It’s That Time of Year Again…

The holiday season is upon us.  For some that’s a reason for celebration:

For others, this season of the year elicits a reaction more like this:

Or if you’re like me, the impending holidays have you doing this:

Whatever your reaction, the last quarter of the year likely brings up some “stuff” for you:

  • Happy memories
  • Regrets
  • Sadness over things, people and relationships you’ve lost
  • Frustration over things you cannot have
  • Gratitude for the people, things and relationships you do have
  • Sense of anxiety over the crowds, noise and busy-ness that can accompany this time of year
  • Feelings of loneliness over the lack of busy-ness this time of year
  • You get the idea

It can be helpful to talk about these things with a psychologist. Friends and family are great, but sometimes we need an impartial ear to listen. To make an appointment, call 303-828-3080 or email: stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com

 

Re-Imagining Valentine’s Day

Is it a happy Valentine’s Day for you?

For some this is a day to look forward to: Chocolate, romance, roses, hearts – what’s not to love?

For others, this is a day to feel especially lonely.

Instead of a day filled with romance and lovey-dovey love, I like to think of it as a time to recognize all the different kinds of love around us:

  • Love for our parents
  • Love for our pets
  • Love for our children
  • Love for our friends
  • Love for our hometown
  • Love for the Olympians I am so enjoying watching right now
  • Love for books
  • Love for conversation hearts
  • Love for pasta
  • Love for the mountains outside my back door

You get the idea

What are the things in your life that you love?

How Are Your New Years Resolutions Coming?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been almost a month…do you remember what your New Years resolutions were?

Have you made huge changes in your life? Little changes? No changes at all?

If you haven’t thought about your resolutions since January 3rd, don’t worry – you’re not alone. That’s why I thought I would check in to see how things are coming along.

I tried something a little different this year: Instead of a list of goals/resolutions/changes I wanted to make for 2018, I thought of a word I wanted to focus on. Sort of like a theme word for the year. This felt a little more do-able and interesting than what I’ve done in the past. Stuff like:

  • Save more
  • Meditate more
  • Eat more vegetables

Those sorts of goals just get boring after a while. Instead I have picked a theme for the year – a word I can hopefully reflect on through the year. I’m hoping it provides some inspiration and guidance as the months tick quickly by. Sound interesting? It’s not too late to pick a theme word of your own! Here are some ideas:

  • Quiet
  • Present (as in engaged and aware – not people need to give me more gifts (though that might be a good one too 😉 )
  • Genuine
  • Flourish
  • Joy
  • Particular

You get the idea. Happy New Year!

 

Practicing Kindness and Generosity

Most parents say they would like their children to be kind, thoughtful, generous adults. But it can be hard to know how to teach and model these traits. I was recently challenged to perform a “random act of kindness” with my family by Produce for Kids. They provided me with this list of 100 ideas to get our creative juices flowing.

After some compromise (another ability many of us parents prize!), my 3 kids and I decided to make “homeless bags.” There are about a million ideas online for how to put together these little care packages for people experiencing homelessness. And it’s actually something my kids had done a few times before with other organizations. But they had always wanted to host their own bag making event.

So we decided to go for it. On Thanksgiving. When we were hosting dinner for 20.

Ummmmm…

How did I get talked into that?

Anyway. What we did was text our Thanksgiving guests and asked them to bring something to contribute to the bags. We ended up assigning people various items like toothpaste, combs, water, snacks – so that we didn’t have duplicates. We provided gallon-size zip top bags, a whole bunch of travel-sized lotion, lip balm, and sunscreen.

We set everything up assembly-line style:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We gave everyone instructions to fill the bags with the various foods, toiletries and socks. And then I went to baste the turkey. When I came back, this was happening:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last bag had been completed and was being zipped up! I missed the whole thing!

The good news is: this activity is easy, fast and suitable for people of all ages (we had folks from 1 to 71 participating!). The bad news is: if you blink, you’ll miss the whole darn thing!

At the end of the day, it was a fun activity that will allow us to provide just a bit of comfort to those experiencing homeless in our community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody got to take home a couple of bags (along with a few slices of pie!).

Want to try your own act of kindness? Here’s an easy one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Log into Facebook and check out what Produce for Kids and Feeding America are doing to help recent disaster relief efforts!

And once you do that, take a break this holiday season and spend some time with your family – maybe snacking on these little cuties?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the full recipe for these yummy Snowman Fruit Kebobs at Produce for Kids.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Thanksgiving and Tips for Surviving!

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Turkey and all the trimmings can be great fun, but this season comes with its share of stressors for many of us. Whether it’s dealing with family members we’d rather not, coping with memories of better times, or something else – Thanksgiving doesn’t always look like Pinterest tells us it should.

So here are just a few quick-and-dirty tips for making it through to Monday.

Keep up with your normal routine. As much as you can, try to keep up with your normal routine this week. Whether that means taking a walk each morning, saying a prayer each evening or watching Ellen every afternoon – keep it up! These are the routines and behaviors that keep your stress at bay all year long – don’t abandon them now!

