Posted on Leave a comment

Four Movement Activities For Your Cranky Kid

Movement for Cranky Kids

There’s a lot going on right now for all of us. And by that, I’m definitely talking about the anger, sadness, grief and chronic state of crisis fatigue many are experiencing. Tired from trying our best to cope with our own big feelings, many parents are finding it difficult to navigate our kids feelings, too. However, all of us can certainly understand why our kids are cranky. I mean, who isn’t feeling irritable? When I asked our team pediatric occupational therapist, Anne Berkery, OTR/L, about recommendations for helping kids cope, she didn’t disappoint. Anne enthusiastically offered many suggestions of movement-based activities that can help kids with their crankies.

An occupational therapist (OT) is always thinking about the movement needs of their clients. A lack of movement often means big problems and Anne Berkery, OTR/L conceptualizes this as a contributor to irritability. With school remaining online for many and usual activities inaccessible, so many kids are more sedentary than usual right now. 

4 Easy Movement Activities to Help Your Cranky Kid

  1. Obstacle Courses. Anne says that we should get our kids running. Obstacle courses are a semi-sneaky way of achieving this goal. The especially great thing about obstacle courses is that you can make them in just about any space and using things around your house. If the kids start getting bored with it, just switch it up. Move things around. Level Up: For a personalized touch, help your kiddo trace their feet and cut out the shapes on colored paper. Use these cutouts to mark their intended steps or to represent certain actions during the obstacle course.
  2. Musical Chairs. Tried and true, a game of musical chairs will get them moving and laughing. This works especially well when at least a few family members can join in. All you need is one less chair than players, some fun music and someone who will hit pause from time to time. Level Up: Have your child choose the soundtrack to make it especially fun for them and have them dance and not just walk around the chairs.
  3. Beach Balls. Bop around a beach ball or two or a couple of balloons for another movement activity that’s hard to resist. Level Up: Create a challenge of how many times they can bop the ball before it hits the ground. See if you can add in a funny gesture or movement between hitting the ball.
  4. Jump Rope. A great test of coordination, the rhythmic nature of jumping rope can actually be soothing as well.  Also great about jumping rope? It can be done independently when others aren’t available to help turn the rope. Level Up: Add a song to your jumping or for a really big challenge try it out with a second rope double dutch style. For especially young kids, the rope can be placed on the floor to allow them to jump over.

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, we’re here for you. Call 520-333-3320 or request an appointment.

Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

The Pandemic of COVID-19: A lesson to our kids that we are all connected

I didn’t understand– most of us didn’t– exactly how it would feel to prepare for a pandemic to sweep through. On Friday afternoon our team naturopathic physician, Dr. Sage, attended a special seminar hosted by the Arizona Department of Health Services about COVID-19 (aka. Novel Coronavirus). On Monday, Dr. Sage and I began putting together a statement for our team and our clients as well as a protocol for increasing cleaning measures in our office. By Tuesday, we became aware that a confirmed case of the virus is now in our county. And for the last couple of days we’ve been working out the details of a plan in case our team members or clients are quarantined. It’s been a whirlwind, but now we’re just waiting and thinking a lot about what’s to come. The spread of COVID-19 is a reminder and a lesson on how interconnected we all are at both global and local levels… for better or worse.

As a pediatric practice, most of our clients are children and young adults who seem to be the least impacted by the virus. This is a relief certainly. Yet, we believe in a community-based model of healing and wellbeing, which means that each of us– old, young, healthy and sick– has a responsibility to others. It’s up to all of us to make efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to respond with compassion to those who are suffering because of it.

Most of the kiddos we see are spending their days at school in what is often akin to a petri dish no matter how well school personnel clean. Many kids have or will get COVID-19 and they will very likely be fine. However, in order to be a part of protecting others in their community, they do need to understand that there is a virus coming through. They need to understand also that each of us could unwittingly spread it to others.

Looking for support in talking to your kids about COVID-19?

I encourage you to talk to your children about COVID-19 in a measured, compassionate and rational way. There’s some excellent content out there about how to do so that I’m linking below. My biggest tip is to monitor your own anxiety about it and be certain that your anxiety feels manageable in the moment(s) you have this conversation with your children. Filter their news intake and your own for that matter, as well. And don’t forget to talk to them about what they can do to help protect their community.

We can help support you in talking to your child about COVID-19 and if your child already has a provider, don’t hesitate to let them know that you would like this support.

