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TillmanDClinical Director Contemplations...
Family Blessings

Well, the most beautiful time of the year is here…at least I think so! There is nothing quite like the heat of summer slipping away, and in its place the crispness of fall. The trees and ground are filled with various shades of reds, oranges, and browns. This time of year makes me stop, take measure of my blessings, and just live. As the corn and beans are harvested, it also signals me to “harvest” my blessings. This year’s “harvest”; family. 

None of us are allowed to pick our family before we arrive here. I was born into a family with no siblings. I will not attempt to paint the picture this was bad growing up. I had no one to share with, no one to break my toys, and no one to fight with. My partner in life, my wife Pam, has two sisters. She was the middle child and jokes that the camera was broke while she was growing up. Both sisters have elaborate scrapbooks, and hers is less so. I was able to witness, first hand, the conflict joining this family. They now are close, but this is a new development. Their story is not unique. For years I have helped people with their troubled families, both adults and children. For those with this load, the weight takes its toll. 

My message here is a simple one. No family is perfect, just like no one is perfect. Odds are family will be the one to stand beside you when you need it most. The more we can accept people for their flaws, and stop trying to change them, the more peace that comes to us in return. We are not able to force anyone to change but ourselves. The power to give up that history of conflict can be chosen at any time. Someone has to stop the back-and-forth pattern of the conflict, why not you? Do you REALLY remember the reason it began? Does it REALLY feel as important now as it once was? They don’t need to be perfect, and neither do you. Allow yourselves to be beautifully imperfect and count your blessings this fall along side me.

DougTillman, Clinical Director

meredithGuest Column...
Finding Gratitude 

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present. In addition, behavioral and psychological research has shown the surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs. Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.

Results of a study indicated that daily gratitude exercises can result in a higher reported level of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. In addition, people who expressed gratitude experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.

People tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. There’s a gratitude exercise that instructs you to imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one.

Another way to use giving thanks to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don’t go your way, remember that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: “What’s good about this?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I benefit from this?”

A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude. This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked. Some experts suggest that you set up a meeting with this person and read the letter to them face to face. Whatever you decide to do, always know that everyone has something that they are grateful for. Sometimes, we just have to dig deep to find those things.

Meredith McDowell, Counseling Intern

HainATips from our EAP...
Balancing Work & Family


Take the following quiz to see if you could use some re-evaluation of work and family balance. If you answer "no" to any question, you may benefit from some of the steps that follow.  

Work and Family Balance "Quick" Quiz ----
    * Do you successfully allocate time in your day to the things you want to do with your family?
    * Can you participate in meaningful activities with family without feeling anxious or talking about
        work?

    * Do you participate in family activities without the gnawing feeling of so much work being left
        undone?


10 Steps Toward Balance with Work and Family ----
   1. Work and Family Balance is a Conscious Decision. Work and family don't "balance" automatically. Achieving balance is an ongoing process. Understanding  this can reduce frustration and help you act to gain control.
   2. Write Down Family Goals. Family needs change over time.  Opportunities to build a tree house for the kids or participate in a new family pastime don't last forever. Decide what is important and write it down. Assign a date, and make these goals "absolutely-will-happens."
   3. Stick to Your Values. Sometimes it can be tough to make a choice between a family and a work activity. Knowing where you stand on your values can make tough choices easier.
   4. Recognize that Imbalance is Sometimes Inevitable. It is important to recognize that jobs and responsibilities are important and that they sometimes take priority.
   5. Revisit Your Schedule.  When your work schedule changes, new opportunities may become available to participate in family activities. Claim the high ground!
   6. Recognize the Benefits of Balance. Balancing work and family has pay-offs for children, home relationships, and everyone's future happiness. Recognizing this can help you keep balance in mind.
   7. Manage Distractions and Procrastination.  Working long hours causes stress that sometimes finds relief naturally through workplace distractions and procrastination. If you are at the office for 12 hours, do you really work only 10? If you are searching for more family time, it might be found here.
   8. Discuss Expectations and Responsibilities. When one family member is taking on too many responsibilities at home, resentments can build. Periodically discussing the perceptions of others can provide the awareness you need to consider opportunities and choices for work and family balance.
   9. Organize Your Work Better. Improving your delegation and time-management skills can buy you time needed for family life. Learning how to put work down, say "no," and let go of workplace worries are skills that are learned through practice.
  10. Despite these suggestions, improving balance of work and family may be a lot easier said than done. The EAP can help you find sources for defining priorities, acquiring assertiveness skills, making tough decisions, or even identifying family goals that you want to pursue so you can look back and say, "I did it."

Anna Hain, EAP Coordinator

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