Lepage Associates Newsletter
Mental Health Matters
December 2009
Lepage Associates
Call: (919) 572-0000
In This Issue
Holidays and Health
Women's Group
Holidays and Family
Holidays:  Health Edition
It's time for the holidays! With the holidays come snack foods, more time indoors, less exercise, and more alcohol. This temptation isn't necessarily all bad, but it can sometimes make enjoying the holidays more stressful. Here are some tips for enjoying the holidays while preserving your physical and mental health.
Holiday Weight
The colder season means less activity, increased snacking, and holiday feasts, making it difficult to stay in shape. Weight gain can increase depression and anxiety as well. Avoiding those extra calories can be challenging, but there are ways to limit excessive eating and manage a healthier lifestyle.
Mall Power-walk
Figuring out what gifts to buy for friends and family can be time consuming, so why not turn it into a fun fat-burning exercise? Take a small notebook and pen with you to the mall and start the hunt.  You don't have to buy anything, just go from store to store jotting down items, who they are for, and the price.  This practice can actually save you money by comparing prices for certain gifts as well as burn off the holiday desserts. 
Pre-party Snacking
Going to a party on an empty stomach can lead to more plates of rich cakes and treats instead of healthier alternatives at home; resulting in that uncomfortable engorged feeling during a holiday event. If you also drink alcohol at a party, you are likely to eat more, or become more intoxicated if you have not eaten beforehand. The solution is to eat a light snack, such as a small salad or sandwich, before attending festivities where scrumptious sweets are available. Not all snacking is bad!
Holiday Drinking
You work all year long at a stressful job which means during the holidays, you should drink all the alcohol you can handle, right? Maybe not.... Drinking four or more drinks in a row for women and five or more in a row for men is considered binge drinking, which is a form of alcohol abuse. This can be detrimental to your body, mental health, and those around you. Many use the excuse of vacation from work to drink to their hearts content, often sinking into depression or disrupting family events, which can damage relationships. In addition to these risks, drunk drivers cause more and more devastation on the roads each year, particularly during this season.
Party Hopping
With so many events planned with families and friends, some find themselves traveling from one party to the next after having more than the legal amount of alcohol in their bodies. This can change a perfect holiday into a tragic mistake. Manage your drinking by deciding which parties to drink at and have a back-up plan for transportation in the event that you do not feel safe to drive. Keep in mind that you may not feel those last few drinks until you are already on the road, so leave approximately one and a half to two hours between the last drink and when you decide to drive in order to accurately estimate your level of inebriation. Taxis or friends should be made readily available to ensure safe passage home.
Alcohol as a Crutch
The holidays aren't always filled with happy memories. There may be unresolved family conflict which tempts you into excessive drinking in order to "get by" during the holidays. Using alcohol as a crutch is a slippery slope that can worsen most situations.  Alcohol acts as a depressant, slowing heart rate and relaxing tension; however these can be negative affects for someone experiencing depression. This can lead to self-destructive behavior, fighting, and even suicide. If you find that you are seeking alcohol to "cure" the holiday blues, try speaking with a friend or seek counseling. A licensed psychologist is trained to handle difficult situations such as this, and they can provide long-lasting results compared with the temporary numbing that comes from drinking. Together, you can devise a plan to alleviate stress and prevent depressive episodes, resulting in a healthier lifestyle and a happier you.

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Happy Holidays! 


The holidays are upon us. This can be a very fun, exciting, and loving time of year. It can also increase our stress. Even good stress can impact us negatively if we have a lot to deal with. We have several articles to help you think about ways to manage your stress during the holiday season, and keep some peace on earth for yourself.
Also check out our In the News article about 

Women's Therapy Group

Could you use a little more support in your life?
Have you been looking for extra support or a different perspective on issues or stressors in your life?  Do you struggle to find a neutral and non-judgmental space to share your thought and feelings?  If so, consider joining our Women's Therapy Group. We are an open enrollment group that meets every other Wednesday night from 6:00-7:15 to support and gain insight into a variety of problems from depression and anxiety to relationships, etc. Our group welcomes women of all ages struggling with all types of concerns, and our goal is to create a trusting, open space where group members can experience the wonderful effects of the insight and wisdom of a group of women.
Why a Women's Group?
The group experience can be a powerful tool for change for many women. For those feeling social isolated, alone, or that no one 'gets' how they are feeling, group provides a forum for feeling both heard and understood. For women who are socially connected but need a more private space separate from those family, social, and work relationships, group provides a confidential place to address concerns about self and others. Connection is something particularly important for women, and the change that can occur simply through feelings of connectedness to other women is significant. Unlike individual therapy, groups allow for feedback from other women facing similar life struggles, and members derive a sense of safety and security through this relatedness that allows for a deeper level of openness. Group members are also encouraged to speak openly about their feelings and dynamics with other group members and then to relate this to their relationships outside of group. Relationships and roles in group often mirror the roles played by individuals in their outside lives, and exploring this in a safe, therapeutic environment can provide powerful insight into the roles that we play in our families and with our friends.
Is group right for me?
A group setting is often particularly useful for women who feel isolated or disconnected from other people for a variety of reasons, or who are seeking privacy from their friends and family in which to explore their issues. Women who have always struggled to feel close to others, who have recently experienced a loss or illness that has distanced them from supports in their lives, or those who struggle with either distant, explosive, or over-involved families often feel group is an ideal therapeutic setting.
If you are interested in joining our Women's Therapy Group, or would like more information contact Dr. Molly Parks at mparks@lepageassociates.com or call (919)572-0000. You can also visit our website at www.lepageassociates.com.

