Funday Friday: New Year’s Resolution Motivation Humor

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Here’s some Funday Friday humor to assist with your New Year’s resolution motivation.

If you would like some help with your humor and joy in your life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

3 Betrayals That Ruin Relationships (That Aren’t Infidelity)

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3 Betrayals That Ruin Relationships (That Aren’t Infidelity)

By Kyle Benson

Infidelity is the betrayal our society focuses on, but it is actually the subtle, unnoticed betrayals that truly ruin relationships. When partners do not choose each other day after day, trust and commitment erode away.

Partners may be aware of this disloyalty to each other, but dismiss it because it’s “not as bad as an affair.” This is false. Anything that violates a committed relationship’s contract of mutual trust, respect, and protection can be disastrous.

Betrayals are founded on two building blocks: deception (not revealing your true needs to avoid conflict) and a yearning for emotional connection from outside the relationship.

Below are three betrayals that ruin relationships. Only by confronting and taking responsibility for them can couples reestablish their trust in each other.

Emotional Cheating

It’s very easy for platonic friends to bond in the trenches of work, day after day. Sometimes we call this person a “work wife” or “work husband.” Even friendships made at the gym or local coffee shop can threaten the bond at home.

These nonsexual relationships can lead to both parties sharing intimate details about each other’s lives. That doesn’t make it a betrayal. What makes it a betrayal is this: if your partner would be upset by the things you’ve shared or would be uncomfortable watching the interaction.

Tom first learns of his wife’s sexless affair when they hosted a Christmas party. Emily has never mentioned Chris, the new manager of her department. At the party, Chris seems to know about Emily’s entire life. He even brought their son Marshall a Bumblebee Transformer. His favorite.

Tom looks at Emily with a shocked expression. Her sheepish look sinks his heart. When he confronts her after the party, Emily argues about her friendship with Chris. She tells Tom it’s “nothing” because they are “just friends.”

She then turns against Tom and defends Chris. She accuses Tom of being irrationally jealous and tells him it’s the reason he didn’t know about Chris in the first place. Tom feels there is nothing irrational about his jealousy. Whether he admits it or not, his wife is cheating. The evidence lies in her secrecy.

5 signs your partner’s friendship is not an innocent friendship:

  1. Has the friendship been hidden?
  2. Are your questions about the friendship responded with “don’t worry” or discouragement?
  3. Have you asked it to end, only to have your partner tell you no?
  4. Have your boundaries been disrespected?
  5. Is the friend the subject of fantasies or comments during troubled times in the relationship?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, the friendship may be too intimate. Use Dr. John Gottman’s Conflict Blueprint from his book What Makes Love Last?  to help talk to your partner about this issue.

Conditional Love

Couples don’t feel supported when one partner keeps a foot out of the relationship. They don’t feel like their partner has their best interests at heart, that they have their back. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the betrayed partner to blame a trigger as the real problem, when it’s actually the lack of commitment.

As Kristina reflects on her first marriage, she knows she began to feel betrayed when her husband stalled on starting a family. At first she thought he was anxious about becoming a father, but in couples therapy it became clear that he was hesitant to deepen his commitment to her.

Like an anxious lover, she clung onto him with desperation, terrified of losing her marriage until she realized she never really had one to begin with.

Sometimes a partner may pressure the other to marry or move in, believing the “next level” will deepen their connection, but it’s difficult for a marriage to succeed if it is built on a vow to create a strong bond rather than the result of one. The shallowness of the bond will eventually bleed through the connection.

Steps to create unconditional love: When couples ignore or dismiss talking about difficult issues, they are left with a shallow commitment. By using conflict as a catalyst for closeness, couples can intentionally use problems as an opportunity to discuss their goals, fears, and dreams. Couples that unconditionally love each other live by the motto, “baby, when you hurt, the world stops and I listen.”

