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Breathe, Mama

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

 

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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Parents: You can do this!

Social media is a dangerous place to hang out if you’re trying to avoid anxiety-provoking content at the moment. In particular, there’s been such contradictory advice about parenting during the pandemic. And it’s coming from every angle. Meanwhile, parents have found themselves very suddenly coping with their own waves of overwhelming emotions while also simultaneously trying to do what’s best for their children and find some way to make a living. It’s too much and, as Chloe Cooney eloquently put it, Parents Are Not Ok. My addition to her statement is a “yet,” as in “Parents are not ok yet.” In case you needed to hear it, you can do this, Parents!

Amid the extremes, sometimes there are also real gems– validating and connecting pieces– floating about in social media feeds. One recent message perfectly states a position I fully support, particularly for parents. We need community care and not just self care, reaching in and not just reaching out.

In the spirit of reaching in, here’s a little message for our clients and their families. It really isn’t the same at Intuition Wellness Center without you. We miss the chatter and the energy in our Great Room, but our team is still here for you.

Here’s a message from Dr. Kate Sage also who really wants to know “How are you?”:

 

Despite the pandemic, we are continuing to support children, young adults and parents through telehealth and, in some cases, through home visits. We’ve also made a commitment not to turn anyone away due to financial concerns. 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, request an appointment on our website or call us for more information: 520-333-3320.

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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.

https://youtu.be/dV4CWsEj6nE

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.

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Get Your Wakeful Child to Sleep… Finally!

healthy sleep

If your children (and you) sleep through the night, you are the envy of parents everywhere! So many things can get in the way of getting a consistently good night’s rest– overstimulation, anxiety, depression, difficulty with making transitions, etc. Maybe your sweetie pie repeatedly begs for one more drink of water, worries about the next school day, or can’t seem to turn off their motor at the end of the day. As a parent it can be so hard to keep your wits about you when you’re tired, they’re tired, and no one is getting their much needed rest. If you’re ready to be proactive in support of healthy sleep patterns for your wakeful child, keep reading.

How Much Sleep Should Kiddo Get?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you and your littles strive to get the following amount of hours of sleep per night:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
  • School Age (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-64 years): 7-9 hours
  • Older Adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours

Now, there is a reason that a range of hours is listed for each age group and that is that people are all different. If you have questions about whether or not your unique child is getting enough sleep, consult with your child’s physician.

3 Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep
  • Be Consistent. You’ve most likely heard this tip before. Getting your child or yourself into a rhythm and routine each day is crucial for getting restful sleep. They should have a set bedtime and wake time regardless of whether it’s a weekday, weekend, or holiday. Additionally, get a routine in place for bedtime that includes relaxing activities such as bath time and reading, or meditation and journaling. These consistent rhythms and routines will keep your kiddo’s sleep cycles (circadian rhythm) in check and their natural melatonin production operating optimally.  For more information on balancing natural melatonin levels, check out the tips below from Dr. Sage, Naturopathic Family Physician at Intuition Wellness.

Video not working?  Try this: Get Your Child to Sleep: Rebalance Melatonin Production

  • Create a Sanctuary. Your child’s sleeping area should be simple and their bed should be a sleep-only zone. This means that they shouldn’t be doing their homework or even reading in their bed. Creating the right mental association for them will essentially train their brain to relax once they lay down in their bed. It’s ok for your child to have some sort of transitional object, such as a stuffed animal, in bed with them. Yet, keep the space uncluttered overall to maintain your sleep-only zone. In addition, create a home culture that doesn’t allow electronics in bed. The blue light emitted from screens can be especially problematic for sleep-wake cycles. Plus,  keeping screen distractions away from bed will also create healthy bedtime boundaries. It’s also best if your child can be awakened by natural light. However, most school days start so early that this often isn’t an option. If getting up before sunrise is truly necessary, consider purchasing a light box, which will also support natural melatonin production.
  •  Exercise and Movement. Children who stay active during the day often sleep more restfully in the evening. If your child has a tendency to be a couch potato, there are many strategies you can try to get them moving. Finding activities that they enjoy is especially important. They should refrain from heavy exercise close to bedtime. Activities such as slow yoga or stretching are ok in the evenings and you can even combine them with meditation or other relaxation techniques.

Looking for more? Check out a more detailed version of our sleep tips ready for print or to be bookmarked.

8 Tips for Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Printable Tips for Getting Your Child to Sleep!

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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The Emphasis on Self Care is Shaming Moms

Once upon a time, families of the neighborhood looked out for one another’s kids; sent a casserole down the street when their neighbor was down on their luck; called upon the mama with a new baby; and confidently sent their kids down the block for a cup of sugar from the neighbor. The days of Beverly Cleary characters are long gone. Lately parenting seems to be done more and more in isolation. Yet there is another shift occurring. Some quiet rumblings. A suggestion that the last couple of decades of parenting without the village may be lonely and counterproductive. There’s even been a few disgruntled mentionings of the term “self care” and a countermovement toward a new conceptualization— “community care.” 

The Rise of Self Care

At what point did we start talking about and using the term “self care?” I don’t know, honestly, but in my own musings it likely evolved from the same culture where parents are often expected to be well-informed, self-sufficient, and able to juggle all of their responsibilities flawlessly. In addition, they should not be irritable, exhausted, lonely and/or prone to feelings of inadequacy. If they are experiencing any of these “symptoms” then the commonplace recommendation is more self care because they must not be doing it enough and, of course, they should be able to juggle that, too! 

Parenting is hard, Dear Ones. I don’t know anyone who will argue with that! Exhaustion may even be a normal response to such an important job. Yet, I’m of the mindset that it could be a little easier. If only we still truly had the village mentality (and not the mentality where we just say “it takes a village” but then do little to actually embody this). And if we could also just be honest with each other about just how often we’re actually struggling to juggle all of it.

When someone is struggling and admitting to the exhaustion, I know I’ve certainly been guilty of asking things like, “when’s the last time you did something for yourself?” as if to suggest that feeling this way demands a remedy and that the solution is in their hands alone. Is encouraging self care wrong? No. In fact, doing right by oneself is VERY important. But it’s also not totally adequate.

The Fall of Self Care

Some say the emphasis on self care remains neglectful of that aforementioned self. By focusing solely on self care as the remedy, we fail to put some responsibility on the villagers as essential to supporting the mama, the papa, the caregiver, etc. Some say that stressing self care is shaming. Blaming even. Because it can sometimes seem to suggest that if you’re exhausted, irritable, feeling inadequate and can’t live up to your standards…. it’s both your fault and you should fix it. That you should have been able to do something to negate all of those feelings. Something for yourself. Some self care. 

Yet, where are the villagers? 

Where is the community to also care for the caregiver? 

By falling back on recommending self care to others does that give us an excuse not to step up and be the villager?

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.

 

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8 Steps to Reaching a Goal

It’s the New Year! A clean slate. Many of us approach the New Year with BIG DREAMS. We might even set goals. But if you are anything like me, you may have had the experience of running out of steam, losing motivation, getting discouraged and even giving up. I decided to do some research with the hopes of creating better outcomes for 2019. I learned that creating habits is the best way to support reaching a goal. The trick is how do we create habits that support the goals we want to achieve?

Here’s 8 Steps To Developing A New Habit: 

Get Clear. Identify want you want to achieve, make sure the goal is realistic for you. If you’re not a morning person, it’s probably not a good idea to set a goal to work out 30 minutes at the gym every morning. 

Start Small.  Achieving just one small goal multiplies your potential to succeed by increasing your motivation. You are more likely to achieve a small goal. When you meet your goal you will start to feel better. As the quality of you life improves, this will motivate you to do it more. 

Identify the Why. By clearly outlining the ways the new habit will improve the quality of your life or contribute to the well being of your family or  community, you will generate passion and motivation. Identify
reasons that inspire you. 

Pair the New Habit with a Daily Habit You Already Have. Daily habits that you might pair your new habit with might include brushing your teeth, getting the kids up, or making your coffee. Pairing up your new habit with something that is already established in your routine makes it more likely to stick. 

Decide on A Reward. The reward doesn’t have to necessarily be big, maybe just throwing your hands up in the air and saying “YES” could be enough. Make the reward fun. Positive reinforcement does work. 

Pick a Tracking Mechanism. Print out a monthly calendar or download an app. Keep your tracking choice simple and doable. Make it visible where you will see it regularly. 

Create A Cue. Cues help us remember to perform our new habit. A sticky note reminder or laying out clothes or other supplies needed to complete the activity are examples of cues that will prevent avoidance and support motivation. 

Identify an Accountability Partner. Finding someone to join in or to connect with around your new habit can be very helpful. 

For those of you who might be interested in a deeper level of support, please join us for the next Nurtured Mothering Series starting January 21 where we will support one another to create and meet our intentions in 2019.

For more information on Goal Setting and Creating Habits check out:

Habits 101 Workbook by Brian Johnson

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in inspiring children, young adults and families to live in health and joy and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes, occupational therapy, and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support in turning your goals into reality, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Navneet Lahti, Wellness Director and Child & Family Therapist, at Intuition Wellness Center

 

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An Attitude of Gratitude for the Whole Family

Halloween is over and November has arrived. With it comes cooler days, longer nights and the winter holiday season rapidly approaching. This time of year, many of us struggle with feeling there is too much to do and too little time! We may have the desire to have a joyful, relaxed approach to the holidays, yet find ourselves feeling stressed, overwhelmed and even Grinch-like-irritable. If you’re looking for ways to embrace the holiday season with a deeper feeling of joy and connection consider a gratitude practice. 

Research on gratitude shows that people who practice gratitude are happier. How does it work? Basically it’s a way of re-focusing our attention.

Gratitude supports us to focus on what we have, rather than getting stuck on comparisons to others or on what we think might make us happy at some point in the future. 

