Holiday Anxiety Tips
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy. Yet, much of what contributes to the joy of the season requires careful consideration and planning. Many people are stretched thin with additional responsibilities during the holidays. This can feel like a burden and create feelings of anxiety and stress. These feelings can lead to a sense of guilt that you are not able to fully appreciate all the joy that the holiday season brings. The stress, anxiety and guilt can become overwhelming. This can impact our ability to enjoy the holiday and interfere with our overall day to day functioning. You can stop this cycle and redefine what holiday joy means in your life, for your own family.
What’s the good news?
The good news is that you are the author of your story. The holidays can be whatever you want them to be and whatever you have room for in your life. The secret is simple. Give yourself permission to let go external pressures that have been weighing on you. Give yourself the time and space to consider what is important to you. Think about what you want your holiday story to be. Allow yourself to say no to things that don’t fit in your life right now. Be okay with less, if less is what is right for you this holiday season.
5 helpful hints for reflecting on your own personal joy this holiday season:
- Remember that good enough is good enough: You don’t have to find the perfect gift or run yourself ragged for the one thing that everyone wants but it’s sold out. Remember that at the end of the day, children very often have trouble recalling gifts but always remember special moments.
- Manage your own expectations: Reflect on the things that are most important to you this holiday season and be sure that your behavior matches those beliefs. Very often we can get caught up doing things out of habit or guilt when it isn’t truly what is important to us.
- Comparison is the thief of joy: Remember that when someone shares a story about their holiday that feels perfect we can acknowledge it and feel happy for them but not feel compelled to do the same thing.
- Prioritize taking care of yourself: Do your best to maintain your schedule. Continue to practice any healthy living habits that alleviate your stress during non-holiday times (working out, eating healthy, reading, time with family/friends).
- Make lists, prioritize, delegate & ask for help: Much like we do in day to day life it is important for us to maintain the strategies that keep us grounded and help us achieve our goals.
Finding Christmas Joy
Remember that joy can be found in a lot of places and not just wrapped up in boxes. Sometimes joy is found in extra time together, shared meals and experiences. Anxiety and stress can make it difficult to find joy but not impossible. Managing your anxiety through the helpful tips above will allow you to feel more in control and thus be more available to access the JOY in your life! Therapy can help! We are here for you!
Becoming a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world! Every experienced mother knows that motherhood comes with a unique set of challenges. Now, COVID-19 has presented another set of stressors for mothers forcing many to balance various roles.
These are unprecedented times. We know that women and mothers often bear a disproportionate share of the brunt of family stress. As a mother, managing your maternal and emotional well-being is more important than ever.
Make Time For Self-Care
As a mother, you devote so much time and energy into caring for your children that it’s important to take some downtime yourself. Take a walk, read a book, meditate, watch your favorite show, or take a long hot shower.
Remember that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential! Small acts of self-care can help move you forward in positivity and wellness.
Connect With Your Children
As we said before, becoming a mother is one of the most rewarding jobs in the entire world! Even though all of the stress and chaos of current times, it’s important to connect and spend quality time with your children and families. Go on a nature hike, play a board game, or make dinner together. Don’t let the pandemic stand in the way of creating family memories.
Talk About How You Feel
Worrying can occupy a great deal of your time and energy and drain you both physically and emotionally. It’s important that you don’t carry the burden entirely. You want to truly enjoy motherhood, not just survive it.
This is especially important to remember during a pandemic. Therapy can help you release those feelings in a safe space. You can learn to control your reactions and to make a plan for taking care of yourself while you’re taking care of the little kids.
Elizabeth Edwards has a passion for working with women and couples struggling with parenting, perinatal and postpartum concerns in our Fuquay-Varina office. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support!
Your body feels tense, sleep is up and down, time feels like it is slipping and as soon as you feel like you have a bit of a footing on life, one more thing comes and demands your attention.
It’s hard to know what a social life looks like before COVID – but now?
It feels like survival is the only option. Thriving during stress appears to be a far-off, whimsical idea.
Well, if you somehow squeezed in the chance to read this – pause – resist the urge to skim through and think “that had some nice thoughts” and continue buzzing through your day.
Close your eyes, if you’d like, and let yourself rest and notice all the ways in which your body and mind have been on overdrive.
