5 Tips For How To Handle Being Alone During The Holidays

IMG_4891Whether through choice, death, or simply logistics, some find themselves alone during the holidays. While quite a few feel depressed due to this circumstance, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some suggestions to not just survive the holiday season, but to thrive!

1.) Volunteer. There are so many wonderful organizations that are in desperate need of volunteers. Volunteers can volunteer with babies, children, teens, adults or older adults or animals. If someone doesn’t want to volunteer face to face with strangers, there are plenty of behind the scenes ways to volunteer, i.e. administrative tasks. Here is just a short list of organizations to chose from: Hospitals, Assisted Living Facilities, Animal Shelters, Homeless Shelters, Political causes, and so much more. In Orlando, there are literally hundreds of charities that could use more volunteers. Volunteering and giving of ourselves is the best way to feel better. Additionally, new relationships will be created, and suddenly, one might find a social calendar teeming with new friends and activities.

2.) Ask. Most of us (not all, but most) have extended family that we could chose to be with during holidays. If your extended family doesn’t invite you to join them, (because they likely assume you already have plans), why not ask if you can join them? They will most likely say “yes” and perhaps apologize for not thinking to ask themselves.

3.) Remain active. Exercise/movement is especially important during the holiday season. We need sunlight, and getting outside to take a walk, go for a run, or a bike ride can help us feel better.

4.) Faith. Faith is huge. As a Christian, I could fill my entire calendar with my  church’s activities alone.  Some people don’t have a church, and there are various reasons for that. Churches are made up of fallible human beings (to borrow from Dr. Albert Ellis.) If you didn’t have a positive experience at one, you can try a different one. There are seeker friendly churches, churches that go more into depth, and “high” churches. Is your family from another country? There are Greek churches, Romanian churches, etc. What a great way to connect to your heritage and create some new relationships. If you live in a metropolitan area like Orlando, FL, every denomination represented. There are even churches which meet on our beaches! It can be fun to visit every single denomination, learn their differences, and discover where you feel comfortable. Faith – believing in something greater than ourselves – can be incredibly powerful, healing, and fill us with Joy because we believe we are never alone.

5.) Grief. If you find yourself alone due to loss of a loved one, and find yourself grieving, it’s important to talk about it. Holding it in, ignoring it, and hoping it will subside may make those feelings worse. Call your local Hospice and find out what groups they offer for grieving family members. Hospice typically runs many groups for children and adults who are grieving. They also tend to be free of charge.

Of course each of these can be expounded upon and take hours to discuss. These tips are meant to stimulate thought and give some quick ideas as to how to potentially fill up your holiday season, brighten it, and thrive this year.

This article may be reproduced as long as the author’s name and contact information are kept in tact.

LPB Professional PhotoAbout the author: Laura Peddie-Bravo is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (2001) and Nationally Certified Counselor (1999.) Mrs. Peddie-Bravo is the founder and owner of The Bravo Counseling Group, LLC. For more information or to arrange a brief complimentary appointment, please call 407-222-6239. http://www.TheBravoCounselingGroup.com

 

5 Communication Tips For You & Your Teen

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5 Communication Tips For You & Your Teen

Communication – something we do every day but sometimes we don’t do it very well. Here are my top five tips to help parents communicate with their teens:

1.) Is it a good time to talk? You don’t want to bring up a sensitive subject in front of their friends, or perhaps even in front of another sibling. It’s usually better to wait – no matter how badly you want to bring it up – until later when you can talk privately.

2.) Respect. I’m a fan of giving kids & teens respect. I give my children respect because I want to model respect to and for them. Recently, when one child was treating me disrespectfully, I was able to say “Have I ever treated you the way you are treating me right now?” My teen answered “no.” I said “Then please don’t treat me this way.” My teen’s response “Ok. I’m sorry.” And we were done. The attitude was resolved in less than one minute and we got to the real issue.

3.) Listen. Yes, we parents have been there and done that. We have great life experiences and great advice to give our teens. The thing they want most is for us to listen. Listening allows them to get things off their chest, lets them know we care, and you might open the door to things you didn’t know your teen was grappling with. You’re more likely to open that door by listening versus lecturing.

4.) Limit lectures. I can lecture as well as a college professor to my kids in my own home. But, my teens really need to begin to learn and sort things out more and more on their own. Of course, when important, there will be the occasional lecture. We are training soon-to-be adults and they need to take increased control over their thoughts and actions as they learn to become adults and learn from their own successes and failures.