If you notice that your child seems to be experiencing particularly big worry about COVID-19, it’s not generally helpful to tell them simply not to worry. Katie Hurley, a licensed clinical social worker who works with children, recently summed this up on her social media.

“During the past few days of therapy sessions, a number of kids have said something like this: Grownups are telling me not to worry because it only gets old people, but what about my grandparents? Will they be okay? …It’s up to us to help kids work through their anxious thoughts. Kids never ever stop worrying simply because adults say, ‘don’t worry.’ That’s not how worrying works.” — Katie Hurley, LCSW

What steps is Intuition Wellness Center taking to protect our community?

  1. Limiting exposures. We are asking that if you have symptoms, please do not come in for your appointments. In fact, stay home altogether. Call or email us and let us know if you have a fever or cough. Our team members are working hard to stay healthy and will be staying home if they have symptoms. Medical facilities are reserving tests for only those with severe symptoms, so, unfortunately, there will be no way for many of us to truly confirm if it’s COVID-19 rather than just a cold. Telehealth may be an option for your OT or therapy sessions if it’s clinically appropriate and it will definitely be an option for naturopathic medical sessions.
  2. Keeping a clean space. We’ve given each team member additional cleaning options and we’ve asked them to up their cleaning protocol. We’re also pulling out some of the non-essential play items and fabric items in our center so that we can concentrate our cleaning efforts. Lastly, we’ve also asked our nighttime cleaning crew to increase their efforts.
  3. Handwashing. You’ve heard it a million times now, but this may be one of the most important tips. Wash your hands… wash your hands… wash your hands. Simple soap and water is very effective at killing COVID-19. We’ve added a hand washing station and reminders and tips to make it more enjoyable for children. Please wash your hands when you arrive in our center to protect yourself and others.

Read our full statement about attendance at sessions and our precautions here.

The very short video here is of Dr. Sage and me with a quick acknowledgment of the symptoms to watch for and a general overview of how we’re approaching all of this. The resources that I mention at the end of this video are conveniently listed and/or linked at the end of this post.

Finally, a silver lining.

Here’s the great news. People really do pull together when there’s a crisis or devastating event. Research suggests that most of us become incredibly altruistic in these situations. We are even more likely to do things like wash our hands when we know it is for the good of someone else. Your children can understand this and are capable of great compassion. The recent spread of COVID-19 is also an opportunity to think through, perhaps with your children, the things that you can do to reach out to those who are directly impacted. Know an elderly neighbor without local family? Check in on them regularly to prevent isolation. Even if they’re quarantined, a phone call can go a long way. What about a family who may be especially financially impacted if schools close down and mom can’t go to work? Offer them childcare or groceries. As part of that practice of compassion and kindness, remember this in a time when many people are fearful:

“If you believe that somebody is overreacting, just try to remember that another word for ‘overreaction’ is ‘fear.’ Try to be compassionate, not contemptuous. We don’t all share the same fears, but we all know what fear feels like, and it’s a terrible sensation. I wouldn’t wish fear on anybody, and I know that a lot of people are genuinely afraid right now.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

Another silver lining in all of this is that, for some of us, this may be an opportunity to slow down life with our children and reconnect with them. Yes, that can also create stress, too.

What am I going to do with my children during this?

Here are some screen-free ideas for things to do with your kids if school shuts down or if they’re in a 14-day quarantine:

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.

Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Sick of Being Sick: 6 Family-Friendly Natural Remedies

Natural remedies for children and families

When I was a kid, flat soda and Vick’s seemed to be my family’s go-to treatments for nearly all forms of illness. Now that I’m a grown up and making a lot of the medical decisions for my family I’ve learned to appreciate a few other tricks. Yet, this flu season has been a force to be reckoned with and, in my opinion, it’s demanded a diverse toolkit of remedies. Since meeting Dr. Kate Sage, our team’s Naturopathic Family Physician, I’ve learned a few recipes that seem likely to become new favorites for flu and other illness. These are definitely worth sharing! Here’s 6 great natural remedies when you’re sick of your family being sick.

6 Family-Friendly Natural Remedies

Elderberry Syrup

Research suggests that elderberries can shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. They are high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. Elderberries can be found (or made) in many preparations such as gummies, lozenges, capsules, and liquids. One of Dr. Sage’s favorite forms is elderberry syrup, which can also be purchased in many big-box stores, specialty health stores or directly from Intuition Wellness Center. You can also make your own!Elderberry Syrup RecipeOnion Earmuffs

Onions can be surprisingly helpful! Onions have antibacterial oils that can fight infection. Using Dr. Sage’s steps for onion earmuffs can help soothe ear pain and also promote drainage when you or your child are battling an ear infection. Just follow these easy steps!
  1. Cut an onion in half and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until you can smell the onion cooking.
  2. Cover the hot onion with a thin cloth and place the cut side next to the affected ear(s), not against.
  3. Move the onion closer to the ear as the onion cools and, once on the ear, leave for at least 10 minutes.

