The holidays are a warm, fuzzy and happy time for many people, but not for you. You find yourself wanting to isolate and stay in. For whatever reason you are not happy. People experience a depressed mood during the holidays for a variety of reasons. It could be because you feel lonely, are grieving or feel an increase in stress. Here are a few strategies to help you if you are struggling during the holiday.
3 Strategies to Cope
If you find that you are struggling with completing everyday tasks, I encourage you to find a mental health professional to talk with:
If your feelings of sadness are coupled with thoughts of suicide immediately:
Free festive things to do in the Las Vegas Area for the holidays:
City of Henderson Winterfest 12/13-12/14: https://www.cityofhenderson.com/henderson-happenings/events/special-events/winterfest
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Lights 11/5-01/5:
Visit the holiday display at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens 12/7-01/04:
Ways to give in the Las Vegas Area:
Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth has holiday wish list for the children they serve. You can donate through December 9th.
HELP of Southern Nevada offers a variety of way to give. They have a toy drive, Turkey-a-Thon and ways to adopt a family.
If you want to move forward, even better, if you want to soar, you have to be able to let go. Let go of what is holding you back; whether it is the past, worry, insecurities, etc. Letting go can be difficult, but if you focus on replaying the past you can be stuck in pain and unhappiness. Holding on limits your potential. If you are able to let go then you open yourself up to evolving and growing into a person with limitless possibilities.
6 Strategies To Help You Let Go:
Life is changing anyway, why not change with it? Don't allow yourself to stay stuck.
Many of the people that I see in my practice mask their feelings with anger. Anger is what they can identify with. Embarrassment, disappointment, fear, shame; these feelings are hidden under the guise of anger. Anger is just a feeling. It is neither bad nor good. However, anger can become a problem when it is experienced excessively, explosively or is expressed violently. Venting anger in an aggressive way can cause a person to be more aggressive. Exploding with anger too often can cause stress on the body leading to hypertension, heart disease, and a diminished immune system. Learning to manage your anger in a more healthy way can improve your quality of life.
Try these 5 tips to begin managing your anger more appropriately.
If you regularly struggle to contain your anger outbursts and often end up hurting the ones you love, consider asking for help. There are many trained professionals that specialize in helping people learn how to appropriately manage anger.
Screens are everywhere. Phones, tablets, ebooks, computers, handheld game systems, etc. It is nearly impossible to keep screens away from our children these days. Technology can be beneficial to children. Preschoolers can play games that solidify their understanding of letters and their sounds. School children can get homework help by watching YouTube. Teens can stay connected to their friends. But too much screen time or the wrong kind of media exposure can be harmful to our children. Today, I will outline expert recommendations on how to create a better system for your children’s media use.
Over the years there has been various recommendations regarding children and their exposure to screens. First, experts agreed that children under 2 should not be allowed to watch television. Then there were time suggestions. For example, only 1 hour of television per day. Now, experts are beginning to understand that screens are everywhere and limiting screen time is a struggle in most homes. Current recommendations follow a more balanced approach. If your child plays video games for one hour then encourage one hour of outside play or one hour of reading. Technology is a part of daily life, but too much of anything can be unhealthy.
Know what your kids are watching and how they are watching it. Studies show a link between aggressive or violent videos/video games and aggression in children. Some children are more prone to violence after too much exposure to media regardless of the content of the media. Pay attention to your child’s mood and behavior after playing video games or streaming videos. Does his or her behavior change? If so, explore reducing their media time. It is so easy for children who are playing an educational game on a tablet to click on something inappropriate. In my practice, I have had children as young as 8 become exposed to pornographic images on devices that the parent thought was locked from adult content. It is critical that you know what your kids are watching. I encourage you to have your children use screens in family areas of the home like the kitchen or family room so that you can check on what they are watching.
Setting up systems can help ensure a safer media experience.
I encourage you to be more mindful of your children’s media use. More and more studies are linking social media to increases in depression among adolescents. Tablets and phones are amazing. They allow us to connect with friends and family around the world and allow us to complete limitless tasks. As Voltaire said “With great power comes great responsibility”. It is important for our children’s health that we monitor their use and create improved systems that keep them safe. I also encourage you to set a good example. Most of parenting is modeling the behavior that you would like to see in your children. If you are on your phone, tablet, computer, etc., chances are that they will want to be, too. Think about how you can improve your own relationship with media.
Often times with age comes wisdom and with that wisdom an increase in confidence. We may begin to care less and less about outside judgement. This is called self acceptance. The process of self-acceptance is a long journey and doesn’t mean that a person thinks that he or she is perfect. It means that a person has come to terms with his or her faults and learned to embrace his or her whole being. It can be difficult not to pick yourself apart, but it is unfair to do so. We are not all good or bad, but a mixture of a variety of strengths, quirks, and faults that make us unique.
Our sense of self is a truth independent of outside judgement. The way that you define yourself is a truth, regardless of another person’s perception of you. This is so freeing. Outside judgment has nothing to do with you. You have the power to define your self. You no longer need to worry about what others think. It is what you think that matters most. If you are able to accept yourself then others will follow.
It is important to treat yourself with compassion and be kind when you make mistakes. Forgive your past errors. Let it all go. You are in charge of defining who you are. As I said before, with age comes wisdom. As you continue through the life cycle, allow yourself to evolve. Forget the mistakes you made yesterday, accept the ones you might make tomorrow and begin to live in a present in which you love all of yourself.
