The holidays can be an incredibly busy time for our social calendar as we share in festivities with family and friends. For many of us, however, the holidays can amplify feelings of loneliness and isolation. Strange as it may seem, you are most certainly not alone in feeling lonely during the holiday season. In fact, several studies have found that a growing number of Americans are experiencing feelings of loneliness or “the winter blues”, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, what can make “the most wonderful time of the year” feel not so wonderful?
There’s been a lot of attention lately on the concept of “quiet quitting.” It’s a confusing term because people aren’t actually quitting. Quiet quitting is when someone continues to work, but doesn’t go above and beyond what is reasonably expected of them. In many workplaces, this might be the best way to maintain boundaries and in turn reduce stress and burnout. Having good boundaries in all areas of your life helps you have better work-life balance, better mental health, and better relationships. We want that for you!
Here’s my favorite hack for figuring out why you don’t feel good. Now, this is a short term, in-the-moment hack, and it’s not meant to replace therapy or medication or any kind of longer-term plan. But if you’re having a day where you just do not feel like yourself, you feel terrible, this acronym can help you hopefully get some relief:
H - hungry
A - angry
L - lonely
T - tired
T - thirsty
Self-care is one of the those words we hear a lot about. It probably conjures up some images for you. It might be the image of a bubble bath, or a spa treatment, massage, glass of wine, or taking a night for yourself. Those things are great; there’s nothing wrong with those, but that’s a very narrow definition of self-care. I want to expand a little bit and throw out some ideas about what self-care might look like that doesn’t involve spa treatments and large chunks of time and money.
I wanted to do a quick video today on what to do when you’re freaking out. You can do this anytime if you notice your anxiety is really high… and either you’re feeling too much, or you may feel like you’re not quite all there. Some of us check out a little bit when we’re overwhelmed. It’s totally normal for that to happen.
Here’s a way to get yourself back kind of down into what we call the Window Of Tolerance.
Boundaries is one of those buzzwords that you hear a lot about. Relationships are supposed to have them, it’s hard to set them sometimes. I think there’s a lot of confusion about what a boundary is, so I wanted to talk about that. My favorite definition of a boundary is this:
I created this short mindfulness audio as a holiday/end of year offering to anyone out there who might need it.
If you're new to mindfulness or you've thought about getting into meditation but it seems a little overwhelming, this is a good place to start.
There’s no way around that fact that Thanksgiving and other end-of-year celebrations will be different this year. New and confusing emotions may be coming up as we contemplate being away from those we love and traditions we cherish. Here are some ways to help make this season as joyful as it can be:
Everyone’s anxiety has gone up this year, and with good reason. We’re all facing new and intensifying stressors, while having limited access to ways we may have previously coped well. Here are some ideas for things you can try right now, whether your anxiety is at a 3 or a 10:
1) Breathe and recognize your anxiety is not an emergency or something to “fix” right in this moment. Often our anxiety is a physiological arousal linked to a threat, however realistic, exaggerated, removed, or unconscious. Try thinking of whatever body sensations you’re experiencing as information that is neither good nor bad. Get curious and compassionate with yourself, and remind yourself that you don’t have to take action immediately unless you or a loved one is in physical danger.
2) Try progressive muscle relaxation. It’s free, simple, and has been shown in some academic studies to reduce anxiety as affectively as medication when done routinely. If you don’t have time to do the full body routine, trying clenching your hands, shoulders, or the back of your legs as hard as you can and holding for ten seconds before releasing.
3) Eliminate unnecessary stimuli. This may be obvious things like noise or light, but could also be the presence of your phone, visual clutter, or that nagging feeling that you need to do the dishes. Sometimes a small change in your environment can have a big positive impact on your mood.
A Conversation Between Caleb Birkhoff, LMFT, and Laurel Roberts-Meese, LMFT
Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.