10 ways to handle holiday stress

From Calgary Counselling

There are many wonderful things that come with the holidays – time with friends and family, lots of tasty treats, a break from work to binge-watch the latest Netflix show. But this time of year, can also bring its own set of stresses and pressures that if you don’t plan for or take care of can leave you feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

To help make this season a true season of joy, we have a few suggestions for you to take care of yourself over the holidays and make sure your mental and physical health are well taken care of:

Make a plan

This busy time of year is filled with social events, shopping, and family time on top of all your other daily obligations. If you’re not careful, over-committing yourself can burn you out. Use a calendar, to-do list, organizational apps or whatever works for you to plan your time and organize your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Help others

For some people, the holidays can be extra lonely. If you feel isolated, try participating in events offered around your community. Volunteering is another great way to make connections with new people, lift your spirits and give back.

Be conscious of your financial limits

Especially with the current state of the economy it is important to not over-spend this holiday season. Decide on a budget that feels comfortable to you and try to stick to it. If you are feeling pressured to buy presents for several people, suggest a Secret Santa gift exchange or homemade gifts instead.

Shift your perspective

If finances limit your spending this holiday season, remember that you don’t need to give material gifts to show love to the people in your life. Your authentic presence is more important than a monetary expression of your feelings.

Honour and accept your emotions

If you are feeling overwhelmed or upset, take a moment to acknowledge and express your emotions and tell yourself it is okay. These emotions, although uncomfortable at times, are normal.  If you have recently lost someone or cannot be with your loved ones with this holiday, know that it is alright to feel sadness or grief.

Take time for yourself

During the holidays, we are often so focused on the needs and wants of others we forget about our own. It’s important to give yourself a break during the holidays and make time to do something you enjoy every day.

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Anxiety Sleep Guide

When you’re suffering from anxiety, it can be hard to get to sleep. But without the restorative benefits of quality sleep, anxiety can get even worse.

You aren’t alone. Sleep disorders are very common. For instance, among college-aged students, more than 60 percent suffer from poor sleep quality.

The good news is that your sleep quality can be improved. Poor sleep quality can be seen as an opportunity, not a problem. You can unlock your potential for better sleep.

If you’re able to improve your sleep quality, that’s a positive step toward healing your anxiety as well. Many of the other habits that lead to good sleep can help with anxiety as well, like regular exercise, avoiding coffee and alcohol, establishing a daily routine, and practicing mindfulness through prayer or meditation.

Some of the things that prevent us from sleeping aren’t in our head. Noise pollution is a major public health issue, thought to be a leading cause of elevated blood pressure and heart attacks. Blue light from bright screens suppresses melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. In other words, this type of light tricks our bodies into thinking it’s daylight. New research suggests that we should avoid looking at screens for 2-3 hours before bedtime.

The culprit of your poor sleep could also be as simple as your mattress and pillows. If you find yourself experiencing pain or discomfort as you try to sleep, or when you wake up, consider making changes to your sleep set-up.

For more information about the connection between anxiety and sleep, and for tips on how people with anxiety can sleep better, read this new sleep guide for people with anxiety.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Mental health awareness campaign focuses on anxiety disorders

From the Montreal Gazette

Anxiety is a word, and a condition, that comes with a lot of general preconceptions, not all of them accurate. So perhaps a definition will be handy right off the bat.

“It’s a defence mechanism, a survival mechanism,” said André Delorme, Quebec’s director general of Mental Health Services and Forensic Psychiatry and a leader of the government’s annual mental health awareness campaign, focusing this year on anxiety disorders.

“Everybody has anxiety,” Delorme said. “Ten thousand years ago, when you were in the woods and encountered a sabre-toothed cat, you had to be afraid and run for your life. Today, if you’re crossing the road and there’s a bus coming, you have to be afraid and get out of its way.”

The challenge is in distinguishing between a healthy level of anxiety and more extreme forms, where it becomes a disorder that can be debilitating if left unaddressed. Does anxiety persist after the situation causing it has ended? Does it cause an uncommonly high level of stress? Does it show itself even in non-anxious situations, becoming an overriding preoccupation? Does it keep a person from functioning in a normal way at work, in social settings, or in other everyday conditions? If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, there’s a good chance of something requiring attention and even professional treatment.

Read more here…

Why Is CBD Everywhere?

From the NY Times

Cannabidiol is being touted as a magical elixir, a cure-all now available in bath bombs, dog treats and even pharmaceuticals. But maybe it’s just a fix for our anxious times.

