HMS Counseling Newsletter

December 2015

Classroom Guidance

The classroom guidance topic for the month of December is anger management. During this lesson, students will learn to identify what triggers their anger as well as the difference between healthy and unhealthy ways of expressing that anger.

Holiday Kindness BINGO Challenge

As part of our Power of One initiative, the school counseling department is sponsoring our first ever Holiday Kindness BINGO Challenge. Each student will receive a BINGO card, featuring acts of kindness. Some acts of kindness are small, such as giving a compliment to a classmate or thanking their parents. Other acts require more effort, such as sending a holiday card to a soldier or donating food to your local shelter. The first student from each grade level to get BINGO will win a gift card to Regal Theaters.

In order to verify that acts of kindness have been performed, students may do the following:

1) Have their BINGO card signed by a parent or teacher.

2) Take a picture of themselves performing the act of kindness and Tweet or Instagram it using the hashtags #PowerOfOne #KindnessChallenge.

You can find the BINGO card here:

Mark your calendar for our next Parent Night!

Recent statistics suggest that as many as 38% of adolescents self-injure --intentionally cut, burn, or harm themselves physically in other ways in order to relieve emotional stress. Gain awareness on this growing trend, and learn how to help your student by attending our next Parent Night on Tuesday, January 12 from 6:30-8:00 in our library.

Important dates for 7th grade Duke TIP participants

The following are important dates for 7th grade students participating in the Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP) this year:

December 5 -- December SAT Date

December 12 -- December ACT Date

January 15 --Test preparation session for all students testing in round 2

January 23 -- January SAT Date

February 6 -- February ACT Date

For more information, please contact Ms. Stokes

Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues

In the midst of the hustle and bustle, the holidays often bring unwelcome guests--stress and depression. Follow these tips to bring more joy to your holiday season:

1) Acknowledge your feelings. If you have recently lost a loved one or can't be close to those nearest and dearest to your heart throughout the holidays, it's normal to feel sadness and grief. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's Christmas. Make sure to take time out to acknowledge and express your feelings.

2) Reach out. If you feel lonely, reach out to friends, religious communities, or other social groups for fellowship and support. Volunteering your time is a great way to give back to others and to lift your spirits at the same time.

3) Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect. As families change and grow, often so do traditions. Hold on to the most important ones, but be flexible and open to change. For example, if your family can't be together over the holidays, find new ways to celebrate together such as sharing pictures or videos.

4) Set aside differences. Even if they don't live up to all of your expectations, try to accept friends and family members as they are. Temporarily put aside grievances until the holidays have passed. Try to be understanding of others' feelings during this time. Chances are, they are probably experiencing the stress of the holiday season too!

5) Stick to a budget. Before you go food or gift shopping, decide in advance how much money you can afford to spend and stick to your budget. Looking for alternatives? Try these ideas: 1) give homemade gifts, 2) start a family gift exchange, 3) donate to a charity in someone's name.

6) Plan ahead. Set aside specific times for shopping, baking, visiting family, etc. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and scrambling to get everything done at the last minute.

7) Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and family will understand if you can't participate in every activity during the holidays. If it's not possible to say no to your boss when he/she asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for lost time.

8) Don't abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence during the holidays only adds to your stress. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, and incorporate physical activity into your routine. Also, try eating a healthy snack prior to holiday parties to prevent overindulgence in sweets and snacks.

9) Take a breather. No matter how busy your holiday season is, take time for yourself to relax and enjoy yourself. Even 15 minutes makes a big difference! Try going for a walk, reading a book, listening to soothing music, or even treating yourself to a massage! Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, and restoring your inner calm.

10) Seek professional help if needed. If your holiday blues seem to last for a while or if you have persistent trouble sleeping, feeling sad, anxious, or irritable, talk to a mental health professional.

Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers and take steps to prevent stress and depression. With a little planning and positive thinking, you too can find joy and peace during this holiday season!

(Adapted from the Mayo Clinic article Stress, Depression, and the Holidays: Tips for Coping)

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