"'no' is a complete sentence." - oprah winfrey
We’ve all been there: stretched thin with all the activities we have agreed to do, the friendship that we continue to maintain even though they are constantly a negative voice in our ear. Sometimes it's simply the way we allow someone to speak to us in a public setting. We have all allowed our boundaries to be crossed and felt horrible after it happened. Many of us struggle to understand the importance of boundary setting and feel guilt or shame for saying “no” to the people we love. I am here to let you know that boundary setting and saying “no” can be one of the best ways that you can love yourself and allow others to authentically love you.
Starting out, the practice of saying no can be a difficult one, simply because one may not have awareness of where their boundaries lie. Think back the last time you were stressed, frustrated, angry, or exhausted. Its very likely that you crossed your own personal boundaries (or someone else crossed into them) causing you to have those feelings. Its possible you didn't even know that this was occurring, but looking back you will likely be able to see the point at which you (or someone else) took things past your comfort level. Now think of the rules you could put up for yourself to avoid feeling those feelings in the future; these rules that you could set for yourself and others are called boundaries. Teaching others where your boundaries are allows them to love you in a more authentic fashion.
For me, Sundays are MY day. It's the one day of the week where I get everything done that I need to: laundry, grocery shopping, reading, watching 60 minutes. It's the one day that my friends all know I will likely not hang out. It's the one day my spouse knows that my routine is highly important and will take precedence over most everything else. Previously, friends may have invited me to brunch or my husband may have asked me to help him getting things done on the lawn, but after years of simply saying “no” on Sundays, most people have caught on that I am likely not going to be available for many things outside of me. This is neither selfish nor rude, but a way that I honor my own boundaries. I know that if I set myself up for success on Sundays, I am much more likely to be a good mom, a good friend, a good therapist and a good wife throughout the week.
Below are four steps you can take to begin establishing small boundaries in your life:
“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness”
During this holiday season, everywhere you go there are signs, shirts, cards, home décor, etc. that write “grateful”, “thankful”, or “blessed”. The title of Thanksgiving says it all – be thankful for what you have. Shouldn’t we be grateful, thankful, and blessed all year long and not just because we are reminded during the holidays?
What does being “grateful” really mean? Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful, as well as, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Simply put, gratitude is acknowledging and giving thanks to ourselves and others. Why is this so difficult to do? Many people struggle to recognize and express emotion for what they do have but yet it’s easy to note what they don’t have. This comparison often leads to opportunities for disappointment, envy, resentment, regret, and anxiety.
Over the years, there have been a variety of scientific studies to support “gratitude equals happiness”. Some people feel like in order to be thankful about an event, themselves, or life as a whole, they must first be happy but that is not the case. These studies have suggested that recognizing and showing gratitude strengthens one’s: self-worth, satisfaction, energy, positive emotions, optimism, empathy, and the ability to express more compassion and kindness to others.
There are many things to be thankful for in our lives such as the most basics of food and shelter, as well as family, friends, animals, careers, community, opportunities, etc. When we reflect on the things that make us feel good, we show appreciation, and thus this moment brings us happiness. Examples to show yourself gratitude may be:
Allison Kidd, LMSW, LMAC
“In my experience, there’s no such thing as a long time ago. There’s only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.”-This is Us
I know I’m not alone when I say that I am glued each week to the show: This is Us. While watching a recent episode, I saw Sylvester Stallone tell the character, Kevin, this statement while talking about the memories he has of his late father. There’s no such thing as it happened a long time ago. How true is that for those who have experienced a life-altering event that is traumatic in some way? So often we are told that we should get over an experience because it “happened a long time ago” and we “should be over it by now.” Well, I’m here to dispel that myth. No matter how much time is between ourselves and a significant adverse event, it simply not just a matter of “getting over it.”
When we experience a traumatic event, our brain kicks into auto drive and acts in a way that helps us survive. This often looks like fight, flight, or freeze. After the immediate threat of danger is over, some brains continue to operate at a heightened level of sensitivity; this is in an effort to be prepared and ready should survival be threatened, again. This is not due to any personal deficit or weakness. Our brains adapt and cope to keep us alive.
I went to a sexual assault summit earlier this year and heard a profound remark from Dr. David Lisak, a clinical psychologist and expert in the field of interpersonal violence. Lisak spoke about how posttraumatic stress is not a disordered brain, but rather a healthy brain doing what it is designed to do. What is “disordered” is the environment. Lisak used an example from the military. Once soldiers home from combat, they are often seen as “disordered” because they are no longer in threat. However, it was that level of hypervigilance kept them alive in a disordered environment.