It’s hard to say the precise moment when CBD, the voguish cannabis derivative, went from being a fidget spinner alternative for stoners to a mainstream panacea.

Maybe it was in January, when Mandy Moore, hours before the Golden Globes, told Coveteur that she was experimenting with CBD oil to relieve the pain from wearing high heels. “It could be a really exciting evening,” she said. “I could be floating this year.”

Maybe it was in July, when Willie Nelson introduced a line of CBD-infused coffee beans called Willie’s Remedy. “It’s two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination,” he said in a statement.

Read more here…

Co-Occurring Disorders and Overcoming Addiction for Women

As women we face a unique set of factors that make us more susceptible to addiction and substance abuse, and commonly suffer from co-occurring disorders as well.  In my journey as a woman in recovery I had to overcome much more than substance abuse. I also suffered trauma, sexual abuse, depression and anxiety. My hope is that sharing my experience with other women will help them to see that they are not alone and if I can overcome these things in my life they can too!

Depression and Anxiety

I can remember having anxiety as young as five years old.  I would ring my hands together and was constantly worried about something.  I was five years old what could I possibly have to be worried or stressed about?  But that is just how anxiety works, there is no rhyme or reason to it. It feels like you are constantly about to fall off a ledge.  I also have always been a perfectionist so if I was not the best at something in my eyes I was a failure. This only fuelled my anxiety and depression because I always felt like I was never good enough, or at least that’s what I told myself every day.  

My depression was at its worst when I was a little older, and I had my first suicide attempt at 15.  I tried self medicating with drugs and alcohol for years, which only led to worse depression and several more suicide attempts because I felt as if there was no other way out from how I was feeling.  I just wanted to give up.

My journey in recovery began when I was 34 and my addiction has spiraled out of control.  I knew nothing about addiction or that there was another way of life. Through treatment and working a program I have been sober for three years and found healthy ways to deal with my anxiety and depression, and become a happy, strong woman today!

Sexual Abuse and Trauma

When I was 19 years old memories of trauma and sexual abuse from my dad came flood black that I had blocked out for many years… Was I crazy?  Was I making it up? Did this actually happen? These memories and questions were just too much for me to process and my drinking took off into full blown alcoholism to numb my pain.  I had convinced myself that I was just being dramatic and was making up something that didn’t really happen because it was my dad, and that could not have happened! This was the hardest obstacle in my sobriety to overcome, acknowledging that this did in fact happen and begin to heal.  An alarming rate of addicts have also been victims of sexual abuse, but for many the shame of it keeps them from speaking up.

Through therapy with a psychiatrist I was able to resurface some of those painful memories of the abuse from the ages of five to fifteen.  I opened up to my mom when I was 25 about the abuse and she was hurt and angry. I still had to see my dad at family functions several times a year but did not tell anyone besides my mom what had happened to me.  One day I had enough of being a victim of sexual abuse and finally stood up for myself and spoke my truth. I told my dad that I knew what he did to me when I was younger. Of course denied it which just fuelled my insecurities about if it did actually happen.  

The most difficult and empowering day came when I was in a treatment center doing work with the owner in front of about 100 of the other patients.  He asked me if I had ever dealt with the sexual abuse from my dad and instantly the tears started rolling down my face. Over the next hour everything came flooding out of me, and I was able to scream all of the things I wanted to say to my dad about what he did. The most amazing part was after it was over everyone that was also sexually abused raised their hands.  Over ninety percent of the room raised their hands, I finally knew I was not alone. That day I went a victim of sexual abuse, to a survivor.

No matter what we have gone through we are not alone!  There is a healthy, and happy life in recovery just waiting for us! You are stronger than you think you are, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently!  As women in recovery is important that we treat our minds, body, and spirit.Then we can begin on the road to healing, recovery, and transformation of our lives.

Crystal Hampton is a 37 year old avid writer from South Florida.  She loves snuggling with her teacup yorkie Gator and boyfriend Adam.  She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.   



13 Surprising Signs of Burnout You May Be Missing

From Thrive Global.

Pay attention to these symptoms so you can stop burnout it its tracks.

We all have those moments when we look around and realize the way we’re living and working…well, isn’t working. When we have that wake-up-call moment, we realize that we’d been missing some signs — be they physical, emotional, interpersonal, or professional — that something wasn’t right.

Burnout is a significant issue across most career fields, with dire consequences for individuals and businesses alike, according to a growing body of research. As we push through the whirlwind obligations of our busy lives, it can be hard to recognize the symptoms and signs of burnout before they reach a critical pointand demand to be addressed.

