As this year is coming to a close, many of my clients, myself and loved ones are looking back on 2017.
With the holiday season in full swing, we are all reminded to take an inventory of the blessings and good memories we enjoyed throughout the year. Some of my favorite include spending time with my four year old niece, taking part in a yoga retreat and expanding my psychotherapy practice.
I'm sure we could all think of things small and large to be grateful for daily, weekly, yearly - a practice that has been shown to improve our mood, motivation and stress levels.
**THERAPY CHALLENGE: Try finding four things each day that you accomplished, went well, made you proud, made you smile or boosted your confidence. Write these down each evening and read them first thing the next morning. Try doing this for 21 days in a row, the number of days some say it takes to build a new habit. You can use a journal, an app on your phone, or a simple piece of paper. If you try it, let us now how it went in the comments section!
Now it's time to address the elephant in the room. "Desiree," I can hear you say, "2017 sucked for me. Stop trying to trick me into thinking I'm #blesed." And, you are absolutely right. From the empowering but horrifying number of individuals speaking out against their sexual abusers both in and outside of Hollywood in the #metoo movement, to DACA and immigration policy changes threatening to break up families all over the country, racial and religious discrimination and violence, the loss of health care coverage being an ongoing fear, all while many Americans still struggle to find employment and connect to services they need and deserve - especially our Veterans. It has not been an easy year.
Many of my clients have been increasingly anxious, depressed and re-traumatized over the last year, citing not only the concerns already listed, but discord among family members and friends regarding drastic differences in opinion. At such a divided time in our nation's history, it is more important now than ever to take care of yourself. Take inventory of your relationships and detach with love from those which feel too toxic and unbearable to continue. You have a right to protect yourself from those who are only capable of bringing you down. You have a right to set boundaries as well, if cutting them out completely is not your goal. When setting boundaries, there is often times a period of resistance from the party who the boundaries are being set for. Be strong during this time and remind yourself of what your relationship needs and limits are. You are entitled to these things! It is possible to agree to disagree if both parties are willing to recognize that love is more important at the end of the day.
Going it alone is not easy, and my door is always open for free consultations and connections to care.
Aside from offering my own personal services, I wanted to share some resources that may be helpful:
Living in New York, a sanctuary city, many people I work with are very worried they they or their loved ones may be separated or face penalties. This is a very real stress. My advice to individuals and families is to utilize the many free or low-cost legal services being provided through Action NYC, though be cautious of visa scams. New York Immigration Coalition has great resources (in Spanish, Chinese, Creole, Arabic and French) highlighting your rights, precautions to take and useful information for those at risk of deportation. For a confidential phone consultation with New York State New Americans Hotline please call 1-800-566-7636. NYCID is a helpful piece of documentation to have. Check here for how and where to apply as well as the list of benefits of having the card.
Studies have shown that women of color, members of the LGBTQIA community and college students experience the highest rate of sexual assault. New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault has emergency care and survivor resources available. Call 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area - including outside of NYC.
The Department of Veterans Services offers assistance including housing, education assistance, employment services and more.
If there are resources you are in need of not listed above, head over to the contact page to let me know.
Many people are becoming involved in local and national movements and/or support groups to have their voices heard and increase their feeling of empowerment. No matter what you are struggling with, there are many like you who have walked in your shoes and are finding ways to not only survive, but to thrive. Recovery, support, and doing better are possible. It may just take a bit of time and effort for us to get there individually, and as a country.
All of that being said, I wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season filled with self-compassion, good times, and connection to any form of care that may help your life become a little bit easier.
Thank you for reading and be well,