As you observe the places where tension and tiredness is sitting – ask yourself how those parts of yourself have been serving you.
Are your muscles stiff and joints aching? Does your head feel like it’s swimming? Are you to the point it feels like your eyes want to close but they can’t? Does it feel like you are carrying more than you feel able? You’ve been giving so much of yourself that your body is starting to hold what you have not had time to process. Or maybe you feel if you slowed down you worry there is too much to process, and it’s easier to just keep going?
You don’t have to just “get by.” It’s time to ask for help and unburden yourself. Challenge the idea that there is nowhere to turn to. Question the thought that it’s not worth reflecting on the matters at hand. Ask yourself – is this sustainable? It’s time to move from “surviving” to thriving!
Here are some suggestions.
Turn towards your faith.
Maybe it’s been some time since you’ve felt connected to your faith or you’ve fallen away. You’re not alone! Many people fluctuate with their connection to their faith identity for many reasons. Here is a great book to look into on this: “It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way – Finding Unexpected Strength when Disappointments Leave You Shattered” by Lysa Terkeurst
Find a way to renew yourself.
Give yourself permission to care for yourself and your needs. It’s not selfish! If you ever have been on a plane, the flight attendants will inform you that in case of emergency, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you help the person beside you. What is your best way to “get some oxygen,” so to speak? Is it a day trip to the beach or the mountains? Painting? Gardening? Building a puzzle while listening to your favorite music? Is there a way to build silence and rest into your day?
Ask for help.
Many people feel they have to endure trial alone – that what they are experiencing is “too much” or a “burden” for others. Others feel they will be judged and misunderstood. Not relying on others means spreading yourself thin and is a recipe for burnout. If this is true for you, please reach out. What does your support system look like? If you are not sure who to trust or are struggling to find healing, make an appointment with a counselor who seems like a good fit for your needs – that’s what counselors are here for!
You are not meant to go this alone. If you feel like you are trying to survive and are struggling to get by, know this – you are meant to thrive, even when times are stressful!
Parenting is hard, especially during these unprecedented times. We’ve all been asked to adjust, adapt, and change our lives which isn’t easy for anyone.
When our world changes suddenly, because of things like COVID-19, it is common to experience changes in our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Feelings of anxiety, fear, or worry are typical in stressful situations. And, even though we’ve been adapting to COVID-19 for 6 months, it’s still not easy.
Consider the stresses your teen may be experiencing. Social distancing and virtual learning can be really hard for teens who thrive on connection and socialization. Here are a few signs of stress to watch for and factors that may affect your teen’s emotional responses.
Watch Out For Unhealthy Eating or Sleeping Habits
Proper nutrition and sleep are an essential part of our overall wellness. Sleep is critical to our overall health and the effective functioning of our immune systems. It also impacts our emotional wellness and mental health, helping to beat back stress, depression, and anxiety.
Healthy routines may have flown out the window over the past few months but it’s never too late to get your family back on track. Try to establish flexible routines that provide structure…especially around eating and sleeping! Stock up on healthy foods and snacks. Avoid sugary drinks and high-fat foods.
Even though teens may be less receptive to having a strict “bedtime”, you can find creative ways to make sure your teen is getting enough sleep each night. Aim to do things at roughly the same time each day. That doesn’t mean your teen has to set the alarm for 6 a.m. just because they used to when school was open. But try to stick to a daily regular bedtime, wake time, and learning schedule.
Talk About Excessive Worry or Sadness
Anxiety and depression are on the rise across the country. Help your teen feel supported and heard by keeping the lines of communication open. They need to know they can come to you to talk about any concerns or worries. Take a few moments each day to talk with the teens in your life about how they are feeling and what may help them during this difficult time.
Remember to lead with compassion and understanding. Sometimes, the anger we express towards a person the person we are trying to support can be more reflective of our anger over feeling helpless. As parents, this response is particularly strong with our children. It’s easy to miscommunicate our anger and stress. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, too!
Help Them Concentrate
Whatever school looks like for the 2020-21 school year, it’s important to help your teen develop and grow emotionally and academically. Approach the school year with a positive outlook and new mindset even if it’s not what you hoped for. Remember, families across the country are finding ways to adjust to this new normal so you’re not alone.