Cold-Busting Soup

Feel a cold coming on? There’s a soup for that! Dr. Sage’s cold-busting soup is high in vitamin C and beta carotene, is warming, and is generally nutritive to help anyone get over colds or flu. Plus, it’s tasty! Dr. Sage warns “if you’re a breastfeeding mama, be sure to take it easy on the garlic and onions as the sulfur components can pass through breastmilk and can occasionally cause tummy troubles for itsy-bitsies.”Cold-Busting Soup

Lemon Cough Syrup

This cough syrup has great components many of us may already have at home. Honey helps soothe the throat, lemon cuts through congestion and the onion fights infection, soothes the throat, and makes the coughs do a disappearing act.Lemon Cough Syrup

Apple & Clove Tea

Cloves are sometimes referred to as a natural antibiotic. With anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, cloves may be effective as a supportive treatment for many forms of illness. Pair whole cloves with apple juice and you’ve got a yummy natural remedy that even your picky eater will enjoy! Simply simmer 10 whole cloves and 4 cups of fresh organic apple juice in a pot for 15 minutes. Serve your child half a cup 3 times daily.


Tea for sore throat
Magic Warming Socks

Magic warming socks work shockingly well for congestion. Though called “warming,” you actually cool the feet to experience a warming effect. Cooling the feet will cause the vessels to constrict and all the good nutrients there will be shunted away toward your vital organs to help stimulate healing. As the feet heat back up, the blood vessels dilate again causing a pumping system that carries infection-fighting white blood cells for an active immune system and improved circulation. Also good for: ear infections, sinusitis, headaches, migraines, sore throats, and congestion or other inflammation around the head and neck.

cool the feet to fight illness

Until February 29, 2020 Intuition Wellness Center is offering a 33% discount on all new patient naturopathic medicine appointments with Dr. Kate Sage! Schedule your child’s appointment before this limited-time offer comes to an end!


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.


Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Best Toys for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

It’s the winter holiday season. Perhaps you prefer to keep this time of year simple. Or maybe you have a go-big-or-go-home mentality. If you’re like many American families though, you’re probably on the look out for at least a few gifts for the young children on your list. We here at Intuition Wellness Center believe that the best gifts you can give a child are free. Yet, if you feel consumerism tugging at you, we certainly aren’t judging. Our pediatric occupational therapist, Anne Berkery, OTR/L has done the hard work for you and scoured the current toy offerings. Read on for the best toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers as determined by a pediatric occupational therapist. 

Best Toys for Babies

If you’re looking for toys that will support the littlest of littles in reaching their milestones, look no further. Intuition Wellness Center’s pediatric occupational therapist, has wrangled and organized a few toys that will help your baby’s visual skills, hand-eye coordination, and healthy sensory processing

Visual Skills

Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Wimmer-Ferguson Learning Cube. High contrast black and white supports baby’s visual skills while ribbons, crinkle paper, flaps, rattles and other fun gizmos encourage baby to reach and grasp. 
  • Joyshare 4 Piece Hanging Rattle Set. Clips onto baby’s stroller or car seat and encourages baby to grasp and shake to make soft sounds. 
  • Toy Chest Nyc Penguin Ring Stacker. This solid wood rainbow stacker with it’s cutie pie penguin topper encourages babies 6 months and older to reach, grasp and stack while older babies and toddlers may enjoy a more creative and interactive take on this classic toy. 
  • Sassy Whimsical Wheels. The movement of this toy, high contrast, and mirror support baby’s visual skills while encouraging baby to reach and tug at wheels filled with multi-colored beads for improved hand-eye coordination. 

Development of Touch

  • Sassy Sensory Activity Panels. Clever fabric panels with high contrast images and touchy-feely panels that can be assembled into a fabric book or taken apart. It’s a delight for little one’s developing senses. 

  • Dophyranix Super Durable Sensory Balls. Soft and textured balls help develop baby’s tactile senses while promoting grip. Remains fun for baby as they age into a more mobile kicking and throwing toddler.

