Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Grieving During the Holidays

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-10078264I was driving down the road the other day when a song played on my phone. It touched me and it will touch you.

I encourage anyone who will be missing a special someone this holiday season to click on this link. The music will minister to you. Such poignant words from Christian song artist Mark Schultz.

If you are dealing with loss this holiday season, here are a few points that may help:

1) Allow yourself to grieve. Let the feelings  come. It may hit at unexpected times–during a song, commercials, photographs, etc. The year my mom died just before Christmas, I remember baking and suddenly feeling overwhelmed. I needed to ask my mom a question about the baking and I couldn’t. For whatever reason, this hit me hard and I started to cry. I realized that so much of my mom’s contribution to the holidays was her incredible baking. Baking triggered the memory. It’s OK. Let the feelings out.

2) Consider attending a  support group. This is no time to be strong and go it alone. Grief needs to be shared. Find people who can listen and grieve with you. If you are really struggling, a support group can be just the place to heal the heart.

3) Do something for someone else. I know it is a cliche to say that seeing the need of someone else helps you feel better, but it is true.  Take an angel off the Angel tree, volunteer in a soup kitchen, visit a shelter or hospital, participate in a church activity or community event. Giving to others takes your mind off yourself and improves your mood. This year, I am caroling in a nursing home. The residents love it.

4) Don’t wallow in pity. It’s easy to look at people celebrating and feel deprived or resentful. Don’t go there. Anger will come as part of the grieving process, but don’t allow that anger to move to resentment.

5) Take a time-out if you become overwhelmed. Find a quiet room in a family get together, leave the church sanctuary for a side room to cry, etc.

6) Don’t avoid the loss or pretend the person wasn’t important. Talk about the person. In our family, we talk about mom’s pies and how much we miss them, the sound of her laughter, the love for her grandkids, etc. Share a favorite story. Laugh about funny moments. This helps keep the memories alive.

7) If the loss is fresh, don’t push yourself. Do as little or as much as you feel you can handle. There is no right way to handle grief. Pay attention to your physical life–sleep, eating well and resting. A little self-care will take the edge off the rawness of loss feelings.

8) Feel joy and laughter without feeling guilty. There will be moments of joy and laughter during the holiday season, especially if you are a person of faith. Allow them to come. You can’t sustain grief 24/7 or your body will be too stressed. Sometimes a light distraction like a funny movie can even help.

9) Don’t push yourself to grieve too quickly. The intensity of grief lessens with time. Time does heal. As the months go by, you will feel stronger and better, but it does take time.

10) Pray and comfort yourself with God’s Word. God knows our grief and our sorrows and promises to comfort us. Ask Him to help you through this difficult time.

 

Relatives Who Drink Too Much: How to Handle it

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-10049332Question: We will be traveling to our relatives in another state for several family gatherings during Christmas. Two of my siblings are problem drinkers and I am not sure how to handle this with my family. We do not drink so my children are not used to seeing family members act up while under the influence. In the past, the drinking has gotten out of hand. My children are now old enough to ask questions. What do I do or say if the drinking starts to become a problem again?

 

Drinking during the holidays can get out of control and create many problems for families, especially in families where problem drinkers are in denial and do nothing to prevent getting intoxicated.

The best advice is to make sure that when you visit, you have a way of escape. Even if your siblings offer to let you stay at their homes, reserve a room at a hotel. That way, if their behavior becomes problematic, you can leave.

Before you travel, I would tell them and your parents that the past history of drinking makes you uncomfortable and that if things begin to get out of control, you will excuse yourself and leave. This way it puts the burden on them to moderate. If they persist in their behavior, you explained the rules ahead of time.

If you leave, have a talk with your children about the importance of family (the reason you continue to visit), but that there are times family members must set limits and boundaries on behavior that is unsafe or inappropriate. Being around people who are drunk is not something you want to expose them to or be around. Altered states change people in ways that are not always nice. This is a hard line to take but one that will earn the respect of your children and may cause others to rethink their enabling behavior. Don’t allow anyone to put guilt on you for setting boundaries. You are not telling your family what to do but telling them what you will or will not tolerate to keep your family safe.

Christmas Shopping With Toddlers: Dr. Linda’s 10 Tips

posted by Linda Mintle

ID-10053935-2A reader asks:

As much as I love to shop on-line, I prefer to tackle the masses during Christmas and head to the malls and store. My question is, “How can I shop with two little ones (ages two and four) and remain sane?” I will have to take them with me but really want to give it a try.

 

Holiday shopping can be done with young children. It just takes a bit of planning and a careful eye. I remember the time I lost my three-year-old in a clothing rack. I started to panic and then realized he thought the store was a great place for hide and seek. Lesson learned—explain the rules ahead of time!

Here are my     tips:

1) Before you leave the house, talk about what you are going to do and what is expected of them.

