And other holidays you feel pressure to make IT great!
There are a few holidays, you know which ones they are, that bring a chain of different thoughts.
“My anniversary is coming. I guess that means we should probably have sex.”
“Sweet, it’s my birthday. This means a party in the bed tonight!”
“It’s Valentine’s, does that mean that I should actually dress up for sex tonight?”
There is even a song titled Birthday Sex by the artist Jeremih. So, what is it that creates these expectations about holiday sex? Is it that we consider sex the ultimate gift and it seems fitting to give it on a holiday? Is it because in a situation where someone feels deprived of sex, that seems like a day you really shouldn’t deprive someone? Or is it that it is the ultimate celebration of your love for someone and that seems like a perfect day to celebrate? Who knows?
I am not here stating that it is neither good nor bad to have expectations about holiday sex. You and your partner can decide whether that is awesome or a problem. I thought it would be fun to consider some of the pros and cons.
We usually also eat a lot of great food on these holidays and sex with a full stomach can be… interesting.
Expectations can add stress and stress can be debilitating when it comes to sexual function.
You can’t save your sexual relationship with your partner on a holiday every now and again. Spice is necessary more than 3 times a year.
If you don’t have holiday sex and it is expected, it can lead to a lot of hurt, passive avoidance techniques, or anger.
If sex is already a problem, the problem usually comes to a head when these expectations are unfulfilled and you can spend a perfectly good holiday fighting.
If you conceive, you can guarantee you don’t have to share an anniversary or birthday with your kid.
Going above and beyond on anything, sex included, can really make your partner feel wanted, seen and important.
The pressure of expected holiday sex, keeps you on your toes and actively working on improving your sexual relationship.
These holidays can create deep feelings of love, and perhaps create the desire to have sex in the first place.
If you plan to have sex on these holidays, the kids are usually gone and sex can be more enjoyable.
Consider these points for yourselves. Wishing you a Valentine’s Day full of love and closeness for whomever or whatever you love!
As I talk with people day to day I have come to learn that many individuals adopted a belief in childhood that their worth is based on fixed criterion. For many individuals this way of seeing themselves happened quite passively. In families it materializes subtly as parents praise children for grades, winning a little league game, advancing in religious duties, and other product related praises. I imagine with very little prompting many of us can think of the conditions of worth that were established in the family we grew up in. A consequence of this praise style is that it only highlights the outcome of the child’s efforts, thus leading the child to feel that their worth is conditioned on their success or conformity.
Carl Rogers reports that in his early years as a clinician, he was asking the question, “How can I treat, or cure, or change this person?” This is a common approach taken by parents, coaches, and other individuals that have pure intentions of helping someone they love. The trouble is that this perspective continues to feed the self-belief that “I am not ok as I am”. Carl Rogers discovered, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” This statement helps us to understand that our energies will be better spent when focused on accepting those we love for who they are, and coaching them to do the same for themselves.
As Carl Rogers continued to practice psychotherapy he altered his perspective and rather than focusing on changing people he framed his approach this way, “How can I provide a relationship, which this person may use for his own personal growth?” As life moves so quickly we often get distracted by products and outcomes. Through Carl’s awareness, I am reminded that our relationships are what matter most, and if we invest in relationships built on acceptance, we can let go of our anxieties over outcomes.
I know that creating and maintaining healthy, satisfying relationships isn’t easy. However, sometimes it doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it out to be. The problem is, we often get so overwhelmed by what’s wrong in our relationships that trying to fix it feels hopeless when it really isn’t. If you and your partner are in a relationship rut, click on the link below to read about 3 simple things you can do to get things back on track.
These tips may not fix everything or even get to the root of all your hurts, but they are a great and simple way to start.
New Year’s resolutions are the best and worst ideas all rolled into one. They can put us in a place of judgment, blame, and fear just as much as they can help us feel hope, energy, and commitment…. Until we mess up on all some of them within the first month and we’re back in the judgment, blame, and fear cycle again. As we get settled into 2016, I’ve decided that there are a few ways to commit to making healthy changes that won’t get old and won’t be derailed if (when) you forget.
Don’t be the “new you”, just be you…
Make small changes in small ways…
Don’t be the “new you”– just be you
Whenever there is a chance to start something new (a new day, a new week, a new month, or a new year) many of us feel motivated to make big changes in our lives. We want a “new” year and a bright and shiny “new” us. While the intention to want to be a new person is tempting, it’s also something that can promote shame because it says that there was something deficient about the “old” you – and that’s just not true. There wasn’t anything wrong with you in 2015. We’re always doing the best we can with what we have and what we know at the time. So, instead of having a new you, just be you and do life in a different way. You’re the same you, and you’re approaching new (and old) situations in a different way this year.
Make small changes in small ways
Along with doing things differently, we want to do EVERY thing differently, and quickly, so that we can make the biggest changes in the fastest time frame. We tend to want instant change overnight, yet none of what we want to change got that way overnight! This is also unhelpful and a recipe for shame because it implies that unless you can change everything all at once, and do so perfectly, then it’s not a good enough change or you’re not working hard enough. Let that go! It’s important to know that big changes start small. We find our way to successful change by designing a realistic approach. And small is very realistic. It lowers stress and anxiety by being manageable. Maybe what you think of as “starting small” doesn’t work on the first try. Guess what? That’s fine. In fact, a hiccup like that usually happens because your task needs to be a little smaller than your first approach in order to work. So start smaller on the second try, or the third, or the tenth until you get to a place where you find success, even if it’s small success.
Every day is a new day whether it’s January or or a Monday in November. Because of that, it’s never too late to change the relationship you have with you life by being you in a different way and making small, simple changes to create a life that matters deeply to you.
Along with a large segment of the American population, I have recently been intrigued by the Netflix phenomenon, Making a Murderer, a documentary series that details Steven Avery’s involvement with the criminal justice system after he serves 18 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit. While in the midst of a $36 million civil suit against the county that imprisoned him for damages related to his wrongful conviction, he is accused and later convicted of the brutal murder of a young woman with whom he had brief professional interaction.
Now, I’m a psychotherapist, not an expert in criminal justice and I am certainly not here to argue in either direction in this case. In my work as a psychotherapist I’ve gained a deep understanding of how memory works. As such, while I watched the docudrama, I questioned the accuracy of the testimonies provided by witnesses months, and even years, after the fact.
Most of us struggle in knowing how to give comfort to an adult who is experiencing a loss or death of a loved one, let alone a child. We often struggle with understanding death as adults and attempt to protect children from having to experience this same mess of emotions as we are. Many adults are uncomfortable discussing death and dying and use phrases that may be misunderstood by children. At times however, our well-intentioned messages do the complete opposite of giving comfort! Here are the top five to avoid!
1- “He/She is in a better place now”
This can be such a confusing statement to a child (or anyone struggling). What could be better than being here alive with me?? This type of a message can unintentionally cause the child to internalize a belief that “I must have done something bad” or “I must be bad” if being dead is better than being alive and spending time together. A better thing to say is, “Your Mom can’t feel any more pain or suffering now because she has died and her body isn’t able to feel these things now”.
2- “We lost your Grandpa”
A young child is going to be very confused by this. They may wonder “Did Grandpa run away?” or “What?! Grandpa is lost? Let’s go find him!”. The child may worry about their loved ones health and feel anxious if they are safe or being taken care of by someone nice. They may worry about them being alone and scared, which is exactly how a child would feel if they were lost too! A better thing to say is “Grandpa died last night” and answer what questions your child may have about his death.
3- “He/She has gone to sleep and won’t ever wake up”
Young children may become very scared to go to sleep after hearing this, after all, if this happened to Aunt Thelma, then it could happen to them also if they go to sleep! Many children struggle with sleeping in their own beds following the death of a loved one, as nighttime and being alone in their bed is a perfect combination for their worries and imagination to take hold and create very scary possibilities. It is normal for a child to experience some regression during this time, they may begin bedwetting, climbing into the parent’s bed, struggling with falling and staying asleep, as well as refusal to be alone.
4- “He/She has passed away”
This is a typical phrase we use culturally to describe the death of someone. However, most children do not know the definition of “passed away” is actual death. A better way to describe death to a child is to say, “Uncle Joe died today. This means that his heart is no longer beating, his mind isn’t thinking, his lungs no longer work and he has stopped breathing. His body can’t feel any pain or cold or discomfort”. Some adults feel uncomfortable about being this upfront or frank about death, but this is actually a really important lesson every single human needs to learn. Every single person will both live and die at some point. It is okay to talk about this openly and honestly.
5- “You should feel happy now that they are in heaven”
Who has ever felt happy when someone has died?? You may feel peace or tenderness or even relief, but most humans do not experience feelings of happiness and joy as part of their grieving process. When we say statements like this to kids (or adults) we unintentionally are shaming them for feeling otherwise. Happy may be the very last emotion they are feeling at this point in time. There are no “shoulds” in grief, especially in childhood grief. A better way to say this is, “Its okay to feel sad and mad and any other feeling you may feel right now”.
