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January 2011



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 Put the Heart Back Into Christmas
Put the Heart Back Into Christmas 

Some holiday shopping tips

Navigating through your head and heart in holiday shopping.

The worldwide economy is still shaky, and retailers are hoping that the holiday shopping season will help to improve their revenues. The stores are working hard with sales and other promotions to encourage you to buy more. If you are planning to do some holiday shopping for your family and friends (and yourself), how can you take advantage of holiday deals without breaking your budget?

To think about shopping smart, we have to start by remembering that there are two main modes of thinking that we engage when we are making decisions. The “cool” mode is the one in which we are able to plan, to think about the features of products, and to weigh options. The “hot” mode is the one in which our emotions and motivations drive the decision.

Now, here are some ways to help you stay on budget.

1) First, make sure that you actually set up a budget for holiday shopping. It is amazing how often people enter into the holiday shopping period without thinking specifically about how much they want to spend for the year.

It makes sense that we don’t want to think about our budget. If money is tight, then thinking about how much (or perhaps how little) there is to spend on gifts is unpleasant. And who wants to think about unhappy things as we enter the holiday season.

But if you don’t set a budget, you are courting a disaster in the long-term. Better think responsibly and set an amount that you plan to spend. If you think that you’re likely to go over budget, then set your initial budget a little low.

When you set your budget, decide both how much money you want to spend and also how you want to distribute that money. That is, make sure that you have thought through all of the people on your gift list. Nothing can pinch your budget more than realizing at the last moment that you have forgotten gifts for key relatives or friends.

2) Your hot mode of thought is not going to help you stay on budget. The hot mode works by driving you to fulfill a goal that you have. So, when you see something exciting in the store, the hot mode becomes active and seeks a way for you to get what you want. One way that the hot system does that is by causing you to devalue your budget. That is, keeping to your budget will seem less important while you are in the throes of desire for that great new flat-screen TV than it seemed before you got to the store.

When you find yourself tempted to break your budget by a very desirable item, the first thing you should do is to walk away. The TV (or whatever it is) will still be there when you get back later. And the stores need your business. The prices will still be good tomorrow or next week.

By walking away, you allow the hot mode to lose some of its energy and you give your cold system more chance to take over and influence the decision. If the TV still seems like a good idea when you have had a chance to think about it, then you can decide to change your budget.

3) If you find that you have trouble with impulse purchases, consider making all of your purchases in cash. That is, one way to get around the hot mode of thinking is to structure your world in a way that will help you to keep to your budget. Bring only the amount of cash to the store that you plan to spend. Once you run out of cash, you’re done.

4) Finally, remember that while it is great to give and receive gifts at the holidays, in the end it is just stuff. Stuff is fun to get. But it will not change the lives of the people you’re buying for, and it won’t make you or anyone else that much happier in the long-run. In fact, all of the research on happiness suggests that the best predictor of how happy you will be in 6 months is how happy you are right now. The little pleasures in life (like gifts) might lift someone’s mood temporarily, but not for long. Even really big positive events (like winning the lottery or falling in love) don’t affect people’s overall happiness that much in the long-run.

So, buy gifts, but do it within your budget. Enjoy your family at the holidays.


Individuals May Feel More Anxiety During The Holidays Than In Previous Years

Article Date: 26 Nov 2009 – 3:00 PST

As the economy crisis continues, many individuals may feel more stress and anxiety during the upcoming holidays.

“The holidays can be a wonderful time for many people, but they can also bring about pressure, stress and anxiety,” said Dena Cabrera, PsyD, staff psychologist at Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders. “Many news outlets have reported the recession is over, but people across the country may not be feeling the reprieve. They hear one thing, but their bank account says something different.”

Because many people are struggling with lay offs and financial loss, they may have trouble enjoying pleasurable activities, particularly during the holidays. This can bring about lots of stress, and for some, anxiety.

“When stress is poorly managed, it can interfere with functioning,” adds Cabrera. “Excess stress can manifest itself in a variety of emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms.”

People with stress can experience sleep disturbances, headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems and fatigue. Additionally, people who experience anxiety can experience excessive worrying, to the point where it interferes with daily life. They may also engage in unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse, overeating and mood changes.

Cabrera offers the following tips to help enjoy the holidays:

— Set realistic expectations. Holiday excitement also brings demands. Between shopping, baking, feasting, crafting, parties and entertaining, it can get quite overwhelming. By setting realistic expectations, we don’t set ourselves up to become stressed because we overextended ourselves.

— Stay balanced. As we become busy with holiday tasks, activities and demands, we can lose ourselves. Sleep, eating and exercise can become compromised. Stay consistent and don’t neglect healthy living.


— Find meaning in the season. The holidays can be difficult and challenging for many people. Many emotions can come into play. For those who struggle with the holidays, they should reach out for support and recreate meaning in the holiday season that’s comfortable for them. Prepare to take care of yourself emotionally and physically.

— Prepare ahead. Time goes fast. Make a list and check it twice. Don’t wait until the last minute, this only creates more stress.

— Learn how to deal with stress. Learn to talk to yourself with positive thoughts such as, “It’s temporary, I’ve been through things like this before, etc.”


— Seek help when things are stressful. Just talking about it with someone you trust helps.


About Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders


Remuda Ranch offers Christian inpatient and residential programs for individuals of all faiths suffering from eating or anxiety disorders. Each patient is treated by a multi-disciplinary team including a Psychiatric and a Primary Care Provider, Registered Dietitian, Masters Level therapist, Psychologist and Registered Nurse. The professional staff equips each patient with the right tools to live a healthy, productive life.

Source: Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders


When Things Go Awry

Why Holidays Don’t Have To Be ‘Happy’

Article Date: 26 Nov 2009 – 3:00 PST

Samuel Gladding is no Scrooge, but he is on a mission to redefine what it means to be “happy” during the holidays. As a licensed professional counselor with a specialty in family counseling and chair of the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University, Gladding says research shows that it is the pressure to be happy that often leads to sadness and even depression during the holidays.


That’s why he’s challenging the traditional view of happy holidays by pointing out that the higher our expectations, the less likely we are to actually be happy. He shares five tips for more realistic holiday expectations, and a redefinition of what it means to have a happy holiday season.

— Don’t idealize the holidays We see the Norman Rockwell painting of all the people gathered round the table, and the turkeys just perfect and everyone’s smiling. But in real life, that doesn’t happen nearly as often as imperfection does. It’s paradoxical that the more you try to live up to that kind of expectation, the more frustrated, disappointed and unhappy you are likely to be with yourself and others. Remember, people can’t read your mind and know what you want. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make everything just right.

— Accept people for who they are. Just as we idealize the holidays, we also have an ideal of how we think people should behave, from their table manners to the way they dress. But unless they’re doing something totally unacceptable, it’s better to enjoy people for who they are instead of who you want them to be.

— Tell stories: Talking about good times and good memories with others is inspiring and gives us a great feeling, whether the people we talk about are with us anymore or not. Certain memories may make us more melancholy, but more thankful as well.

— Take unilateral action: It’s always hard to stop family feuds once they have started, but the holidays are a perfect time to call a truce. Just as nations take unilateral action during conflicts, sometimes we as individuals have to take unilateral action as well. We can tell ourselves that no matter what someone says, we’re not going to react. We can also decide to have peace on earth or at least in our house — or with these particular people — for a few hours.

— Don’t stew in your own juices: Your holiday meal is the only thing that should be stewing this holiday season. So if you find yourself at home and depressed, think of ways to help someone else. There’s always a need for volunteers at homeless shelters this time of year or other opportunities to give back to the community. If your family is far away or you don’t have much family, remember that family is who you decide to make family and reaching out to others is one of the keys to real happiness.

Source: Wake Forest University 

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