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LambersonTherapist's Corner...
Disconnect 2 Connect 

     As holidays are approaching, I am reminded how blessed I am to have a family, a job, many friends, and the opportunity to connect and heal others. I wonder how many moments are unnoticed because of the distractions that I inflict upon myself. One of the biggest distractions that I am referring to is a little, rectangular device that I can fit in my pocket and is easily accessible - the cell phone.
     According to a study from the Deloitte, “on average, people in the United States across all age groups check their phones 46 times per day.” When I initially read this article, I felt guilty because of the 46 things that I might had missed while checking my phone. What do we miss as a parent, professional, friend, daughter/son, husband/wife, grandparent or child when we are looking at our phone constantly throughout the day? Is it important to check one’s Facebook status to see who might have replied to a post that was made? Is it important to catch up on gossip by reading tabloids or other information related to celebrities? How much time is wasted on a device that can easily be broken, misplace
d or disconnected?
     When we distract ourselves with these devices we are missing out on personal relationships, connections, self-care and individual growth. We forget how to verbally communicate with one another so thoughts, feelings and conflicts can be shared and resolved. We hide behind a little device that may distract us from confronting pain, grief, conflict, stressors and problematic areas in our lives.
     As I reflected on this topic and statistic, I decided to challenge myself. My challenge was to disconnect myself from my cell phone for one day. Sure I felt anxious about it and found myself trying to talk myself out of it. I first came up with a plan of how others could contact me if there was an emergency. I had to think about my younger days - pay phones and having to ask a friend or go to the school office to make a phone call. I made sure my children’s daycare had my work phone number and my husband knew what was going on. Even though I was disconnecting myself from my phone, I still had it with me in case I was in a car accident or had an emergency where I needed to use it.
     After I came up with a basic plan, I had to commit myself to this challenge. There was no giving up and I wrote down 3 reasons why I wanted to complete this challenge for myself. I leaped into it not knowing what to expect or if I was going to complete it. I felt anxious, guilty, and nervous and had doubts about completing this challenge.
     I have to say, this challenge was an eye opener. My mood was happy and my mind was focused. I was able to complete tasks faster throughout the day and not worry about what the outside world was doing. I was in my bubble and truly living in the moment. At work I was able to actually listen to co-workers in need of direction or advice instead of thinking about the other stressors in my life. In the car on the way home, I was able to connect with myself and enjoy the song I was listening to and not be distracted by a device that could easily end my life by taking one glance at it. At home, I was able to interact with my children and meet their need of attention, care, developmental/personal growth, and encouragement. My attention was on myself and my family during this challenge. I did not worry about what others were thinking or doing on social media. I did not worry about the negativity or sadness occurring around the world during this moment in time. I was LIVING and LOVING life. I was a role model for others around me this day. I demonstrated relationship building, connections, values and personal growth.
     Cell phones or other ways to communicate with each other through devices will always be around; this will never change. What we can change is the amount of time that we spend on these devices. I challenge everyone reading this article to take a day to disconnect from your cell phone and strengthen your personal growth and those relationships around you. How would your children, spouse or friend react if you kept your cell phone in your car or in a basket from the moment you walked through the door? What relationships could you strengthen if you took the time to connect face to face with those that you love or valued, instead of allowing yourself to be distracted by a cell phone?

~ Mandy Lamberson, Therapist

JMcCasslin

Therapist's Corner...
Coping with Holiday Emotions

     This is the season for miracles.
     It's also an emotional season for many. Sometimes we feel jolly and happy, and we celebrate the blessings in our lives. Sometimes we are sad, and we mourn what we've lost. Sometimes we feel conflicted, and we want to celebrate; yet, we find ourselves mourning.
     I can only imagine this was the case for one family in the town where I live. The young girls were excited about Christmas, but sad because their father was deployed. I can imagine their mother did her best to provide them "normalcy" during this time of year - school, cookies, presents under the tree. She took them to see Santa at the mall.
     The oldest - the one most familiar with the protocol - asked Santa for a doll. The youngest made a different request: "Can you bring my daddy home?" Santa correctly guessed that their father was in the service and said he'd do his best. Then he said "I think the elves sent me something special in the sleigh."
     I'm sure you guessed it - this is where the miracle stepped in. Actually, he stepped out from behind Santa's sleigh. The girls jump from Santa's lap and engulf their father in hugs. But that isn't the end. Just ever so softly, you can hear the girls thank Santa for their Christmas gift. It's really all they wanted.
     This is a season known for spending time with family. It can be wonderful, fun, stressful, and difficult all rolled into one. However, there are those out there who would give anything to have that mix of emotions because they're missing a loved one. Be it deployment, divorce, death, or one of the many other reasons someone is absent, the holidays can be difficult. There may be feelings of isolation, loneliness, and sadness. In the midst of joyful celebration, simple things may remind someone of another's absence. 
     Here are a few tips to help cope with the high stress of the holidays, especially when emotions are running high:

  • Handle potential stressors early-on: Get stuff done early, keep things simple, be realistic about obligations
  • Get enough sleep and exercise: Both can reduce stress, and will help you feel healthy
  • Be aware: It's normal to not always feel jolly and that’s okay. If you’re feeling particularly depressed, talk to someone
  • It's okay to remember: Think of the good times, do something in memory of a loved one, start new traditions
  • For deployments: Celebrate with family virtually or celebrate with your fellow comrades

     Enjoy the holidays. Be safe. Hold loved ones close - physically and in your heart. Be kind to others and yourself. Practice self-care so that you can care for others.
     Find your own miracles in everyday events. 
     (And if you want tears of joy, check out this video and story from North Platte, Nebraska, and witness the Christmas miracle told above)

~ Jessica McCaslin, Therapist 

Lenz

From Our EAP...
Handling Holiday Stress 

 

Let’s face it—2016 wasn't exactly a fun year with a stressful election, violence, and high tensions across the country. The last thing we need is more money worries, more hassles, and more stress. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the holidays can bring.
     Make this year different. Now is the perfect opportunity to change your approach to the holidays, maybe forever.  
     1 Don’t sweat the small stuff. 
     Forget what a perfect holiday is “supposed” to be like. Life isn’t like a magazine pictorial—it’s more messy, disorganized, and full of surprises. Instead of focusing on real or imaginary shortcomings, what’s missing, and “oh, where’s that feeling?”—break out a notebook and list one thing you’re proud of and one thing you’re grateful for each day during the holiday season. Put this under a refrigerator magnet and use it as a pick-me-up year-round.
     2 List your biggest stressors. How many can you discard?
     Are all the greeting cards you send a “must”? If not, can you stop sending so many? Instead, take the opportunity to catch up with loved ones by calling everyone on your “heart list.” Some of your stressors may involve family visitors for holidays, which means extra shopping, food prep, and even more cleaning, laundry, and associated house work. Hey, who’s helping out this year?
     3 Keep a regular schedule.
     Big disruptions compound stress. Grab your calendar now and list holiday tasks that you can fit into your existing routine. Make just one big task your priority for each day. Start early and pace yourself. Don’t let the day before a holiday event be a crisis. 
     4 Combine things you enjoy with tasks you dread.
     If you need to clean, turn on some great music with energetic, upbeat songs that you can listen to as you work. Cut a deal with your significant other: “You take the kids away; I’ll prepare the house for guests.” You’ll be more productive and also have the opportunity to take a short break in peace and quiet if you need it—when you need it.
     5 Save money by changing the rules on gift giving.
     This year you have the perfect excuse to pare down your exchange list. Try eliminating gift card swaps. You’ll save time and gas money. If you have a big family, agree that only the kids get presents this year, but be sure they aren’t receiving more than they need.
     Save money and reconnect by giving the gift of time. Offer to babysit for parents with young kids or take a niece or nephew to the park. Schedule lunch or a movie with someone you don’t see often enough. Chances are they’ll value the experience more than receiving another present.
     6 Make cooking easy on yourself.
     Simplify your recipes and make cold dishes a few days early. They’ll keep just fine. If you’ve saved enough by cutting back on gifts, consider paying for precooked meals that you can just warm up in your oven.
     7 Do some of your shopping from home by using the Internet.
     Web sites frequently offer free or reduced shipping during the holidays. True, this route may be a little more expensive, but will it help reduce stress? If not, you can still browse online for ideas rather than wandering around in the mall for gifts. Before trekking across town, call ahead to brick-and-mortar stores to make sure items you want are in stock. 
     8 Consider paying for assembly.
     Yes, money is tight, but are five hours and a lost night’s sleep worth saving $15 to assemble a bicycle? Instead, free up some extra cash with money-saving tips and advice at sites like My Money Blog(mymoneyblog.com) and Free Money Finance (freemoneyfinance.com)
     9 Add calming foods to your diet.     
     Combine foods high in tryptophan like spinach, eggs, soy, crabmeat, pork, turkey, chicken, and tuna with carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, potatoes, or pasta. This one-two combo releases serotonin, a calming “feel good” neurotransmitter. Kick-start your day with oatmeal or whole-grain cereal to get these benefits early in the day.
     10 Finally, remember this rule: If it’s not worth taking action on, it’s probably not worth worrying about. 

~ Lana Lenz, EAP Administrator (resource: Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP, WorkExcel.com)

 

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