Muscle relaxation has always been a staple in stress reduction, but is often not something we jump to when we recognize stress or other uncomfortable emotions. In fact, we often unnecessarily carry emotional stress in our muscles long after a stressful event or situation has passed. To combat the negative effects stress has on our bodies and minds many researchers and clinicians suggest engaging in activities like yoga or deep breathing. When we hold tension in our muscles we are sending our brain the signal to release cortisol, the stress hormone. This is a good thing if we need to be primed for action, but can have adverse effects on our mental and physical health if we don’t counter act the cortisol after the stressful even has passed. In the fast-paced world we live in, with near constant stressors being thrown our way, it is rare that people can or do take the time needed to fully relieve their muscles of the stress impact, and thus it builds throughout the day.
Maybe you cant skip that stressful work meeting to go to a yoga class, but what if you could de-stress without leaving the office, or even de-stress in the stressful moment itself. You can. Here is a 5-step tip to help you tap into stress reduction throughout the day.
1- Check in with yourself throughout the day to see if you are feeling stress. Even little amounts of stress can have a big impact on your mental and physical health. Being aware of when we are feeling stress is the first step to stress reduction.
2- Rate your stress level on a scale of 0-10 so that after the muscle relaxation you can have a gauge of how it worked and if you need to take a few more seconds to relax and bring yourself further down the scale.
3- Do a body scan to assess how and where your body is holding the stress? Are you feeling tight, tense, pain, aching, fidgeting, or tingling? Are there any more subtle areas are holding tension?
4- Consciously release the tension of this area as you exhale. Imagine the muscle relaxing even if you can’t fully feel it right away. Drop your shoulders away from your ears, let your hips and legs rest heavy on the seat, and soften the muscles in your face and neck.
5- Repeat. Now that you’re more relaxed notice if there are other areas in need of relaxation.
This activity done frequently in short periods of time throughout a day may have a bigger impact on your stress reduction than that yoga class you’ve been meaning to get to. So the next time you get cut off on the freeway, overloaded with another task at work, or frustrated with your child notice how your body responds and let go of the tension in your muscles.
I was lucky enough to be featured on Dr. Christina Hibbert’s podcast Motherhood a few weeks ago. We spent an hour talking about the importance of Moms in their child’s life- focusing on the power of play!
Play is a crucial part of healthy development for our children, and guess what? It’s an essential part of a healthy YOU, too. Through play, we can better understand our children, their needs, and what we can do to help them through the hard times. We can also strengthen relationships and build connections that last a lifetime. And when we approach life and motherhood more playfully, we not only set the example for our kids; we actually learn, create, relax, and live better, too. In this episode, I’m talking with Clair Mellenthin, LCSW, an expert on play therapy, and she’s got some valuable lessons each of us needs to hear about the power of play—for us, for our children, and for our families. Don’t miss this fun, fact-filled, play-inspiring episode! And visit my website DrChristinaHibbert.com for more on this and other “Motherhood” topics!
With the 2016 right around the corner there is so much to pause and reflect on from 2015. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows are all taken into account when assessing the 15th rotation since the dawn of the new millennium. Perhaps you finally completed that project you’ve been meaning to get around to, or you landed that promotion you were really hoping for, or signed on the house of your dreams, or…not. The beauty of it all is you set goals for the year and whether you achieved them or not give yourself credit for setting them in the first place. As we all get to the usual ritual of setting resolutions for 2016 remember these two things:
Be the good you want to see – If you feel like things aren’t unicorns and skittles as often as you’d like then that is a good sign that it is time to do some self-evaluating and figure out what you are doing to contribute to that unhappiness. Give yourself permission to answer the tough questions like, “What part did I play in how things turned out?”, “How could I have handled that situation differently?”, or “What can I do better?” Rarely is the case where someone else’s actions directly impact our levels of satisfaction – it is more often the case of how we react to their actions that has that impact. Be the good you want to see and then take notice just how much your perspective will change as you’re able to balance out the bad with the good. Let your inner Yoda serve as motivation to remind you to do or do not because there is no try.
Give yourself the credit you deserve – We often suffer from the “I’m not good enough” disease which eats away at our self-esteem and leave us defenseless against the tyranny of being our own worst critic. So what if you finished last in your first marathon, YOU FINISHED A MARATHON! I certainly can’t say that and I’m pretty awesome! So go head…it’s ya birthday…we gonna party like it’s ya birthday because you deserve the credit! It’s so easy to get caught up in the grass is greener mentality but I assure you it is all about proper lawn care and maintenance that gives it that crisp sheen. That maintenance involves celebrating the small victories in life like finishing your first marathon because it is the small things that we remember the most which ultimately becomes the cherished memories that we can look back upon fondly. Now go forward with that luxurious lawn that everyone else will be envious of and be the awesome person that you are in 2016!