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Setting Your Intentions


As we approach the holiday season, it is easy to start to feel overwhelmed. There is a growing

“to-do” list as the year comes to a close; gifts to buy, functions to attend, holiday celebrations,

and so many of us have end of year professional obligations as well. Add the shorter days and

seasonal germs to the mix and it is easy to see why so many people struggle during the holiday

season.



For many, the mere thought of the mountain of things to complete can stop them in

their tracks. Anxiety about the coming days and weeks builds, and many find themselves

“doomcasting”- forecasting the worst case scenarios, and then crashing into depressed feelings

once these self-fulfilled prophecies come to pass. These struggles are not truly prophetic- no

one can really predict the future with any certainty, but research does suggest that one’s

mindset is a powerful tool to coping with difficulties. When someone experiences erroneous

thinking or attitudes toward themselves or others, it is called cognitive distortion (Ouhmad et

al.,2023; Beck, 1963; Franceschi, 2007; Kendall, 2012). These distorted ways of viewing

situations and others can contribute to increased feelings of anxiety, depression, avoidance of

situations or people, and impair daily functioning (Ouhmad et al., 2023).


To alleviate these feelings and address the situation appropriately, it is helpful to dig

into the thoughts and actions associated to gain better understanding. One such method is the

Socratic Questioning method. This method seeks to gain a deeper awareness of oneself and the

world around them (Barnes & Payette, 2017). This helpful worksheet from Therapistaid can help guide you through the process of questioning thoughts more effectively, to better manage your emotions and actions.



Further, coping with mindful activities can increase one’s overall mental health and self-

esteem. There is considerable evidence in the mental health field that supports the idea of

setting healthy mindsets to better deal with anxiety, depression, and resilience in difficult

situations (Lyssenko et al. 2015). Having a positive mindset increases the likelihood of success in

pursuits and contributes to decreased symptoms of anxiety or depression (2015). Setting time

aside to engage in mindfulness activities can reset one’s mood and sense of well-being. Ahead

of this hustle and bustle it is a good idea to dedicate time to meditate, reflect, and set

intentions moving forward. Using the five senses to cope with stress is another effective

mindful grounding technique. The sense of smell has long been overlooked in its impact to

mental health (Giuseppe, 2019).


How many times have you been walking through a crowd and caught a smell that takes you somewhere in your memory?

Our senses are powerful gateways to our minds, for better or worse. Using pleasant smells and scents can decrease one’s agitation and elevate mood (Giuseppe, 2019).


Here is a fun idea ahead of the season to incorporate some of these techniques described above and get into the spirit; a holiday simmer pot. These are easy to do and can leave your home smelling fragrant and pleasant. Here is a link to a list of different simmer pot ideas for your home.


 

Written by one of Sincere's wonderful Counselors: Audrey Akers, LPCC




References


Barnes, B., & Payette, P. (2017). Socratic Questioning. The National Teaching & Learning Forum,

26(6), 6–8. https://doi.org/10.1002/ntlf.30129

Giuseppe Riva. (2019). The role of smell in medical and psychological disorders: An

interdisciplinary approach. Journal of Health and Social Sciences, 4(3), 301–304.

https://doi.org/10.19204/2019/thrl2

Ouhmad, N., Deperrois, R., El Hage, W., & Combalbert, N. (2023). Cognitive distortions, anxiety,

and depression in individuals suffering from PTSD. International Journal of Mental Health,

ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207411.2023.2219950

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