Fast Forward to Managing Holiday Stress!

Hi all,

Hope all is well with everyone! If I don’t get these posts into place the weekend before, life on the day-to-day gets so busy-nutty, I can’t make the time to catch up! Just last night, hubby-the-hero-not-a-plumber-but-gets-the-job-done (and I, the assistant) wound up making an  unscheduled trip to my mom’s to do an unexpected faucet installation. And seems every night something else is going on. It is what it is, right? (Though I offer no complaints. There are those in serious and dire situations. I am inconvenienced.)

But, that does tie nicely into…

Wow. As a kid there was no way I could understand why adults found the holiday season so stressful.  Christmas is only a small part of the pressure-I’m-feeling deal; all credit, too, to my younger son (14 y/o) who loves the decorating (inside and out), tree-trimming and gift-wrapping enough to take over most of it! Hubby handled lights inside so the place has a loverly glow in the evenings. They’ve done a phenomenal job and taken a lot of the work load off of me! Thanks, men!

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I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.
I love Jack Henry, the rabbit. My first Christmas with hubby, my sisters-in-law (to be at the time) dumped JH on my lap and told me not to expect gifts in the future, lol.
This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, "Santa's Footprints." It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.
This one is my favorite. My older guy was two and painted this creation. When I asked him what it was, he told me, “Santa’s Footprints.” It is now one of my standard Christmas decorations and will be until the day I pass it on to him.

Back to the original reason for this post! I’m sharing my dear friend Diane Lang’s article on handling the holiday season in a more peaceful, positive way. Here is the link to her most recent article! If it speaks to you, please feel free to share and possibly come back here to share your thoughts on her timely tips!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Joanna

Retrain the Brain for Success in 2013!

Yep. Hate to admit it, but a new year lurks around the corner, friends. Thanks for being patient with me lately. Ever since Superstorm Sandy made her way up the east coast I can’t seem to get it together. (I’m also working on an extended post that connects to it, but that seems to have loomed as large as the storm that inspired (?) it. 

So what does a blogger do in the meantime? Lean on the help of friends, thank you very much. Here is  the latest from therapist, author and Positive Living Expert, Diane Lang–and exactly what this blogger needed :)! I so thank her for the today’s tips and now turn the blog over to Diane…

      

Before we know it the holidays will be in full swing and another new year will be on the horizon.  Now is the time to start reflecting on the past year (not dwelling – there is a difference) and looking forward to a new year.  As we set goals and resolutions start preparing now for success in 2013 (and still for 2012!), here are nine tips to retrain your brain for success:  

1. Thoughts produce actions. Change your actions/behaviors by changing how you think. Be self-aware of your negativity. Once you are aware, you can make changes.

2. Know your triggers. What locations or people cause you stress? Once you figure out your triggers, you can set up boundaries and limitations.

3. Make positive affirmations a daily habit. Start every day with a positive thought. For example: I’m healing from an illness so I wake up daily saying, “I’m healthy and happy!” or “I’m feeling better each day.”

4. Listen to yourself talk.  Remove words such as: I can’tI won’tI shouldn’tI don’t wantcould,wouldmaybe, etc. Use new POSITIVE words: I chooseI canI wantI amit’s my choiceI’m free to, etc.

5. Emotional detox. Remove the toxic people from your life. Moods and emotions are contagious so you want to surround yourself with positive people. If you’re surrounded by toxic people, they can drain you and bring you down.

6. Change the things you can control.  When making changes work on things you CAN control; if you constantly work on things you can’t control, you will be setting yourself up for failure. You will feel frustrated and stressed. Work on what you CAN.

7. Clear your emotional debt.  What old thoughts or habits are you holding onto? What need is it fitting? What new thought could you replace it with? What are you afraid of?

8. Visualize the change.  What does your life look like with the new changes and thoughts? How do you act differently? How do you feel? How has your environment or people change? Visualize you with the new habits/thoughts. If you can see it, you can get there!

9. Stick with it!  Be patient, kind and gentle with yourself. Change is a process that takes time and work.

As always, Diane’s thoughts and tips are right on time and I’m always grateful to have them to share with all of you! Please feel free to contact her at her website, and please consider adding one of her books to your gift-list for that special person who–like me–might need to slow down!

