As the new year began, many of us made resolutions for ourselves with healthy living intentions. We resolved to make our life better, to be healthier, to be successful, and overall to be different from who we’ve been. But now, as the year progresses, we lament that many resolutions are less accomplished than we hoped. Some we still need to start (or started yet now ended). What happened? What went wrong? Let me show you how to make a resolution that will last.
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker
As the Drucker quote states, our plans will not be successful, and we will only reach our goals if they entail hard work. If we make resolutions that are too easy to accomplish, we either put them off for later or don’t fulfill us enough to continue with the task. If I may, I would like to expand on Drucker’s quote to include “plans which challenge and inspire us” we are more likely to stick with doing. The idea of hard work is essential, but so are tasks that challenge and inspire.
Often, it’s easier for us to adhere to a resolution if we have a clear picture of the final outcome. This outcome needs to be challenging for our abilities as well as inspiring, meaning that, in the broader scope of my life, what impact will this specific goal have on the people around me.
While New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on our health and wellness intentions, if we can envision an outcome beyond ourselves, we are more likely to keep our resolutions.
One of the reasons self-help groups are effective is due to a community effort toward a shared goal. The members form a community of encouragement, understanding, action, and altruism. Each of these qualities is important, but the selfless nature of the members toward each other encourages each member to continue in their resolve. If we similarly view our resolutions, we will be successful so long as we are altruistic.
For us to continue with our resolutions, we need to practice mindfulness, which emphasizes living in the moment. Practicing mindfulness allows us to reflect on our past experiences and choices nonjudgmentally, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves.
Whenever we reflect on our past, we can remember the wonderful moments and, at the same time, we can remember the moments when things weren’t going well so that we know what we need to do differently today and in our planning for the future. In this way, we build on what has been learned in the past. Our past is not ignored but honored for its lessons.
Making resolutions is a beneficial way to set goals based on what we’ve learned from our past. Making these resolutions allows us to live in the moment as we take the time to figure out what it is we resolve to improve. Resolutions don’t need to be made only at the beginning of a new year.
One of the beautiful elements of living in the present moment is that we can “start over” whenever we need to. If my day is not going as planned and I get frustrated, I can stop, breathe, and start again. I can start over before the following day or even the following year. I can start over any time I feel the need.
Therefore, if you need more time to work on your resolutions, take the time rather than rush through a list because of a self-imposed obligation or expectation.
Make resolutions that will give you a new beginning. Challenge yourself while keeping your expectations reasonable. Then you will see changes in your life which will translate into inner peace.
“If one were to devise an experimental set of circumstances which would test the integrity of an individual’s mood control, one would invent the year-end holiday season.” Jonathan Himmelhoch (Psychiatrist, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic)
If you or someone you know are feeling down during the holiday season, there’s no need to worry. There are ways to cope with the holiday blues without resorting to unhealthy habits. This article will give you some helpful tips for getting through the holiday season and finding peace of mind.
Stress Depression and the Holiday Season
The holiday season blues are authentic, and according to at least one study, about half of us experience the holiday season blues (the survey reached 786 adults 18 years or older Fall of 2006). But some people can’t find peace of mind, so they suffer the holiday season blues because they entered the holiday season already feeling sad, depressed, anxious, etc. In addition, the seemingly joyous time of the year enhances their depression and anxiety. As a result, many people feel more sad, depressed, and anxious during this time than at any other time of the year.
What causes these feelings? Is it something in our genes that makes us susceptible to the holiday season blues? Or is it something we do, like spending too much money on gifts for family and friends? Are there ways to avoid getting into the holiday season blues?
No other times of the year evoke such strong emotions as this time of year. We may be excited, joyous, and filled with wonder and anticipation at this time of year. We visit family and friends, host parties and gatherings, and spread joy wherever we go during this holiday season. As joyous as we may be, the expectations for a “Rockwell Christmas” haunt even the best of us. Yet, despite this, some of us may feel quite the opposite during this time of the year.
Those who have recently lost a loved one, those suffering from physical or mental health concerns, those who have been separated from their family members, or even those who have become estranged from their families come to mind. But unfortunately, the holidays haven’t always been enjoyable for some people, and many feel trapped in their current lives.
Embrace Peace of Mind to Combat Holiday Season Blues
Regardless of how we feel about the holiday season, this time of the year finds many of us feeling the burden of perfection and a lack of peace. As joyous as we may be, the expectations for a “Rockwell Christmas” haunt even the best of us.
