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Showing posts from November, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...Or Not!

By: Laura Hull, LMFT

This time of year is filled with lights, laughter, and loads of activities. From the week of Thanksgiving through the end of New Year’s celebrations, this is the most active/busy time of the year for many people. Though many regard this as a time of happy celebration, there is no doubt it is also a demanding time of the year. Between decorating, holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, food preparations, family visits, etc., it can be stressful to navigate the expectations that come along with the holidays. Sometimes the stress is enjoyable. For some people, the stress is more anxiety-provoking than pleasurable.


There is certainly an added social pressure to “enjoy” the holidays. After all, why would anyone be anxious or depressed when everyone else is partying and enjoying the festivities of the season, right? We are “supposed” to be happy during the holidays. But what if we aren’t? Depression and anxiety during this season can be an intensified problem for individua…

Finding Peace of Mind During the Holidays

By: Brian M. Murray, MS
Psalm 122:8 (NIV)
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.”
It is that time of year. The time when family and friends visit, sometimes planned and sometimes they just show up, and sometimes they just show up for a week or more. Surprise! Shopping for presents resembles a scene like a crowd of people trying to board a subway during rush hour. Then there is the constant competition of people jockeying for position at the checkout lines Holiday traffic on the road begins to challenge time management running late for appointments and parties. There are events to attend at church, work, neighbors, friend get-togethers, and then there is the “surprise” family still parked in the living room wondering what is taking so long.
The children want special gifts which is something that about another half a million other kids want requiring hours of waiting in line at the malls. Then there is the parking, more jockeying for position, tempers fl…

The Most Stressful Songs of Christmas

By Chris Hammond
Do you remember the old nursery lyric “Rock-a-bye Baby” that tells a story about a baby in a cradle in a tree that falls crashing down to the ground when the wind blows?It’s not the most calming of lyrics nor is it a concept that is “baby appropriate”.Yet the tune is sweet so we blindly sing the song.But this is Christmas time and it is likewise full of similar songs that are more stress producing than peaceful.Here are just a few samples:
1.“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.”Perhaps your Christmas memories are different but I have yet to experience a Christmas when any “children listen” to bells or even adults for that matter.Having an expectation that a child will be patiently listening for a bell in the snow is frankly silly and unrealistic.
2.“Deck the halls with bounds of holly…tis the season to be jolly…strike the harp and join the chorus…follow me in…

The Entertainment Trap Part 2: Refreshment and Getting Your Gusto Back

By Matt W Sandford, LMHC

In part 1, I discussed the profound impact that entertainment has on our culture today and offered my view on why it has developed such a strong hold over so many of us. I then proposed that there is a line between entertainment being a healthy and energizing resource or becoming an unhealthy and potentially addictive source of avoidance, emotional and relational numbing and spiritual deadness.

So, how do you make your entertainment work for you, bringing refreshment and energy?
1.The first step is honesty. Evaluate the types of entertainment you gravitate to and their influence on you. Ask yourself why you like the entertainment you do. Does it make you feel connected when in reality you are more disconnected? Does it make you feel important or smart or special? Does it make you forget your troubles? We choose the things we do for a reason, and usually that reason goes deeper than simply, “it’s fun”. The point isn’t to redefine them in terms of good or bad but…

Defusing an Anger Time-Bomb

By: Brian M Murray, MS

Anger is a natural emotion that all people experience at one time or another. How people handle anger is what can make the difference between a constructive outcome or destruction. Often getting in the way of handling anger are cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are the result of automatic thoughts that occur when we experience events in life. These distortions can and often create a false reality. A false reality can be construed in different ways such as feeling the need to always be right about topics of discussion or life events. This can lead to magical thinking of how things are supposed or should be leading to maladaptive beliefs.
In many situations when maladaptive beliefs are challenged it can stir up angry feelings of which one of the biggest culprits is feeling disrespected. A good question to challenge a maladaptive belief about what a person might be thinking or feeling in a situation is to get to the bottom of “what is it that I believe…

Word To Learn By

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 By John C Maxwell



In my years of studying leadership and evaluating leaders, I have stumbled across a leadership shortcoming that continually amazes me. Leaders will manage a team, work with the same individuals every day, yet they hardly know anything about their people! These leaders have never prioritized acquainting themselves with the dreams, thoughts, hopes, opinions and values of those they lead.