Have a great day and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Joanna

SAD–Don’t Let It Get the Best of You! (Part 2)

Welcome to Thursday, friends and followers. For those whose kids brought home pillowcases full of Halloween candy, good luck on dealing with having it in the house, lol! If you’re stuck with leftover candy and/or acquired way-too-much to keep, you may want to consider looking into local programs that ship candy to our military personnel overseas. Sometimes what appear to be the smallest acts of kindness can bring joy to folks under a totally different type of stress–and who doesn’t love a care package?

   

Back to today’s topic! Last time, my dear friend Diane Lang discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder and some of its apparently known causes. (Here’s the link to Part 1–please remember to come back!)

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder – 10 Tips to Prevent the Winter Blues 

There are treatment options for SAD so you can stay happy during the longer, darker and colder winter days.  Here are some tips to help prevent the winter blues:

1. Get as much light as you can even when you’re indoors. Open Tahoe shades, roll up the curtains, move your desk near the windows, etc.

2. Spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. The weather is cold and snowy but we do know that being outside in the winter months is beneficial. Go outside for quick walks and sit in the sun to help lift your spirits. After a few days of spending some time outdoors, you will start feeling a little better.

3. Add exercise into your daily routine. Exercise, even just walking, produces endorphins and reduces stress hormones at the same time so you get a boost of happiness.

4. Make sure to add some fun into your life. Even though the weather keeps us homebound, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Instead of feeling trapped inside, find ways to engage in things you love.

5. Be social even in the winter months. Adding more social activities where you will be surrounded with family and friends can give the extra support you need.

6. Take a vacation. Some clients feel a sense of isolation and loneliness in the winter months, if this is the case setting up vacation time in warm, sunny spots can help and give you something to look forward to.

7. Try “Light Therapy.” We know that increased sunlight helps improve the symptoms of SAD. There are certain lights you can buy called “Light Therapy Box” which mimics outside light and helps you lift your mood and spirits.

8. See a counselor before winter starts. If you have a mild case, you can take preventive methods such as seeking a counselor right before late fall to start talking to someone who can help.

9. Medications – Doctors have prescribed anti-depressants that have worked well for some patients.

10. Psychotherapy (i.e., counseling) is another great option. The therapist can help you identify your negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them. A therapist can also help you find good coping skills to feel better.

What I love about Diane’s tips is how practical each is–and most at little to no damage to one’s wallet or purse. #3 is probably my saving grace. Exercise–especially walking and/or dancing to my favorite tracts–keeps me upbeat. The endorphins–i.e., feel-good hormones–released when one exercises regularly are for real. And feeling good about how I look just bumps up my mood and outlook that much  more!

As always, special thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and ideas! And to you of course, for stopping by and adding to the possibilities via sharing what has worked for you. And if you please, won’t you take a moment click one of the SHARE buttons?

Take care all!

Joanna

Is YOUR Family on Technology Overload?

Hi all! School is underway, things are busier–again–and this parent is often (uh always) trying to keep up. Ever-evolving technology adds more pressure to our time-crunched situations. Here are some tips/ideas for staying sane in a world that moves way too fast and never seems to sleep. 

Parenting Issues Caused by Technology Overload. Help!

   

Summary:  Therapist, author and Positive Living Expert Diane Lang addresses a common question clients ask her: “How can I be a good parent with all these distractions? Between my cell phone, texting, e-mails, etc. I feel I never get a break.” Today’s technology overload creates three main fixable problems that parents should address with these specific tips listed below.

Fixable Problem #1: We Are Always “Plugged In”: Parents always felt overwhelmed and busy, but now with all the added technology, our work weeks are much longer and we feel like the world never stops. The new work week looks way different then the days of 40 hours a week. Most people work 60-80 hours a week due to longer commutes and always being “plugged in” due to technology. But this is just part of the battle…

Fixable Problem #2: Communication Issues Within Families:Technology also causes communication issues within families. I hate to tell this true story, but it nails the point. I was at dinner the other night and I saw a family of four sitting around the table waiting for their food. The mom was reading the menu but the dad and the two kids were all texting or searching on their phones. It made me sad to see a family actually have the opportunity to spend quality time together and not take advantage of it. Unfortunately, this example is quite common and becoming the norm. I know in my own household if I’m in the house and my husband is outside in the yard, he will call me on my cell before walking inside to talk to me.