I find this perspective so impactful because oftentimes those who have experienced trauma are treated as if they have a disorder or something wrong with them, when in actuality, that individual’s brain acted, as it was designed, to stay alive.
In the short run, our neural pathways for fear are a life-saver. However, our fear pathways were not designed to be continuously fired. In the long run, the activation of these pathways is neuro-toxic. The consequences of a brain on overdrive are seen in our physical and emotional health, behaviors, beliefs, and memory. We experience nightmares, flashbacks, social isolation, changes in mood, and negative core beliefs. We begin to operate in our world feeling physically and emotionally unsafe.
Trauma affects every facet of our being. But, the human brain is powerful and resilient. Remember what I said earlier about our brain adapting in an instant in order to help us survive? In the same way, our brain can also adapt and rewire to a new environment of safety and trust. There is hope. Hope that, with support, we can keep moving forward and heal.
Support can look different based on our individual needs. There are specific treatments seen to decrease the symptoms of posttraumatic stress and increase an individual’s wellbeing. Some of these trauma-focused interventions include, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for children and adolescents. Both of these treatments have seen promising results through research and are offered here at Resolve.
There’s no such thing as it happened a long time ago. That memory will always be there. However, that memory is not the end of the story. We are strong, resilient, ad more powerful than we can imagine.
Sarah Kindscher, LPC
We don’t get to choose what has happened to us, and we can’t control past choices that still overwhelm our minds, but we can decide to move forward, day-to-day, with the purpose of living a life we are proud of.
What’s the main reason you choose to get out of bed and ‘face the day’ each morning?
Despite our negative experiences and despite any worry for the future or sadness over the past, we can LEARN to LOVE the lives we are living.
So, what’s your WHY? Or...do you even have one?
Could it be your dog? Your children? Your spouse? Success in school or a hopeful promotion at work?
To prove your independence to someone? Taking care of your mother or father? Being the strong single parent? Your current pregnancy? Your future dreams or, simply searching for a purpose?
What is YOUR reason for waking up in the morning?
For some, this can be a very challenging and overwhelming question – which is okay. If so, talk to your therapist for help discovering this!
Mindfulness can help us discover more about our life. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, completely aware of where you are, what you’re feeling, and what you’re doing, IN THAT SPECIFIC MOMENT.
Taking a deep breath is an important part of mindfulness Our breath alone is apowerful enough to regulate emotions and help us gain clarity. By taking a few minutes to ourselves, we are able to take power over a moment of our day.
By being mindful, we take time for what matters, we take care of ourselves, we clear our mind of negativity and distraction, and we focus on the present rather than worrying about the future. We come in contact with understanding our ‘WHY'.
So, what are you mindful of today? What gets you out of bed?
Take 5 minutes, right now preferably, and pay attention to your breathing. Relax, focus on yourself, and remind yourself of your WHY.
Why is that our wallets get smaller and our waistlines get bigger over the holidays? For some of us, gift-giving is something we enjoy and look forward to. We love the look on our loved one’s faces when giving them the PERFECT gift. For others, we loathe shopping, let alone HOLIDAY shopping. We can think of plenty of other things we would rather be doing...like maybe even shoveling the driveway of snow.
What if I told you, the opposite could happen. You wallets could stay relatively the same size and you waistlines...well, that’s up to you.
As a supersaver and some would say minimalist, I know some of the ins and outs of buying in store and online. I know how to save and can teach you how to so that finances don’t become a huge burden and so you can continue putting money toward your savings account. So here’s my tips:
Stop buying useless crap.
Seriously though. Do you really knew that the 5th mixing bowl just because it’s on sale and has a cute little reindeer on it? If you hesitated answering that, let me answer for you: No, you do not. Stop going through the dollar bins at Target and stop convincing yourself that you need two of those little mini pillows that are in those bins because they would look cute in the dog’s bed. And no, you don’t need that reindeer and elf headband to wear to your Christmas work party because you’ll probably chicken out and not even wear it anyway. We buy things just to buy them--to fulfill a temporary need that feels good in-the-moment and makes us regret our choices later.
Make a List. Check It Twice.