  • Taggies Little Leaf Elephant Lovey Soft Toy. Soft and soothing, this lovey has satin tags for baby to pull on and is the perfect size for little hands to snuggle. 

Best Toys for Toddlers

If you’re looking for toys for the young movers and shakers in your life, Intuition Wellness Center’s pediatric occupational therapist, has a few recommendations that will support hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. 

Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Djeco Nesting and Stacking Blocks. This sweet and whimsical set includes 6 boxes to stack and 6 little animals to fit inside. The options allow for little ones to put the set together in a variety of combinations, all while practicing their hand-eye coordination.
  • Gleeporte Stacking Peg Board Set Toy. A Montessori-style toy that will encourage kiddo to stack and sort and is especially good for visual and fine motor skills. 
  • Fat Brain Toys Roll Again Sorter. Toddlers love sorting toys. This toy comes with 4 different balls that, with the child’s help, propel down a track to their color-matched basin. 
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Piggy Bank. Comes with 10 “coins” that allow kiddo to make deposits into the bank that promote finger dexterity as well as visual skills. 

Gross Motor Skills

  • Fisher-Price Bright Beginnings Activity Walker. This is a versatile toy that has been around for awhile. While it allows for kiddos to flip open doors, turn gears, and slide beads for fine motor support, it will also transition to supporting gross motor skills when baby is ready to get-up-and-go.
  • Hape Wonder Walker Push and Pull. Touted as a busy-box on wheels, this walker provides a sturdy foundation for newly mobile little ones to pull up on or push around. Movable knobs, gears and colorful balls allow for fine motor work as well.

Best Toys for Preschoolers

If you’re looking for fun and useful toys that will support your preschooler’s development, Intuition Wellness Center’s pediatric occupational therapist, has already done the research and has compiled a list of toys that will support your preschooler’s visual skills, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills and balance. 

Visual Skills

  • I Spy Everything Book. Though this book is marketed as helping children learn their letter sounds, we like it because it requires the child to visually sort through images. 

Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Unicorn Handwriting Workbook. This book is especially helpful for kids, 3-5 years old. It offers pages of letters to trace as well as fun images of unicorns to color. 
  • Scissors Skills Workbook. A budget-friendly choice that includes 64 pages with increasingly complex cutting tasks. This workbook is particularly geared toward children who haven’t quite got the hang of using scissors yet and is great for supporting those developing fine motor and visual skills. 
  • Kidcraft Wooden Backyard Sandbox. Sandboxes are great for so much more than hand-eye coordination. Sifting through the sand and burying and building are great activities for sensory processing, fine motor work and imagination!

Gross Motor Skills

  • Strider Balance Bike. Bikes with training wheels teach children how to ride while unbalanced whereas a balance bike, which has just two wheels and no pedals, keeps the child in control and allows them to lean and maneuver more easily. 
  • Hanging Pod Hammock Seat. For children who seek out movement, this swing can be a great cozy place to calm their senses. 
  • Saucer Tree Swing Seat. Another favorite swing that you’ll find in our pediatric occupational therapy room. This disc-shaped swing helps with balance, calms, and supports children who seek out movement. 
  • JumJoe Kids Trampoline. This 36-inch trampoline will help with coordination, balance, muscle strength and meet the movement and pressure needs of your kiddo. 


Would you like a pediatric occupational therapist to support you around your child’s special needs? Request an appointment or call us for more information at 520-333-3320.  


At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults and families. 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. 

Contributions by: Anne Berkery, OTR/L (formerly Swiderek), Pediatric Occupational Therapist.

A Word about Affiliates

The recommended toys above contain affiliate links to products. If you click through and purchase, Intuition Wellness Center will receive a small commission on the sale. Rest assured, we only recommend products or services that our team members personally use or believe will be helpful to our readers or clients.


Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Your Picky Eater: 7 tips for introducing new foods

Emerging science is making us more aware of the need to feed our children a wide range of foods with emphasis on nutritional content. The challenge we face as parents however, is actually having them eat this variety of nutritious foods. Often we end up finding ourselves in the role of their personal short-order cook because, let’s face it, cajoling a picky eater into trying a new food can feel really stressful for all involved.  

As you probably know, there are some problems with eating the same foods all of the time. The most obvious is that often there will be a nutritional component that is lacking, such as vitamins C, B12, or folate or minerals magnesium, calcium, or iron.  Not getting enough of these nutrients could cause a variety of different health issues, including anemia, slowed growth, or behavioral problems. Vegetables are our best source of nutrients, both vitamins and minerals. Getting them into your picky eater’s tummy is critical.  