Help your teen stay focused by creating routines and structure. Outline expectations and provide support in whatever way possible. Be available to communicate and help your teen with school work. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it! Many parents are wearing a teacher’s hat for the first time. Be sure to tap into all of your resources and find ways
to channel your frustration in healthy ways when times get tough.
Above all, try to remember your own experiences as an adolescent. When you were upset, what did you need most from your parents? If your teen is struggling, we can help! The teen counselors at Foundations Family
Therapy are experts at talking to teenagers. We like working with teenagers. That may sound strange to some parents, but as therapists, we truly believe in your teen and enjoy working with them.
Schedule an appointment today with our Fuquay Varina or Raleigh, NC therapists.
We’ve all been there…
Lost in a downward spiral of negative thinking. It’s a self-defeating cycle fueled by doubt and anxiety. It continues to build and gain momentum like a snowball down a hill taking out everything in its path.
These feelings are only intensified for those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Negative thinking can easily feel like quicksand if left unmanaged.
The good news is you can stop negative thinking in its tracks and move forward in positivity. Here are a few things to keep in mind…
One of the best ways to stop negative thinking is to refocus your energy on the current moment. Stop and be present. The next time you feel yourself spiraling into negativity, remember to shift your thinking to the here and now.
Mindfulness techniques work to help keep you present and focused on the current moment. There are several mindfulness practices you can use to stop anxious thoughts from flooding in. Focus on your breathing. Let go of all the “what-ifs” and negative self-talk.
Tune Into Your Thoughts
You are not your thoughts.
When your thoughts are negative, they can make you feel sad, angry, and confused. Remember, thoughts are never the real you! Let your thoughts come…process them…and let them go.
As you process your thoughts, think about why you might be feeling a certain way. Many times, there’s an underlying cause to your negativity that you can work out on a deeper level. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support!
Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries in all areas of your life can help you thrive! Boundaries are important in relationships with others and with ourselves. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by learning when (and how) to say “no”. Also, don’t fall victim to the comparison trap social media sometimes presents.
When you feel your thoughts spiraling negatively, take a step back.
Stop and listen—ask yourself why they are happening.
Once you do, set some boundaries that will prevent a downward spiral of negativity in the future.
Everyone experiences negative thoughts from time to time but it’s important no to let them spiral and ruin your entire day. We’re here to help you to gain control over your thoughts and feelings. Give our office a call today!
Grief can be a natural response to what’s happening in our world right now.
There’s a shift and a sense of loss for the ways things were.
We’re preparing for how things may have to be.
Life as we know it looks very different as we “social distance” ourselves and many of our expectations and way of life have had to rapidly change. What we never imagined having to worry about is affecting us. The novelty is beginning to transform.
This is new and this is hard.
The thing is, our new norm can look both similar and different from our coworker who is also running a school for their kids at home, our friend who works as a nurse in a hospital, or our next-door neighbor who is elderly and also a widow.
Some might have had to re-think what walking down the aisle looks like, someone you know may soon be delivering a new life into the world, and many have to face the heartbreak of not walking across the stage for their well-earned diploma. What grief are you facing? What should you do about it?
Tending to your needs.
Give yourself time to make space for what is difficult. You can do this by setting a timer to journal, lighting a candle to pray at night, or taking a walk to have a space big enough to hold what you are going through. It is important to find a way to both open and close the space and time you are in to create a container for your grief – so it doesn’t flood into the rest of your day and become debilitating.
Creating hope – not despair
While social distancing has limited our ability to physically be present with one another, it has not taken away our ability to connect.
What I can’t help but notice is that our spirit as a community has not been extinguished – on the contrary – it has inspired us to create.
As I write this the Easter Bunny will be coming down my street in a fire truck today, after three hours of going down every neighborhood in my town. While it feels a little cheesy, I also notice a sense of excitement for my daughter to be able to squeal with joy and clap her hands at the sight.
I pray that hope – not despair – may fill your lives during these times as we see and respond to each other’s loss and needs. Together, we will see this through.
Jessica Block, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate
Fear and anxiety are real challenges in life.
Perhaps we face them now more than ever as we continue to live in uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. Sometimes, the thoughts in your head can be so overwhelming and disruptive that it’s hard to sleep at night. It seems like your mind is working in overdrive with no way to calm down.
This is what it’s like to live in fear.
