Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dreading the Holidays?

We all have them:  Those awful memories of family get-togethers gone bad.  We mean well.  We plan for a holiday to share with loved ones and this time it will be different...but then.. we revert to our old habits.  Arguments ensue, feelings are hurt and soon, we begin to dread getting together again.

What do you do? Often, our expectations for what we want to happen does not match with reality.  We have our own versions of what happened which often differ from someone else's perspective.  We have our own biases and preferences and when others do not do as we expect or want, then what?

We even imagine those perfect holiday scenes and find ours never measure up.  A quote I read that emphasized how we blame others or ourselves for this perceived failure is "It's not you and it's not only you."  Everyone contributes in their own way to the enjoyment or problems that can arise. Trying to understand the other person's perspective promotes greater understanding and harmony.

There are certain conversations that my family tries to avoid because all of us know it will end badly.  We have that "silent agreement" among us to save those conversations with like-minded family members or friends because agreeing to disagree seems to work best.  We know we will not be able to persuade someone to our point of view, making someone right and the other wrong, or someone gets to win and the other's expense.

Something I have noticed at every one of my family gatherings is how we revert to roles we played when we were growing up.  Even though we are all adults with adult children, those old familiar roles are dormant until we get together.  It is during those times, when we do not relate as the adults we are that the problems begin.  And, adding alcohol to the mix increases the tension, as it is like pouring gas on the "taking things personally" fire.

The holidays can be reminders of better times in our lives as well.  Sometimes, that becomes an emotionally polarized situation. Although we remember happy times with loved ones who have passed away, we are also sad to be without them during a time that emphasizes family.  It can be somewhat awkward and difficult to attend a holiday gathering that include spouses or significant others when you are alone.

Everyone copes with holiday gatherings in their own way.  Try to remain open and accepting of situations that arise while you keep in mind the reason you are gathering.  You can find something about the occasion to enjoy and appreciate - other than the cookies!

Kathy Thome is passionate about using the therapeutic relationship to help you achieve your personal goals.  She is proficient in multiple approaches and will work with you to find that which is best suited to your needs. 
Kathy is skilled in working with many issues.  She has extensive experience helping individuals with depression, anxiety, grief, and the development of interpersonal skills that foster growth and esteem. 
Prior to her counseling career, Kathy was a high school teacher and a school counselor, which gives her a unique perspective and insight related to adolescents as well as parenting.  She worked with suicide prevention groups and also founded the first LGBTQ group (Gay Straight Alliance) at her high school.
Kathy is a state certified Licensed Professional Counselor, earning her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Western Illinois University.
In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, including those with four legs.

December Wellness Wednesday

(Forgive my lateness in posting.)  

Physical Wellness: What it is (and what it isn’t)

Wellness can be a tricky concept to nail down. By definition, it means, “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” Beyond that, the generally accepted meaning includes more than an absence of illness-- it’s also about actively working towards your best self. There are many different aspects of wellness. They include physical, emotional, environmental, financial, spiritual, occupational, and social/cultural wellness. This month, we will focus on the most often emphasized aspect of wellness-- physical wellness.

Physical wellness is exactly what it sounds like-- taking care of your body! This includes things like physical activity; a healthy diet; drinking water or decaffeinated tea; getting enough quality sleep; avoiding drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; and scheduling annual check-ups and screenings. Doing these things has been proven to help you feel happier, healthier, and more energetic.

Research has shown several benefits to engaging in physical wellness practices. Physical wellness can improve your emotional stability and mood, reduce stress, and decrease your risk for anxiety, depression, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer. Exercise and healthy eating can also help with your body image, self-esteem, confidence, memory, and concentration. People who engage in physically healthy practices also tend to experience deeper, less restless sleep.

Personally, I have struggled for years with my physical wellness. I tend to go through phases of being very active and eating healthy, then losing my motivation and falling back into bad habits. As a busy person on a budget, it can definitely be a challenge to find cost-effective ways to be physically healthy while still getting everywhere on time! There are five small things I have started doing on a daily basis that are free or low cost and have already helped me feel better.
     Drinking decaffeinated tea: I get bored with plain water, and end up not drinking enough of it. Did you know you are supposed to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day? That means if you weigh 180 pounds, you should be drinking 60 ounces of water or EVERY DAY. Tea is a way to change up the flavor without any of the added calories or sugar of other alternatives.
     Sleeping when tired: This one seems obvious, but I tend to stay up later for no real reason other than, “it’s too early for bed.” But sometimes my body needs the extra sleep! Also, 15 minute power naps are lifesavers.
     Park and walk: While this one requires a little bit of advance planning to account for the extra time, it has really helped me combat my sedentary job. Parking a little farther away, whether it be a few blocks or just the far side of the parking lot, helps me get my blood pumping and get energized for the day. I also like to take some of my break time to take a lap around the building, or get a few minutes of sunshine in the summer.
     Meal prep: If you’re like me, you’re lucky if you make it to the grocery store once a week. One of my biggest downfalls with healthy eating is packing healthy lunches. I’m always running late in the morning, so I usually tend to throw a frozen meal in my lunchbox or order delivery food at work. Lately, I have been trying to switch to eating salads and homemade lean meats for lunch, but I never have time to put them together before work. Instead, I have been making time on Sunday nights to cook and portion all 5 lunches for the week. I’ve found that it doesn’t take that much longer to slice veggies or cook meat for 5 meals than it does for one, and then I only have to do it once per week! This way, I have no excuse not to grab the healthy option instead of the frozen meal.
     Calendar alerts for appointments: I’m the first to admit it, I’m a procrastinator. I can also be forgetful, especially when it comes to scheduling appointments. Usually, my “yearly” checkups are more like every 15 months or so because I am not proactive about scheduling my appointments in advance. I recently discovered that rather than putting alerts in my phone for when my appointments are supposed to be, it works much better for me to put them in when I need to schedule them. For example, my dentist is booked out about 3 months, so I put an alert in my phone for three months before I need to go in reminding me to schedule my next appointment.
What are your tips and tricks for maintaining your physical health? Do you struggle with other things not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Nicki Phillips is a counseling intern at Esprit and a graduate student at UW Oshkosh working towards a degree in clinical mental health counseling. She brings a fresh perspective to her work along with a vibrant personality. She believes everyone is inherently worthy of respect and compassion, and strives to create those qualities in her relationships with clients. She sees clients who are uninsured, underinsured, have a high deductible, or prefer to pay out-of-pocket for a reduced cost. She particularly enjoys working with adolescents and young adults, and has also worked with children (ages 5 and up) and adults. She has immediate openings for new clients! Please schedule online at She can also be reached via email at or by phone at (920) 383-1287.