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Posts tagged Stress
Reducing Holiday Stress

One of the best ways to continue living a balanced lifestyle is to reduce stress levels, especially during the holidays. Stress does not only ruin your holidays, but it's also bad for your health. Between shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, we sometimes forget that the holidays are supposed to be a fun, relaxing time spent with family and friends. When stress reaches it's top peak, it can be hard to gather and regroup. Here are some practical tips to help you get through the holidays, stress free: 

1. Acknowledge your feelings- Just because it is holiday season, that does not mean you have to be jolly all the time. If you have lost a family member or are unable to be with loved ones this holiday, it is okay to feel sad and cry. Acknowledging how you are feeling and accepting it can make the hard times a little more bearable.

2. Reach out- If you are feeling lonely, reach out to your community. Volunteering is a great way to pass time while feeling better about yourself and broadening friendships amongst your community. 

3. Be realistic- As years go on and people grow older, it is hard to make holidays perfect and the same as last year. Although traditions are important, there is always room for change. If family members are unable to make it this year, reach out and celebrate in other was to continue the holiday festivities.  

4. Set aside differences-  Try to make the most out of the time you have to spend with people. Accept family and friends for who they are and pick a different time to talk about your problems. Remember that other people are suffering from holiday stress as well. 

5. Stick to a budget- Holidays are not about who spent the most money. Before you begin shopping,  decide on a realistic budget and stick to it. Use techniques such as homemade gifts or family gift exchanges to keep the cost low. 

6. Plan ahead- Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, and visiting friends. Plan out events first then make lists of what you need to avoid last minute scrambling. Reach out to friends and plan ahead for party prep and clean up. Through all the madness, don't forget to save time for yourself. 

7. Learn to say no- Saying yes to every event will only lead to more stress. Friends and family members will understand if you can't participate in everything. If you start to feel overwhelmed, prioritize and take something off of your list.  

8. Don't abandon healthy habits- Eating healthy, exercising, and appropriate amounts of sleeping are all still important even during the holidays. It's easy to get caught up in the sweets every now and then,  but don't forget to take care of yourself.   

9. Take a breather- Spending just 15 minutes alone without any distractions can make all the difference. Go for a walk, listen to music, or read a book are some healthy ways to distract yourself and help with self care.  

10. Seek professional help as needed-  Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. 

Effects of too much stress or chronic stress can exacerbate current problems or create more problems in life. The healthier your family is, the less difficult holidays are and the more enjoyable the holidays are. The more dysfunctional your family, the more important it is to have a survival plan. Use these tips to not only get through the holidays, but to get through everyday. 

If you have questions about stress and how it can affect you or your family's health or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services

Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

Reference: Mayo Clinic Staff. “Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 Sept. 2017.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Have you been accused of being passive-aggressive? Have you told someone else that they're being passive-aggressive? We hear these terms quite frequently. Some of the time they are often right on the mark and other times this term just does not fit. What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior?

Passive-aggressive behavior is indirectly being aggressive to get what you want or don't want, while still appearing like you're easy-going and trying to please others. Using passive-aggressive statements is seen as a way to resist and still appear like you're complying. Passive-aggressive behavior can also be defined as a "deliberate and masked way to express covert feelings of anger" as stated by Whitson in Passive Aggressive Diaries. Many times people may want to appear likable, easy-going and happy, yet they are actually angry or resistant. These people may believe that they're not allowed to have or show their feeling.

What can I do instead? 

As the term states, this is a combination of two extremes: Passive behavior and aggressive behavior. Passive behavior and communication tends to be wishy-washy, indirect, and hints at the point we want to make. Aggressive behavior is typically attacking, mean, and hurting someone else to get what we want. Neither extreme helps you achieve what you want to accomplish.

Instead of passive-aggressive behavior, we can be assertive. Assertiveness is being firm but friendly and using our words to mean exactly what we want to say. To be assertive, you can state the exact message you want to get across without hiding your emotions or being hurtful. For example, instead of saying, "Fine, whatever. I don't want to finish this anyways." You could say, "Can we stay for 10 more minutes? I just want to finish this first." By using this assertive statement, the other person is unlikely to feel bad, hurt, or angry, and you get to finish your task. Being assertive still means you both "win" and you still get to have your feelings and be friendly.

You can also talk to a professional to help guide you through these behaviors and be more assertive. This can help you feel better about yourself and increase the connection in relationships.

To discuss this and other behaviors in detail, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.

Catching the "Good"

Do you notice the irritating behaviors or the bad choices more than the good ones? Do you wish you could help your child or partner make better choices? A little effort can go a long way show you care and support others. This acknowledgement can help your loved ones feel better. When individuals feel better, they are more likely to make better choices and have better behaviors. Here's an activity you can do to help your loved one feel better.

Catching the Good Behaviors

Cognitive behavior

Ideally, you want the reward to happen pretty quickly and within a few days when you first introduce this. This means that when you introduce it, make sure the items fill up the container quickly. After receiving the reward the first time, you can modify either the container or items to make the reward less frequent.

This activity is a Win-Win-Win. You win by seeing more of the good choices and behaviors, they win by feeling acknowledged and supported when they do good things, and your relationship wins by growing more positive in feelings, reactions, and support.

This can also be part of your reward system in parenting whenever you add more consequences or chores to balance the feedback you're giving them. You can also do this activity in a modified way for adults or your partner. Instead of an actual container, you can thank your partner or tell them you noticed when you see the good things. Again, it's a win-win-win and many people find that they seem happier when they focus on the positive behaviors.

To learn more cognitive-behavioral or parenting strategies, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.

Striving for Balance in your Week

It's Monday again. Every monday (and sometimes sundays) many people have a "to do" list or goals for that week. This week's list could include soccer games, parent-teacher nights, vet appointments, physical check-ups, and stopping at the grocery store for that one forgotten item.  This is where balance in your week makes for a more efficient and happier week - something that most of us strive for each week. A balanced week includes the following 5 aspects:

  1. Work or school time
  2. Personal time
  3. Social time
  4. Exercise time
  5. Nutrition

Striving for these 5 aspects in each week may not seem difficult - they are present each week for many individuals. The key for these 5 aspects is the ratio or percentage of each, depending on each person's needs. These 5 aspects may also be multi-tasked appropriately to meet individual needs (i.e. exercise w/ friends).

For example, one person, Sheila, may work full-time, but have lunch with the girls once a week and hit the treadmill the other 4 days of the week while bringing her lunch to work, then Sheila gets to go home and spend the nights with her kids, leaving a few nights a month for date night - this person just succeeded in meeting all 5 aspects that meet her needs. Another person, Jane, may work part-time while being at home with the kids. Jane may cook nutritious meals for her kids, meet up with friends one weeknight and once on the weekend, then at night, she gets some alone time to read her favorite books while her husband plays and bathes the kids.

Balance in your week is based on each individual's equation - one person may require a different percentage or number than the next person. Based on minimal trial and error, you can find what you would need to feel balanced each week. Now, realistically this balance may not happen every week, but striving for this balance is what matters - trying to reach your ideal equation is good enough to make you feel efficient and happy.

For assistance with your balanced week, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.