New Year New You: Rethink Your New Year’s Resolutions

After the roar of the holidays, the beginning of the New Year sneaks in like a draft under the doorway during a Rocky Mountain Blizzard.  This year, instead of casually spouting off some lame, run-of-the-mill New Year’s resolution as you pack up the Christmas lights, why not put some serious thought into it. With these guidelines in mind, 2015 will find you with a goal that will actually stick.

Avoid the Abstract.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who vow to lose weight in 2015, chances are, you are going to spend money on an expensive gym membership, go twice, and then never go again. We do not want to just pick on those seeking January gym memberships, but really those who come up with any grandiose plans. Why? Because these goals are too big and abstract to achieve without some real planning, thought, and commitment.

  • Losing weight
  • Improving your marriage
  • Making more money, finding a new job
  • Falling in love
  • Quitting smoking

These are all great things to accomplish, but they are usually doomed to fail as resolutions. So please avoid these and try to keep it simple instead.

Keep It Simple.

No matter how much of a Debbie Downer that last section was, there are actually a New Year’s resolutions that yes, even you can conquer. Instead of trying to bite off the entire new-you cake, break it down into small chunks.

Instead of giving up smoking completely, think about cutting the number of cigarettes you smoke each day/week/month down by a third. Want to lose weight? Start with cutting back on soft drinks or fast food. Instead of saying you want to make more money, start by saying you will fill out 10 job applications a month.  Simple means attainable, and attainable can mean success.

Take a Good Hard Look.

Feeling lost on what you should do to make 2015 the best it can be?  Stop for a minute and think. What has been causing you extra stress lately?  Are there relationships that you need to work on? Are you treating your spirit, and your body, as you should?  Remember you are the only you, you get, so take care of yourself.

Remember that no matter what challenges and joys the New Year brings, South Denver is here to help.

 

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Scrooge or Santa – Why It’s Ok to Have Mixed feelings around the Holidays

You may not know this, but ask any therapist, or emergency worker, and they will tell you that  the holidays are their busy season. For many, “the most wonderful time of year” is also “ the most stressful time of year.”  Family, gifts, and traditions all can come with a wide range of virtues and vices, and here at South Denver, we wanted to give you a few helpful hints from the front lines of our office so you can better navigate the season. We are also available to talk, both before and after the holidays, depending on your needs.

Family Matters

Your first holiday season with/out (fill in the blank) someone can be challenging. This is a common phrase thrown around the holidays; maybe it’s your first Christmas with a new baby, your first Christmas after your divorce, your first Christmas way from home, first Christmas in a new house, or a first Christmas without a loved one who has passed on. The holidays can amplify transition, and if you are going through something big, it’s best to cut yourself and those you love some slack if things don’t go perfectly.

Compassion is key. Be kind to yourself by establishing boundaries, and be kind to others by offering forgiveness. Remember that during the holidays, our schedules are thrown off, and we often eat too much, drink too much and sleep too little. Expecting everyone, including yourself, to be on your best behavior every second of every gathering is unrealistic. So, take a deep breath; you can get through it! Please talk to your counselor for the best ways for you to get through the holidays.

Spending

Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday – it is really easy to get in big trouble while buying presents this time of year. If you can, make a budget, take out some cash from the ATM, and leave the credit cards at home. If you have already overspent, make a plan to pay it off; often just having a plan can help keep this essential stress of the holidays to a minimum.

It is also perfectly ok to be reasonable about what you can afford. Your family will still know you love them, even if the celebration is small and modest.  It is easy to get carried away with the season, but trust us, you deserve better.

Traditions

Christmas Eve at Grandma’s; Christmas dinner at Uncle Steve’s; oh, and don’t forget to make Cousin Jean’s favorite cookies. It can be easy to drown head first in all of the traditions our families impose this time of year.  We have a little secret to tell you – you don’t always have to follow them. Picking and choosing is perfectly acceptable, even if your cranky relatives don’t think so.

Regain some of your sense of control, plan your own tradition, or just make some time for yourself.  You should be able to enjoy the holidays too!

Facing Depression during the Holidays and Winter Season

The holidays can be a time of great joy, but they can also be a time of great sadness; this is especially true if you are grieving a loss, adjusting to a new phase of your life or you suffer from clinical depression.  It can also be difficult to see everyone else seeming so cheerful and festive if you just don’t feel the holiday spirit.  The time change and shorter days at this time of year also bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for some people, an unfortunate coincidence with the holiday season.  Adding the stress of planning and attending events to the mix may make you feel like it is all too much to handle and not worth the effort.  However, before you give up on celebrating this holiday season, here are a few things you can try to manage your depression.