Take a break from social media. Nothing can ruin the holiday more than comparing yours to everyone else’s on your Facebook feed. You might be having a perfectly good Thanksgiving, but there’s always going to be someone who seems to be having more fun, in a prettier home, with better behaved children in a more stylish outfit. Best to not even go there.

Go outside. This one might seem a little weird, but I am a firm believer in getting outside and DOING something – particularly when things inside are going south. Uncle Jim driving you crazy? Take a walk. Grandma Penelope drinking too much? Grab the cousins and throw a football. You get the idea. A little fresh air and activity is a effective, healthy stress management strategy – and its fun, too.

New Year…New You?

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Happy 2017!

I’m not a huge fan of New Years resolutions. But I do think that the start of the year can be a good time to reflect on where we’ve been – and where we’d like to go. We all know that losing weight and being more careful with money are top goals for many. But I think other, more introspective goals are more interesting, impactful and do-able.

Taking note of things like:

  • How you spend your time – and who you spend it with
  • The words you use when talking about yourself and others
  • The way you interact with technology and social media
  • The roles, obligations and jobs you have – and whether they are still a good fit

Considering these and other aspects of life takes a little time and energy – but I think it’s worth it!

I wrote an article over at Produce for Kids about how to make changes that last.  My favorite tip from the article?

Make personally-meaningful goals. We can’t all care about everything. It’s not realistic to expect ourselves to be: never-cheater eaters, marathon runners, ultra-savers, perfect parents, top-notch employees, garden club honorees, award-winning volunteers, Pinterest stars…you get the picture. Instead of trying to be everything everyone else tells you that you should be, focus on being what you want to be. Not only will your goals be more meaningful, you will be more likely to meet them.

Here’s the whole article:

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Managing Holiday Stress

We’re in the home stretch! The kids are out of school and the holidays are almost here. While this is an exciting, magical time for some; for others it can be quite stressful.  I recently had a chance to talk to my dear friend (who also happens to be a psychologist), Dr. Debbie Sorensen, about how to handle the busy-ness and  expense of the holidays.

Check it out:

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And I love the little cheat-sheet Dr. Sorensen made for the podcast episode:

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Interested in listening to more podcasts? Check it out here:

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Families, Politics and the Holidays

Did you make it through Thanksgiving? How are you feeling about Christmas? It’s fast approaching, and guess what?

Your family is still your family, and your politics are still your politics. 

I recently spoke to the fun folks over at BuzzFeed about how to deal with tough conversations with family over the holiday season.  As always, BuzzFeed’s take on the topic is funny – but also filled with really useful tips. Here’s a favorite:

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As the booze flows, so do the inappropriate and inflammatory comments and questions.  Resist the urge to engage in a drunken argument – nothing good ever comes from it.

Check out the entire article – and all 15 tips – here:

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Families and the Ties That Bind (Hint: None of them are political)

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There is a lot of tension in the country right now.  And we knew it was going to be this way, right? No matter the outcome of the election, there were always going to be many, many millions of folks who’d supported the losing side.  And after a full of year of debate, nastiness and name-calling in the political arena, more rancor post-November 8th was exactly what NONE of us needed.

And now here come the holidays.  A time that’s supposed to be shiny, bright and Pinterest-worthy – but is actually often stressful, disappointing and overwhelming.

I’ve been talking to quite a few folks in the media this week about tips for how to manage holiday gatherings with family members who are on different sides of the political debate.  A few things have come to my mind in these conversations, not the least of which is:

We don’t love our families (and our families don’t love us) because of our political views

The love shared between families is made up of many (in my mind, more interesting) reasons:

  • We share the same history – the history we can remember and the history that happened generations before we arrived
  • We have lots of shared memories – of things good, bad and in between
  • We root for the same football team, laugh at the same dumb movies, like the same weird food, etc
  • We have forgiven each other for mistakes and hurts big and small – and will continue to do so many more times in the years to come
  • We accept each other for what we really are: Not what we post on our Facebook page or send in our holiday cards
  • We sit with each other when we are sick, hold each other’s hands when we grieve and celebrate together when a milestone is reached

Feelings about the election and the coming administration are intense, but let’s all try to keep it in perspective.  Shared political beliefs rarely occur in families anyway, and this year is no different.  To expect agreement this holiday season will likely only result in frustration.  Instead try focusing on all the many things we do have in common and love about each other.  Pumpkin pie, anyone?

Fighting Hunger Around the Holidays

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Want to do something really easy to help fight hunger? All you have to do is “like” Produce for Kids on Facebook and Instagram and they will donate 1 meal to Feeding America.  Here’s more:

Join us this holiday season for our inaugural Holiday Meal Drive! Starting today and running through December 31, we’ll be donating one meal* to Feeding America® for every new Facebook and Instagram fan. With one click, you can help make a difference to the 42.2 million Americans, including 13.1 million children, who live in food-insecure households.

Check it out and Happy (early) Thanksgiving!