Emotional Withdrawal

Emotional withdrawal can be something big, like choosing a work meeting over a family funeral, or it can be as small as turning away when your partner needs emotional support.

A committed relationship requires both partners to be there for each other through the life-altering traumas and everyday nuisances. That means celebrating joys and successes with your partner, too.

Everybody has different ways of expressing themselves. In a committed relationship, it is the responsibility of both partners to uncover and disclose these preferences to understand what the other requires to feel loved, protected, and supported. Think of The Five Love Languages.

In his research lab, Dr. Gottman discovered that happy couples turned toward each other 86% of the time, while unhappy couples turned towards each other only 33% of the time. That means unhappy couples withdraw 67% of the time! Emotional withdrawal sets in when bids are ignored.

Solution: To improve your emotional connection, focus on rebuilding and updating your Love Maps, cultivating a culture of admiration and fondness, and turning towards bids more often.

Do any of the items listed above feel familiar or make you feel uneasy? If so, you may be facing a betrayal. Maybe it’s as serious as finding discomforting text messages between your partner and someone else. This list is not about who is right or wrong. Like sexual affairs, these betrayals can be overcome if you recognize the problem and repair the relationship together.

Dating Your Spouse Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

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Dating Your Spouse Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

By Drs Les and Leslie Parrott

Many married couples–ourselves included–recommend regular date nights as a way to keep your marriage healthy and strong. Taking intentional time to connect with one another away from kids and other distractions is essential, but we often over-complicate it. Time is often the commodity that we have the most difficulty finding. Once that time is set aside, it’s important to plan how you will spend it.

If you already sense yourself buckling under the pressure of creating the perfect date, remember this: dating your spouse doesn’t have to be hard! Here are 7 tips to take the pressure off of your date nights and give you the freedom to just enjoy one another.

SCHEDULE AHEAD OF TIME

We make time for what is important in life, and if your marriage isn’t healthy, the rest of your world can easily crumble around you. If you don’t carve out time for each other in advance, dates either won’t happen, or they’ll be fewer and farther between. One date every three months isn’t going to cut it.

A natural drifting apart occurs in any relationship whose members don’t connect regularly. With friends, we can allow this to occur for a season, and effortlessly pick up right where we left off. With our marriages, we simply cannot let it happen.

Find a system that works for you and your spouse. You could schedule your dates a month ahead of time, or agree to set aside some time to be together each week. Whatever you decide, make this time a priority–whatever it takes.

BRAINSTORM IDEAS TOGETHER

It can be hard to think of activities or destination ideas under pressure, so relax and put your heads together. Take some time to think of fun and easy date ideas, writing them down as you come up with them. When you’re drained of creative suggestions, lean on your list! This will take the pressure off both of you, and can be especially handy if you’re in a very busy season, like the child-rearing years.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF TRADITION

Not every date has to be an original idea. If you and your spouse have hobbies that you like to do together, or restaurants or traditions that you enjoy, stick to those. Forming traditions can also spark a sense of anticipation around doing something you both truly enjoy. Planning dates is not a competition. It is honoring your marriage by setting aside some sacred time to spend together. If that happens to be at the same restaurant each week, or over the same meal or activity at home, then let it be!

TAKE TURNS PLANNING

When you’re the only one doing all of the planning for date nights, you can quickly become burdened. Taking turns planning with your spouse can alleviate this burden and keep things interesting. You will also have the chance to put some extra thought into what your spouse may like, and vice versa.

BRING TALKING POINTS

This might sound contrived, but it actually works. Conversation may flow easily between you most of the time, but there will be times when it isn’t so easy. It can be difficult to shut off a day’s worth of work and stress when it’s date time. Instead of intentional talk, you can end up filling your time with awkward silence, complaining, or small talk.

A great way to combat this is to bring some talking points or starter questions along to your date night. One simple question could lead to an entire conversation. Or perhaps you have been saving something that you would like to talk or dream about with your spouse during your time alone. Either way, coming prepared with something to talk about can be a way to take the pressure off of your date time.

DO SOMETHING FUN

Some dates should just be spent doing something fun–with no other agenda. Your spouse is your best friend, and that should leave room for you two to just let loose and have some fun! Different dates can serve different purposes. Sometimes, the best medicine is laughter…and not taking yourself too seriously.

STAY AT HOME

It’s not always practical or cost-effective to get out of the house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create space for the two of you there. Pick out a dinner or activity, order take-out or make dinner, and do date night in. Just remember not to blur those lines too much at home.

You may be more tempted to give into distractions, but honor your time there as you would at any other place. A date night at home is often relaxing, and a time to reconnect with your spouse–and you don’t even have to leave the house!

If you tend to get overwhelmed at the thought of planning and keeping regular dates with your spouse, keep these tips in mind! Dating your spouse doesn’t have to be hard; it just requires commitment and follow-through. Protect the time you’ve set aside to be together, and your marriage will thrive!

If you would like help with your marriage and/or relationship, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

How to Be Kind When You’re Upset With Your Partner

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How to Be Kind When You’re Upset With Your Partner

By Sanaa Hyder, M.S.Ed.

Kindness is not just important in the heat of an argument, rather, it is about your mindful and considerate behavior throughout your relationship.

When we enter into a committed relationship, most of us make some sort of declaration  – a promise or a vow  – that we will uphold our partner and care for them. We also make a secondary promise: that we will be our best selves ,  full of integrity and hope for a successful future.

The act of not choosing kindness is therefore doubly hurtful – to our partners and to ourselves – because it undercuts our efforts for growth and the potential for greater intimacy.

A relationship is the concerted effort of two people who mindfully and enthusiastically work towards a shared vision. Despite the difficulties of daily life, partners are in charge of their own behavior. While a couple grows together, they are not precluded from growing as individuals as well  –  in fact they must evolve as individuals in order to continually bring their “best selves” to their partner.

Kindness Begets Kindness

How can you cultivate a habit of kindness in your relationship? Below are 3 powerful tips that you can put into action right now, regardless of where your partner is on their journey:

1. Think good thoughts
We are wired to feel how we repeatedly think. Thinking positive thoughts about your partner will make it easier for you to think more positive thoughts, and to speak and behave positively towards them. In order to get into the habit of being kind, you must practice the thoughts as well as the actions.

Remind yourself of the nice things your partner has done each day. For instance, did they take out the recycling or come home early one night for dinner? However small the action, make it a habit of noticing the kindness as it is happening and make a mental note of how happy it makes you feel. When you see your partner, mention it to them. Noticing the good things about your partner helps to keep you in what Dr. John Gottman calls the Positive Perspective or Positive Sentiment Override. It is a sense of hopeful well-being that arises from a positive thoughts and positive interactions.

2. Accept responsibility
Take responsibility for assessing your own feelings before presenting them to your partner. Whereas anger and frustration are legitimate emotions, further exploration might reveal that in fact you feel annoyed or sad about a situation. Perhaps upon reflection you find that in fact you felt abandoned or that your dreams are not being acknowledged. Being able to accurately pinpoint your feelings will help you to convey them in a kinder, gentler tone to your partner.

You might think it is more authentic to say exactly what’s on your mind without filtering anything for your partner, but consider that once they are hurt, it is harder for them to connect with you empathically. Take a moment to process your feelings with a therapist or by yourself. Try keeping a journal or log of your day and how you were feeling. Processing your feelings through writing often helps to sort out and organize thoughts.

3. Let hope win
Have faith in the relationship and in your commitment. Even though you will have ongoing arguments with you partner, focus on your friendship. I see couples in my office who want to “solve” their issues first before going out for an ice cream or relaxing over dinner. It’s not possible to solve problems with someone you don’t want to collaborate with.

I often encourage couples to do an activity together to enjoy their love  –  despite their gripes! It is much easier to discuss problems with your best friend than with your “enemy.” It may take effort to institute a date night, but being close and connected is a habit, and habits have to be practiced consciously and regularly. Try going out of your way to be friendly to your partner.

For instance, pour milk in their cereal in the morning, or offer to walk the dog. Look up a movie they’ve been meaning to watch, or even send them a text message today (not about errands or scheduling) about something you’re looking forward to doing with them later.

Kindness Allows You to be Heard

Ultimately, kindness serves your expression of difficult emotions by offering your partner the capacity to really hear you. Even if you are angry, in order to approach your partner effectively you must be kind. If you’ve paved the way for your partner to be open to you, they are more likely to hear your frustration and respond with compassion. Kindness gets your needs met.

Being kind and gentle is a decision. Just as we offer a smile and hold the door open for a stranger, we must remember to cultivate this habit in our relationship no matter how many months or years have passed.

The longer we try, the easier it gets to summon up a positive picture of our beloved. The more we practice kindness, the easier it is to recall that our partner is also a human who is experiencing life alongside us. It becomes easier to offer a smile and to extend an olive branch to the person who is in the struggle with us – not against us.

 

If you would like help with your relationships, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

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Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

By the Mayo Clinic

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it’s no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression

When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
    1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
    2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
    3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
    4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
    5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

    • Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
    • Give homemade gifts.
    • Start a family gift exchange.
  1. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
  2. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  3. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

    Try these suggestions:

    • Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  4. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

    Some options may include:

    • Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
    • Listening to soothing music.
    • Getting a massage.
    • Reading a book.
  5. Seek professional help if you need it. 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.

 

If you would like help with stress and depression, please contact CornerStone Family Service at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Funday Friday: Christmas Chemistry Humor

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Here is some holiday Funday Friday humor for you:

chemistree

If you would like to add some more humor or joy into your life, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a coach or counselor.

The Neuroscience of Singing

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The Neuroscience of Singing

By Cassandra Sheppard

The science is in. Singing is really, really good for you and the most recent research suggests that group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

The good feelings we get from singing in a group are a kind of evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively.

The research suggests that creating music together evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes sang and danced together to build loyalty, transmit vital information and ward off enemies.

Science Supports Singing

What has not been understood until recently is that singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and even synchronises our heart beats.

Group singing literally incentivised community over an “each cave dweller for themselves” approach. Those who sang together were strongly bonded and survived.

In her book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others, Stacy Horn calls singing:

An infusion of the perfect tranquiliser – the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit.

Singing Makes You Happy

For a decade, science has been hard at work trying to explain why singing has such a calming yet energising effect on people. Numerous studies demonstrate that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin – which in turn relieve anxiety and stress and which are linked to feelings of trust and bonding.

Singing helps people with depression and reduces feelings of loneliness, leaving people feeling relaxed, happy and connected. What’s more, the benefits of singing regularly are cumulative. People who sing have reduced levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.

UK singer, singing teacher and choir leader Sophia Efthimiou describes singing as a process of consciously controlling our breath and larynx to create and sustain certain pitches and we blend that with rhythm and poetry to create songs.

In a group setting, each group member feels the musical vibrations moving through their body simultaneously. Our heart beats become synchronised. Sophia explains:

We literally form one unified heart beat.

Anybody Can Sing

One of the great things about singing is that you can receive the wellbeing benefits even if you aren’t any good. One study showed that:

Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.

Tania de Jong, singer and founder of Creativity Australia, has effectively harnessed this ability of group singing to lift every member of the group up, no matter their singing ability.

One of the great things about singing is that is connects you to the right side of your brain. This is the side responsible for intuition, imagination and all our creative functions. It connects us to a world of possibilities. In modern life we are constantly bombarded with so much information that we process and analyse. We tend to get stuck in the left, processing side of our brain. So it becomes fundamentally important to nurture the attributes of human beings that set us apart from machines. The best way to do that is singing.