5.) Trust. Allowing our teens increased control over their own lives means trusting them. We’ve been teaching them since they were babies. They have learned more than our words and actions convey. Teen years means parents learning to trust that what they have taught their children is good, enough, and let go. I used to give a talk to parents whose son or daughter were about to begin their Freshman year called “Letting Go.” Letting go actually begins much sooner than the first semester of college. I’m starting to let go now.

Please feel free to share and reproduce this blog post as long as the author’s name and information remains intact.

~LPB Professional PhotoLaura Peddie-Bravo is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Florida, a Nationally Certified Counselor, and has worked with teens and college age population since 1997. She has been happily married since 1996 and is the parent of three teenagers. She owns a private practice in Winter Park, Florida called The Bravo Counseling Group, LLC. To schedule an appointment or to arrange a complimentary 15 minute phone call, please call the office at 407-222-6239.

Summer Office Hours

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Summer Office Hours

Between June 1st and August 14th Client Appointments will be scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. (Please note: The July 4th Holiday will be on a Friday this year and it  will not affect The Bravo Counseling Group’s regular office hours.)  It is generally easier to schedule appointments during the summer, however, in order to ensure your preference of day and time, please call in advance to schedule.  To schedule an appointment,  schedule a complimentary phone call, or to ask a question, please call 407-222-6239. Please know that we offer free  phone consultations in order to do our best to make sure you and your counselor are a good fit and answer any questions you may have.  We do provide Pro-Bono services year round, however, those Pro-Bono appointments are currently full. If we are unable to assist you for some reason, we are happy to help connect you with other resources.

5 Tips for New Moms of Multiples

twin babies Google images 5 Tips for Moms with Multiples

Having a baby changes your life. Having more than one baby can lead you to feel as if your life has been turned upside down and inside out! Here are five tips for new parents with multiples:

1.) Re-think your idea of “clean”  Before having twins, I could clean my entire three bedroom two bath home in eight hours or less. I could be ready for company quickly and easily. After having twins, I felt frustrated that I could no longer have my house clean (the way I wanted it to be) in less than a day. I also had to re-think what “clean” meant to me. Did I want to run myself ragged? My twins didn’t sleep much until they were five months old. Did I want to waste a precious potential hour’s sleep by cleaning? Or ought I rest instead? (Hint: choose rest!). As long as the home is sanitary, sleep and rest are more important. When we are sleep deprived, we can feel more easily frustrated, irritated and have less patience. When we welcome our children into our lives, we want to give them the very best. Giving them well rested parents who are patient, kind and loving trumps a spotless home any day.

2.) Support

What is support? It means having family, friends, or professional assistance so you can connect with other people who love and care about you and your family. It means support so that you could arrange a run to the grocery store by yourself, (if you enjoy that),or  being able to have an appointment for yourself without having to have your multiples with you. Of course we love our children, and at the same time, we also need others to talk with and lend us a helping hand from time to time. What if you need to see your doctor?  It can be quite challenging managing your own appointment while you have your infant multiples with you (will your multiple stroller even fit in the tiny examining room?)  It’s important to have a list of folks you feel comfortable calling so that you and your spouse can have a regular date night. Some families swap babysitting with each other, i.e. I’ll watch your kids this Friday so you can go out, and you’ll watch mine on Saturday so I can go out.  A local multiples club is also a great support. In Orlando, we have The Greater Orlando Mothers of Twins and Triplets Club (GOMOTT), www.GOMOTT.org  There is a national organization for parents of multiples also called the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Club,  www.nomotc.org. If there is no multiples club is in your area, you could either start one or connect to others through internet based meetings.

3.) Date Night

After you have children, it’s easy to switch the focus from your spouse to your children. Dads especially can be prone to feeling shoved aside when children arrive. It’s important to continue to put your marriage first. Working on your marriage, regularly, is invaluable. Regular date nights are important. They don’t have to be expensive – it’s not about what you spend. It’s about taking the time to talk together and reconnect with each other. A weekly date night would be ideal, even if it’s just a long walk around your block.

4.) Let go of your “should’s”

As a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, I spend much time with my clients examining their self-talk. We frequently tell ourselves “I should…” and then a list follows. Just as I had to re-think my personal definition of “clean,”, I also had to re-think how many things I could accomplish in a day. With multiples, I went from being able to accomplish quite a bit in a day to just a few things each day, in addition to taking care of my family. When I feel tempted to pile on more than I can possibly do, then feel bad about not getting everything accomplished, I remind myself that my children are only little for a short while. When they are teens,  I’ll have plenty of time to run my errands the way I prefer to do them. For now, I’ll focus on being present with my family, and enjoy the blessings of each day. I don’t want to waste my precious energy worrying about what I “should” do.

