So excited that our first Guest Blog Post is by a wonderful friend and fellow therapist, Karina Dach, NCC, Licensed Mental Health Intern.
5 Tips to Help You Have the Best Thanksgiving Ever:
USA Today estimates over 40 million Americans will be traveling this Thanksgiving. We spend hours, sometimes days, in cars, trains, and airplanes just to be with our families/friends on the Holiday, sometimes even when we anticipate a needed vacation after we get back. No matter how dreadful we feel it may be, we manage to get ourselves through it. But what if this year we decided to shake things up and do things a little differently? Here are 5 tips that will help:
1. Identify your goal
Before you head out or welcome your guests in think about your goal. Remember to keep it as specific and attainable as you can. Start by asking yourself questions. Here are a few to get you started:
2. Do your research
Give yourself a refresher course on the family members and friends you are about to see. Social media such as Facebook can help. Don’t get carried away, a brief overview will do, but the more you know the more you’ll have to talk about. Check out if they’ve found a new job, started dating someone, recently had a break up, just got back from a trip or headed some place new. Knowing some basics can break the ice even when you feel you don't have much in common with the person you find yourself talking to.
3. Take a time out
Seeing people you haven’t seen in a while can feel overwhelming. If you find yourself feeling anxious or irritable, allow yourself a moment to pause and reset. You can always find space to be alone. Don't hesitate to step outside or excuse yourself to the bathroom if you'd like. It can be a good idea to privately assess your thoughts and feelings.
4. Embrace that “get me out of here” feeling
You probably anticipated feeling this way for at least some of the holiday celebrations. Since you expected it, welcome it. The longer you tolerate this feeling, the less you’ll feel bothered by it. Try it. See if it works.You may find that the harder you try to get rid of this feeling, the harder it will be for you to move past it. Accept the feeling without judgment and allow the feeling to be. Just sit with it until it changes on its own.
5. Reward yourself
Don’t forget to acknowledge your accomplishments. It is so easy to minimize our successes, but remember to reward yourself for your effort. If you feel like you didn’t do as well as you hoped, don't worry! There's always next year!
Karina Dach M.S., NCC
Registered MHC Intern
As a therapist who specializes in trauma treatment, events such as the terror attacks that unfolded in Paris yesterday have particular relevance. Even from a distance, people may be affected. This can be especially true for young children and parents may have difficulty knowing how to address these types of events with their kids. So here are some helpful tips:
Ask & Listen. Ask your children about what they have heard or seen and really listen so you can get a feel for their understanding. Normalize that it's okay to feel sad or even mad that people got hurt. Emphasize that there is no such thing as good or bad people, but there are people who make bad choices, which may hurt other people. Explain that there are many people who will protect them from such people, including yourself as their parent and police.
Emphasize Safety. Emphasize to kids that even though scary things do happen in the world, they are safe. Explain that it's your job as a parent to keep them safe and that you take that this job very seriously. One way to help kids feel safe is to stick to routines - bed times, after school activities, meals. Whatever you normally do as a family, keep doing it.
Turn off the News. Often these types of events take time to process and continued exposure to all the nitty gritty details and 24/7 updates just adds layers of information that kids don’t need. (I would argue the same for adults!)
Check Yourself. Years ago it was believed that you could only develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder if you yourself were directly exposed to the trauma. We have since learned that is not the case. People who witness or hear about traumatic events can also develop PTSD symptoms such as upsetting, intrusive thoughts about the event, avoidance of talking or thinking about the event, irritability, and sleep difficulties. For most people, these symptoms will resolve without intervention. But if you or your child are struggling with these symptoms or finding it hard to enjoy things you used to enjoy, talk to a therapist who specializes in trauma.