While we still have our day-to-day tasks, we must decorate, buy gifts, and attend social functions. These expectations, especially if we feel obligated, can cause stress and anxiety even in those who enjoy the holiday season. Now imagine the stress and anxiety felt by those who are merely trying to cope with life itself, let alone the added expectation of the season.
How To Help Others Find Peace Of Mind While Coping With The Holiday Season Blues
What can we do to help someone suffering from finding peace of mind during this holiday season?
· Create awareness within yourself and your children that not everyone feels joyous this time of the year. This awareness is not meant to burden us but as a recognition of the reality of others.
· Create an environment where all people feel open to honestly sharing their feelings. While attending or planning parties and gatherings, don’t encourage everyone to participate. Instead, be respectful of those who are having a difficult time participating. Try to plan activities that would allow a person to participate in the degree to which they feel comfortable.
– It is important to know that your expectations of a holiday celebration may differ from those of others. Therefore, be flexible and open to the traditions of others and their feelings during this time. For example, you should consider any family members who have been experiencing a challenging year when you plan the family dinner.
– The space and time to speak, or to refrain from speaking, is up to them. Understand that it may have taken them a great deal of effort to appear in the first place. Be aware that they may have had significant challenges.
– I urge you to be a supportive friend to anyone you know who is afflicted with mental illness or experiencing emotional distress. Be present to them, even if you cannot speak with them. Be sure to never underestimate the positive impact and healing quality of being present. Encourage them to attend small gatherings with you if possible and appropriate. Surround them with people who have their best interests in mind.
– If they do not have expectations placed upon them by themselves or others, you should encourage them to engage in activities that promote their emotional well-being and physical health. Suppose you would like them to understand that prioritizing themselves is not a sign of selfishness. In that case, it is essential for your well-being.
– Take time from the busyness of this season to be an active listener to those who wish to share their feelings. Encouraging and allowing others to share their feelings may be the most helpful thing you can do for them. If they are reluctant to share, lovingly help them by letting them know that you will listen without judgment, regardless of what they wish to talk about and share.
During this holiday season, as many of us join together with our families and friends, let’s be grateful and joyous in our traditions and fellowship. But let’s not forget those emotionally suffering during the holiday season. Being respectful, understanding, and lovingly present is the best holiday gift a person can receive.
Trying to accomplish change and reduce stress seems impossible. Change itself brings on stress, so how can change minimize stress? I thought that, too, until I started practicing mindfulness in the Autumn of 2012. Let me explain.
Let’s go back to the 1980s when I snapped this picture while living in an unassuming community in western Massachusetts. It was Autumn, and I was taking a hike when I came across this view. Many people I know will more often than not get energized, liven up, plan for, and are empowered as Spring moves into Summer. Not that I could do without Summer; however, as far as I’m concerned, I react similarly at the start of Autumn. Autumn is by a wide margin my most loved season (with Winter a nearby second).
For as long as I can recall, I have delighted in Autumn. Experiencing childhood in the northern regions of the USA, I’m used to the colder seasons. Of the relative multitude of seasons, this one is mainly centered around family, traditions, and spiritual rituals. During this season, there are social occasions, gatherings, and the start of school. Halloween and Thanksgiving are close, with Christmas not excessively far away. The cooler weather conditions move us nearer together as we gather inside.
Trying to effectively accomplish change during this season of life is challenging for some. I’ve written many articles on stress and depression during this time of the year. Attempting to reduce stress as the holiday season approaches is difficult for some. For some, this is a time of devastation, with the vegetation ceasing to exist and the daylight more limited. Yet, as we focus on the moment, we can also experience a lot of variety by hearing the leaves crinkle underneath our feet and smelling the cornucopia of fragrances attacking our noses.
Autumn might be a period of rot; however, in the progress of time, we are given a most tremendous and lovely gift; the empowerment of progress. It is, ideally, a gift to rouse us. For my purposes, I see excellence before I see the rot and devastation. There is likewise a wonder in the acknowledgment that after this season of devastation will come a time of resurrection and new development in the blossoming of Spring. Autumn isn’t the end, just the start.
Autumn addresses change as it changes itself. During the time spent transforming, we feel the aggravation before the delight. In our personal lives, we may now encounter and feel rot and destruction as our stress levels rise. Yet our experiences are a piece of the circle of life.
Just as the trees will replicate their leaves and the fallen leaves will give nutrient empowerment to the ground, we will encounter new development of plants and flowers in the Spring. Autumn shows us that through the dark times of life, we will come out with reduced stress as change shows us the possibility of a new and incredible period of life.
Change is rarely straightforward, but it is essential to recollect that change, albeit unique, doesn’t need to be negative. The situations changing our life might be complicated; however, assuming we focus on the outcome, we will see that the difficulties of change and stress will bring us to our goal. As the leaves fall, we are guaranteed there will be Spring followed by Summer.