Sing Anywhere, Anytime

These benefits are free and accessible to all. We all have a voice. We can all sing, even if we don’t think we can.

There was a time when we all used to sing. We sang at church, around camp fires, at school. While group singing is experiencing a resurgence, not so many of us sing anymore. At some stage, someone told us to be quiet or judged our imperfect singing voice. Sophia Efthimiou suggests that singing is very personal, an expression of sound coming from within us, so we cannot help but take this criticism very personally and it sticks.

Yet, people who claim they cannot sing because they are tone deaf are more likely to be very unfamiliar with finding and using their singing voice.

Tone deafness is comparatively rare and means that you would be unable to recognise a song. If you can recognise a song you are not tone deaf, you are just unpractised. Sophia clarifies:

When our voice makes the wrong note we can feel terrible as though it is a reflection of our self worth. But – if you can talk, you can sing.

Raise Your Voice

US opera singer Katie Kat wishes to encourage all of us to sing far more often regardless of our perceived skill.

Singing increases self-awareness, self-confidence and our ability to communicate with others. It decreases stress, comforts us and helps us to forge our identity and influence our world.

When you sing, musical vibration moves through you, altering your physical and emotional state. Singing is as old as the hills. It is innate, ancient and within all of us. It really is one of the most uplifting therapeutic things we can do. Katie continues:

However, society has skewed views on the value of singing. Singing has become something reserved for elite talent or highly produced stars with producers, management, concert dates – leaving the rest of us with destructive criticism of our own voices.

She claims that singing is instinctual and necessary to our existence. You do not have to be an amazing singer to benefit from the basic biological benefits and with practice the benefits increase.

Singing Creates Connection

I have fond memories of hearing my grandmother singing throughout the day and of large group singing sessions with her friends.

One of my favourite memories of group singing is the old Scots tradition on New Year’s Eve of singing Auld Lang Syne. My grandmother and all her friends would stand in a big circle just before midnight.

Everyone would hold hands, and then at the beginning of the final verse we would cross our arms across our bodies so that our left hand was holding the hand of the person on our right, and the right hand holds that of the person on the left. When the song ended, everyone would rush to the middle, still holding hands. It was beautiful fun and as a young girl I felt so safe, included and loved within that singing circle.

The phrase “auld lang syne” roughly translates as “for old times’ sake”, and the song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.

A tradition worth resurrecting, considering the benefits of singing in a group.

 

If you would like help in increasing your joy, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach. 

How To Reduce And Deal With Holiday Stress

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How To Reduce And Deal With Holiday Stress

By Bruce Y. Lee

Even though songs such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Jingle Bells” can make the winter holiday season seem like a time for pervasive cheer and mirth, in actuality, holidays can bring stress, depression and anxiety, which in turn can lead to physical problems such as weight gain and Holiday Heart Syndrome. But many people may be suffering in silence. After all, we don’t have songs such as “Rudolph the Depressed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus has Overeaten Again” or “Jingle Bell Stress” to raise awareness. So why may the holidays be stressful to you and what can you do about it?

Here are some common causes of holiday stress:

  • “Little Drummer Boy and Girl”: Many people have to work hard with looming year-end deadlines and potentially increased business, especially if sales are tied to the holiday season in any way (such as for retail stores, restaurants, health clinics and candy cane manufacturing). More work can mean less sleep, less exercise and less healthy habits, which can exacerbate stress. Also, gift shopping and holiday planning for friends and co-workers can feel like another job.
  • “Sleigh Ride (will be delayed indefinitely due to unforeseen circumstances and we will be charging extra for checking in luggage and wearing pants)”: Holiday travel can be unpleasant with the increasingly crowded conditions and expenses.  
  • “All I Want for Christmas Is Some Cash”: With all the gift giving, parties and travel, the holidays can really stretch your budget, heightening any financial concerns.
  • “Santa Claus is Coming to Town and So Are Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Your Cousins, Your In-Laws, Your Aunt, Your Uncle, Your Daughter and Her New Boyfriend, and Your Son and Several Strange Friends”: The holidays can bring together people and accompanying drama.
  • “Let It Snow! Let It Snow!…Stop Snowing, Already!”:Inclement weather, cold temperatures and less daylight can trigger seasonal affective disorder, depression and road rage (from worse driving conditions), as well as limit activities that would help relieve stress (such as sports and walking outside).
  • “Last Christmas”: The holidays can remind you of painful memories such as break-ups, divorces and deaths, especially when you see people experiencing the opposite (for example, seemingly happy couples).
  • “Frosting the Snowman”: Food and beverages, including lots of unhealthy ones with lots of fat, salt and sugar, are everywhere, which can lead to overeating, weight gain, heartburn, remorse, regret and then more eating and drinking.
  • “I Saw Mommy, Daddy and Everyone Else Kissing Santa Claus”: When people are stressed, lonely, depressed or drunk, they can do unusual and unpredictable things, which in turn can cause more stress (especially if that person is another family member, your significant other, your boss, your employee or you).
  • “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…this Holiday Sale That You Can’t Miss and Don’t Forget That Diamonds Show That You Really Care”: The holidays pummel you with advertising convincing you of what don’t have and need to buy.
  • “Do You Hear What I Hear?”: During the holidays, many others may seem happy and cheerful, which may make your situation seem less favorable by comparison.
  • “Silent Night”: Unfortunately, not everyone has loved ones or a social circle with whom to spend the holidays.

So what can you do to prevent and combat holiday stress?

  • “Running Around the Christmas Tree”: Keep a regular exercise routine. Maintain your regular hobbies and regular eating habits…unless they are unhealthy.
  • “Chestnuts Roasting in an Open Fire”: Try to eat healthily. Your mood and health are very closely tied to what you ingest.
  • “Away in a Manger”: Get enough sleep to re-charge and help handle stress. Also, take time out during the day to take breaks.
  • “Blue Christmas”: Don’t be afraid to tell others about how you feel. You may be surprised to find that they are struggling with similar problems and can help provide empathy and social support. If you feel truly overwhelmed or ill, seek professional or medical help.
  • Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go…but Maybe Try Another Path “: Don’t keep repeating the same mistakes each holiday season. By now, you know what conversations and actions will make you unhappy, anxious, regretful and remorseful (such as going to that same holiday party each year, overeating, overdrinking and ending up with a lampshade on your head) and trigger unresolvable arguments with others, such as family members. Try something new.
  • “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”: Meaningful social connections can help protect you against stress. Avoid people who are not genuinely interested in you. Connect with those who are. Know when to sever relationships that are toxic and harmful. Be willing to let go of grudges for relationships that are worth mending.
  • “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: Stop comparing yourself to others. Embrace your uniqueness. Each of us has a different path in life and faces different challenges and successes. Beneath their superficial appearances, you often don’t know what people are really experiencing. As the Batman has shown us, ostensible success does not mean the person is not struggling and miserable.
  • “Feliz Navidad”: Keep in mind that the world is a big place and that you are not necessarily trapped in your current social circle and circumstances.
  • “Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)”: As Supergirl has shown, helping others can keep you physically active, distract you from your other concerns, be therapeutic, and lead to new friends.
  • “Twelve Days of Christmas”: Keep perspective and if the Holidays are tough for you, remember that the Holiday season is temporary and will pass. Try not to take yourself and things too seriously. Just make sure you maintain healthy habits and avoid behaviors that will lead to health problems (such as gaining weight) beyond the holiday season.
  • “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Even if it doesn’t seem so to you, try to stay optimistic. Research has shown that optimism can have health benefits. Be open to new experiences and possibilities. Sometimes the best things in life are the most unexpected.

