Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dealing with Difficult People at Family Holiday Gatherings

By Terry Barnett-Martin, LMFT

The table is set with your holiday dishes and best silver, and the smell of the cooking turkey is wafting throughout the house. Fresh pine garland is draped just so over the hutch and bookcases, the Christmas tree is dripping with twinkling lights and memento ornaments, while packages are strewn under the tree waiting to be opened. You look around one more time checking to make sure everything is set, and then the doorbell rings. The first of many family members has arrived. Within minutes the house is bubbling with conversations mixed with familiar holiday music. You’re crossing your fingers that all stays well. “So far, so good. “ you whisper to yourself.  You spoke too soon…

 “Nice decorations, where’d you get them? You know, you should have checked with me first. I know where to get the best ones. Oh, and I wouldn’t have draped the garland like that, I would have done it this way,” says Bossy McBoss as she moves the garland you took the time to get just right. As she rearranges it, a few specially placed decorations fall to the ground with a crash. She continues, “ I wouldn’t have put those there either, see what can happen?” Your mouth is open and nothing is coming out.

Across the room you hear Bigsy B. Little clear his throat as he warms up his on-stage voice while approaching your sister, Hope. “Incoming!” you whisper to yourself, wishing Hope could hear you and duck for cover. Too late! Bigsy B. Little is on the hunt. “Well, it looks like your New Years resolution didn’t quite stick. Twenty five pounds, hmm, looks like you found them rather than lost them.”  She turns beet red and is completely frozen. You rush over to feign the need for help in the kitchen and take her by the hand to lead her away.

Later as everyone is seated for dinner, Bigsy says, loud enough for all to hear, “I pray the turkey isn’t dry as a bone like it was last year.” Everyone silently turns to look at you as if watching a Ping-Pong match, and it is your turn.

Family holiday gatherings can be difficult

 The holidays, for all of their hopeful preparation and sparkle, can come apart at the seams very quickly when difficult people do what they do. We all know some variations of people like these, who can strike fear and dread into the holiday experience, but you can change that. You can have your holiday cookie and eat it too when you follow these 5 tips.

1.)  Don’t expect others to change. Our greatest power lies in creating change within ourselves. Though you could delve into the whys about difficult people, and the insight might prove interesting, the fact is, they are who they are and you cannot change them. In fact, it’s a good idea to take a personal inventory to make sure you aren’t someone else’s difficult person. If in all honesty you suspect you are, make a few minor adjustments and promise yourself you will give your best this year.

2.)  Be aware and prepare. It is crucial, when facing difficult people, to be compassionately aware of your own vulnerabilities. Knowing and owning them gives you the opportunity to decide how you want to address or deflect intentional insults. Difficult people often home in on a person’s vulnerability and go in for the kill instinctively. That’s how Bigsy B. Little managed to destroy Hope with his well-placed insult. His aim was to make her feel small so he could feel big.  If Hope had already compassionately owned that she had fallen short of her goal, she would have been comfortable in her own skin, and able to respond without feeling stung. Self-awareness and self-acceptance are the two strongest weapons against bullies like Bigsy B. Little.

3.)  Use the power of your imagination. In the best relationships and especially in the most difficult, boundaries are the key to a sense of personal well-being. But how do you create good boundaries? One highly effective exercise, called Tending Fences, uses the brilliance of your creative mind to find solutions to these difficult relationships.

For instance, let’s take the situation with Bossy McBoss…
Imagine you own a large piece of land that adjoins the property of Bossy McBoss along its border. The current fence that marks the boundary is small and broken, and Bossy often jumps the fence to snoop around on your land, leaving a mess. Because everything is possible in your imagination, you design a new fence 30 feet tall and 5 feet thick with features that allow her good qualities to come through, while a Teflon finish ensures that her bossy negativity doesn’t stick. This clear message, mostly to yourself, ensures that nothing she says or does can get to you. Use this Tending Fences exercise for each difficult person and write or draw a description of your custom built fences for future reference.

4.) Review and Resolve. For the week leading up to your holiday gathering, take a few minutes each day to review your Tending Fences work, tweaking each fence as you see fit. Know that when the offending person delivers an insult, the fence will do the work for you, keeping you safe and intact.