2) I would include a small reward for following directions to be established before you leave. It can be something simple like playing on a playground, listening to a CD in the car, playing a game when you return home, etc.

3) Remember that shopping for grown-up presents is boring for kids so keep your trips short. You may have to make multiple trips rather than knock it all out in a day.

4) Also remember to feed your kids before you leave home. Food does wonders to cure irritability! Take plenty of snacks and drinks with you because tiny tummies empty quickly. You can take a break, grab a table or sitting space and refresh!

6) Add a small toy or pop-up book to your bag in order to divert their interest while roaming the stores. I like this better than playing with your phone!

7) In terms of security, I’m not big on the leash idea but you need to have some way of keeping those little ones close to your side—whether that’s putting them in a cart, holding hands, shopping with a friend, etc.

8) When you get to your shopping destination, don’t wander. Know where you need to go and which gifts you are purchasing. You might want to research your purchases on-line before you head out to stores in order to have a better idea of best price and availability.

9) When you shop, buy a gift that involves the children. For example, let them help with buying a toy for a relative or toy for the family pet. Periodically, remind the children of the small reward that will come at the end.

10) Finally, pay attention to their mood. When it starts to deteriorate, it’s time to go home. Head for the car and pat yourself on the back!

What’s Eating You This Holiday Season? Keep a Log and Find Out!

posted by Linda Mintle

Press-Pause-mediumJoanne looked at the chocolate-covered donut in her hand. As she took her first bite, she wondered, “Why am I eating this? I”m not really hungry, but the plate of goodies sitting by the office coffee pot just looks good. Besides, my boss is making me crazy!

But is there more to the story?

For most of us, YES. We eat out of emotions. When something is eating us, we eat!

All too often overeating is triggered by stress, boredom, loneliness, anger, depression and other emotions. During the holidays, these emotions can ramp up for all kinds of reasons–stress, family, finances, etc.

So the importance of learning to deal with emotions without food is a significant skill that will greatly serve long term weight control.  The key is to identify our eating triggers and respond to them without food.

An exercise that often helps is to take a sheet of paper and write headings of SITUATION, THOUGHT, EMOTION and BEHAVIOR. Then every time you eat something when you are not hungry, fill out this sheet.

What was the situation (e.g., with a friend, sitting alone in front of the TV, arguing with my boss, family conflict, etc.)?

What was the thought that ran through your mind (e.g., This is never going to be better, I can’t believe what a jerk he is right now, I hate myself, etc.)?

What was the emotion (e.g., anxious, upset, anger, frustration, etc.)?

What was the behavior (e.g., ate the donut, binged on candy, second helping, etc.)?

Once you track your eating like this for a week or so, you will probably see a pattern. For example, I eat when I am bored or I overeat every time I am with Sue. Then you can make some changes by being more intentional when those cues or triggers present.

Research shows that people who can track their eating like this, demonstrated a better rate of long-term weight loss maintenance than those who simply diet and/or exercise and don’t address behavioral and emotional issues.  Chronic overeaters and “emotional eaters” can be significantly helped by learning new behavioral skills like this one.

If you really feel stuck in this area of overeating, seek help from a licensed counselor or psychologist in your area. Also, take a look at my book, Press Pause Before  You Eat. This holiday season, don’t let what’s eating you, lead you to overeat!

Previous Posts

Grieving During the Holidays
I was driving down the road the other day when a song played on my phone. It touched me and it will touch you. I encourage anyone who will be missing a special someone this holiday season to click on this link. The music will minister to you. Such poignant words from Christian song artist Mark Sc

posted 6:00:59am Dec. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Relatives Who Drink Too Much: How to Handle it
Question: We will be traveling to our relatives in another state for several family gatherings during Christmas. Two of my siblings are problem drinkers and I am not sure how to handle this with my family. We do not drink so my children are not used to seeing family members act up while under the in

posted 6:00:57am Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Christmas Shopping With Toddlers: Dr. Linda's 10 Tips
A reader asks: As much as I love to shop on-line, I prefer to tackle the masses during Christmas and head to the malls and store. My question is, “How can I shop with two little ones (ages two and four) and remain sane?” I will have to take them with me but really want to give it a try.  

posted 6:00:45am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

What's Eating You This Holiday Season? Keep a Log and Find Out!
Joanne looked at the chocolate-covered donut in her hand. As she took her first bite, she wondered, "Why am I eating this? I''m not really hungry, but the plate of goodies sitting by the office coffee pot just looks good. Besides, my boss is making me crazy! But is there more to the story? F

posted 6:00:24am Dec. 16, 2014 | read full post »

10 Ideas to Avoid Depression During the Holidays
It's the most wonderful time of the year....well, not for everyone. Holidays can be difficult if you struggle with your mood and family issues. However, there are proactive ways to keep your spirit bright. 1) Don't overspend. Avoid being caught up in all the deals, discounts and e-shopping. Fi

posted 6:00:31am Dec. 12, 2014 | read full post »


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