If your child is suffering from a digestive issue, like tummy aches, constipation or reflux, it may be the foods that they love most causing the problem. Encouraging them to consume a wider variety of foods is often enough to resolve the problem.  

Tips to Help Your Child Eat New Foods: 

  1. Eat the rainbow! Choose fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors – like purple carrots, blueberries, papaya, chard, raspberries. Not only are these nutritious, they’re visually appealing and fun to eat.
  2. Get their buy in. Let your child help with grocery shopping as well as cooking and preparing the foods. They are much more likely to try something that they had a hand in choosing and preparing. In fact, allowing them some experimentation and autonomy in food prep, will up their investment in eating that food.
  3. Be a model. Show your kids how delicious you think vegetables are too! Be sure to let them see you also eating well. If you don’t love something nutritious you’ve put on your plate, it’s ok to let them know that you eat it to be kind to your body and not just for the taste.
  4. Keep trying. A child should try a food at least 15 times before they decide if they like it. What we like and don’t like changes over time, so it’s good to keep at it in case their preferences evolve as they get older.
  5. Practice mindful eating. Allow them to choose the amount that they try, then have them be as specific as possible in describing the aroma, taste and texture. This will get them out of the rut of judging food as just “good” or “bad.”
  6. Don’t get emotionally invested yourself. Your child can tell when you are getting anxious or upset. The last thing that you want is for mealtimes to become laden with frustration for the family. Visualize them enjoying the food, be patient and definitely respect their appetite.
  7. Include a favorite. Always include at least one thing on the plate that you know they will enjoy. This definitely takes some pressure off.  

Hidden Cause of Picky Eating

Picky eating can also be the result of a child having a sensory sensitivity. Some children have oral sensitivities that make it difficult for them to have certain textures in their mouth, such as eating particular foods or brushing their teeth. If a child has a hypersensitivity to smells, they may not eat foods that have a pungent odor or one they just don’t prefer. Occupational therapists can help kids and their families work through sensory issues by slowly desensitizing the child, building positive thoughts around eating food and through playing games. The old saying “Don’t play with your
food,” is not accepted by those treating children for these sorts of sensitivities!

In the short run, you may consider introducing a high quality multivitamin to make sure that all of their vitamin and mineral needs are covered. If you’re particularly worried that your child’s eating is compromising their wellbeing, make an appointment with your doctor. 

October 6-12 is Naturopathic Medicine Week! Visit us on the web to learn about Naturopathic Medicine at Intuition Wellness Center!

At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults and families. 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: Dr. Kate Sage, Naturopathic Family Physician with contributions from Anne Swiderek, Pediatric Occupational Therapist.

Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Mother Nature’s Parenting Tips

I have always been an observer. This tendency doesn’t stop with people-watching. As a child, I was fortunate enough to live near a nationally-ranked well-funded zoo. For a period of time, I was certain zoology was the field for me. I remember standing gape-mouthed at my local zoo as young gorillas pulled off impressive gymnastic-quality feats and played pranks on their family members. I remember the awe and joy I felt as a mama bear and her little one did bonafide underwater handstands, purple padded feet in the air, just for the fun of it. The animals, it seemed, took genuine delight in their play. Nature is on to something. Our physical world is full of lessons. 

Three Parenting Tips from Mother Nature

1. Get them moving.

Just ahead of May’s mental health awareness month, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a statement aptly titled, “To Grow Up Healthy, Children Need to Sit Less and Play More.” The title says it all really. Children are meant to move just like the vast majority of nature’s fauna. With so many sedentary activities that are full of tempting lights and binging noises, both kids and adults are struggling with inactivity, particularly the screen time takeover. It’s not good for us. And, while I certainly don’t want to discourage organized sports or scheduled workouts, natural movement is also important– movement that occurs throughout the day, not just 3 times a week for an hour.

If you see your child struggling with coordination or avoiding certain kinds of movement-based play, consider talking to an expert. They could benefit from pediatric occupational therapy. If it’s a matter of your child simply preferring the couch to the swing in the backyard, try some new strategies and make movement a family affair.

2. Throw caution to the wind.

I think back to the animals I watched in the zoo. Those gorillas and polar bears were jumping in the water, rolling in the dirt, and making a mess of things while exploring their environment. Adults swooped in to help only when it was really needed. Certainly these little ones didn’t experience their caregivers as stepping in regularly with messages of caution. No. In fact, baby animals know when their parents are serious about being careful, because they only caution when it’s really needed. Children are supposed to be messy climbing machines. That’s why your two-year-old wants to get on top of the table and doesn’t hold back in the muddle puddles.

