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Tuesday, 28 July 2009 19:16 - Healthy Tips Newsletter December 2008

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:01pm
Empower Yourself ARFE banner logo
December 2008
Monthly Health Tips Newsletter

Accessing Resources for Empowerment(tm)

New Feature: Answers to Reader's Questions - see below
This issue contains:

   Ghosts of Christmas Past - Gone!
   Eating & Exercise on Holiday
   Traveling in the Optimal State

Christmas can be a very strange time of year considering that it's supposed to be a celebration. Many people can get quite emotional at Christmas in a negative kind of way. I work a lot with young people in their 20s and 30s, and as a psychotherapist the post-Christmas season is often filled with people who have had emotional difficulties over the holiday season. Why is this?

There may be a number of reasons, but I think the bottom line is something that therapists call "spontaneous regression". Spontaneous regression is an emotional state that we can go into suddenly and without warning, where we begin to behave in a way that is less than our present age - usually a lot younger. Spontaneous regression is perfectly natural; it's not a disease or pathology. For example, you might spontaneously regress to a child-like state when you are buying toys in a toy store. I usually gravitate over to the train sets and get that "wouldn't it be nice if I had one of those" feelings, a kid-like feeling of excitement because I loved trains as a child. In spontaneous regression we unconsciously move into an emotional state that hearkens back to our childhood. It often happens in families when they get together during the Christmas season, after the children have been gone from the family home for some time.

These spontaneous regressions are triggered by certain things that we see, hear, taste, or smell - particularly the latter. Smells and odours go directly to a part of our brain called the limbic system that has to do with emotion. If you are an adult and you imagine going back to visit your parents for Christmas there are many things that can trigger memories and feelings from the past. Have you ever felt as though you have stepped back into the past when you enter your parent's home - all of a sudden you are overwhelmed by feelings that you haven't felt for a long time? That is a spontaneous regression. There wouldn't be any problem with this if we recognized it consciously and could move out of that place of feeling child-like and back into our adult state. However, there are so many of these anchors around - smells, sites, and sounds of the past - that sometimes we can get stuck and we actually begin behaving as though we were still a child. This can be a problem if parents insist on still acting like parents, thus closing the loop and setting in motion a "parent/child" interaction that may be unhealthy. (Of course, with positive emotion it can also be perfectly healthy and fun too - but we usually move through those easily!) People can get locked into these negative states fairly easily.
But why does it happen at Christmas time? I suspect because there is so much expectation tied up in the season - expectations of extra love and attention through gifts and food that may not actually satisfy.  An unsatisfied child does not a pleasant experience make! Whatever the reason, people tend to get more emotional and sensitive at Christmas time, often setting off unwanted family dynamics that can be a painful reminiscence. If you now have a family of your own and you don't go home any more for Christmas to your family of origin, then it is quite likely that your own children will bring up those past emotions at the unconscious level.

Here is something that you can do before you set off for those holidays that previously may have been difficult. First of all, you need to recognize that you are responsible for your own emotional states - positive or negative. You unconsciously create those states through the representation you make in your mind of that "outside reality". That being said, the good news is that you can change a non-resourceful state to a resourceful state.  For example, if you have found in the past that walking through the door to your parent's home gives you that strange mixed feeling of warmth and uneasiness, here is an exercise you can practice so that you can feel different. The secret is to use to use your imagination.

1. In a comfortable chair, just momentarily imagine that point in time when you first begin to feel that uneasy feeling that you would like to change. Then quickly clear your mind and think about, or look at, something neutral.

2. Now imagine for a moment a memory of feeling really alive, confident, and happy with yourself as an adult - a feeling a well-being. It doesn't have to be a big thing, just one of those moments when you felt that way. Just allow yourself to experience that feeling of inside confidence, noticing what you are thinking about and visualizing it in your mind as clearly as you can. What would people be saying to you to let you know that you are feeling that way? Hear them say that now in your mind. Notice how you feel inside as you access that emotional feeling of well-being.

3. As you do that, and the feeling of confidence and well-being rises to a peak, just go ahead and touch something on your body such as a piece of jewellery that you always wear, or perhaps press your thumb and forefinger together, or even just touch your ear lobe or squeeze a finger.  Associate that touch with the feeling now. This is called your anchor. Now let go of that anchor just before the feeling reaches its peak.

4. Now just look around the room for a moment. Get up and take a break if you like.

5. Coming back to your chair, just think about going into your parent's home, smelling that turkey, or whatever it is that used to trigger those uneasy feelings around Christmas. As you think about that, and as you may begin to get that uneasy feeling, just touch that anchor that you chose and notice that you feel confident in "yourself as an adult". In fact in your mind, you can probably even walk yourself through the whole experience of Christmas feeling that feeling of confidence and pleasure.

6. Repeat steps 1-5 at least 3-4 times, to embed this new state firmly in your unconscious mind.

7. You have just learned how to anchor a pleasant state to what was a negative trigger. You can use that anchor any time you want to generate a feeling of confidence and just being yourself. That way you don't have to be at the effect of all those people around you this Christmas season. You can really celebrate who you are as a person.  Giving people the gift of who you are is really the only gift worth giving!

Merry Christmas season!


For many people the holiday season represents a time to do something different -- get away from work for awhile, celebrate with friends and family, or just do anything we want. Sometimes that can mean that the carefully crafted nutrition or exercise program that we have been doing can run aground.  If it has been a part of your life before the holiday season, then chances are you will just let some of it go and relax a bit too much.  If it hasn't been a part of your life, then you will probably tell yourself to wait until the New Year before you begin it!

But weight! (pun intended). Maybe there is another way to do this.  Whether you are lifting weights or trying to lose weight you can keep, or even start, some of the healthy habits even though it's the holiday, and still enjoy it.

Let's look at some options:
Regarding Eating.  Everyone knows how easy it is to slip into eating lots of unhealthy foods with high calories over the holiday.  So try this:
  1. When someone offers you, or even when you see a food that might not be so healthy for you - STOP!  Look at the food, and make a conscious eat or not to eat.  If you choose to eat the food, make sure that you stay present with its taste, texture, aroma, and feeling that it gives you inside from beginning to end.  To do this, you will have to eat it very slowly so that you can savour, fill up, and feast on the experience.  No need to feel guilty about that!  If you choose not to eat the food, then look around and focus your attention elsewhere - the people around you and the positive connections you can make.  Many people eat out of habit and in an unconscious way - out of awareness.  They often have an uncomfortable feeling inside that is not hunger, but is more anxiety related, and because of conditioning we tend to want to fill up that feeling with food instead of other nourishing things like love, caring and connection.
Regarding Exercise.  If you are already exercising and you find yourself slipping out of the habit over the holiday, then just do something different.  You may not go to the gym, but you can go for brisk walks instead.  Fresh air is good, wakens the senses, and brightens the mind.  If you are not exercising yet, this may be a good time to begin moving around a little more then you were.  Start small and gradually increase.

Above all don't let the holidays control you.  Take charge, be conscious. Make choices in a conscious, careful fashion, so that you can continue to enjoy all the other festivities of the season as well.

Thanks for reading this month's newsletter. See you next month!

Healthy Tips Short and Simple~News to Use
There are four basic principles to health:
1. Good nutrition
2. Good exercise
3. Good thinking and emotional states
4. Good self-care
These embrace the mind, body and spirit of good health and well-being. Each monthly tip(s) will address one or more or more of these principles. These health tips are short and simple.  All tips, where applicable, are based on quality research that is being done in the medical field. You will see links throughout the newsletter to take you to more detail if you wish...or you can simply read what's here.
So, your bags are packed and you've got all your liquids in their small plastic containers for carry on.  It's five in the morning and you're headed for the airport.  That glorious trip that you have been planning is finally in sight. But you arrive at that airport and it's hell!  There is a morass of people.  Line-ups all over the place.  You start to feel tense, perhaps a headache is coming on -- now your bags are overweight, somebody stepped on your foot and your kids are cranky.  Somehow that great vacation that you had in sight is quickly losing its allure.
But wait.  Help is on the way!  I call it the Optimal Travel State or OTS for short.  It's a state of relaxed alertness helpful for negotiating today's tough travel environment.
Interested in learning how to get into an OTS?  It's easy.
Go to Optimal Travel State to get your 15 min. mp3 download in time for the holiday season at a special holiday price


Have Bright Idea for a Health Topic?

I'd like to hear about it! Just reply any time and let me know what topics you'd like to know more about.
Email Dr. Leyton

Frequently Asked Questions about our CDs

Dr. Leyton says:
The short answer is 'yes' to both questions.  The CD was designed to do work for people with longstanding mild to severe flying fears.  The only proviso is that you have what is called a single point phobia.  That means that overall your fear of flying is the only fear you have.  It may not work, or may be less likely to work if you have many fears of different things in your life - sometimes called 'free-floating' anxiety.
As far as taking the CD on the plane is concerned, this is actually recommended. But in Canada, according to the regulations of Transport Canada, you cannot play any electronic devices during take-off and climbing.  Therefore, for some people that means that they may not be able to use the CD when they most need it!  You may be able to get permission from the flight crew; but in any event, as soon as regulations permit, you can play it.

Answers to Reader's Questions
12 year-old V.G. from Kingston writes:
I'm curious to know if having someone predict your fortune affects the way you live your life afterwards
Dr. Leyton:  That's a tough one!  Firstly, be careful who you choose to do the job of predicting your future.  Some people would say that it can't be done with any accuracy.  Secondly, once you have the prediction please remember that you will always have a choice about which path to take in life.  You may be motivated by the psychic to make certain positive decisions that are in alignment with your desire; but never let a psychic influence you to make decisions that are not in your best interest.
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