Holidays:  Family Edition
Dealing with Stress and Simplifying the Mess
The holidays are here, which means it's time for shopping, family gatherings, celebrations, and of course, STRESS. While it is exciting to bring in the New Year, many find this a time of constant rushing from one event to another and managing vacation time. In addition to the typical stress one encounters, the economy is making Christmas shopping difficult. Whether its family issues or money issues, there are ways to reduce this stress and have a happier, healthier holiday.
The holidays bring a lot of family events to attend, which can be stressful when trying to decide where to be and how to get everyone there at the right time. It also means along with seeing the family you've missed, you see those you have trouble getting along with. Knowing what to expect and how to handle the tension between family members is crucial to having a peaceful holiday. Here are some helpful tips to reduce stress and encourage better family interaction.
Take Turns
Sometimes visiting both partners' families can be difficult, particularly if the events overlap or you just don't have enough time. This time we have to take the same advice we tell our kids when they're young: Take turns. Sharing the time with each family can prevent future arguments. For example, visit your family for Thanksgiving and your partner's for Christmas or vice versa. Alternating by year is also a way to better manage your time with each family.
It's Okay to Say "No"
Time is a precious gift, and getting caught up in the events may deter you from spending quality time with your significant other and children. "We have to go to this..." will come up in conversation over and over around this time of the year, but guess what?  You don't have to go to everything. Saying "no" once and awhile keeps you from being overburdened and leaves you with more time to spend with those closest to you. Less traveling and preparing means less stress. It's okay to go to a few functions, but when you find yourself stressing over what's next, don't be afraid to slow down for a little "you" time.
Boys will be Boys
We've all heard that expression. Well, parents will be parents. No matter how old you are, parents may continue to question, 'pester,' or critique your lifestyle. Being prepared for these interactions can help lessen the stress when it happens. Even if the family member you're concerned about spending time with isn't one of your parents, knowing what to expect and how to avoid conflict can help prevent dramatic situations. If there are conversations or comments that are repeated each year, decide how you will respond ahead of time and stick to it. Being able to say, "I understand that's how you feel," and then changing the topic can help deescalate conflict.
Costs of the Holidays
Let's face it; Holidays are an expensive time of year with gifts, travel, parties, and feasts.  In these tough times, spending money is a big deal. Here are some techniques to reduce your debt, prevent stress, and hopefully lead to a more efficient holiday schedule, with less worry, and more peace.
Avoid the Credit Card
Everyone enjoys the feeling of a buy now, pay later lifestyle, but this can lead to some serious debt. The typical behavior with credit cards is to spend more money and make less frugal purchases. To avoid this pitfall, stick to cash when making your holiday shopping trip. Buy only what you have the money for and then stop. Counting out cash helps you see exactly how much you have to spend, can keep you from making pricey choices, and it can also help motivate you to find the best deal.
Shop Before the Good Deals Drop
Winter brings out the largest volume of shoppers than any other time of the year, which means prices start to soar right around the end of fall. Early shopping has advantages in two ways: lower prices and fewer shoppers (avoiding the insanity of Christmas mayhem).  Less hassle for gifts and more money in your wallet means less stress for you. 
Child Care
Children require special attention during the holidays, and it is important to remember to attend to their needs in order to ensure their safety and overall well-being. You may need to consider whether or not to bring a child, based on their age, to a party. Divorce can make the holidays tricky. And, many of us have the inevitable concern about how much is too much with regards to gifts.
Where the Wild Things Are
There is nothing wrong with celebrating during holiday vacation, but some parties involve excessive drinking and other adult behaviors. When deciding whether or not to bring your child to a party, it is wise to consider your child's age. Are they too young to make good decisions about their own behavior, what will be modeled at the party, are they old enough that you have to worry about them participating in drinking, etc? You may consider calling in advance to determine whether childcare will be provided or if alternative planning is necessary. Relatives or close friends may be willing to provide, but it is also smart to have a babysitter list and plan babysitting fees into your budget so you aren't stuck at home at the last minute.
Planning Events in a Divorced Family
For divorced parents, it can be difficult to figure out how to share time with children and both sides of the family. It is important to be upfront and honest with your family and let them know that the children may not be able to come to every family event. Pick and chose events wisely so children get quality family time with both sides of the family.
Gifts for Kids
When buying gifts for children, it is not necessary to give them everything they want. The holidays are a great time to give children toys, but help them learn and understand the value of these gifts by encouraging them to buy or donate items to homeless shelters, consignment stores, or local charities. Remember that you can say 'no' to your children, and not buying them all the newest and most expensive gifts does not make you a bad parent.


Monthly Reader
Each month we will recommend a book that someone at our practice has found useful. This month's book is:
Saving Dinner for the Holidays: Menus, Recipes, Shopping Lists, and Time Lines for Spectacular, Stress-free Holidays and Family Celebrations
by Leanne Ely