There’s literally stuff in dirt that helps our mental and physical health. I’m not making that up. And the kind of movement that children engage in in nature– climbing  trees, digging in the creek bed, splashing through the rain– those kinds of things support coordination and a sense of confidence that comes with mastery. We’ve got to get out of the way. I’m not saying there should be no rules. Surely it can be ok to let them get dirty and to let them try new physical feats from time to time though. Intervene when it’s needed, just like mama gorilla, and catch yourself the next time you say “Be careful” to your child. Was it really necessary?

3. Be one with nature.

Well, of course, Mother Nature encourages this one. Nature in and of itself is both predictable and changing, mundane and awe-inspiring. Being a quiet observer can certainly teach a child a lot about mindfulness and about how the bigger world works. Watching those gorillas all those years ago, I learned about family hierarchies and what unfiltered joy looks like. Watching the polar bears, I saw authentic mother’s love. In the trail of ants in my backyard, my children see perseverance and structure. In the quail families hiding in the weeds, they see loyalty and protectiveness. It turns out that nature is good for our mental health. Forest bathing, that is surrounding ourselves with trees leads us to be happier and healthier. Even just looking at pictures of trees (with or without leaves) leads to improved outcomes. Get your children outside!   Perhaps you’ll notice an immediate improvement in their mood.

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated 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.


Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Yoga Journey: A personal testimony

When high school senior, Manasa Swaminathan, joined the Intuition Wellness Center team as an intern, she didn’t anticipate the positive changes she would experience in her personal life. However, in her journey to learn more about mental health and wellness, Manasa began a daily practice of yogathat has had a lasting impact. Here’s what Manasa has to say about this…

Yoga. What Does it Mean?

I have often heard the word “yoga” throughout my life– at home, on the tv, at school, and in stores. What does it actually mean? “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “to unify.” However, from a philosophical standpoint, yoga’s meaning suggests self-integration of the personality and the awakening of a “higher self.” Yoga, as a science, is a culmination of techniques that allows us to connect with our mind and body.


Benefits and My Own Experience.

A regular yoga practice holds numerous benefits. Although I found yoga captivating when I was starting to learn more about it last year, I didn’t understand the meaning and benefits until recently. I have been doing a project at my school on the effects of yoga, art and martial arts on mental health. I have been reading research papers and books and helping Intuition Wellness Center with certain projects pertaining to this topic; however, I never completely understood the essence of yoga until I began practicing it as a part of my own daily routine. Navneet Lahti, LCSW, the Wellness Director at Intuition Wellness, taught me a practice of Kundalini Yoga that is designed to lessen anxiety and stress. I implemented this and a daily art activity in my everyday life and I have witnessed many positive changes.

Within a few weeks after I began practicing yoga regularly I started experiencing better sleep. I’ve struggled with sleep since I started high school.  My sleep schedule has always been shaped by the number of assignments that I had to complete each night. I hypothesize that the reason I’m getting better sleep is because this yoga practice allows me to de-stress and de-clutter my thoughts. I’ve also noticed that I’m better able to concentrate. Due in part to technology, I have a tendency to get distracted which, historically,  has led to procrastination and additional stress. Since I began practicing yoga, I have found that my mind doesn’t drift as much as it used to, which has allowed me to grasp and learn about things at a quicker rate.

The research supports my personal experience. In fact, studies have shown that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. Yoga offers other benefits, too, such as better posture and prevention of digestive problems. I’m not going to lie. Getting into the daily routine of practicing art and yoga was difficult. However, once I began a consistent practice, I have witnessed so many positive changes in my life that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Written By: Manasa Swaminathan Senior at BASIS– Oro Valley, Student Intern at Intuition Wellness Center.



At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs, such as yoga, 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.


Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Kids’ Self Care: How sick is too sick?

On my graduation day from high school, a good friend was given a fancy certificate for maintaining a record of perfect attendance every single year of his entire history of schooling. He hadn’t missed a single day since he started in kindergarten. Not for illness. Not for a death. Not for vacation. Not for anything. Not one day missed for 13 years. I remember how, in the months leading up to the end of our senior year, he balked at “senior skip day” and how he came to school with the flu and all sorts of other symptoms. He was determined to keep up his unmarred record and his teachers and classmates, myself included, egged him on. There was something I found respectable about his willingness to power through, as if he was some sort of martyr for having survived cases of pink eye and the chicken pox while concurrently completing his multiplication tables and learning state capitals. It does seem a pretty remarkable feat.