How To Move Forward In Faith
Fear has a lot to do with perception. The Bible teaches us to develop courage and faith to allow us to embrace the unknown. As Dr. David Calvert, Pastor for Creative Arts at Grace Community Church in Angier, NC said,
“The gospel tells us of God’s overwhelming love for us, proved in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – but sometimes we need help remembering God’s forgiveness and remembering God’s deep love.Dr. David Calvert
A Christian therapist can help a client remember what is true in the gospel.
How Our Faith Impacts Counseling
Our faith influences our worldview. Therefore, we are open and honest about our beliefs as they influence how we understand healing, pain and hope. However, at Foundations Family Therapy we work with individuals with different perspectives and backgrounds.
“Many people are crippled by shame or the perceived inability to forgive themselves or others, and faith-based therapy is equipped to break down those perceived barriers to help Christians live in ways that bear the fruit of the Spirit,” said Dr. Calvert.
When you begin therapy, your counselor will meet you wherever you are in your faith journey. Faith-based therapy can work very well within the context of discipleship, coming alongside pastors and others making disciples by helping provide key insights and training for emotional health.
Finding God in your struggle
As we head into Easter Weekend, take moment and evaluate your relationship with God. Maybe you’re struggling with your faith and having doubts about God. Maybe you’re wondering “where God is” in the midst of your circumstances. You know he’s there but you can’t feel or sense him and you feel lost, hopeless and disconnected.
Our Christian therapists can help you learn from God’s promises that he will not leave you or forsake you. Christian counseling could help you find hope in your circumstances and identify purpose in the midst of your pain.
You have waited 9 months for your little bundle of joy to arrive and the time is drawing near. But now, instead of total elation, you may be experiencing anxiety and disappointment due to the threat and restrictions of COVID-19.
Suddenly, the way you pictured your birth and postnatal period going is totally different without you having much say in it.
You may be experiencing anxiety as you think about the unknown of what the restrictions could be, the health and safety of you, your baby, and your family, and what that could mean for help when you get home.
Many mothers right now are feeling the same thing.
We are in uncertain times which no one could have predicted or planned for. It is normal to feel some anxiety and disappointment. If you or someone you love is preparing to have a child, here are some things to remember during this time.
Adjust Your Focus
Remember, it’s best to focus on what we CAN control rather than what we CANNOT control. Currently, we have no control over mandates from our government officials, the doctors and nurses who are making regulations based on their knowledge, or the unknown direction of this virus. This could mean, the people you wanted with you in the delivery room or shortly thereafter will not be able to be there. That is outside of our control.
What is under your control is your own coping skills and relaxation techniques for the safe delivery of your child. You might start creating a relaxing playlist or plan to have your loved ones video call in. When our minds start wondering about things we cannot control, we can easily spiral to a lot of “what ifs”… and this will not be beneficial to you.
Your attitude is the number one thing that you can control during this time. The way you choose to respond will set the tone for everything else. Find things in this process that you can control and focus your energies there.
Prioritize Health and Safety For All
We must trust that these regulations are in place for a reason. The number one goal for your doctors and nurses is a safe and healthy delivery for you resulting in a healthy mother and baby.
Secondly, they are also invested in keeping as many people healthy as possible. Find the good in this situation. This is something that most people have to practice. This could mean creating a gratitude journal to remember this challenging time. Start by thinking about 10 things that you are looking forward to with your upcoming delivery and new baby’s arrival!
Does this situation mean that your support person (who you thought was only going to have a week off) is now going to be working from home and more present than originally thought?
Does this mean you don’t have to entertain visitors that stay too long when you just want to sleep?
Find some humor in this situation, too! Find that one friend who always makes you laugh and talk to them, laughter always does the heart good.
Stay Focused On The Big Picture
Hopefully, at the end of the day, you will be holding your precious baby! What greater gift and joy! The pain and disappointment will be swallowed up by the gratitude and joy you feel holding your baby.
Soon enough, the world will be back to its normal pace and life will go on. Cling to this time of togetherness with your immediate family and be thankful for it.
Surround Yourself With Support
We are all in this together. We can grieve with you because your birth is not going to look the same as you were hoping. Video chat with family/friends as much as you can to provide safe connections and support from miles away.
Many restaurants are now offering free delivery- use this! Be thankful for others who are willing to drop off helpful meals or supplies. Even though your support system may not be able to be physically present as you originally planned, their emotional presence can help you in many ways.