1. Be Here Now

Many people tend to reflect on the past more during the holiday season than at other times of the year, and that may bring to mind memories of those who are no longer with us.  While a little reminiscing is good, reminding us of all of the wonderful things, we have done and the great people we have had the pleasure to know, dwelling on the past will bring your spirits down.  We usually remember pleasant aspects of the past more than the bad, so the holidays of years gone by seem better in our memories than they really were.  Comparing the past to the present only sharpens this divide, making now seem even worse.

2. Self- Care is Essential

As we screech back and forth trying to pack everything into our short winter days, make sure you take of yourself too. Even here in sunny Colorado, people who experience SAD often do not get enough sun. So make sure you go out and enjoy the light.

Also, make sure you are getting plenty of exercise and do the things that make you the happiest. Do not sacrifice your own well-being this time of year. Often one of the best gifts you can give is a happier healthier you.

3. Lean on Your Support Network

There are people who care about you!  The holidays are a great time to reach out to the people around you for love and support.  Even if your family and friends are far away, or just seem too busy, they will be there for you if you need them.  This is a good time to reconnect with an old friend or relative.   At South Denver Psychotherapy, our counselors are available to talk if you need them – just call to set up an appointment.

A Spook-Free Halloween

It’s the time of year when ghosts and goblins run amok, and we praise children for looking extra scary when they knock on our door while trick-or-treating. However, for many kids, the scare doesn’t just end at Halloween, and it can make it hard for them to sleep and cause other problems. Most of the things that kids fear are dictated by the adults around them or the environment they are in. We have made a quick list of the things that kids are often afraid of, and how to overcome those fears.

1. Ghosts and Darkness

Ghosts and darkness go hand-in-hand. Kids are often most afraid of these two when they are about to go to sleep at night. The best thing to do to overcome this fear is to explain to your kids that ghosts are not real and cannot hurt them. Do not let them watch scary movies, especially when it’s close to bedtime, because they can be a triggering factor. You should also invest in a night-light.

2. Thunder and Lightning

Fear of thunder and lightning is also common among children. Let your kids watch educational programs that feature thunder and lightning, so they can see what causes them. You can also explain that these are an everyday part of nature. Reading some books about thunder and lightning will also help them to understand what thunder and lightning are, and why they happen.

3. Clowns and Mascots

Kids are often afraid of clowns and mascots, especially when it’s their first time seeing them. Kids have wild imaginations, and they often see clowns and mascots as scary things because of how weird they look. The best way for kids to overcome this fear is by interacting with them, but do not force them to do so. Allow them some time to adjust as needed when they first encounter any strange, new thing. Also, explain to them that clowns and mascots are harmless, and that they are meant to be fun and silly.

The things that kids are afraid of can be a challenge to handle; if you need help from professionals, call South Denver Psychotherapy. Don’t miss our other blogs, since they have useful tips and resources you won’t want to miss.

How to Talk about Suicide

It has been one month since the highly-publicized death of Robin Williams. Even though there were a few moments where the media did the completely wrong thing, for the most part, it was beautiful to watch a grieving fan base bring awareness and love to those around them. However, the discussion about suicide should not end now that the coverage has died down, as millions of Americans have faced suicide, either through their own suicide attempts, or those of the people they love. Here are few tips for talking about it and keeping the conversation going.

It Is Not a Way Out!

During the first week after Robin Williams’ death, a twitter post circulated around the Internet that said, “Genie, you’re free.” It was beautiful, but sent entirely the wrong message. Suicide is never an acceptable way to relieve depression, substance abuse, anxiety, or any other problem that may be affecting your health or wellbeing.

You Are Not Alone.

When many people discuss suicide, they often refer to it as a cowardly act or a sin. Shrouding it with shame is not an acceptable response either. If you are struggling, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are people around you who have been exactly where you are, and you are more loved and needed then you could possibly know. If someone you know and care about is having a difficult time, it is crucial to help them understand how much they mean to you.

There Is Help.

Lastly, when talking about suicide, it is always important to mention that there is help. Therapy, counseling, and mental health services are available to people of all ages and demographics. It is also critical to surround yourself with honest, compassionate, and caring people who will work with you to improve your mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is always help. Set up an appointment with South Denver Psychotherapy if you are in the Denver area, or seek a counselor or mental health center near you.