Fixable Problem #3: Instant Gratification and Laziness: We have created a society of instant gratification and laziness. We see the problems in kids as a result. Their lack of physical exercise, social skills and obesity are big issues today. It’s one thing to have a group of friends, but nowadays we hear kids say “I have over a 100 friends on Facebook” but yet they only have met a few in person.

Five Tips to Fix: Because of the technology overload, we are up against new issues in parenting and relationships in general and there are no new rules or handbooks to help families handle this situation. However, some basic tips still apply to keeping a happy, healthy home:

1. Communicate – we always tell parents to spend quality time with their kids. It used to be have family dinners together. We now have to add to the dinner that there should be no technology! The dinner table should be a sacred time where everyone joins in the conversation: parents, children and other family members. Ask open ended questions that cannot be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” 

2. Be an active listener – in the world of technology, we don’t have as much face to face time BUT when we do it’s important to be a good listener. Make sure to have direct eye contact. Watch your non-verbal language, show you’re listening by nodding your head, facial expressions, etc. Listen to the whole story or question, pause to think about it and then answer. Really listen when someone talks – don’t think about your answer or another topic while they are speaking. Show you care.

3. Socialization is a key factor in our happiness.  Join in with family events, the community, friends, etc. Make sure a lot of your socialization is in person; we need face to face interaction.

4. Lose the attachment – all the latest technology is great and helpful, but we don’t NEED it. Don’t allow your life to be controlled by technology. Have technology free times such as after 8pm at night and during dinner time as mentioned above. This is your time to spend with family, read a book, etc.

5. Be a good role model – you teach your kids through your actions. Kids are visual learners so if your kids constantly see you on the phone, texting, etc. they will follow suit. If you’re ignoring your kids to text or sitting at the dinner table with your laptop or TV on, you will have your kids repeat the same behavior. Kids will imitate what they observe. What do you want them to see?

Visit Diane at her website: www.dlcounseling.com.

As always, pertinent, practical information that’s right on time! Thanks to Diane for sharing her wisdom and for allowing me to pass it on to you! And please feel free to SHARE below–I thanks ye!

Have a great day,

Joanna

PEM: Diane Lang on Life Learned!

Hi all,

Welcome to a new week and another Positive Energy Monday. 🙂 Hope each of you is well.

We’ve had our fair share of challenges this week but are hanging in there as a family and trusting God with the reins. He always seems to handle them better than we do, lol. 

Funny. I always grab my good friend Diane’s inbox entries and share. This one truly applied to me this week–and especially on Sunday, when we got some unwelcome news. (Nothing horrid and totally deal-able.) Guess I can boil it down to it’s been a week of teachable moments. 

                

Every day is a learnable/teachable moment. The more I learn to live in the Now and create my day, the more I realize every moment is precious and can be learned from.

This eliminates the right and wrong. It just means what is… is what is.

It eliminates “mistakes;” instead of worrying about making a mistake I now realize that there are no mistakes,  just teachable moments.

Instead of thinking of “failures”, we just realize we need to adjust our path to fulfill our dreams and goals. Every day offers new opportunities. If you realize that, then you will realize there is no such thing as failure. A new direction has opened up.

If we think in the moment, we realize how great each moment is. You’re alive. The moment is all yours to do as you wish.

When you live in the now, you break free from control issues. In the now, we don’t worry about the future and why should we? We can’t control it anyway. We let go of the past because we realize it’s gone and we have the power to make each moment be whatever we choose.

When we live in the moment we actually stop and smell the flowers. We realize how many simple moments of pleasure we actually have each and every day. The small things give us the biggest pleasures such as my daughter’s laugh, my dog’s excitement every time I walk through the door, the warm sun and the lazy days of summer.

If we all could live in the NOW we could release a lot of our worry, anxiety and fear. Imagine life without those distractions.