Most importantly, please remember that most cases of postpartum mood disorders begin in the last trimester of the pregnancy. If you find that you are experiencing anxiety or depressive symptoms more than 2-4 weeks postpartum, please feel free to reach out for support.
We are here for you. We have teletherapy services for connection and support from the comfort of your own home. Also, if you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy, check out a group we’re forming for pregnant moms HERE .Give us a call today.
Elizabeth Edwards, LMFT
With COVID 19 impacting our lives, we find ourselves more physically isolated than ever before. For people struggling with anxiety or depression, this could be a recipe for disaster if we are not intentional in remaining connected.
All people are built for relationships.
We are made to be in relationships with others. It is important to remember that what we are aiming for is physical distancing NOT social distancing. It is as important, if not more important than ever before to stay connected and in community with others.
How can we do this?
We have seen a lot of creative ways through social media recently on how to stay connected including FaceTime and other video messaging services, teleconferencing for work, and now even teletherapy. We are blessed to live in a time where these things are available to us.
We have also seen “bear hunts” throughout neighborhoods and teacher parades recently on social media. These small things remind us that we are all human, longing to be together again soon. We are all in this together.
For some, social distancing can easily slip into isolation which can lead us down paths of hopelessness and cause our thoughts to spiral. If you find yourself struggling with anxious or depressive thoughts during this time, check your connectedness first.
Are you still communicating with friends and family members?
Are you making time for things that bring you joy?
Are you finding meaningful alternatives to things that you used to enjoy such as going to the gym or going out to eat?
If you are a member of a local church, are you watching church online? Doing your own quiet time and Bible study? Talking with people from your small group?
Some fun ways to stay connected and encouraged are below. If you find you are still feeling depressed or anxious, know we are here to help you!
- Creating a goody bag for friends/family and putting it on their porch or driveway.
- Have your children have a “guest reader” for bedtime stories. Call a grandparent and have them read a book to your child on FaceTime
- Write encouraging messages on neighbors, friends, or family members driveways
- Send snail mail
- Get outside and meet some neighbors (in their yards of course!)
- Watch a show with a friend on zoom and talk about it like if they were watching in the room with you
- Have someone else hold you accountable to stay connected
- Host an online prayer/worship time
- Wave and be friendly to those you see in your neighborhood. You can’t catch COVID-19 from waving!
- Make cards and leave them on people’s cars
Get creative and have fun in this short season to make memories and stay connected!
Elizabeth Edwards, LMFT
Schools are closed.
Ballet, soccer, and baseball seasons are canceled.
There are no playdates or trips to the museum. This is our new normal.
The reality is that we’re living in unprecedented times. With state and nationwide closures and restrictions, many people are left feeling anxious and uneasy- especially children.
And, if you’re a parent, you might find yourself struggling with how to explain the situation to your children without causing fear. Here are some times that can help you talk to your children about the Coronavirus as the outbreak continues.
Help Them Feel Safe
The real enemy is the anxiety surrounding COVID-19 that can be especially difficult for children to deal with. From their perspective, it seems like the world is shutting down around them. Disrupted routines and isolation can really start to take a toll. Help your children adapt to their new normal by creating a safe and healthy environment at home.
Watch your tone when you speak. Keep them from viewing sensationalized
media stories. Find ways for them to safely connect with loved ones and friends through video chat and phone calls. Above all, continue to reassure them that this is just a temporary situation.
Even though we can’t predict the future or know what to expect in the coming weeks, remember that children thrive on routines. Help them create some reliability and consistency in these uncertain times by putting together a schedule for the day.
Let your children know what to expect. Be honest about the time you’ll spend at home and come up with creative ways to not only pass the time, but to enjoy the togetherness!
Lead With Empathy
Children have a lot of emotional needs and it’s important to let them continue to express the way they are feeling. For example, it can be very frustrating that they will miss an upcoming field trip to the zoo. Acknowledge their feelings and frustrations and help them work through these big emotions. In the end, you’re really helping to build their mental resilience.
The days ahead will likely continue to be a challenge for us all as we adjust to our new normal.
The good news is that there’s never been a better time to slow down and focus on what you have. Now is the time to create positive change and celebrate the beauty of togetherness within your family.
Use this time to connect with your family and shower your children with love!