The best leaders are readers of people. They have the intuitive ability to understand others by discerning how they feel and recognizing what they sense.

I have found that leaders overestimate the amount of time and effort needed to get to know someone. In fact, in only one hour with you in private conversation, I could, probably by asking three questions, find the passion of your life:

What do you dream about?

A person’s dreams are powerful revealers of passion. When a person starts to talk about their dreams, it’s as if something bubbles up from within. Their eyes brighten,…

How to Stay Married to an Attorney

By Chris Hammond
Just in case you missed this key fact while being married to an attorney here it is: law school changes the way you think.This is intentional on the school’s part and is done to properly prepare an attorney for the line of work they are entering.Everyday a law student reads, studies, and analyzes case after case in preparation for their next class.The professor then selects a random student and verbally quizzes them about one of the cases until they fail.The questions at first are open-ended, meaning that multiple answers can be correct, and then rapidly become close-ended, meaning that there is a right or wrong answer.This is called the Socratic Method of teaching which has been very effective for centuries.
More than likely you have already had an “ah-ha” moment just reading that description as it is likely to resemble your last disagreement.It probably started innocently enough with an open-ended question from your attorney spouse.You answered the question but then f…

Spending Money Under the Influence of Marriage

By Brian Murray and Christine Hammond
Saturday morning drinking coffee and eating breakfast together.
Her.[Ok so I need to go get a new pair of shoes today but if I tell him what I’m up to he will start in on me about spending too much money again.But I need these shoes so I think I’ll find out when he is leaving and then I’ll escape and buy them before he gets back.He’ll never know the difference cause he can’t even tell when I get a new haircut.]“So honey, what are you doing today?Do you have any plans?”
Him.[Here she goes with that leading question again; she’s going to force me to go for the bait. I wonder what she wants now.]“I’m not sure, what’s on your mind?”
Her.[Darn, I was hoping for an easy out.Why can’t he just go play golf with his buddies like all the other husbands?Now what am I going to say that will get me out of the house without him suspecting anything is up?Could he put more cream cheese on that bagel?You can’t even tell there is a bagel underneath it, it looks like th…

Anxiety & Sleep Loss

The Connection between Emotional Stress & Exhaustion By: Dwight Bain
Sleep deprivation is common in North America and one of the top reasons is from internalized Anxiety. Everyone feels pressure, even small children and when they pressure turns into stress, worry or anxiety it can have devastating effects on our health.
Some people believe they can get away with less sleep yet lack of it can actually make us less productive, even when you feel as though you are getting more done by sleeping less.Sleep deprivation can actually do much more than hurt your productivity. According to a recent report by MSNBC*, When we deprive ourselves of sleep, this can affect both our mental health and our physical health.These are a few possible effects of poor sleep hygiene:
Fatigue, irritability, careless mistake, difficulty concentrating, and slower reaction times which add up to increased stress levels.
One of the biggest concern is the affect lack of sleep has on relationships, perfo…

Are You in a Supportive Relationship?

By: Brian M Murray, MS

One of the hallmarks of a great marriage or relationship is being involved with a person who values the other person’s feelings in a respectful and caring way. Validation in a relationship is kind of like a relationship health check. It is the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings that are accepted by the other person. Healthy relationships do not criticize or belittle the other person for expressing their feelings. Whether intentional or not, being critical or belittling the other person can send signals that what is being expressed implies the other is wrong, or somehow it makes them a bad person. Invalidation is negative behavior that can and often turns the overall mood of the relationship sour. The initial gut response to the negativity is often anger and resentment. The anger and resentment are the result of feeling the pain of the invalidating comment.
Emotional support is very important as it validates each other’s feelings by communicating the imp…

Socially Connected & Feeling Lonely

By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

“It sometimes takes a state of solitude to bring to mind the real power of companionship.”
― Stephen Richards…

A woman is married for 18 years has 3 children, active at her church and involved with a women’s small group two times a month. She goes home, sits in front of the computer and logs onto a social network. Looking around she notices all of the things that other people are doing in their lives and starts to think about her own. Everyone looks happy, enjoying time with their families and friends and yet, deep down inside of her she knows the truth about her loneliness. Even though she is socially involved with others she has a lost empty feeling inside like something is missing. She realizes one day that in spite of all of her efforts to stay busy she realizes that she is really a very lonely person.
This story is too often a common scenario. So how can a person be socially plugged in and still feel lonely? Feeling lonely is not about how many frien…