That’s why we asked our Thrive contributor community to share the burnout symptoms they didn’t recognize and wished they had. Their stories highlight the many (and sometimes unexpected) ways burnout can manifest in our lives, and their advice provides important insight into what we can do to address these symptoms head on.

Making careless mistakes

“It was only in retrospect that I recognised that one of the signs of burnout was making the kind of stupid, careless mistakes that lead to minor irritations such as being locked out, leaving my laptop in the back of a cab, scratching the car, or getting the date wrong for an important family event. At work, I was (just about) keeping my head above the water. At home, it was all going to pot!”

—Louise Rodgers, public relations consultant, London

Losing your “voice”

“When I look back on the signs I was heading towards a burnout, the biggest one that stands out for me is the feeling of losing my voice. Not physically, but metaphorically. When I’m not taking enough care of myself my ideas dry up. I feel like I have nothing to say or share. Now, as soon as I start to feel this way, I immediately evaluate if I’m making time for me, and if not, I get right back to it. Personally, that looks like seeing friends and being creative through knitting or crocheting.”

Read more here…

How to transform anxious thoughts into productive actions – from NBC

Mental health experts share their strategies for shifting your worries into something healthier and more productive.

With the fervor of the midterm elections, the time change, the barrage of tragic news stories in addition to just, you know, normal life stuff, many of us are feeling more anxious than usual.

Though some of us suffer from anxiety disorders, often requiring treatment, anxiety in itself isn’t abnormal; it’s actually quite natural, existing in part to motivate us to get out in the world and do our best.

“Everyone has a little bit of anxiety,” says Dr. Kate Cummins, a licensed clinical psychologist. “It’s the reason you get up and out of bed and ready in the mornings when your alarm goes off [and] the reason you prepare well for an interview or meeting at work.”

A daily ritual that will help you de-stress (in just 5 minutes)

Process your thoughts, diffuse stress and find an optimistic perspective in just a few minutes.

by Brianna Steinhilber for NBC Health

For many, stress is an accepted part of daily life, whether it’s triggered by a mile-long to-do list at work, a schedule packed full of family commitments or the stream of never-ending bills in your mailbox (or, likely, a combination of all three).

Research suggests that over the past decade there has been a sharp rise in mental-health related issues, like stress and anxiety. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 31 percent of respondents saw an increase in their stress levels in 2016 and 2017, with 20 percent reporting experiencing extreme stress.

Poppy Jamie, entrepreneur, TV personality and creator of the mindfulness app “Happy, Not Perfect,” is no stranger to the severe health effects of a high-stress lifestyle.

“[Thinking about stress] started for me at a young age, because my mother is a psychotherapist and my father is an entrepreneur who suffered from severe stress and anxiety,” says Jamie. As she entered the workforce, Jamie began to struggle with stress-related health issues of her own. “I was a TV host for seven years and I started my own business and I was trying to do so much, I was very much my father’s daughter feeling stressed and anxious,” she says.

Read more here…

5 Ways to Simplify Your Life

By Amy Morin for Psychology Today

Make room for the things that really matter.

I’ve spent the majority of the last two years living on a boat. Life on a sailboat has required me to think about what I actually need to be happy in life.

I discovered that having less stuff, fewer obligations, and more time makes room for the most important things. I have more space in my life for people I love, things I appreciate, and opportunities I want to take.

And while living on a boat has lots of benefits, it definitely isn’t for everyone. But no matter where you live or what you do, you can take steps to simplify your life.

Here’s why simplifying your life is important — everything in your life takes up space. Whether it’s mental space, physical space, or calendar space, you only have so much room.

Everything you own, everything you do, and everyone you spend time with costs you something. And when you have an abundance of stuff, it costs you a lot.

Simplifying your life will give you more time, space, and energy. The more space you have, the freer you’ll be to truly enjoy everything. Here are five ways to simplify every area of your life.

1. Declutter your house.

Your environment affects how you feel physically and psychologically. Whether you waste time looking for misplaced items, or you grow overwhelmed every time you open your closet, having too much stuff wastes your resources.

A clean, organized space helps you feel more productive and energetic than when you’re living among heaps of clothes, stacks of papers, and piles of dishes.

When you have fewer items to worry about, you’ll feel lighter. You’ll also have energy to care for the items that you keep. Start decluttering one room at a time, and see for yourself how much better you feel when you get rid of things you don’t need.