The pattern of life reflects the patterns of our lives.
The following are a couple of ideas I have thought of to help us progress through our Autumn to accomplish change and reduce stress:
1. Review the recollections of this past Summer. Value your encounters from the past season.
2. Recognize, don’t attempt to stow away, the past with its joys, damages, and assumptions.
3. Being grateful for all we have.
4. Prepare for and act upon what you have some control over, and set aside those areas of life you cannot control.
5. Experience this time of Autumn through the eyes of a child.
In every moment, stay focused on the details of your surroundings, taking in both the positive and negative aspects. Change what you can; ignore the rest. In time, the Springtime of your life will blossom.
To understand addiction is a complex condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Many of us struggle with addiction at some point in our lives. Understanding addiction as a disease that is treatable gives us a sense of inner peace, even if we don’t fully understand why it happens. This article explores the disease concept of addiction, and some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments of addiction.
Is Addiction A Disease?
The first question that needs to be addressed is whether addiction can be classified as a disease. There is some debate among experts as to whether addiction should be considered a disease. Some argue that it is not because it does not cause long term damage to the body. Others say that it is because people who suffer from addiction often experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking drugs.
There are many definitions of disease, but for the purposes of this article I will use the World Health Organization’s definition: “a broad category that includes any disorder with harmful consequences for an individual”.
Addiction has harmful consequences for those who are struggling with its use: it can destroy relationships and marriages; lead to homelessness; result in loss of employment and income, and even lead to death. Recent scientific research has shown significant and detrimental effects on brain chemistry and function, so it’s safe to call addiction a disease.
To Understand Addiction is Important
Our understanding of addiction and recovery has evolved tremendously in recent years. Today, we know that addiction is not a choice and that achieving long-term sobriety is an extremely difficult, but attainable, goal. To understand addiction we can better understand those suffering from the disease, allowing us to find inner peace in knowing that the person can recover with the appropriate treatment.
Yes, the use of a substance, regardless of its legal status, is a choice and the person’s personal responsibility. Yet, that choice is not unlike the choice of those whose chronic illness demands daily exercise, medication, proper diet, etc. All choice ends in a consequence, foreseen or unforeseen, healthy or unhealthy. The choice to not abide by my doctor’s prescribed diet could lead a person with cardiovascular disease to suffer a heart attack, or a person with diabetes to lose a limb. The choice of a person with an addiction to using an addictive substance could lead to unhealthy consequences.
So yes, the use of a substance is a choice, not unlike any other life choices we make on a daily basis. The difference, however, is that once the brain chemistry is changed and altered by the addictive substance, the physical impulse to continue to use is now automatic.
The person who uses a substance does not do so in an attempt to become addicted to it, just as the person who chooses to eat red meat and fried foods does not do so in an attempt to suffer cardiac illness. Therefore, the choice lies in the use of a substance (drug, food, etc), not in the resulting bodily changes manifesting in disease or illness.
“Addiction involves craving for something intensely, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. Addiction changes the brain, first by subverting the way it registers pleasure and then by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and motivation. Although breaking an addiction is tough, it can be done.” (Source: helpguide.org)
Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Addiction damages the brain in a similar way to how heart disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas. This occurs as the brain undergoes a series of changes, starting with recognizing pleasure and ending with an urge to repeat the experience.
“It’s common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn’t mean that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.” (Source: nida.nih.gov)
According to research, the rate of relapse for those struggling with addiction is not more prevalent than that of other medical illnesses. Those who relapse with an addictive substance do so at the same rate as people suffering from other chronic illnesses. This means that addiction should be treated like any other chronic disease, with a focus on long-term management and prevention of relapse.
Addiction is a serious disease that can cause great harm to sufferers and their loved ones. However, with the right treatment, recovery is possible. By understanding addiction, we can better support those struggling with this disease and find inner peace by knowing that they can overcome their daily suffering.
The Brain and How It Changes When Addicted
There are many factors that contribute to addiction, but the most common cause is a chemical imbalance in the brain. This can be caused by a person’s genetics, childhood trauma, or even environment. Like other chronic diseases, addiction wreaks havoc on the brain. It impairs cognitive functioning and decision-making and can lead to changes in brain structure and chemistry. Over time, addiction can cause serious damage to the brain, making it difficult, yet not impossible, for people to recover and live healthy, productive lives.