And if all of this doesn’t do enough relieve your stress, you can always try singing…

If you would like help with dealing with holiday stress, anxiety, or depression, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: A Counseling Story From Bob Uhle

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Blood, Sweat, and Tears: A Counseling Story From Bob Uhle

When Carson came to see me for counseling, his life was falling apart. He had lost his job as a welder because of downsizing. His young wife had left him and moved back to West Virginia to live with her parents, taking their six-month-old with her. His car was repossessed, and he was now reduced to taking the bus. Now on welfare, Carson barely had money to eat and rent a room. I agreed to meet with him pro bono until he could get back on his feet, but Carson was a proud young man, and would have none of it! He committed to meet with me weekly to work on his depression and anxiety, and was insistent on paying $10 per session. After several months, Carson’s mood stabilized. Nevertheless, for several appointments in a row he showed up late, apologetically blaming it on the bus schedule. He looked gaunt, like he had not slept for several days. When I finally pressed him, he confessed that he had been covering the cost of his $10 sessions by regularly giving blood.

Carson has long since completed his counseling. With his depression and anxiety in remission, he returned to West Virginia to reunite with his wife and young daughter. Like most of the people who come to see us for counseling, he could not afford to pay $125 per hour, nor did he have insurance to offset the cost. He needed a hand, but not a handout. He was invested deeply in the process, not only putting skin in the game, but his very life blood as well.

Bob UhleAt CornerStone Family Services, we believe in the counseling/coaching services we offer, and the healing it provides for people like Carson. We believe in meeting our clients where they are in life. We believe in helping individuals and families who are falling through the cracks. And we believe in providing all individuals access to caring counseling and coaching when they are in need.

CornerStone offers a helping hand to hundreds of people like Carson who walk through our doors every year. Please consider becoming a partner in our mission through a year-end gift or a monthly scholarship contribution. For more information about the CornerStone mission and how you can contribute click here.

Holiday Depression and Stress

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Holiday Depression and Stress

By Mental Health America Wisconsin

Although the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer and optimistic hopes for a new year, many people struggle during the holiday season when expectations are high and disrupted routines can feel overwhelming. However, some mental preparations and planning can help everyone cope with the season — and even enjoy it.

Self-care. Pay special attention to your eating, sleeping, and downtime. It might be OK to skimp on a few hours of sleep just before a relaxing weekend, but think again if that weekend will include the stress of traveling, visiting or other activities out of your normal routine. Don’t forget to factor in downtime, too. Planning every hour of your time off can seem like a great idea, until you realize there is no time left to unwind.

Fun, not perfection. Resist the urge to do everything you can to make the season perfect for everyone. Just have as much fun as you can and don’t expect it to be perfect.

Anticipate stress. Plan ahead of time what your strategy will be when times get stressful. Is it possible to take a walk outside for 15 minutes when a family gathering gets stressful? How about a trip to your favorite store if your schedule gets you down?

Coping with Stress During the Holidays

  • Keep expectations manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t put the entire focus on just one day (i.e. Thanksgiving Day). Remeber that it’s a season of holiday sentiment, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
  • Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don’t set yourself up in comparing today with the “good ol’ days.”
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some your time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowman with children.
  • Be aware of excessive drinking. It will only increase your feelings of stress.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or connect with someone you haven’t heard from in while.
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.

Holiday Bill of Rights

You have the right to…

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Feel mixed up emotions around the holidays.
  • Spend time alone thinking, reflecting and relaxing.
  • Say “no” to party invitations.
  • Ask for help and support from family, friends and community service agencies
  • Say “no” to alcohol, drugs…and seconds on dessert.
  • NOT to ride with a drunk driver, to take their keys away and to call a taxi for them.
  • Give gifts that are within your holiday budget.
  • Smile at angry sales people and/or rude drivers and give them a peace of your mind.
  • Enjoy your holiday the way you want.

If you would like help dealing with depression or stress, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with a counselor or coach.