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November 27, 2013 Newsletter

9 Ways to Practice Thankfulness Throughout the Year

 

This Thursday, families around the country will hold hands around the Thanksgiving table and voice what they're thankful for. Thanksgiving provides us the wonderful opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. However, thankfulness should not end once the turkey is passed around. Practicing thankfulness and gratitude is a habit we should instill in our lives on a daily basis. We tend to take small blessings for granted, so whether you're single or married here are 9 ways to practice gratitude throughout the year.

1. Record your gratitude in a daily calendar—keeping a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to record the things you are thankful for, but try creating a daily calendar that you update each year. Every year on that day you can reflect on your past as well as remind yourself of what you're thankful for in the present. Try using notecards stamped with the day and update them with each year.

2. Celebrate milestones—celebrate, and celebrate often. It's easy to say "it's not in the budget," but there is always something worth celebrating and celebrating doesn't have to be expensive. Even if you're broke newlyweds, try writing each other a letter. On your wedding anniversary, make a habit of writing a letter to yourselves to be opened next year. Write down the highlights of your year, what you've learned, and predictions for next year. You'll love opening it together in a year and reminiscing about its contents.

3. Share gratitude at dinner—whether you're voicing your gratitude to God or simply sharing your thoughts with each other, verbalizing your appreciation is a lovely way to connect—and remind others that they matter in your life. Too often we go through the day without stopping to appreciate our blessings.

4. Focus on the silver lining—while it might seem tough to be thankful for difficult circumstances or mistakes you've made, focus on the lessons God has taught you and the challenges he's brought you through. Be thankful for what you've learned—every trial teaches us something new about ourselves. Focusing on the silver lining will help you keep perspective and hasten forgiveness of yourself and others. What can you be grateful for? How have you grown from the experience? Ask yourself these questions and enjoy a moment of reflection.

5. Thank those who serve you—there are many people in the background of your life who help make your life smoother and more pleasant, so take a moment to thank them for making your life a little bit easier. Whether it's your barista, mailman, or grocery clerk, extend them a little gratitude. Chances are they don't get it very often and will likely appreciate the kind words.

6. Write a thank you note or letter—something so simple can have an enormous impact on someone. When's the last time you sent a friend, your parents or your child a handwritten letter telling them how special they are to you? Take a moment to acknowledge someone for the difference they have made in your life.

7. When you connect with your close friends, first focus on the positive—the beauty of having close friends is knowing you can complain to them without losing their friendship, but it should not be taken for granted. When you spend time with a friend, greet him or her with positivity by focusing first on the highlights of your week and being an astute listener while they are sharing the events of their life with you.

8. Thank others for the little things—notice and appreciate the little things people do for you, even when they're a daily habit. It's easy to take these small gestures for granted. If your spouse takes out the trash every week or starts a fresh pot of coffee in the morning, thank him or her for that kind action.

9. Give thanks to God—as you focus on the small, mundane details of your daily life, take a moment to reflect on the world He has given you. Look up at the sky and marvel at the staggering beauty He has created. We take even the most elemental, life-giving parts of nature like sun and water for granted. Despite the frustrations of life, appreciate that you are a part of something so beautiful and so much larger than yourself. "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." – Thessalonians 5:18

 

Anger Management

 

Anger is a completely normal, healthy emotion in certain circumstances. As with other emotions, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. When you become angry, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, as does your adrenaline. Our instinctive anger response allows us to defend ourselves when we are attacked, but we can't respond angrily to every small worry and agitation. Letting anger take over and control your life isn't healthy. Unrestrained anger can lead to problems at work and in your personal life. The inability to control your anger can make you feel powerless. However, it is within your power to manage your anger. People use several kinds of mental processes to deal with anger. Working with a professional counselor can help you identify the best approach for you. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming.

Express yourself

The healthiest way to handle anger is through expressing your feelings in an assertive—non-aggressive—manner. Being assertive doesn't mean that you are pushy or demanding—assertiveness means respecting yourself and others. It is crucial to learn how to be assertive in order to avoid suppressing your anger.

Redirecting Your Anger

Some people react to angry feelings by suppressing and hoping to later convert or redirect the anger. Redirecting your anger involves refocusing your thoughts on something more positive and can be very beneficial. The aim of suppression is to inhibit your anger and possibly hide the angry feelings from others. However, left unacknowledged your bottled anger can turn on you. Eventually the pent-up anger can cause physical as well as mental health issues. Increased stress, high blood pressure, depression and frequent illnesses are just a few of the physical responses to unresolved anger. Repressed anger can also manifest itself in other ways, such as passive-aggressive behavior or a perpetually cynical or hostile personality. Frequently, these methods of dealing with anger have been learned from our past experiences. A professional counselor can help you learn healthier responses to and methods of resolving your feelings of anger.

Calm Down

The final method for dealing with anger is calming down. Calming down requires you not only to control your outward behavior, but your biological response. Take deep breaths to lower your heart rate and let the feelings subside.

Try these simple relaxation tips to help you calm down:

- Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm. This will slow your heart rate.

- Slowly repeat a calming mantra like "relax," or "be calm" while breathing deeply.

- Visualize a peaceful landscape. Picture a relaxing experience, like sitting on a beach or laying in a meadow.

- Stretch regularly to release tension or get a massage. We carry a lot of stress in our bodies without realizing it.

Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger, notes, "when none of these three techniques work, that's when someone—or something—is going to get hurt."

Controlling anger can be easier said than done. A trusted counselor can help you manage your anger by guiding you through techniques to reduce the emotional feelings and physiological reactions anger causes. It's not always possible—or advised—to avoid or ignore the things that trigger your anger, so controlling your anger is paramount to becoming healthier and happier. If you feel that anger is taking control of your life or having an adverse effect on your relationships, it's time to consider counseling. At Advance Counseling, we can help you let go of your anger. Contact us today.

 

Helpful Tips for Adjusting to Change

 

One of the hardest things to accept is the impermanence of life. Things in our lives are constantly changing, and as hard as we may try, we cannot always foresee sudden, life-changing events. When our life is abruptly altered by change, it's confusing and disorienting. Even when the change is welcome, acclimating to change is difficult. It's not easy to adjust to a new routine, but change also presents new opportunities for growth.

The most difficult part of change is accepting it. It's natural to have a hard time letting go, but fighting acceptance will only make change more difficult. Rather than focusing on what you're leaving behind, think about the positive potential in the change ahead. Whether you're leaving a long term relationship or starting a new job, focus on getting through change in small increments.

- Take change a step (even ten minutes) at a time. Focus on what you need to get done right now.

- Take care of your immediate physical needs. Treat yourself to good book or go to an exercise class—whatever comforts you.

- Talk to someone—if you know others who have gone through a similar change, talk to them to find both comfort and guidance. Give Advance Counseling a call—a counselor is an objective source of reassurance.

- Allow yourself to grieve—change is hard, and just like with any major loss, you will cycle through the grieving process. Let yourself feel anger, sadness, or denial before accepting that change will occur.

- Pray—look to God for comfort and guidance to make it through this challenging period of your life. Take comfort in the fact that no matter what happens, He has a plan for you.

Once you've accepted that change will happen, allow yourself to dream and reimagine yourself. It can be thrilling to imagine all the possibilities that lie in front of you. Bits of your old life may no longer fit as your inner self begins to grow and change. When you begin to imagine your future, consider responding in the following ways:

- Cut out magazine pictures you enjoy. Perhaps it's a new wardrobe you'd love to have someday, the perfect room to live in, or photos from cities you would like to visit. This collage will illustrate the life you're trying to create and help your mind's eye visualize the direction you would like to head.

- Let yourself daydream—try out imaginary scenarios until you figure out your goals. Have you always wanted to open a café? Teach in a foreign country? Daydreaming is blissful and helps move you toward planning your future in earnest.

Once you are able to visualize your dreams, you'll start scheming about how you can make those dreams come true. After you've embraced change, it's time to start making those changes happen. Implement your dreams. Your dreams have given you a taste of the endless possibilities—start taking steps to make them happen.

- Be willing to start over—you might fail repeatedly, but keep trying. Things go wrong, so keep working toward your dreams even when your first efforts are thwarted. Learn from your mistakes and figure out where your illusions led you astray.

- Fine-tune your dreams—recognize that all of the experiences you have along the way and the information you learn will impact your dreams. You don't have to stick with the first idea that pops into your head—make adjustments as needed.

- Follow through—if you find yourself in a pattern of saying but not doing, start tackling small, manageable things. You don't have to recreate your entire world immediately. Have you always wanted to learn to play tennis? Sign up for lessons. Once you get in the habit of going to lessons, you might find at the end of a few months that your play has improved. That success will spur you on to tackle larger goals and projects and your new self will slowly start to emerge.

Once you've formed your new identity, live it to the fullest. You've just successfully navigated a difficult transformation and came out stronger and healthier than before. Focus on being grateful for your success—reward yourself for your strength and perseverance. Be grateful for the changes you've made and practice thankfulness for what you've learned in the process.

- Continue to make small improvements—every day presents a new opportunity for growth, so take the opportunity to make adjustments here and there.

- Remember that change is always around the corner—don't pin happiness on this particular version of yourself. Instead of fearing the changes that will inevitably come, be secure in your ability to embrace change and transform positively as a result. Despite the obstacles life may throw at you, have faith that God has given you the strength to handle them.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Contact Advance Counseling for help in getting through whatever challenges you're facing.

 

Bible Verses about Thankfulness

 

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. – 1 Timothy 4:4-5

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – Colossians 2:6-7

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

 

News Article Archive

November 15, 2013

October 29, 2013

October 14, 2013

September 28, 2013

September 20, 2013

September 2, 2013

August 19, 2013

August 7, 2013

July 23, 2013

 

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