“Substance abuse affects many parts of the body, but the organ most impacted is the brain. When a person consumes a substance such as drugs or alcohol, the brain produces large amounts of dopamine; this triggers the brain’s reward system. After repeated drug use, the brain is unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine on its own. This means addicted people may struggle to find enjoyment in pleasurable activities, like spending time with friends or family, when they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” (Source: addictioncenter.com)
Addiction, therefore, is a brain disease that alters the way the brain functions, causing changes in behavior, thought, and emotion. The effects of addiction are not always permanent, but it takes time for the brain to heal and return to its normal state. Our thoughts and emotional reactions are mainly learned, so when an individual stops ingesting substances, the body physically adapts while the brain needs time for the person to learn new healthy thoughts and emotional responses to life.
It’s true that addiction has a personal responsibility component, but once the person’s substance use has chemically altered their brain, professional care and treatment are needed for long-term recovery. This process is not unlike that of any other chronic medical disease. Most diseases require personal responsibility and professional treatment for sustained recovery.
Addiction Treatment & Prevention
There are many different types of addiction treatment programs available, including outpatient, residential, and intensive outpatient. Some programs offer both short-term and long-term options. Since we know that addiction is a medical disease, treatment needs to address the holistic person, including their physical needs along with the psychological issues, adapting to healthy thoughts and emotions, along with the social aspect of utilizing new learned social skills.
Like other chronic diseases, addiction to alcohol or other drugs can be managed successfully so that you can live a full and rewarding life. Most people who go to treatment programs not only stop using alcohol or other drugs but also improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning. Having a chronic disease means you will never get rid of the disease, but you don’t have to suffer daily from the disease.
Millions of people around the world are proof that recovery is stronger than addiction. I have been a counselor and administrator involved in addiction treatment since 1994. Decades of knowing people who have recovered to live healthy lives are proof that treatment is effective.
If a person is unwilling to seek treatment, be patient and continue to encourage them. One’s motivation to enter treatment does not have to be the motivation that keeps them in treatment or recovery. In other words, why they start treatment does not have to be “perfect”, they simply need to start the process.
It is important to understand that addiction is a chronic disease that is treatable. With proper holistic treatment, people can and do recover, living fulfilling lives. Understanding addiction and recovery lead to inner peace, which is an important goal for many of us.
How to CARE and COPE at the same time?
Mental peace is something that everyone wants. Unfortunately, it seems that we don’t always get it. In times of crisis, we tend to become anxious or depressed. What can we do to achieve mental peace?
Optimism is what I strive for in life. However, I think I end somewhere in the middle between optimism and pessimism. This middle space I call “realism”. Overall, I’m basically fine with being a realist because it keeps me grounded. The problem with being a realist, though, is that there is little space left for making changes to the events in the universe as the realist deals only with the given reality; he can’t deal with any other reality.
Optimists see potential to change things for the better, while the realist simply sees what is.
As I write this my area of the world is concerned with the effects of the coronavirus, rising inflation, supply chain issues, and record-high gas prices. Of course, most of the world’s general attention is focused on Russia and Ukraine. How that conflict will ultimately affect the rest of the world is only an educated guess. Hence our lack of mental peace as we struggle through these times of crisis.
The more I hear and read the news, the stronger is my desire to escape from it all! But there’s nowhere to go! In a previous article, I wrote about how to work on a healthy news consumption strategy, that’s a start for obtaining mental peace. Wanting to escape from these times of crisis is the realist in me talking. My sense of realism has no regard for coping with or changing my current reality, only in fleeing from the crisis so as not to have to deal with it at all.
As I continue to feel the need to flee these times of crisis, the realist in me leans more toward the pessimist as I realize, deep inside of my thoughts, that there is no escape. There is nowhere for me to physically flee, and the more I feel trapped the more anxious and stressed I become. Amidst the barrage of news and opinions, my inner struggle spirals the more I hear of despair, economic worries, and violence in our world.
The optimist in me wants to join the inner thoughts and conversation with my inner-realist. (As I previously said, I do try my best to be an optimist.) But even if the realist allows such a dialogue, what might it sound like? In light of the tensions in the world, what can my inner-optimist say without sounding either naive or like a quote from a greeting card?
How can we be realistic AND optimistic?
The optimist views the world from the mindset that every challenge can be overcome, and believes mental peace and joy always prevail, even in times of crisis. Optimism motivates us to strive to overcome even if we can’t imagine a positive outcome. Deep within our thoughts we know, without a doubt, that without at least trying, a future full of hope will never be realized.
The joint inner dialog of the optimist with the realist must take into account the difficult realities we face while avoiding naive “answers.” What we need is hope fulfilled through practical, effective action.