For more information visit my website: www.dlcounseling.com or my blog at www.creatingbalanceandfindinghappiness.wordpress.com

Buy Diane’s books here: Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career and Creating Balance

Counseling Educator
www.dlcounseling.com

Thanks to Diane, as always, for allowing me to pass  her wisdom to you. The more I get to know her, the more I realize how much great insight she has and how blessed I am to be on the receiving end of it! 

My HMO about a book I loved later this week! Thanks for stopping in!

Joanna

Coney Island’s Infamous Cyclone and Weight Loss (?)

Welcome, everyone. Getting off to a late start this week–I’m starting to get how retired people are sometimes busier than those doing a 5+ day nine-to-five. Give someone a few extra hours and everyone wants a piece, lol. 

Wimbledon wrapped up pretty well with the always awesome Roger Federer claiming his SEVENTH title there. Hey! He just tied Rafa’s French Open title record. Hmmm…

Photo courtesy of therisinghollywood.com

Back to business! Positive living expert Diane Lang is here to talk about a topic I deal in daily (a little better these days than in the past, I hope). Since I’m sure this is a pretty universal topic, figure I’d share it here. Thanks, Diane!

    

The weight loss roller coaster—Diane Lang

When we lose weight we expect to feel great! We just reached our goal and dream! It’s a great accomplishment yet many of my clients lose all their weight and still feel unsatisfied with their life. They won’t feel the happiness they expected. They get a short boost of happiness from the weight loss but after a few weeks or month the happiness fades.

A common question that my clients ask: I lost my weight why don’t I feel better emotionally? My clients will explain that they expected a rise in their self-esteem and happiness but for some this does not happen. Unfortunately, this is more common then we think. Here are some reasons for our lack of happiness:

1. Unrealistic expectations – we assume weight loss will end of all of our problems. That weight loss would solve everything. The truth is if you gained a lot of weight, there is a reason behind it. If you lose weight but don’t deal with the reason you gained it in the first place, you won’t feel happier. Odds are you will gain the weight back.  Example: I have clients who ate due to loneliness. If you diet and lose the weight but don’t become more social and get support you won’t feel happier and you will eventually fall back into your old habit of eating when you feel lonely. Weight loss is great, but always look at the bigger picture.

2. Fear of success – I lost the weight, now what? We are all aware of the fear of failure but I think a lot of my clients never realize you can also fear success. A lot of clients don’t know what their next goal will be. They have put so much effort into their weight loss that they don’t know who they will be as a thin person. What will be their new identity?

Make sure to know who you are as a person. Your weight doesn’t equal who you are inside. A lot of my clients identify themselves as being ”fat”. That is who they think they are. They become comfortable with their identity. When you shed pounds, you should also shed your past baggage. Start the next chapter of your life.

3. Enjoyment – I have watched some of my clients become so obsessed with dieting and weight loss they never get to enjoy the journey or their accomplishments We need to have positive reinforcement along our path of weight loss. Make sure to reward yourself with praise and even a gift now and then. Recognize your accomplishments; be proud of your hard work. Remember, you deserve to be happy!

4. Media – be careful of the media. TV, Magazines Internet, etc all promote that happiness = thin (and young) yet we are all different. Never compare yourself to anyone else. It’s a myth that being thin means you are happy. I hate to say this but I have “thin” clients who are depressed. Just be you! We are our happiest when we are ourselves. Be true to you!

Questions? Email Diane: lifeline36@aol.com

Join Diane on Thursdays starting July 12 at 7pm for this awesome 8 week class:

Thriving Not Just Surviving

Burlington County college, MT Holly campus

609-877-4520

Monday, July 16th at 6:45pmEmpowerfitness- Letting go of Anger workshop

Lawrenceville, NJ 609-882-4500

Tuesday July 17th from 3-5 or 6-8 Warren Community CollegeLet’s Talk About Bullying

908-689-7613

Monday, July 23 at 7pm – Create balance & Relieve Anxiety – Union County College, NJ

908-709-7601

Thursday, July 26 at 6pmRetirement University – Morgan Stanley, Paramus, NJ

Now if I kept that kind of schedule I’d be thin (???).  And since that so ain’t so, stop back on Friday for an easy summer recipe sure to please!  Have a great day!

