Thanksgiving In Perspective

OPINION: Thanksgiving In Perspective

OPINION: From My Perspective

A Traditional Thanksgiving May Become a Relic of the Past

By Megan Wallin

As an adoptee with strong ties to and respect for my biological Oglala Lakota heritage—now three generations and several European ancestors away from life on the reservation—I’ve had some qualms with traditional American views of Thanksgiving.

There are quite a few people (Native and Non) who feel similarly, but I’ve also spoken with some elders who, despite being deeply ingrained in their tribal cultures, feel neutral on the subject. Their reasoning? Holidays are what you make them. For many, any holiday is a day off to share with loved ones and focus on gratitude, and that includes this one. Still, it remains a bleak reminder of the origin story behind genocide and intergeneration trauma.

Ironically, some of the people I’ve talked to who are most passionately opposed to Thanksgiving have entirely European heritage. They’ve proposed enjoying the day off but celebrating a Harvest Day, changing the title and the focus of a day ultimately rooted in celebrating colonialism that led to the destruction of tribes, families, cultures and languages. They’re certainly not wrong to think that.

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10 Plus Tips To Cope With Anxiety

Got Holiday Anxiety?

With Thanksgiving comes tension for some. . .

10 Plus Tips To Cope


Don’t Let Anxiety Ruin Your Holidays

By D. S. Mitchell 

Turkey and Pumpkin Pie 

The holidays are right around the corner. Some are excited about turkey and gravy, and fancy wrapped presents, but others see only stress and anxiety on the horizon. If you are hosting parties, the stress level is on steroids; fancy china, excited young ones, guests, surprise and otherwise. It can seem overwhelming. Read on if you are looking for some tips on how to get you through the holidays as anxiety free as possible.

Be Ready

Stay rested and recharged, ahead of the holidays. Take time for yourself.  Get enough sleep, engage in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Don’t skip self care routines under the pressure of the approaching holidays. Don’t do it-skipping health care routines will cost in the long run. You need that 30 minutes of cardio and any other health activities you are engaged in. These activities will keep you balanced and ready to face the upcoming holiday challenges. It just might be yoga, biking, stretching, Tai Chi, or  aqua aerobics, that  saves your sanity.

Everyone has different triggers, and identifying them is one of the most important steps to coping and managing anxiety attacks. Common ones, your first day at a new job, heading an important meeting, meeting your SO’s parents. Time and reflection will be required to identify your triggers. In the meantime, there are things you can do to try to help calm or quiet your anxious mind.

4.) Use aromatherapy

Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood are soothing. Certain receptors in your brain are activated by aromatherapy.

5.) Walking or Yoga

Just walk away if the situation is causing anxiety. It might be time to focus on  your body and not your mind to relieve your anxiety. Just move. Whether it’s the pool or the yoga mat, move your butt, it helps reduce stress. Try stretching, it can be incredibly beneficial.

6.) Write down your thoughts

Many mental health therapists suggest a client write down what’s causing their anxiety. Writing it down, gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting. My mother used this one, on a regular basis. She would write letters to the offenders and put them in envelopes addressed to whoever was causing her frustration and then stick it in a file, never sending it.

Not All Anxiety Is The Same
The previous suggestions are helpful if your symptoms are situational or sporadic. If anxiety is an on-going, persistent part of you life you may need more serious interventions and coping strategies.
Five Strategies For Coping With Long-Term Illness 

If anxiety is a regular part of your life, not just around the holidays, it’s important to find treatment strategies to help you manage it. There might be a combination of things, like talk therapy and meditation, or perhaps cutting out or resolving your anxiety trigger. Confused, as to where to start? It is always helpful to discuss options with a mental health professional who might suggest something you hadn’t thought of before moving ahead with your plan.

Some Well-Known Triggers:
  • debt
  • a stressful work environment
  • traveling
  • driving
  • DNA-genetics — anxiety, depression, alcoholism can run in families
  • drug withdrawal
  • medication side effects
  • trauma
  • phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
  • some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma
  • chronic pain
  • multiple mental illness diagnoses (such as depression, OCDC, anxiety)
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
Managing Those Triggers

Sometimes triggers can be obvious, such as caffeine, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Other times triggers are less obvious and we may need a therapist to help us isolate those triggers. Long-term stress, such as financial or work-related situations, can be more difficult— is it a due date, a person, or the situation? At this point you may need some extra support, through therapy or with some trusted friends.

Then What?

Once you do figure out your trigger(s), you should try to limit your exposure to them if you can. If you can’t limit it — say because it is due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.

1.) Try Meditation

A successful meditation regime will take time and practice.  When done regularly, you can train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise. If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting your exercise routine with more active physical exertion and then start your yoga routine.

