally and some require more of our rational brain. In order to help calm our emotional reactions we can employ a skill called IMPROVE.
Imagery: Transports your mind to a space that makes you feel calm and serene. Visualize imagery that helps soothe your sense and relaxes your muscle’s. Some examples could be your favorite childhood space, beach or even your own room.
Meaning: Find meaning in a distressing situation can help shift the perspective. By tapping into your values, it will help see the silver lining in a situation that may otherwise feel meaningless.
Prayer: Prayer does not have to have a religious connotation. The meaning of prayer is connecting with something that is greater than yourself. By focusing on a mantra, image or song can create a sense of peace in the moment.
Relaxation: Focusing on relaxing the tension in muscles can reduce the pressure build of distress. By reducing the tension in your muscles will help elevate emotional pain.
One thing at a time: Being mindful is focusing on one task or thought at a time. This can be a powerful tool to slow down the thoughts and worries that are popping up. By letting go of the future worry will allow space to focus on the moment.
Vacation: Vacation does not mean take an actual trip. A vacation is a brief respite from the monotony of daily life. An example of a vacation can be taking a different walking route, meeting friends or exploring a new part the city you live in.
Encouragement: Words are very powerful and that includes the words we tell ourselves. By practicing positive self-talk and self-encouragement can help give us the boost we need to take a distressing moment.
Color is not just for kids anymore. There has been an explosion of coloring books in the last few years. There are funny coloring books, intricate coloring books and even inappropriate coloring books. What is the reason? Coloring is proving to help when we feel highly anxious.
There are many benefits to coloring including feeling calmer, mentally clear and some even say happier. By engaging in coloring, it helps focus the brain similarly to mediation. People who have depression have found that by partaking in craft hobbies and art it has significantly decreased their depression. There are numerous studies that show by coloring it decreases symptoms in anxiety, depression and even PTSD.
Another benefit of coloring is if it is done before bedtime, it will help you sleep. By focusing on the coloring, it eases the mind of thoughts of the day and helps anxious sleepers fall asleep.
Coloring can also be a social activity by inviting others to come over and have coloring parties. Just like everything, there are phone apps for coloring if you need to color on the go. Some of the more popular ones include Color Mandala and Stress Relief Coloring for Adults.
DBT stands for Dialectal Behavior Therapy and was created in the 1990s by Marsha Linehan. Linehan was inspired to create DBT after she worked with chronically suicidal and borderline personality disordered patients. She recognized that having a one-way conversation with patients who suffer from chronic mental illnesses was not working.
In creating DBT she took principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and interjected eastern philosophies to her approach. DBT is comprised of four modules which include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Each module is then broken down into easy applicable skills to help clients regulate their emotions. By creating these modules, Linehan hoped to create tools for clients who were suffering from lack of confidence and unable to think positively through their treatment.
In creating the dialect of acceptance and change, Linehan hoped to create enough space for the patients to see that their situations were not always hopeless and there was a life worth living. Today, DBT is not only effective with patients who suffer from borderline personality disorder but for an array of diagnoses.
By: Eric Kruse
Many people are familiar with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” It’s a quote that inspires people to enjoy the present moment and avoid the pitfalls of becoming overly focused on the future. A predominant approach in mental and physical health is mindfulness and meditation, a focus on the here and now. If you spend too much time worrying about the future and not enjoying the present, then you should focus on the journey, not the destination. However, if you feel stuck in the present, then maybe some focus on a destination can bring you some relief.
An Argument to be made for the Destination
Destination focus can be a positive coping mechanism when used it the right way. The following are some examples of healthy destination focus:
When Destination Becomes an Unhealthy Focus
The destination becomes an unhealthy focus when you make your happiness contingent on future success. For example, “I will be happy when…” (a) I get a promotion (b) I graduate school (c) I find a partner (d) I lose 10 lbs. If you make your current happiness contingent on future success, then you will miss the opportunity to enjoy the present. The future is an illusion because it has not happened yet. If you are going to focus on the future, it should be about enriching the present. Looking forward to a vacation you have planned is a way of enjoying the present moment because you can derive pleasure from thinking about it in the present.
It is the Journey, but the Destination has its place in the present
Life is the journey, but there are times when the journey is a struggle and reminding ourselves that pleasure, relaxation, and relief is around the corner can help alleviate suffering in the present.
How your false idea about control may be damaging to you
By: Eric Kruse
What are Control Fallacies?
Control Fallacies are when you have a false belief about having too much control over things that are out of your control or when you believe that you have no control over anything in your life. There are two types of control fallacies: (1) the belief that you have no control over your life and that you are a helpless victim of fate, and (2) that you have complete control over yourself, your surroundings, and the feelings of others.
The World is Against Me
The no control fallacy can lead to feelings of helplessness and low motivation. If you feel like the world is against you and there is nothing you can do about it, then you may be falling into the no control fallacy trap. Even in extreme situations where you may have no choices, you still have a certain amount of control over how you approach the situation mentally.
Everything is My Fault
The complete control fallacy can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and shame. The more you try to control things that are out of your control, the more frustrated and disappointed you will be. If you frequently blame yourself for how others are feelings, then you may be falling into the complete control fallacy trap.
How to Release Yourself from the Control Fallacy Trap
The first step to releasing yourself from the control fallacy trap is to identify which of the two traps you are stuck in. Do you feel like the world is against you or do you blame yourself for the emotions of others?
Empower Yourself by Taking Back Some Control (no control counter)
If you are stuck in the no control fallacy trap, it can be empowering to discover that you have more control than you think you do. For example, in states where euthanasia is legal, patients with terminal illness report that being able to choose when and how they die gives them a sense of control over the final stage of their life. If you are stuck in a job that you don’t like and you can’t afford to leave, there may be other areas of your life that you can tweak to improve self-care. At the very least you can reframe some of your negative thoughts into more self-compassionate thoughts.
Find Relief by Letting Go (complete control counter)
If you are stuck in the complete control fallacy trap, it’s relieving to discover that you are not responsible for the emotions of others. Yes, what you do and what you say does impact others. It’s commendable to take responsibility for that. If you are in the complete control fallacy trap, then you are taking too much responsibility for things that are out of your control. Let others be responsible for themselves. Stop blaming yourself for things that are not your fault. Stop trying to change things that you cannot change. If you are struggling with identifying what is in your control vs not in your control, it can be helpful to get feedback from others. As the saying goes: “Two heads are better than one.”
By: Ranjita Rao
How many times have you been overwhelmed with a million different things going on at once? And in these scenarios, how many times have you actually asked others for help?
This situation most likely happens more than you would like to admit. I hear all the time from individuals how much they would like to ask for help and yet how hard it is for them to actually do it. Maybe it’s because you are worried about being a burden, maybe you see it as a sign of weakness, or maybe it’s simply because you struggle with how to ask for help. Here are some tips to make asking for help much easier!