Joanna

The Nature Effect

Hello friends, 

Here’s to the beginning of another work week. Hope it finds you well and ready to go! Wish we could start every day of the year in early June. I love when the birds wake me before the alarm clock goes off and it’s actually light out; makes getting up so much easier when the sun did so first!

For the tennis fans out there, I’m anxiously awaiting the completion of the French Open finals. Play got suspended due to rain and called due to impending darkness. Tradition or not, shouldn’t these facilities install lights for night-time play? And to continue play at 7 AM EST kind of stinks at my end. Can’t imagine the Djok and Rafa wrapping it up in time for me to get to work on time. (Then again, if they do, it means Rafa won King-of-the-Clay title #7…)

Okay, this just in from my good friend and positive living expert, Diane Lang. Love her stuff so I always share!

          

The Nature Effect

This is the time of year to take everything outside and reap the benefits of nature.

Nature brings out the best in us. I have discussed with some of my clients who have Seasonal disorder the benefits of sunlight (with sunscreen on).  When we spend time outdoors in the sun our serotonin levels are up which elevates our mood. Vitamin D, which we can get from the sun, will help keep our bones healthy, help prevent cancer, keep our immune system up and affects our moods in a positive way.

Exercise and the outdoors- we know that exercise improves our mental health. It increases our endorphins while reducing our stress hormones. Outdoor exercise is more beneficial than indoor exercise. Being outdoors improves our self-esteem, moods and inspires us. We become fascinated with the beauty of nature, which sparks our creativity. Nature inspires us to move. We become connected to our spirit when we are outdoors. (Water also brings a calming effect so if you can take, a long walk around a lake or at the beach. For all you parents, nature is very soothing to both kids and adults. So take the family outdoors for some fresh air, a long walk, a hiking trip, swimming at the lake, etc.)

* Bonus- nature helps us recover quicker from chronic illness.

Relaxation – when we are outdoors we tend to relax, refuel and recharge. Being outdoors boosts our energy levels and wakes up our senses. When we are outdoors we can hear the birds sing, hear the sound of the ocean waves, smell the salt from the ocean. We even taste our food better when we are outdoors; we tend to eat slower and enjoy each bite. Go outdoors barefoot and take a walk through the cool grass or on the hot sand at the beach. Being outdoors gives us a momentary boost of happiness, which can last 24-48 hours.

Nature and work: If we go outdoors during our lunch break—even for only 20-30 minutes—you will come back feeling refueled, inspired and more creative. It will help improve productivity. We know that even sitting by a large window that lets us look outside at the trees and grass helps us to feel more creative and be more productive.

Being in the moment – when we spend time with nature we connect to our spirit. We let go of the fast paced world and go inside of ourselves.

As an exercise: go outdoors and sit in silence. After a little while you will feel more at peace and hear your inner voice. Lately, I have been sitting outdoors near a corn field and the silence brings such a sense of peace and contentment. After a few minutes, you can feel your breath and hear your soul. It’s quite an incredible experience.

For me, being outdoors makes me feel alive. I feel like everything in nature that surrounds me is alive. Nature sparks something within me to feel love all around me. I can’t explain it in better words then that. Nature = love!

For more information please visit my website: www.dlcounseling.com or come join me at my workshops:

Tuesday, June 12 at3pm- Living your best life

Warren Community College, NJ

908-835-2333

Thursday, June 14th at 7pm- The art of self-care

Doylestown Hospital,  PA

215-345-2657

Friday, June 15 at 7pm- Letting go of anger

Mystical World, Lyndhurst, NJ

201-896-3999

Tuesday, June 19 at 6pm – Positive Parent

Burlington County College, NJ

609-877-4520

Thursday, June 21 at 7pm – Happiness – Living an optimistic lifestyle

Doylestown Hospital, PA

215-345-2657

For those of you who live in the NY/NJ/PA area, taking the time to listen to one of Diane’s workshops is worth it. She’s an excellent speaker and a lot of fun, too!

I will be sure to check in with all of you later this week–have a great day, everyone. Thanks so much for stopping by, and if you care to, please click a SHARE button below as you go. That extra second goes a long way! 

TTFN and have a great day,

Joanna