5.) Take good care of yourself

You work hard to teach your children their ABC’s, to eat healthy foods, to count, to use the potty on their own, and so much more. When you don’t rest, don’t eat, don’t sit down, and so on, you are teaching your children how to care for themselves (or how to not care for themselves.) When you go-go-go, remember that your children are watching you run yourself down. They are learning that this is normal and expected of them. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is teaching them how to care for themselves, by taking care of you. Setting a positive and healthy model of someone who believes she is important enough to get the sleep she needs, important enough to take the time to consume nourishing food, important enough to  take time to get some exercise, all work together to set up a positive model of health and confidence for our children to follow.

 

You may freely distribute this blog as long as you leave the Author’s name and contact information intact.

About the Author:

Laura Peddie-Bravo, LMHC, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor practicing in Winter Park, Florida. She is the Mother of Boy/Girl Twins and “Twingle.” Laura works with a variety of issues such as Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Domestic Violence, PTSD, Personality Disorders, Eating Disorders, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, and Chronic Medical Issues. Laura provides Individual, Couples and Family Counseling. To schedule a free consultation, please call The Bravo Counseling Group at 407-222-6239.

LPB Professional Photo

 

Colorado Shootings and Trauma; Tips to Cope With Tragedy

Upon wakening today, many of us saw the horrific news that at least 12 people, and perhaps as many as 50 others were wounded while watching the latest “Batman” movie.  According to multiple news reports, the movie had only been playing for about 20 minutes, when a gas-masked gunman threw some sort of smoke grenade, and then began shooting innocent people. What can we do in the face of such horror? Here are a few tips for dealing with trauma and tragedy, once the immediate danger has cleared.

1. When in a safe place, relax: Relaxing doesn’t mean having a drink or some other mind altering substance. Relaxing means either being with people if that relaxes you, or going to a quiet place and allowing the shock and emotions to bubble up to the surface. Using a substance to “relax” will only complicate and delay dealing with the trauma.

2. Talk about it: It doesn’t matter if your loved ones have heard the story 20 times, it is important to talk about it until you have talked about it enough for you, though you may look for more than one person to share the experience with. Friends, support groups, and/or faith based groups can be some good options. Holding it in can make a person’s trauma reactions worse.

3. Express yourself: Express yourself in an appropriate manner, however you like. Maybe you’ll need to write about your experience in a blog, article, or journal. Maybe you will create art which represents your experience or your reactions to it. However you choose to express yourself, it is important, like talking about it, to allow your expressions to come out of you.

4. Exercise: Physical exercise can be immensely helpful and people may experience relief from exercise. Exercise can literally work stress hormones out from the body. Reduction in stress hormones can help a person feel more relaxed and calm. Someone may want to exercise multiple times in one day in order to keep the stress hormone at bay. (Note: Please visit your doctor first if you are not used to vigorous exercise.)

5. Handle trauma at your own pace: Everyone is different. There are people who will experience trauma and appear “fine” immediately afterwards. Others will be mildly affected. There will also be those who are tremendously impacted. It is important not to compare your response to trauma with another person. We are each unique people with different ways of responding and coping. Comparing your trauma reactions to someone else may make you feel worse.

When working with clients who have experienced trauma, I like to suggest to them to act as if they have the flu; get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, and cut yourself some slack when you just are not up to doing your usual routine. We give each other grace when we are sick, and I would encourage those who are dealing with tragedy and trauma to give themselves grace. Healing will come, and it will take some time. If someone’s reaction to trauma is beyond these tips, please consider seeing a professional for assistance. There are medical doctors and counselors who are trained in how to help people suffering from intense traumatic reactions. Some additional resources are listed below.

United States Department for Veterans Affairs: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/treatment-ptsd.asp

National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/helping-children-and-adolescents-cope-with-violence-and-disasters-rescue-workers/what-is-trauma.shtml

National Alliance for Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org/

About the author: Laura Peddie-Bravo is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor for over ten years. She has worked extensively with victims of physical and sexual abuse, victims of crime, and more.  You may schedule a free 15 minute complimentary call by phoning 407-222-6239.

You can also connect with Laura via Facebook and Twitter @LPBShrink

All or portions of this article may be reprinted as long as the author’s name and contact information remain intact.