We all experience stressful times. We can often feel overwhelmed. When does worrying become a problem that we might need help in overcoming? What is the difference between everyday stress and experiencing an anxiety disorder? There are many disorders that fall under the category of anxiety disorders. What I most often see in my office is Generalized Anxiety disorder. Generalized Anxiety disorder is when a person experiences anxiety excessively and finds it difficult to control that worry for a period of at least 6 months. Instead of worrying about a test the night before, a person with Generalized Anxiety disorder might worry about the test the days leading up to the test and the days following the test. A person who worries to the level of a mental health disorder will often notice that they are not able to function the way he or she used to.
How anxiety can negatively impact functioning:
I encourage you to speak with your primary care provider if you think that you have been experiencing many of the symptoms listed above. It is important to rule out any medical or physical reasons for anxiety; therefore, it’s a good idea to start with your primary care provider. Your primary care provider can assess the severity of your anxiety and refer you to the appropriate healing professional.
It can be counterintuitive to put yourself first when you have so many people depending on you; however, self-care is critical if you want to be successful at achieving your goals. If you do not fuel your body, emotionally, you may find it hard to cope when life gets stressful. In the mental health world we call the ability to handle life’s changes “coping skills” or “coping strategies”. Coping skills can be as simple as counting to 10 or taking deep breaths. They can also be more time consuming like committing to weekly therapy, getting a regular massage or writing in a journal daily. A coping skill gives you the ability to thrive in adversity or manage stress successfully. Engaging in regular activities that provide you with emotional support helps to fill your cup. You cannot pour from an empty cup, you must fill your cup first. Finding what fills your cup is the first step to developing a system to support yourself emotionally. Here is a quick list of activities that you can engage in regularly that can help you to manage your stress and cope with whatever life throws at you.
Notice that I did not mention watching a movie, binge watching shows or taking a nap. These things just put your stress on hold and they don’t really provide an outlet. In order for something to be a coping skill, I believe that it must be a form of an emotional outlet. Take some time to list out activities that you are willing to engage in regularly. I recommend engaging in coping skills at least weekly if not daily. Regularly filling your cup ensures that you will have the energy to not only help those who rely on you, but also provides you with endurance for the long road ahead.
Often times people who struggle with anxiety have difficulty accepting that they have little to no control over most things. Trying to live a life in which you control everything, often leads to avoiding. Avoiding social situations, avoiding work, avoiding confrontations, basically avoiding any situation in which you cannot control the outcome. Learning to manage anxiety begins with accepting the things that you can’t change. Reducing anxiety takes focus and resolve, but it is possible.
7 Strategies to Reduce Your Anxiety
New year, new you. Right? December is a free for all and by the end we are just surviving. Cookies? Yes, please. Eggnog? Why not. Champagne? Of course. By January first we are ready to begin all kinds of healthy habits that we hope will last through the whole year. But positive changes don’t just have to happen in January. We can make changes any day, any time. It is not necessary to set yourself up for failure with lofty goals. Change can begin with baby steps. If after a few weeks of trying Whole 30 or a week of attending daily bootcamp classes you feel like quitting, then quit. It’s okay. You just got wrapped up in the madness that our society has created. Take a moment and breathe. Reevaluate where you’d like to be in one year and work backward. What are some small changes you can make today that will lead to long term improvements next year? I discourage you from over thinking this. Here is a simple checklist that you can refer to each day to ensure that you are progressing toward a healthier version of yourself.
I got some fresh air.
I moved my body today.
I did something kind for someone.
I am grateful for ________________.
I received an appropriate amount of sleep.
I drank water today.
I ate breakfast today.
One thing I did for myself was________________.
Let’s move toward living a more purposeful life. Take time each day to set an intention. By focusing on caring for yourself and spreading kindness, you are guaranteed to be healthier and happier by 2020.
Want to meet work with Jessica? Click here.
Teenagers are transitioning from childhood to adulthood and growing more independent by the day. This is a time when they start spending more time with friends and less time with mom and dad. Teens have a need to be social as they explore their own identity and discover who they are. This means that your child’s peer group begins to have more influence over your child than you. Friends and peer groups can balance between being positive for your teen or being detrimental. And a lot of it hinges on the way your child feels about himself. Self-esteem or self-image is how your teen sees himself. If he thinks of himself positively, then he probably has healthy self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is vital for your child to transition successfully to an adult; however if your teen has lower self-esteem, he is more likely to be susceptible to peer pressure. There are many ways that you can help guide your children through the obstacles of peer pressure and self-esteem. Let’s explore strategies to help your teen navigate these common social struggles.
Parenting a teenager takes a lot of patience and courage. Courage to allow for mistakes to happen and patience to guide your teen to adulthood. If you are interested in learning more strategies to build your child’s self-esteem, please see the links below.
Jessica Colarco, LCSW, is a mental health therapist who works with women struggling to juggle all the balls of life. If you’d like to meet with Jessica, please click here.
I am a mental health therapist practicing in Henderson, NV. I have found that most of the people that I work with have lost themselves on the road to success. A key component of my treatment approach is assisting people in rediscovering their passions and restoring balance to their lives. This blog contains slivers of wisdom that I continue to discover while assisting people become mentally fit.