My inner optimist, in its desire to make a change instead of fleeing, reminds me to turn to my spiritual life. And I suggest the same for you, the reader. It doesn’t matter the nature of your religion, or the lack thereof, but what does make a mental peace shift is the knowledge and belief of something/someone greater than myself. “Religion and belief are now seen by many researchers and clinicians as an important way to cope with trauma and distress thanks to research over the last three decades.” (Source: apa.org)
A Spiritual Viewpoint
That research identified positive and negative forms of religious coping as well as evidence that how people experience and express their faith has implications for their well-being and health. “People who made more use of positive religious coping methods had better outcomes than those who struggled with God, their faith, or other people about sacred matters” (apa.org Dr. Kenneth Pargament, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at Bowling Green State University)
In a compilation book of reflections written for the 9/11 attacks in the USA titled “Franciscan Voices on 9/11”, we find this quote which I use to this day:
“In despair, we give up on our relationship with God. Doubt, on the other hand, is a sign that our faith is alive and kicking; it is part of the rhythm of faith itself. Lament is not a failure of faith, but an act of faith. We cry out directly to God because deep down we know our relationship with God counts; it counts to us and it counts to God. Even if we do not experience the closeness, we believe God does care. Even if God seems not to hear, we believe God is always within shouting distance. In the Scriptures, God does not say, “Do not fear, I will take away all the pain and struggle.” Rather, we hear, “You have no need to fear since I am with you””
7 ways to help face times of crisis in the world as both an optimist AND a realist
1. Remember, you’re not alone.
The daunting task of coping with times of crisis is not ours to struggle with alone. Seek out others who feel the same as you and, instead of complaining or despairing, work together on practical local solutions to the crisis.
2. Know that you are not a victim.
A victim is a person who suffers as a result of events happening to them that they can’t control. You may say that according to that definition we are victims of what’s happening in the world. But, if we change our perspective on how we define “world”, not meaning the entire globe, rather, defining my world as consisting of my local community, we can create reasonable expectations. Creating reasonable expectations allows us to actually do something to affect change locally. For example, it is unreasonable to make our personal goal that of world peace. However, creating a peaceful home, work, or local community is a reasonable personal goal.
3. Empower yourself and others.
Educate yourself about the struggles we’re facing (from multiple sources and points of view) and solutions tried in the past. Learn what worked in the past and what didn’t work. Figure out why it didn’t work and what you can do differently now to make positive change more likely. Seek out and obtain the resources needed to carry out your goal.
Our ability to work with others to find a solution to shared problems removes the label of “victim,” replacing it with “survivor.” Although we need to educate ourselves about the issues, it’s also important to keep a balance, allowing for some news-free periods.
4. Reclaim your power.
Once we realize that we are not powerless, our desire to implement change brings about renewed strength and optimism. Recognize the power and strength that you individually have, and that we as a group have, and find creative ways of using your power for the common good.
Do not let the power itself take over. Even if we feel invincible, in reality, we won’t always make the proper decisions. Learning from our mistakes is a sign of strength, for the knowledge gained from the mistake will help you to avoid that, or similar mistakes, in the future.
5. Focus your effort and your energy.
As I previously mentioned, our power and abilities are limited, so wisely focus your time and energy on those tasks which can be completed, and not on tasks you know are impossible for you to complete. No one person, or one group, can do everything.
6. Show empathy for others.
As we learn about the issues affecting our world, we begin to realize that many of our problems originate with people not understanding each other. We tend to view the world from our own perspective and only validate our own history, failing to recognize that those with whom we may disagree also view their world from their perspective and history.
Finding solutions to problems presupposes that all parties agree on the nature of the problem. Empathy, placing ourselves in the shoes of another, provides us a deeper understanding of the concerns of others. By viewing the world through their perspective, we become better informed and thereby better prepared to find and carry out real solutions. Empathy does not mean agreeing with another’s opinion. It simply means you see their perspective as they view it.
7. Don’t forget self-care.
The realist in me recognizes that to accomplish all of this, I will end up draining and wearing myself out. But in the union of the realist with the optimist, I recognize the need for self-care. Take time for yourself; keep up bonds with your family and friends; find activities or hobbies which do not relate to the work at hand; spend time in meditation and quiet to focus yourself.
Obviously, I do not propose these steps as absolute solutions to the current times of crisis of the world. But I do offer them as guides to keep us grounded in reality and keep us hopeful and passionate enough to experience mental peace make a lasting difference.
Inner peace and contentment are possible, no matter what happens in the world around us. Of course, we can’t control everything that goes on, but we can control our own reactions and how we let the news affect us.
Now more than ever, you need to stay informed about what is happening in the world. The news never stops, so you might be exposed to it constantly, whether you are watching a 24-hour news channel, receiving notifications on your phone, or scrolling through Twitter.
When you click on a shocking headline, there is always something new and scary to increase your anxiety, ramp up your stress, and inflame your anger. The toll the constant barrage of news updates has on your mental health is significant.
It is essential to stay informed, but don’t let the news consume us. Instead, find ways to stay positive and focus on the good things in our lives. For example, strengthen our relationships with the people we care about, do things we enjoy, and be kind to others.
We can’t change the world, but we can make a difference in our own corner of it. When reading a news article, take time to recall the information you just read. Write a note about what you just learned and how it is relevant to your daily life.
Yes, it is possible to have inner peace and contentment
To have inner peace and contentment, developing a personal news consumption strategy is vital. Here are a few tips to help get started:
1. Determine what is important to you and focus on the news that matters most.
2. Limit the amount of news you consume each day.
3. Be selective about the sources you rely on.
4. Take some time to reflect on the news you’ve consumed.
5. Be mindful of how the news affects your mood and emotions.
6. Make time for yourself each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Developing a personal news consumption strategy can be challenging, but it’s worth it in the end.
Tips for developing a personal news consumption strategy
1. Decide what news sources you want to rely on and stick to them. This will help you develop a sense of trust in the information you’re getting and make it easier to verify the accuracy of stories.
2. Set aside time each day to read/watch the news. This will help you stay informed without feeling pulled in every direction and allow you to focus on individual stories.
3. Balance your news consumption with other activities. This will help you stay informed without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
4. Take breaks from the news. This will help you avoid getting stuck in a news cycle and allow you to come back to stories with a fresh viewpoint.
Figuring out your primary sources for news is the first step in creating a personal news consumption strategy. Once you know where to find the news you’re interested in, you can start to think about how much time you want to spend on it each day. It’s essential to be realistic about how much time you have and set boundaries.
You don’t have to consume the news in the same way everyone else does. Instead, you can develop your own strategy that works for you and helps you stay informed without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
The goal of developing a personal news consumption strategy is to identify the most important topics to you and find the most reliable sources of information for those topics. Remember that not all sources of information are created equal. Some sources are biased, while others are simply inaccurate. Therefore, it is vital to find sources that you can trust to make informed decisions about the issues that are important to you.
Constant news exposure can have adverse effects on our mental health – it’s crucial to find a balance between staying informed and healthy. Make sure to take breaks from the news, and don’t forget to take care of yourself!
There’s no denying that the holidays can be stressful, taking away our peace of mind. Whether it’s family gatherings, shopping for gifts, or planning parties, there are plenty of things to worry about. This article covers the ways that you can find peace of mind during this busy holiday season.
This is the time of the year when I reflect upon my own childhood memories; memories filled with awe and wonder as the child-me viewed the world as a magical place. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also one of increased holiday season stress due to all the activities we feel we need to attend and accomplish. Our wish to make this time of the year “perfect” increases our expectations, many of them unreasonable, causing us to stress and lose peace of mind in our planning efforts.
Childhood Idyllic Perfection
As a child, I fondly recall watching the animated Christmas specials and reading all the Christmas books I could find. Those stories not only have positive endings, but most of them also depict perfection. In these stories families gather and get along with each other, the house is majestically decorated, the dining room table is set to rival the fanciest of restaurants. My favorite American painter, Norman Rockwell, painted scenes of American life; some showing pain and suffering, others idyllic life scenes. Rockwell’s holiday paintings are among my favorite as they depict a fictional world I wish existed, although knowing that a perfect world will never exist.
This longing of mine for an idyllic perfection of the holiday season, unlike the desire and longing of many other people, is part of the cause of our holiday season stress and lack of peace of mind. This view of a perfect holiday season is formed when we tend to focus our attention on the memories of the past, coupled with fictional idealisms of the holiday, producing a desire to re-create what never was, nor most likely ever will be. The holidays, as we perceived them in childhood, cannot now be reproduced through our adult perceptions, nor can we expect to create an experience depicted in the controlled environments of scripts, actors, and a stage.
The issue many of us encounter during the holiday season is one of the unrealistic expectations which creates the holiday season stress that takes away our peace. Trying to re-create a “perfection” that actually never existed means that we will fall short in our attempts. Not achieving our expectations is self interpreted as failure.
Find Peace of Mind Living In The Moment
We have control over our feelings only as experienced in the current moment. We need not lose the experience of what is happening at the moment by living in either the past or the future. Experience the present moment for what it is. As I recall my childhood memories of the holidays, I try to keep them focused in light of my experience of the current moment.
Don’t let an expectation of perfection cloud the beauty and the feelings of the moment. Enjoy the recollection of your memories without doing anything. Instead, live the moment without expectation and you will find that the holiday season stress for perfection will fade.
Tips To Find Peace Of Mind
During this holiday season, here are the steps I encourage you to work on to keep yourself as stress-free as possible:
· Refocus your expectations: Take time to reflect on your expectations, considering what is realistic and what is not realistic. For example, we may want a house decorated as we’ve seen in advertisements, but, no matter how hard we try it never looks as it does in the pictures. If you reframe your expectation and perception, you would recognize that you haven’t failed, actually, you created something unique, something that reflects you, not an ad.
· Change your perception: Changing the way we perceive ourselves will change our perception of our world. Therefore, changing our view of this time of the year will change our expectations and so reduce our stress. For example, if you are hosting family, and the reality is that your uncle always makes a fool of himself at these family gatherings, keep your perspective focused on that reality, not on how you wish he would act. Plan for what you can in expectation of your uncle’s shenanigans, for when your uncle acts as he always acts, don’t let it stress you; he is only doing as expected of him to do (at least he’s consistent).
· Learn from your past: It’s important to spend time reflecting on our past, honoring the memories for what they are, and sharing them with current family and friends. Our past has shaped who we are today. Use the lessons of the past to create a present moment of peace of mind. The purpose of the past is not to be recreated in the present, but to be incorporated with the present. Take what was positive for you in the past and use that in the present. What wasn’t positive for you in the past, modify it now in the present for it to be positive. Our past was not perfect; don’t expect the present to be perfect either.
· Simplify your life: Easier said than done, I know. But if you think about it, our material goods, although useful, can be a source of our stress when our focus emphasizes “things”. Living simply means keeping a proper focus, or perspective, on what is truly important in our life. Keep your expectations and perceptions rooted in who you are, not on who you think you should be.
During this holiday season, take the time to enjoy the wonders, joy, and magic of the season. Keep your perspective and expectations reasonable to reduce your holiday stress. Most importantly, focus on what is truly important to you!
“If one were to devise an experimental set of circumstances which would test the integrity of an individual’s mood control, one would invent the year-end holiday season.” Jonathan Himmelhoch (Psychiatrist, Western Psychiatric Institute, and Clinic)
If you are feeling down during the holiday season, there’s no need to worry. There are ways to cope with the holiday blues without having to resort to unhealthy habits. In this article, I’ll give you some helpful tips on how to get through the holiday season and find peace of mind.
Stress Depression and the Holiday Season
The holiday season blues are real, and according to at least one study, about half of us experience the holiday season blues (the survey reached 786 adults, 18 years or older Fall of 2006). But some people can’t find peace of mind so suffer the holiday season blues because they entered the holiday season already feeling sad, depressed, anxious, etc. The seemingly joyous time of the year enhances their depression and anxiety. As a result, many people feel more sad, depressed, anxious during this time than at any other time of the year.
What causes these feelings? Is it something in our genes that makes us susceptible to the holiday season blues? Or is it something we do, like spending too much money on gifts for family and friends? Are there ways to avoid getting into the holiday season blues?
I don’t think there is any other time of the year, which evokes such strong emotions as does this time of the year. For some of us, we are excited, joyous, filled with wonder and anticipation! We visit family and friends, host parties and gatherings, spreading joy everywhere we go! But yet some of us feel quite the opposite this time of the year. I think of those who recently lost a loved one, are suffering from physical or mental health issues, are separated from loved ones, and even estranged from the family. There are those whose past experience of the holidays wasn’t pleasant, and those who feel trapped in life situations.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” While these song lyrics may be accurate for some, they’re not necessarily right for everyone. I’m not writing this to bring down the mood, but what I am saying is that we need to be mindful of people around us who may be suffering while we celebrate. Some of my current clients are dreading these next few weeks, while other clients are looking forward to a new beginning!
Embrace Peace of Mind to Combat Holiday Season Blues
Regardless of how we feel about the holiday season, this time of the year finds many of us feeling the burden for perfection, and so a lack of peace of mind. As joyous as we may be, the expectations for a “Rockwell Christmas” haunt even the best of us.
While we still have our day-to-day tasks to complete, we must also decorate, buy gifts, and attend social functions. These expectations, especially if we feel obligated, can cause stress and anxiety even in those who enjoy the holiday season. Now imagine the stress and anxiety felt by those who are merely trying to cope with life itself, let alone the added expectation of the season.
How To Help Others Find Peace Of Mind While Coping With The Holiday Season Blues
What can we do to help someone who is suffering from finding peace of mind during this holiday season?
· Create awareness within yourself and your children that not everyone feels joyous this time of the year. This awareness is not meant to place a burden on us but as a recognition of the reality of others.
· Create an environment where all people feel open to honestly sharing their feelings. While attending or planning parties and gatherings don’t encourage everyone to participate. Be respectful of those who are having a difficult time participating. Try to plan activities that would allow a person to participate in the degree to which they feel comfortable.
· Be mindful that your expectations of what makes up a holiday celebration may not be the expectations of others. Allow yourself the flexibility to be open to the traditions of others as well as to how others may be feeling. For example, if you are organizing the family dinner, take into account any family members who have had a challenging year. Allow them space or the time to speak, or not speak, if they wish. Be aware that their showing up may have been a difficult task in and of itself.
· If you know someone struggling with a mental illness, or otherwise emotionally struggling, be a supportive friend. Allow time in your holiday schedule to be present to them, even if words aren’t spoken. Never underestimate the positive effect and healing quality of presence. If possible and appropriate, encourage them to join you at small gatherings and surround them with people who have their best interests at heart. Isolation, especially during the holidays, is not healthy.
· Encourage them to do activities focused on taking care of themselves and their emotional health, regardless of the expectations placed upon them by themselves or others. Help them to understand that It doesn’t make you a selfish person when you prioritize yourself, it is actually essential toward your well-being.
· Take time from the busyness of this season to be an active listener to those who wish to share their feelings. Encouraging and allowing others to share how they feel may be the most helpful thing you can do for them. If they are reluctant to share, lovingly help them by letting them know that you will listen without judgment regardless of what they wish to talk about and share.
During this holiday season, as many of us join together with our families and friends, let’s be grateful and joyous in our traditions and fellowship. But let’s not forget those who are emotionally suffering during the holiday season. Being respectful, understanding, and lovingly present is the best holiday gift a person can receive.
Inner peace can be difficult to have when everything in life seems to be going wrong. If you find yourself in a situation where it feels like everything is going wrong, and you can’t find inner peace, don’t panic. That’s actually a challenge that all of us face once in a while. Instead, try to relax and remind yourself that even if things seem like they are out of your control, maybe it’s because this is the path we were meant to take.
How can you find happiness when it seems like everything is going wrong?
For those who’ve been through devasting life events, life often takes a sudden turn for the absolute worst. It’s hard to remember a time when you were happy and optimistic when all you can think about is the horrors that you were forced to witness firsthand. Shock and confusion are the first reactions that we experience after a devastating event. There is only one question that goes through your head now, and that is why me?
When you have anxiety, it can feel like the whole world is against you. But it’s really not the entire world, but one aspect of your life that’s causing the problem. This is a significant perspective shift to make since it narrows the issue to a manageable size.
A traumatic event can have a negative impact on your life. However, how you interpret it and how you react to that event will determine how you feel. You have the power to make this worse or better. The way you talk to yourself and interpret the events in your life determines how much emotional pain you will experience. You can choose to see life events as problems or as a way to grow and learn from them.
When I hear about devasting events, how do I maintain inner peace?
In the news, we rarely hear of happy stories, those stories where people do good works or are helping others. Instead, we hear of the divisions in society, wars around the globe, riots, and murders. How can we maintain our inner peace when so much wrong is happening around us which we can’t control?
One way is to relinquish unnecessary control, whether it’s over yourself or other people. In preserving your inner peace, you have to accept what comes, especially when it’s from sources you can’t predict or control. Focus your perspective on those things you do have control over, such as your feelings and actions. Do what you can do, what you can’t do, or what is out of your control; you need to let it go. Holding on to what I can’t control will only produce anxiety because I can’t change it.
Focus on the positives in life
When things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognize what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good stuff and only focus on the wrong things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something minimal.
You get what you look for. In other words, if your perspective is focused on the negatives in life, then all you will experience are the negatives. Yet, focusing our perspective on the positives, even the smallest of positives, will help you to see more positives around you.
Here are perspective shifts you can do …
1. This Too Shall Pass
2. Some Things are Going Right
3. I Have Some Control
4. I Can Ask for Help
5. I Have Overcome Past Difficulties
Here are positive thoughts you can work on …
1. Be Thankful You Woke up This Morning
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
3. Don’t Judge Others
4. Take Control of Your Mornings
5. Focus on the Good Things in Your Life No Matter How Small
6. Look at the Funny Side
Inner peace will stay with you so long as you remain focused on thoughts and behaviors which enable inner peace.