2.) Adopt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviors before they spiral into a panic attack.

3.) Healthy Diet, Regular Exercise, Embrace Life 

Exercise regularly. Eat balanced meals. Get enough sleep. Stay connected to people who care about you. You may want to talk to your psychiatrist about adding supplements or nutrients to your long-term strategy.

4.) Consider Adding Supplements

Research shows certain supplements or nutrients help reduce anxiety symptoms. Some of these include:

  • lemon balm
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • green tea
  • valerian root
  • dark chocolate (in moderation)

It can take up to three months before your body is actually using the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor. I’ve said that twice. I cannot say it enough. Different medications interact with one another whether OTC  or prescription. Talk to your doc.

5.) Prescription Medications

If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health practitioner believes you’d benefit from psychotropic medication, there are a number of directions to go, depending on your symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Is My Anxiety Harmful?

Identifying what variety of anxiety you’re dealing with can be challenging-mainly because everyone’s body reacts to danger in entirely different ways. I’m sure you have heard “anxiety” used as a general term for feeling worry, uneasiness, or nervousness. It is often situational, a big dance, a speech, a tryout; it is often a feeling grown in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome. Every human being deals with such emotions-at some time in their life. It is part of how we are wired, our brains respond to perceived danger, even if there is no real danger.

Things Can Get Dark

There are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that may begin slowly and initially feel manageable, but build up over a few hours. (Panic attacks are different. A panic attack comes out of the blue and then subsides.)

Signs and Symptoms of an anxiety attack

These are some of the more common mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • feelings of danger, panic, or dread
  • nervousness/restlessness
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • trembling/chills
  • tiredness/weakness
  • gastric problems
  • difficulty focusing
  • rapid breathing, hyperventilating

It is possible to have both an anxiety and panic attack simultaneously. The quick coping strategies mentioned above may also help with a panic attack.

Try focusing on an object, repeating a mantra, closing your eyes, and going to your happy place.

Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Causes of Anxiety

If you notice that quick tips haven’t been working, you may want to consider seeing a professional for help. Especially if you believe you have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the symptoms are interfering with your daily routine and physical symptoms. A mental health professional can help with identifying your triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, medications, and more.

Living With Anxiety 

If your anxiety stems from a past trauma, it can be helpful to work through those issues with a licensed therapist. On the other hand, if your brain chemistry predisposes you to persistent, chronic anxiety, you may need to go on medication to manage it. Anxiety is likely to continue to be part of your life, but it doesn’t need to take over your life.  Treatment is available to help control those painful symptoms and make those holidays at least tolerable.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is about candy, fun and costumes.

Happy Halloween!

It’s That Time of Year…

By Anna Hessel

All About Pumpkin Spice

Happy Halloween, everyone!  The pandemic has changed how we celebrate, but it’s fun to remember Halloweens gone by, while dreaming up ways to make new memories.  The crisp fall air, bright and vivid autumn colors, and everything, from facial wash to floor polish, going all pumpkin spice, makes me think of Halloween. Chocolate, candy apples, and costumes, every child’s dream.  The crowning of our newest Miss America made me recall a particular Halloween costume of my youth.

A Mask of a Different Kind

Unlike the very cool Halloween ensembles we now see displayed in retail establishments, when I was child, costumes were different.  They came in a square box with a cellophane window and consisted of a one-piece garment made of a flimsy, shiny nylon, and a full face, molded plastic mask with cutouts for eyes, nostrils, and mouth.  Those masks were quite like a sauna for the face – those of us that have reached a certain age can remember that sweaty-faced feeling that came with wearing one of those frightful false faces.

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Labor Day: Laboring On. . .

Labor Day: Laboring On. . .

Labor Day: Laboring On. . . 

By Wes Hessel

Laboring On…

The calendar end of summer is generally considered Labor Day, the first Monday in September.   But what is Labor Day?  And what is labor?  The idea of a holiday to recognize the organized labor movement was first proposed in 1882. There are two competing stories as to who was responsible, but was it McGuire or Maguire?

McG?

Some historians say Peter McGuire, then-vice president of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), is responsible for the holiday. It is said, McGuire, who had witnessed pro-labor parades in Toronto in May of that year, wanted to see something similar in New York.  According to that narrative, Mr. McGuire pitched the recommendation to the New York City’s CLU (Central Labor Union) on May 8th.  He said like in Canada, the celebration should begin with a labor street march, then finish up with a picnic.  McGuire proposed that the participating labor organizations sell admission tickets to raise funds.  He believed the first Monday in September was perfect for such a holiday. First, it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving. Second, the September date should insure ideal weather.

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