BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Before sitting down to pass the turkey and mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving, consider focusing on what brings people to the table in the first place.
That’s the advice of Dr. Deitra Hickey, a licensed counselor, certified life coach, motivational speaker and entrepreneur who recommends several important tips for keeping the peace, especially during the upcoming holiday season.
Hickey acknowledges that with a tense and divisive election cycle, a pandemic that continues to rage, and Thanksgiving dinner around the corner, anxiety is incredibly high. That is why being mindful of the consequences that high-stress situations often bring, is more important than ever.
“When we are at a heightened stress level, the things that cause friction and divide us can also cause our filters to be a little bit loose,” she said. “It takes effort, positivity and healthy mental health to have those filters in place or to think before you speak.”
On the political front, especially, opinions have become so loud and so forceful, the human element has gotten lost, Hickey added.
“I think that the media, both television and social media, along with our politicians, have become so vocal that our culture has unfortunately evolved to desensitizing other people’s opinions and feelings. They are dehumanized,” she said.
Hickey believes that a first step to getting in the right frame of mind is to focus on positive words and images before coming to the proverbial table. That means lessening the amount of time engaged in divisive content. Even scary movies or sad books should be kept to a minimum in order to stay in a positive state of mind, she suggested.
Also, be wary of bonding through negativity or talking too much about destructive issues, even with those with whom you may agree. Those conversations are often still not positive, even if you are talking with people who agree with you, she said.
“Anything that doesn’t promote positivity or make us feel warm and fuzzy should be reduced,” she said. “Waking up and immediately turning on the news or checking social media as it relates to who is arguing with who in politics can be consuming. If it makes you anxious or depressed or frustrated or angry, don’t engage more and more. Engage less and less.”
Secondly, Hickey recommends being mindful of your surroundings and limit sharing your opinions with others, especially with those of whom you aren’t sure will agree with you or not.
“Don’t assume that because you are in the same place, you are like-minded politically,” she said. “Being aware of your surroundings and holding back from making comments, especially if you are not sure, will avoid stress and unwanted tension.”
Thirdly, Hickey says to be respectful and open to learning about other points of view in order to engage in healthy discussion and discourse.
“If you don’t truly listen, you are not going to know their ‘why,’ and if you don’t understand, then ask questions and make it obvious that you truly are trying to learn and understand,” she said.
Finally, Hickey recommends letting it go. She says that while it is important to be informed and educated, it is also important to move on to other things rather than remain focused on the conflict-ridden programming that currently infiltrates all types of media formats.
“I don’t think that any single piece of advice is going to fix this divisiveness, but if we are talking about how to fix handling the divisiveness and our stress levels, then it’s going to need to be a combination of the recommendations and intentions,” she said.
Dr. Deitra Hickey is the author of three books, including Fearless – Strength and Positivity in the Eyes of Adversity, Stress and the Power of Perspective and We All Have a Story: How to Build Connections and Strengthen Relationships.
She is also a motivational speaker who addresses a wide range of topics related to the importance of attaining and maintaining proper balance and perspective in both work and personal life.
She is the founder and owner of Serenity Health & Wellness Center, a med-spa that opened in 2010, providing a full line of wellness services including massage therapy, skin care, yoga, colon hydrotherapy, acu-puncture and more.
Earlier this year, she also opened Serenity Nail Salon & Spa, with a partner, Li Sunid. Serenity Nails offers a complete line of nail services for both men and women as well as aesthetic services and more.
Prior to opening the med-spa, Hickey spent 17 years working for Toledo Public Schools as a teacher, counselor, principal and district administrator. She also taught Ph.D. students in Leadership and Business Management at The University of Toledo.
Serenity Health & Wellness Spa is located at 1685 Lance Pointe Dr. in Maumee. For more information, call (419) 891-2181 or visit https://serenitywellness1.com.
Serenity Nail Salon and Spa is located two doors down at 1679 Lance Point Dr. in Maumee. For information, please call (419) 741-0808 or visit https://serenitynailsmaumee.com.