5.)  Trust yourself. Once you’ve done your Tending Fences work, trust yourself. It will give you a sense of well-being and confidence that will not only be a gift to yourself, but to your family and friends as well.
With these 5 tips you can relax and know that you have everything you need to survive the family holiday gathering and truly enjoy yourself.  You’ve got this!  Happy Holidays!

Terry Barnett-Martin, M.S., LMFT is a relationship counselor in private practice in Southern California. She is an openhearted, intuitive practitioner and writer who is dedicated to helping people find the purpose and path in their life and relationships.

Tending Fences: Building Safe and Healthy Relationship Boundaries; The Parables of Avery Soul can be purchased from www.amazon.com and through major booksellers
The author is available for speaking engagements.

Monday, October 27, 2014

7 Tips to Prevent Stress and Maintain Your Waistline this Holiday Season

Justine SanFilippo
by Justine SanFilippo, MS, CHC

The holidays can be stressful… but they shouldn’t be!  Dealing with crazy traffic, last-minute gift shopping with it seems like millions of people, juggling holiday parties, traveling, dealing with long lines at the airport, seeing family members we haven’t seen in forever…. The list goes on and on.

There are a few reasons why we should avoid stress or greatly reduce it.  Not only is it not good for our health, but it’s not good for our waistline.

When a person feels “stressed,” the fight-or-flight response kicks in.  This response came from when we had to hunt and gather our food.  So, if we were running from a tiger, we would survive.  This means that the body releases adrenaline and cortisol.  If a person is constantly stressed, then there is constantly extra cortisol, which can lead to belly fat.

Stress can also cause headaches, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.  It can lead to respiratory issues like asthma, cardiovascular issues like elevated cholesterol and the narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.  Stress can cause reproductive issues, digestive issues, and can lower the immune system.

Since the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family and celebration, let’s leave the stress behind, shall we?  Here are some tips to reduce stress and enjoy the holidays more this season:

1)     Plan Ahead – Nobody likes doing things last-minute, which causes unnecessary stress.  Start planning now so you don’t have to do so much later.

2)     Ask for help – Delegating is a great stress-reducer.  Ask your friends or family members to help you with some tasks.  You don’t have to be Super-Mom or Super Dad, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how eager they are to help.

3)     Shop During the Week – Most people will shop on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so aim to get your shopping done during the week.

4)     Exercise – We all know that exercise can help reduce stress, but if you’re in a tense situation or a family member is driving you crazy, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind.  Be sure to get in your daily exercise, especially if you’ll be in a normally stressful situation later.  Those endorphins will help!

5)     Stick to a Budget – The holidays are no reason to break the bank.  Stick to a budget or even plan a “Secret Santa” in which everyone draws a name and just gets one gift.  The holidays aren’t about who gets what – it’s about being grateful and spending quality time with the people you care most about.

6)     Learn to Say No – It’s okay if you can’t attend every function or party you are invited to.  If they are truly your friends, they will understand.  Putting yourself and your needs first will reduce stress.

7)     Remember the Reason for the Season - The purpose of the holiday season is to have fun, relax, and spend time with family and friends – not stress out.

Justine SanFilippo is a certified health coach, nutritionist, and author of the book Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind!  To purchase the book and for more free resources to lose your inches, check out her website at www.happyhealthypeople.com

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cell phones and cancer

You get as much radiation from a cell phone as if you were carrying a microwave oven around with you, says Suzanne Somers.  She is promoting a product called LifeWave Matrix 2 on her website suzannesomers.com which sits in your cell phone case and is supposed to eliminate 98% of the harmful radiation.

The World Health Organization reports that cell phones cause certain kinds of brain cancer and a physician researcher saw increased breast cancer among teenage girls who carry their cell phones in their bra. Cell phone radiation goes three times further into the brain of children than it does adults, says Somers.

Women who carry their cell phones in purses have less exposure than men who wear them on their belts or put them in a pocket. Hand free use and speaker phones may be annoying but reduce exposure to dangerous radiation.

The National Cancer Institute reports that cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held. The amount of radiofrequency energy a cell phone user is exposed to, writes the Cancer Institute, depends on the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone’s antenna and the user, the extent and type of use, and the user’s distance from cell phone towers.

More research is needed, writes the Cancer Institute, to show a link to cancer. "Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck."

Livewave Matrix 2 was tested by SGS Labs.