Since you haven’t gotten to the next bullet point yet, I want to encourage you to make a list before you go to the store with the ESSENTIALS. Don’t put: gift for Tom on your list. Be specific with what you are getting him so you aren’t tempted to glance around Target a second more than you need to. I know, I know. You don’t know what you are getting him yet. I encourage you to look online first to find Tom’s perfect gift and then get it at the store when you go if you have to.
Don’t buy anything that’s not on your list. I often think, “OH, I forgot to put “insert useless crap”here on the list. Sorry, honey. Not buying it. Stick to the list, and for goodness sake make sure you BRING the list with you. How many times have we forgotten to bring the list with it and then say “Screw it” and have a free-for-all in Target. Two hundred dollars later...I’m guilty.
Shopping online may seem like something that takes more time and is more annoying. Could be true on both, however, I guarantee it will save you money SIMPLY because there are no dollar bins and pretty displays of things you do not need. Still stick with a list. Know what you are searching for before you go online to shop--or even if you’re “just looking”. What’s great about shopping online are the cashback sites. I have a plug-in on my computer that’s called a “SwagButton”. The swagbutton tells me when I log onto a site how much percentage of cashback I can activate and how many swagbucks I get for shopping on that site. It ranges from 2%-10%, but either way, you are getting cashback on things you are already buying and get nice little checks sent to you. Trust me, it works.
Okay, this may be my favorite. Not only do you get cash back when accessing the site (you can even have a cash-back app for shopping on your phone like swagbucks), but with IBotta, you add items that you are going to purchase at the store and then scan your receipt when you are done. I’ve gotten close to $100 back in a check by doing this over the holidays.
The other day, I filled my prescriptions at CVS in Target, spending $34. I got a $25 coupon for Target with that. I bought online paper towels, toilet paper, and detergent totaling $32 and used my Target RedCard getting 5% off. When I bought those 3 items, I got a $10 Target gift card and I ordered this all online so it would go toward my cashback and picked up the items at Customer Service. When I bought the household items, I used my $25 coupon, making my total around $7 for those 3 bulk items. They then gave me a $10 bill back for my coupon/gift card since I picked up the items. So, Target paid me $3 bucks in the store and I had 2% cashback from that purchase online. I MADE money shopping!
I know that finances are a big stressor for many of my friends, family, for myself, and for my clients. Do yourself a favor and shop smart this holiday season. Remember that you don’t need to buy the fanciest or most expensive gifts to win over the love of your loved ones because they already love you. And when you do shop, use any of these tips to help you save a few bucks and maybe even make a few.
The holiday season is upon us as the temperatures steadily drop and the urge to stay in bed with warm fuzzy blankets begin to emerge. What also begins to emerge for some of us is the dread that comes with being surrounded by immediate and extended family for multiple hours at time. Sure, for some this is a happy experience, and a day full of presents, carbohydrates, and conversation is what many look forward to. However, for others, the holidays can bring up negative memories, unwanted conversations, and feeling like you don’t belong.
For the latter, here are some tips to help survive the holidays. Rather, a guide to prevent you from “losing it” right before the pumpkin pie comes out and to help you keep your cool for the entire duration of your lovely holiday gatherings.
Well, there you have it. Your official guide to not lose it over the holidays. Your plan to manage Aunt Lisa and your anxiety in healthy manners. You can do it. You can have your pie and eat it too. So, on that note, Happy Holidays!
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT
Reduce Stress and Anxiety with Mindfulness
Stress and anxiety can build to a point that you feel paralyzed in your daily life. You might second guess decisions, over think past mistakes, or have excessive worries. This can also lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique of becoming grounded in the here and now, and it can be extremely useful in combating stress and anxiety. It is active and open attention to the present moment. It is also becoming aware of your internal thoughts and feelings without judgement, but with acceptance. Mindfulness can be practiced through yoga, prayer, or meditation, but it doesn't have to be. It can be as simple as taking a few moments out of your busy schedule and taking deep breaths or focusing on what you sense in the moment (sounds, smells, feelings, etc.).
Everyday Mindfulness Techniques
These are just a few ideas to introduce you to the concept of mindfulness. If you struggle with these techniques, it can be helpful to see a counselor. They can help guide you through the techniques to start with, and then after practicing with a counselor for a few sessions it should be easier to do them on your own. There are many different techniques to mindfulness and if this concept is interesting to you then I highly suggest further research and reading on the topic.
James McMillian, LCPC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness