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Breathe, Mama

Oh, mama. I see you…  tangled up in a mess of emotions and putting on a brave face for the kids. Closing yourself in the bathroom in an effort to shelter your children from the eruption of emotion that is bubbling and threatening just under the surface. Trying hard to smile and show interest in yet-another-kid-inspired game of pretend even though what you actually feel is nothing. Numbness. Yelling at the kids for being too loud only to realize too late the irony of your actions. Trying desperately to retreat secretly to someplace— anyplace— that they may not find you for three glorious minutes. Breathe, mama. 

Breathe, Mama

http://https://youtu.be/9ClwKL_Ixzg

 

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in, no matter where you are. Let it out. The whole breath.

Breathe in again, mama. Deeply and slowly. And with that breath, feel your stomach expand. Now hold and count. 1-2-3-4. Deep sigh all the way out… push that breath away and let it take just a small part of the stress you’re feeling with it. 

Imagine that stress swirling away from your body– floating away as if caught on a draft. Imagine in your mind’s eye that that stress, like a plume of smoke or a drifting cloud, escapes with your breath through your open mouth. Take another deep breath and hold. 1-2-3-4. And then watch that deep breath drift from your mouth and take with it stress and frustration. Unrest, distress and pain. 

Breathe in compassion, relaxation, contentment… and breathe out stress.

You’ve got this, mama. You are worthy and good. You can do this…

May is mental health awareness month and nestled in the middle is Mother’s Day. There is no shame in feeling your feelings. Breathe. Work on your village. Look for helpers. Acknowledge that being a mother is one of the toughest jobs on the planet.

At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

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3 Ways to Create Energy from Within

It’s impossible to nurture and bring joy to our children when we, ourselves, are depleted. Yet feeling strong, vibrant and alive, even in the face of the energy and time demands of parenting, is possible! Rather than attempting to find energy outside of yourself in the form of sugary foods, caffeine, or over working, seek Prana!

Prana

A Sanskrit word often used in yoga, prana translates to life force or vital principle. We maintain and build prana through the quality of our days and through the food that we eat. From a yogic perspective, prana is key to both creating a healthy body and to nurturing our minds and spirits.

3 Ways to Prana

Breathe Consciously. First, in yoga we do pranayama or breathing exercises. These exercises expand or build prana through conscious breath in conjunction with rhythmic movement. We direct our breath in specific ways in conjunction with a specific count or rhythm. It is also through our breath that we can change or manage our energy and emotions.

TRY THIS: Begin by letting your breath relax to its normal pace and depth.  Once you feel ready, place one hand on your lower abdomen and one on your upper chest. Begin to inhale through the nose conscious filling the abdomen, then expanding the chest and finally lifting the upper clavicle.  When you are ready to exhale, the upper chest area/clavicle area deflates, then the chest area and finally the lower abdomen is drawn in as it too deflates. The breath moves through each segment of the body with a smooth motion.  Take your time as you complete both your inhale and your exhale. Practice a few rounds and begin to notice how you feel.

Slow Down. In addition to taking time to breathe, we can also build prana by taking time to simply slow down, experience a moment of gratitude and notice the magic of our everyday experience.  Spending quiet time in nature also builds and maintains prana.  Even just a little bit of time each day breathing fresh air, feeling the support of the earth and connecting to our sensory experiences can help build and restore our energy.

TRY THIS: When riding in the car and stopping at stop lights, make a little time to pause. Teach your child that what we do at stop lights is take deep breaths and show them how to breathe from the abdomen during these pauses.

Do What You Love. Taking time to do what you love also builds prone. Each of us has had the experience of timelessness when doing what we love. This might be spending time in nature, making art, or spending time with friends. Time stands still, your energy is sustained, and you feel deeply nurtured.

TRY THIS: Take time this month to do what brings you joy. Find a class or activity that supports prana, such as Intuition Wellness Center’s Nurtured Mothering.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, LCSW; Wellness Director,  Child & Family Clinician

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Less than 10 Steps to a Calm Child… Using their Feet!

Everyone experiences anger— whether we feel it a lot, or hardly ever. Dealing with intense feelings like anger can be especially challenging for many kids (ok… and adults). Don’t you wish you knew how to help your kids calm down before they resort to behavior that could get them into trouble? One way to deal with big emotions is by using the “Soles of The Feet” meditation. That’s right. The bottoms of their tootsies.

Soles of the Feet -Free Printable-

Even for kids who haven’t exactly been excited about meditating in the past, this quick and easy approach can help children quickly calm down and resist the urge to act out. The purpose of this exercise isn’t to get rid of anger (which does serve a purpose!). The purpose is to teach your child to move their attention from angry thoughts and feelings to the bottoms of their feet.

Here’s How It Works:
1. If you are standing, stand in a natural rather than an aggressive posture, with the soles of your feet flat on the floor. If you are sitting, sit comfortably with the soles of your feet flat on the floor.

2. Breathe naturally, and do nothing.

3. Cast your mind back to an incident that made you very angry. Stay with the anger.

4. You are feeling angry, and angry thoughts are flowing through your mind. Let them flow naturally, without restriction. Stay with the anger. Your body may show signs of anger (e.g., rapid breathing).

5. Now, shift all your attention to the soles of your feet.

6. Slowly, move your toes, feel your shoes covering your feet, feel the texture of your socks, the curve of your arch, and the heels of your feet against the back of your shoes. If you do not have shoes on, feel the floor or carpet with the soles of your feet.

7. Keep breathing naturally and focus on the soles of your feet until you feel calm.

8. Practice this mindfulness exercise until you can use it wherever you are and whenever an incident occurs that may lead to you being verbally or physically aggressive.

9. Remember that once you are calm, you can walk away from the incident or situation with a smile on your face because you controlled your anger. Otherwise, if you need to, you can respond to the incident or situation with a calm and clear mind without verbal threats or physical aggression.

Resources:

And if you’d like to hear someone else lead you through the exercise, checkout this video. There’s plenty of research to back this up as useful with elementary school students, aggression, autism, and other developmental disabilities.

Question: What else works to prevent angry outbursts with your kids? 

Subscribe to our Newsletter for service and general practice updates or pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in counseling children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Meg Beardmore, MA & Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image credit: Rar285 on wikimedia commons

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Taekwondo Wellness Therapy Group Announcement

TKDKidsFlyerHello,
We have exciting news about a new Taekwondo Wellness therapy group for kids ages 7 and up that will be starting on May 24, 2016 at Intuition Wellness Center. We are currently accepting referrals for kids, teens, and adults who may benefit from an alternative approach to overcoming emotional, behavioral, and social challenges. The cost will be $35 per 60 minute group session. We are a provider for BCBS insurance and group therapy services may be billable. Please note that this can be an adjunct to current counseling services or a standalone service for clients.
Please call 520-333-3320 to register or visit us online to learn more about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups and other services we provide. Here are two flyers, one for kids TKD and the other for teens and adults TKD. Please feel free to email (contact@intuitionwellness.com) or call (520-333-3320) if you have any questions about Taekwondo Wellness therapy groups. Below is a bit more info about Taekwondo Wellness.

Taekwondo Wellness Difference

What sets Taekwondo Wellness apart from your typical Taekwondo school? We incorporate three distinct services into our classes that are aimed at helping youth, adults and their families improve their mental health and family and peer dynamics. The first key component is psycho-education, which teaches psychological hygiene, coping skills, and social skills. The second key component is parent coaching that helps families improve their communication and interactions with their kids and others. Mindfulness meditation is the third key component, which is incorporated into each session to take advantages of its many benefits such as improved attention span, pain relief, and decreases in anxiety to name a few.

Taekwondo Wellness Core Curriculum

  • Clinical Interview & Treatment Plan: Participants will each be evaluated by one of our clinicians who will help identify mental health needs and treatment plan.
  • Taekwondo Philosophy: Students will learn about the core Taekwondo principles and how yin jang concepts of Taoism can be applied to our daily lives to reach a state of harmony.
  • Poomsae: Students will learn and practice a set pattern of defensive and offensive techniques as a means of improving power, speed, and balance while striving for self refinement.
  • One Step & Self Defense: Students will learn to apply Taekwondo blocking and striking techniques to real-life situations building self-esteem and sense of security.
  • Olympic Style Sparring: Intermediate rank students will learn sparring rules, skills, and strategies of Taekwondo sparring while developing good sportsmanship, coordination, balance, self control, and self-reliance.
  • Board Breaking: Students will learn to focus their minds and overcome fear to achieve feats of strength and build confidence.
  • Physical Fitness: Through rigorous exercises using interval training students will see improvements in their endurance and strength as well as managing their weight.
  • Flexibility Training: Students will practice stretching regularly for improved range of motion not only for higher kicks but for its physical and stress relieving benefits as well.
  • Psycho-education & Mental Training: Students will learn about self talk, goal setting, and energy, stress and anger management in addition to other psychological issues and risk factors.
  • Parent Coaching: Parents observing class will get parenting tips and learn how to manage or redirect unwanted child or adolescent behavior.
  • Meditation: Students will learn and practice mindfulness meditation for its physical and psychological benefits, including stress, pain, and mood management.
  • Body Awareness: Students will became aware of their bodily sensations and the difference between tension and relaxation, as well as, a better understanding of how stress can be stored in the body.
  • Fun: Last, but not least, is fun! Students will laugh, smile, and have lots of fun while practicing Taekwondo. Humor has been shown to have physical benefits such as boosting our immune systems and energy and diminishing pain, in addition to improving mood and relieving stress.

Written by Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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Yoga in Therapy

Yoga in TherapyYoga and meditation methods have been applied in the treatment of depression and anxiety by western health care providers since the 1970’s. So what is yoga?  How does it help with mental health challenges?  And can it also be helpful for children who are experiencing challenges?

Before being able to understand how yoga might be helpful it is important to understand that there is often a physical as well as a psychological component to mental health challenges. Here’s the key, the cognitive or psychological struggles often found in mental health challenges are not separate from the body AND the associated physical challenges negatively impact our way of thinking. We are looking at two sides of the same coin.

Mental health professionals use an array of strategies that can be helpful in dealing with the cognitive or psychological aspects of these challenges. These strategies might include cognitive behavioral therapy, ego supportive counseling or other talk therapy approaches.   Research suggests that combining a body-based approach such as yoga with traditional talk therapy can effectively target both the physical as well as psychological aspects of mental health challenges (See the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry for information on the importance of treating the physical symptoms of depression).

The practice of yoga generally combines a series of postures called asanas, with specific types of breathing in conjunction with a meditation and/or a time of relaxation. Asana in conjunction with breath is used to support relaxation and to increase body awareness.  Improved body awareness helps provide feedback to us regarding our emotional state as well as the impact of our thoughts and choices. By learning to control the breath, we can also learn to regulate our emotions. Additionally, yoga directly impacts many of the physiological challenges associated with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Interested in more reading? Harvard has published research on the positive effects of yoga on anxiety and depression.

Research is also finding that yoga can benefit children.  The practice of yoga can help children who struggle with attentional difficulties learn to listen, to follow directions and can be used in a group setting to enhance social skills. Children who struggle with anxiety can also benefit from yoga’s focus on relaxation. More information is available here on the benefits of yoga for children with emotional and behavioral issues.

For more information on the application of yoga to support mental health treatment or to inquire about our yoga therapy groups please contact Intuition Wellness Center at (520)333-3320.

Written by: Navneet Lahti, LCSW and Certified Yoga Instructor

Photo courtesy of: freedigitalphotos.net

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Stress & Anxiety: Wellness Tips

Stress Management

According to the National Institute of Mental Health about 18% of adults in the United States experience an anxiety disorder while only 37% of those receive treatment. Meaning that about 63% of adults affected do not seek out services for treatable anxiety disorders. There are many triggers that increase stress and anxiety such as relationship conflicts, financial hardship, and school or work demands. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report 26% to 40% of workers responding to surveys reported that their jobs were very stressful. That is important because stress and anxiety impairs functioning whether that be academic or occupational, leading to injury or lower productivity. The first step to wellness is becoming aware of your physical and psychological reactions to stress and anxiety. Below are some common signs of stress and anxiety:

  • Headaches or backaches
  • Muscle tension and stiffness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Skin breakouts (hives, eczema)
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds (impaired immune functioning)

Furthermore, scientific evidence suggests that stress impacts your physical health. Many medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines
  • Ulcers
  • Heartburn
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • PMS
  • Obesity
  • Infertility
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Skin problems

Wellness Tips

  1. Know yourself – Understanding how you experience stress is a vital step towards identifying what is causing you stress and preparing for or preventing it in the future.
  2. Identify causes of stress – Knowledge is power. Once you know what your triggers for stress or anxiety are, you can take steps to minimize its effect.
  3. Eat healthy – Good physical health promotes good mental health and vice versa. Stressed people tend to overeat or make unhealthy nutritional choices, so choose healthy foods and eat in moderation.
  4. Be proactive not passive – Don’t just sit with your hands crossed waiting to feel better, cope with stress actively by engaging in healthy stress relieving activities such as exercise, art, music, or dance.
  5. Get plenty of Zzzzzz – Poor sleep hygiene can leave you tired and cranky in the morning making you more susceptible to stress, so get the recommended 8 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
  6. Laugh, it is good for the heart – Laughing produces feel-good brain chemicals that relief stress and promote wellbeing.
  7. Live in the now: Many people experience anticipatory anxiety for something that hasn’t happened or ruminate over past events not realizing that in the actual moment there is nothing stressing them.
  8. Social support – The ability to seek out and have social support has been associated with resilience, the ability to bounce back from stress. There is a reason why humans are social beings.
  9. Seek professional help: When symptoms persevere and begin to impact functioning in other areas of your life such as school or work, therapy has been shown to help.

Author: Dr. Yoendry Torres, Clinical Psychologist

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