Now, a full-on grown up, I still fight an internalized message— one that says things like, “you’re not going to let a little thing like a cold stand in your way, are you?” Somehow, whether through a family cultural message or through a broader societal message, I seem to have gotten confused about the value of caring for myself and allowing my body to rest and heal. There are other underlying messages contributing, too, of course. Outright denial tends to complicate things as does my own family’s hesitation to pay for health care when I was a kid or to miss work due to the financial implications. These days, I’m usually able to engage with my rational brain in these instances, but it still takes a good amount of effort. Another thing that I understand much better now also is the importance of thinking about how my own actions impact others— that is, the spread of my illness to others is something that I take far more seriously, especially given who I work with at Intuition Wellness Center.

Today my fellow team members and I work with a vulnerable population of children and young people. Some of them are living with chronic illness, both physical and mental. It can be very difficult, even for a seasoned professional, to determine what symptoms are rooted in a physical ailment and what is purely emotional. Part of the difficulty is that, the more we understand, the more we realize that often they are not truly distinct parts or processes in our bodies. Symptoms such as fatigue, decrease in appetite, stomachaches and headaches could be part of the flu or an ongoing chronic “body-based” medical issue and they could also be symptoms of depression or anxiety. Those with chronic physical disease are also more susceptible to mental illness as the impact on their social relationships and everyday functioning can weigh heavily on their emotional health. Because proper diagnosis is more complicated when there are both physical and mental health issues, many people do not get proper care for one or the other or both. Mental illness is often associated with poorer diets and exercise routines as well, which make it both more difficult to stay physically healthy and to recuperate from physical illness as well as to improve from the mental illness itself.

Not everyone has been inundated with the same messages that I received as a kid. Among the team members I work with and the clients I see, many are stellar at listening to their bodies and giving themselves the proper time to rest and recuperate. We do often get the question from parents, however, as to whether they should bring their sick child in for their psychotherapy appointment. It does feel like a tough thing to navigate for some kids who seem to be so susceptible to illness that they rarely seem to be symptom-free come flu season. Many parents also do seem to understand that the discomfort of physical illness seems to intensify some of the symptoms of mental illness (and be intensified by mental illness) and want support for their children during this time. While often I do emphasize the importance of regular attendance in psychotherapy sessions, when a child is truly physically ill with something like the flu or has some other contagious condition, my answer is consistent— stay home.

Keeping your kids home from school, community events or their counseling appointments when they are sick helps them recover sooner and prevents them from spreading the illness to others. Staying home from an appointment with a team member at Intuition Wellness Center due to a contagious condition, also means helping to prevent particularly vulnerable children and young people from potentially catching something that could contribute to worsened mental illness as well.

But how sick is too sick for an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center?

• A temperature over 100 degrees;
• Throwing up or diarrhea;
• Pink and crusty eyes;
• Doctor states they should stay home;
• Too sick for school;
• Any other condition that is infectious/contagious/spreads (including head lice).

It may be ok to go to an appointment at Intuition Wellness Center if your child doesn’t have any other symptoms besides a runny nose and a little cough. However, it’s always a good idea to consult with your child’s pediatrician and call your clinician prior to the appointment.

Please help the Intuition Wellness Center community and other vulnerable populations to stay healthy by resting when you’re sick. At Intuition Wellness we consider clients staying home due to illness an important act of self care and waive our cancellation fee for such instances.

When is sick too sick for you or your child? Let us know in the comments section below how you can tell when your child needs extra rest so that other readers can benefit from your wisdom!

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. Call us at 520-333-3320.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD in collaboration with Co-Founder Yoendry Torres, PsyD & H.S. Intern Manasa Swaminathan

Share This:
Posted on 1 Comment

Strategies to Move a Couch Potato Kid

It’s an era of sedentary activity– of children and adults who spend evenings and weekends glued to the couch. Many children have been trained to sit still for hours at school and then follow it with an hour or more of homework each evening. So when they have free time, naturally a child will retreat into … the stillness of video gaming, TV and social media?! It’s true, many parents find it difficult to get their blobs school-age children active without the structure of an organized sport or the promise of a bribe (in the form of more time for video games, naturally).

Intuitively, many caregivers understand that it’s important for children to move, but don’t always know how. Here’s a start.

Get ’em Off the Couch:

  • Avoid using sedentary activities, including screen time, as rewards and physical activity as punishment as this teaches kids that sedentary activity is more desirable than physical activity.
  • Explore out-of-the-box options until your child is having fun, such as wall climbing centers, guided hikes at national parks, trampoline parks, or hiphop dancing.
  • Make it a family affair by going on family hikes, riding bikes together, shooting hoops in the driveway, putting together an at-home obstacle course or doing yard work together.
  • Bring along a friend to the community pool or local playground and consider arranging for your child and their bestie to sign up for an organized sport together.
  • Establish a routine such that every Wednesday night after dinner the family goes for a walk or on Saturday mornings the kids go swimming at the YMCA.
  • Provide the materials for physical activity, such as soccer balls, jump ropes and sprinklers to run through.
If your child is still avoiding movement, they may benefit from support with coordination, muscle tone, balance, or body awareness. A pediatric occupational therapist might be able to help.
Need more ideas to get your kiddo engaged? We’ve got your back. Check out our Pinterest boards for lots of activities. If concerns persist, Intuition Wellness Center can help you and your family connect to resources.
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. Call us at 520-333-3320.

Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

30 Days of Gratitude!

There are a few of us here at Intuition who simply cannot resist a good-natured competition. So with a joyful spirit and plenty of determination, we are taking a gratitude challenge and we invite you to join us!

Beginning on November 1st, our team members invite you to our 30-day journaling challenge that will use these easy prompts from as inspiration.


30 Days of Gratitude Journaling Prompts

  1. What smell are you grateful for today?
  2. What technology are you grateful for?
  3. What color are you grateful for?
  4. What food are you most grateful for?
  5. What sound are you grateful for today?
  6. What in nature are you grateful for?
  7. What memory are you grateful for?
  8. What book are you most grateful for?
  9. What place are you most grateful for?
  10. What taste are you grateful for today?
  11. What holiday are you grateful for?
  12. What texture are you grateful for?
  13. What abilities are you grateful for?
  14. What sight are you grateful for today?
  15. What season are you grateful for?
  16. What about your body are you grateful for?
  17. What knowledge are you grateful for?
  18. What piece of art are you grateful for?
  19. What touch are you grateful for today?
  20. Who in your life are you grateful for?
  21. What song are you most grateful for?
  22. What story are you grateful for?
  23. What tradition are you grateful for?
  24. What challenge are you grateful for?
  25. What moment this week are you most grateful for?
  26. What form of expression are you most grateful for?
  27. What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for?
  28. What small thing that happened today are you grateful for?
  29. What friend/family member are you grateful for today?
  30. What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for?

Why the focus on gratitude? Well, besides it being a natural fit to coincide with Thanksgiving festivities, gratitude has been studied extensively in recent years and, perhaps not surprisingly, an intentional practice of gratitude has lots of fantastic side effects, including happiness!

If you’d like more updates on our services or other activities, subscribe to our newsletter 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: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image credit: Rory MacLeod


Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

Taekwondo Wellness Therapy Group Announcement

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 ( 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

Share This:
Posted on

Thyroid & Mental Health

Girl_suffering_form_anxietyDid you know that January is thyroid awareness month? Problems with the thyroid, a gland in your neck, can manifest in anxiety or depressive symptoms. There are two types of thyroid problems that can develop gradually over years:

  1. Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms include:
    • Decreased metabolic rate
    • Fatigue
    • Increased sensitivity to cold
    • Constipation
    • Weight gain
    • Reduced appetite
    • Reduced heart rate
    • Reduced blood pressure
    • Depression
    • Impaired memory
  2. Hyperthyroidism signs and symptoms include:
    • Increased metabolic rate
    • Nervousness
    • Anxiety
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Hand tremor
    • Excessive sweating
    • Weight loss
    • Sleep problems

Like many diseases, symptoms can gradually become more severe if left untreated. Moreover, many of these symptoms mimic depressive and anxiety disorders and are sometimes misdiagnosed as such. If you have been experiencing depressive or anxiety symptoms, it is a good idea ask your primary care physician to help you determine if there is any medical cause for what your are experiencing.

Here are a few resources if you want to learn more about hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism:

Intuition Wellness Center specializes in looking at clients as a whole, which means that we are not just treating symptoms but rather assessing lifestyles factors, considering medical as well as psychological causes, and social influences to help determine the best course of treatment. If you believe you are struggling with anxiety or depression, we are here to help. Call 520-419-6636 for a free phone consultation.

Written by: Yoendry Torres, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist

Share This:
Posted on Leave a comment

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

Share This: