Coping With Loneliness During the Holidays

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When we feel a painful emotion, our first instinct is to pull away. To numb the pain. To hide from the intensity.

This was the case for Sarah and Jack, two unique individuals with vastly different circumstances. But they each experienced the same emotion: loneliness. An emotion that is heightened during the holidays.

SARAH

Sarah was a 42-year-old recently divorced woman who was about to face her first holiday season alone. Living in a new town, miles away from friends and family, she was waiting to begin a new job in January. Hours felt like days.

Days felt like months. Sarah had tried everything to fill the void inside. The mistake she made was running away from the one thing that would help get her to the other side: loneliness itself.

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Knowledge is power

1. Understand the emotion

We need to first understand an emotion before we jump to the conclusion that it’s either good or bad, because in reality, emotions are almost entirely physiological in nature.

There’s not a negative or positive to them. It’s in our mind that we make it one or the other. This concept is supported by Schachter-Singer’s theory of emotion:

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This  theory of emotion explains why two people can experience the exact same event and have completely different emotional reactions to it.

What matters most is the person’s interpretation of an event, not the event itself. After all, as they say, one person’s glass-half-full is another one’s glass-half-empty.

In Sarah’s situation, she interpreted her physiological response to idle time as loneliness, while another person might label it as much-needed relaxation. Ultimately, Sarah has a choice. One interpretation debilitates; the other empowers.

2. Witness the emotion

Now that Sarah understands the interpretative power she holds over her environmental triggers, the next step is to witness loneliness in a neutral, curious state rather than fighting it at every turn.

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In doing so, Sarah neutralizes the intensity of her emotions, allowing them to flow through her, rather than getting stuck in a repetitive loop of pain.

Here are four simple ways to create space between triggers and responses:

1. Count to 10

2. Take a long deep breath

3. Make three wishes

4. Look up at the sky

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Taken one step further, each time that Sarah experiences a challenging emotion during the holidays, rather than running from it she needs to lean in and ask that emotion, “What are you trying to teach me?”

3. Reframe the emotion

The final step for Sarah is to learn how to reframe the situations that trigger her loneliness, and understand why sometimes she overreacts, while other times she lets go without a second thought.

Solitude is perceived as isolation by one person and freedom by another.

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Reframing exercise:

1. Identify a situation that triggers loneliness.

2. Imagine the best-case scenario: “This situation is temporary.”

3. Look for evidence of the best-case scenario: “The longest I’ve been single is two years.”

4. Describe the worst-case scenario: “I will be alone forever.”

5. Name the benefits of the worst-case scenario: “I am free to do what I want.”

6. Finally, ask for help in reframing triggers, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

Once Sarah learns how to change the story “behind” the story, her instinctive loneliness lessens. And her ability to choose a higher thought improves.

JACK

At 55 years of age, Jack was also feeling the pangs of loneliness. His wife of 25 years died suddenly of a heart attack two years ago.

Unexpected was an understatement. They had run in three marathons together and had spent their weekends sampling new vegan restaurants in their local community. Ever since his wife had died, Jack struggled to face the holidays alone.

Jack’s story is as much about him as it is about the family around him. His family and friends’ automatic response was to feel sorry for him, a response that compounded his feelings of disconnectedness and misunderstanding.

Jack did not want people to feel sorry for him. He was a proud man who was ready to move on.

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Get out of your own head

1. Meet with “experienced” widowers

As much as Jack missed his wife, he also missed his ability to connect authentically with friends and family. Having been treated with kid gloves since his wife died, Jack longed to be seen as a victor rather than a victim

As such, I encourage Jack to connect with like-minded individuals who had been through a similar situation: widows and widowers. Specifically, ones who had been on their own for several years.

The benefits were twofold. One, Jack would learn new ways of relating to friends and family. And two, he’d be given the green light to grow and acclimate to his new circumstances.

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2. Connect with others in unexpected, low-pressure ways

The other component missing in Jack’s life was fun. Simple, cheerful, good-time fun. Everything had become so serious since his wife died, with almost every conversation beginning or ending with his wife’s death.

There was no doubt that he missed her with all his heart. But equally, he longed for moments where he could be free of the loneliness and pain.

I recommend that Jack reintroduce sports into his life. Something non-competitive that would get him out of the house on a Wednesday night. Better yet, if it involved people that he had never met, it would allow him to continue his journey of reinvention and rediscovery.

Equally therapeutic for Jack would be joining a cinema group or regular euchre meetup—both would offer him a chance to be in the moment and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

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3. Honour the old, create the new

Finally, I advise Jack to examine the memories and traditions that he wanted to keep alive during the holidays—and, equally, the ones of which he was ready to let go.

Jack took the practice one step further. Declaring December a month of renewal and reinvention, he revived a strength and peace inside that radiated out to his entire family.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Original Source:

This blog post first appeared in The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/lean-into-loneliness/

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. To protect the privacy of individuals, names and identifying details have been changed
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Conclusion 

Jack and Sarah have a lot to teach us about loneliness and how important it is to honour the unique ways in which we process adversity.

One size does not fit all. Fellowship and fun were vital for Jack’s growth and recovery, while Sarah needed a more analytical approach to processing difficulty.

• Lean into loneliness

• Approach it with openness and curiosity

• Make space for the lessons beneath the suffering

Your Turn

1. How do you cope with difficult emotions during the holidays?

2. What strategies do you use to make peace with the heightened pressures of the Christmas season?

3. How do you make “Hallmark Card” traditions your own?

Video of this Post → Click Here

Repeat after me: It’s ok not to be 💯 percent during the holidays. 🎄❤️

CPR: Sustainable Mental Health Habits

Dr. Andrea Dinardo MENTAL HEALTH HABITS

sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty
/səˌstānəˈbilədē/
  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

CPR is a framework for Sustainable Mental Health Habits

CPR includes three simple steps as outlined in the video below :

1. Catch

Catch yourself in the midst (or before) before a stress response escalates by becoming more aware of what triggers you.

2. Pause

Pause and take a 60 second time out when you feel the physical sensations of stress begin to escalate.

3. Repair

Repair the root source of the heightened stress response which is often physiological in nature. Possible unmet needs include: sleep, food, fresh air, exercise.

DrAndreaDinardo.com QUOTE

Supporting Student Mental Health

Requested by

The CPR Presentation  was developed for the St. Clair College Student Sustainability Group as part of their initiative for supporting the health and wellbeing of college staff, faculty, and students.

New Opportunity

This was the first time I’ve been approached to make a video for a third party. And it was so much fun!


December 9, 2019 Update

This post went “live” at St. Clair College at noon today.

KIARA CLEMENT SRC President C.P.R. Writing Journal

KIARA CLEMENT

SRC President and CPR Journal Reflections Author

KIARA CLEMENT SRC President.

Click Here for College Mental Health Resources

SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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Do you have a difficult time saying no?

While others in your life say no without a second thought.

Is this confusing and at times upsetting for you?

Are you hard on yourself because of this discrepancy between yourself and others?

You may be interested to discover that Saying No is not a one size fits all.

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Join me in my
virtual psychology classroom as I share one factor that explains why some people have more difficulty saying no and holding boundaries than others — Your Personality.

Feelers vs. Thinkers

Feelers

In this video I describe how individuals who are overly sensitive to the feelings of others (HSPs, Empaths, ENFJs) often focus on the needs of others to the exclusion of themselves.

Video: SAYING NO Are you a feeler or a thinker?

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❤️ Feelers take things more personally than thinkers.

Often causing feelers to say YES on the outside when on the inside their intuition is telling them to SAY NO.

Result = Mixed Messages + Unnecessary Stress

Thinkers

By contrast, individuals who are left brain dominant (thinkers on the Myers Briggs scale) are more straightforward and logical in their response to requests from friends and coworkers.

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Consequently, thinkers do not focus to the same extent on the emotions of “the requesters” in the same way that feelers (eg., ENFJ’s) on the on the Myers Briggs do.

💡 Saying no comes naturally to thinkers.

Thinkers know what they want and use analytics + logic not the emotions of the person in front of them as their guiding force.

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Learning from each other

On the plus side:

Feelers and thinkers make incredible teammates.

At work and in life.

Balance is everything. 🧠 + ❤️

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Additional Information

1. Right Brain versus Left Brain
2. Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
3. Learn About Myers Briggs Personality Profile
4. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

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Let me know in comments below how your personality impacts different areas of your life, including saying No.

Please share techniques you’ve developed for setting boundaries too!

I’d love to know!

Dr. D 📚

One Final Note:

In Addition to Personality and Individual Differences

Situation Also Impacts Our Ability to Say NO + Stand Firm

Video: Saying No is Easier When You Feel Safe

EMPOWERING THOUGHTS

Choose the THOUGHTS that emPOWER you today.

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It takes

one word

one thought

one mantra

to shift our mind

from pain to power.

What will your empowering thought be this week?

I’d love to know.

Share your WORD in comments below ⤵️

uplifting thoughts

Related Post: Empowering Conversations

Thanks for visiting my psychology blog!

Dr. D 💖☀️

ABC Technique: Transforming Painful Experiences

 Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves 

In this blog post and classroom video, I share strategies for transforming painful experiences. Especially those beyond your control.

Strategies include: Cognitive reframing (identifying and then disputing irrational or maladaptive thoughts) and the ABC technique (Antecedent, Belief, Consequence).

Dr. Andrea Dinardo ABC Technique

I also discuss my latest article in The Drive Magazine (link to article below) where I help a good friend transform the painful story in his life (house flood) into a more meaningful and empowering experience.

Read Here: https://www.thedrivemagazine.com/posts/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves

Dr. Andrea Dinardo The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Tips for Transforming the Painful Story in Your Life

1. Talk to others who have overcome similar circumstances. Be open to their lessons.

 2. Ask five people to identify five strengths. Refer to them during the low points in your day.

3. Reflect on times in your life when you have successfully overcome adversity.

4. Be proud of what you’ve been through and have faith in where you’re going.

Excerpt From The Stories We Tell Ourselves, The Drive Magazine

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

To Watch Video Click Here

DrAndreaDinardo.com

How to stay motivated as you prepare for your TEDX Talk.

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Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the new roster of TEDX Windsor speakers at Beachgrove Golf and Country Club in Windsor Ontario.

“A goal should scare you a little bit and excite you a lot.”

In the 4 min video below I advise the 2019 @TEDxWindsor Speakers how to stay motivated during the extensive and lengthy TEDX preparation process.

These tips apply to life too!

Reminding speakers HOW THEY DREAMED of becoming a TEDX SPEAKER long before they had the INCREDIBLE FORTUNE to became one.

What’s your why?

YOUR TURN

Do you want to be a TEDX Speaker one day?

What would the name of your TEDX Talk be? 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

1. Purchase Tickets for the June 8 TEDX Windsor Event

https://tedxwindsor.com/events/tedxwindsor-2019

2. Watch TEDX Talk THRIVING UNDER PRESSURE

 ✨Today’s Psychology Opportunity✨

Choose to believe in something bigger than yourself. And let your North Star light your way.

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Dare to Dream!

The Cure for the Anxious Mind.

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Nature is a beautiful way to stop the monkey mind in its’ tracks.

What is the monkey mind? 🐒 🧠

“Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. Fear is an especially loud monkey –  screaming out all the things that could go wrong.” Source: HuffPost 

When we’re caught in a loop of anxious thoughts, our amygdala goes into overdrive. Causing us to get stuck in the basement of our brains (the limbic system) where our stressful thoughts go around and around. With no end to the downward spiral in sight.

B R E A T H I N G    S P A C E

Time in nature gives us a chance to catch our breath, to see the light, to realize there’s a way out of this never-ending rumination loop.

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The Healing Power of Nature 🍃

The impact of nature on the human spirit is so profound that a hallmark study in 1984 showed that patients who had a room with a view healed faster than patients without a view. A mere glimpse of nature was enough to enhance their resilience.

Hope 🌷

Nature shifts our thoughts. Expands our awareness. Gives us hope. Lifts us up from the basement of our brains (amygdala) to the penthouse (cerebral cortex) where all solutions are possible.

And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” 

Related VideoGrounding Techniques 

 How do you soothe tame your anxious monkey mind?

Catch your breath.

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Self-care is giving the world the best of you, not what’s left of you.”

Pause.

Be still.

Catch your breath.

Take a rest.

Practice self-care.

As often as you can.

Pause at the end of my video ⬆️ for 30 fun self-care ideas.

Do you practice daily self-care?

Please share in the comments below.

Enhancing well-being during the holidays.

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Santa feels the pressure too.

Do you find Christmas holidays stressful?

If you’re anything like me (and Santa Claus), you answered yes.

Something I wrote about in the December issue of The DRIVE magazine.

Including the benefits of leaning into difficult emotions.

Because the more we try to fight discomfort, the longer it lasts.

“The root of all suffering is attachment.” Buddha

source.gifStop fighting. Start flowing.

Let your stress drift gently through you.

Without judgment or condemnation.

Breathe and release.

Embrace what is.

Moment by moment.

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Let go of what is outside your control.

Let go of expectations.

In doing so..

The pressure becomes lighter.

The joy becomes brighter.

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Create your own traditions.

Fall in love with the night sky.

Savour a walk in the moonlight.

Moment by moment.

We can handle just about anything.

 Watch my short video for more health & wellness tips.🎄💚

What are you ready to let go of?

This post was inspired by a stressful situation that I couldn’t let go of, long beyond its solution. No matter how hard I tried. Day in day out. The worry would reappear. Then someone close to me suggested “I shed the stress”. And a lightbulb went off. Each time the repetitive thought appeared, I imagined a tree shedding its leaves. A golden leaf for every anxious thought. This visualization process made all the difference. And so did writing about it.  📝🍂

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If you had a magic wand, what would you ask to disappear in your life right now?

What would you say good-bye to?

Once and for all.

It could be an emotion. Or a thought.

A relationship. Or a job.

A place or a thing.

Stress management is a shedding process ℘ Not an acquisition project

It’s time to let go of what drains you.

Let go of what holds you back.

Let go of what keeps you down.

It could be a mindset. Or a memory.

A situation. Or an attitude.

Write it down. Shout it out.

Stress management is a shedding process  Not a holding pattern

It’s time to let go of what weighs you down.

Release it to the universe.

Declare your freedom.

Vow to move on and beyond.

Once and for all.

Stress management is a shedding process ℘ Not an endurance test

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Shed the stress. Let. It. Fall. 🍂