There are many ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for both children and adults, including writing a thank you note to someone who has contributed positively to your life or keeping a gratitude journal. This year I would like to recommend a family activity. 

A Family Attitude of Gratitude… In a Jar!

Step One: Get your supplies together. As a family, decide on some sort of container to which you’ll all be adding slips of paper for the next few weeks. Gather some small pieces of paper or post-it notes.

Step Two: Find a spot. The home for your gratitude jar should be very visible and accessible to all so that each family member can join in.

Step Three: Choose your time frame. Pick a date to start (maybe Thanksgiving) and a date to end (perhaps the last day of Hanukkah or Christmas day).

Step Four: Let the attitude of gratitude commence. Encourage all family members to write down daily something they are grateful for and why. Consider and encourage writing things you are grateful for that happen within your family. For example, I was grateful when Jimmy offered to load the dishwasher without being asked BECAUSE it gave me a few moments to take a deep breath and relax. On the agreed upon last day, take time to read the gratitude notes out loud as a family. 

Step Five Enjoy. Take a deep breath and notice how you feel!

 

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, Wellness Director at Intuition Wellness Center

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Let Them Play (and Get Out of the Way)!

Child-Directed Play

Child-Directed PlayWhen you’re a busy parent or caregiver with errands to run, mouths to feed, and work to do, allowing for time for play might seem pretty low on the priority list. In fact, these days play often has to be scheduled to ensure it happens. As someone who spends a good amount of my work day attempting to be fully present with others, it’s amazing to me how easy it is to get caught up in the daily whirlwind in my personal life. When I’m in a particularly aware space, I can catch myself turning every activity into a goal-directed one. Even play time with my kids can evolve into a very time-limited and rushed flurry of lego-building and board games. In those moments, I tend to do a lot of directing. It allows me to get onto my next to-do item, but these generally aren’t my shiniest parenting moments.

There’s a time and place for that sort of play. Structured and goal-directed play isn’t inherently bad. For example, competitive games, like Uno are loads of fun. Crafting with a specific “product” or goal in mind is also satisfying for many. But the play that this generation of kids is especially losing out on is the unstructured kind. The kind of play where a child gets to be spontaneous and creative, exploratory and in charge. The kind that occurs just for the sake of having fun with no planned product in mind except that of their own imagination. And trust me when I say that losing unstructured child-directed play is a big problem. Our over-scheduled kids are on the front lines of a nationwide anxiety epidemic, while child-directed play has so many critical benefits (motor skills/coordination, self concept, and social skills, to name just a few).

Assume you’re being invited in and that you’re making an effort to create space for non-competitive, non-directive play, here’s a few tips to get you started:

Three Tips for Getting Out of the Way of a Kid’s Play

  1. Pretend You’re a (Play) House Guest. When you’re a new guest in someone else’s house, you don’t just bulldoze your way through a visit. Instead, you would typically use your best manners, observe whether others take off their shoes at the door, politely ask for a drink of water if it’s not offered, etc. Think of yourself as a guest in your child’s play. Don’t just help yourself to what’s in the fridge. Ask how they want you to play if they don’t tell you first. Better yet, observe them in their play for a bit before getting involved.
  2. Allow for Repetitive Play. Look… if you’re going to be a good playmate, you simply have to stop putting a kibosh on kiddo playing out the same thing over and over. Do you remember when your four-year-old requested that you read the story of “The Little Red Hen” again? For the six bazillionth time in a week? That’s developmentally appropriate for young children. Personally, I conceptualize that sort of repetitive play as an attempt at mastery– a signal to me that I ought to stay out of the way until they’ve resolved the issue. It’s tempting to insist on something different because YOU are getting bored of it. Ultimately though, if you let your child engage in that repetitive play enough, she’s likely to move on eventually.
  3. Get Over your Savior Complex. Many in our culture have misinterpreted boredom as signaling something negative is happening— that our child needs more activities, more things to accomplish. But let me clear up that confusion. Being bored is OK. Some even tout it as a gift. From boredom comes the best kind of creativity and spontaneity. Please stop rescuing your child each time he or she complains of boredom. Instead, say “Huh. I wonder what you’ll do about that?” Expect a bit of resistance if your child isn’t used to that sort of response. I can almost guarantee though that if you suggest a chore as an activity, they’ll find their own boredom solution.

Sometimes having a designated time and space for play can be the best answer to getting into a play rhythm. While there’s lots of options, some of our favorites are right here in house:

REGISTER NOW: Friday Night Family Yoga at Intuition Wellness Center.

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: Brandy Baker, PsyD; Co-Founder; Clinical Psychologist

 

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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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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.

 

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Screen Time Takeover: 3 Tips for Busy Families

A little over 6 years ago, I had just reluctantly traded in my basic flip phone for a smartphone. Now? My smartphone practically feels like an appendage. Digital advancements are happening lightening fast. As a result, research on the effects of screen time is struggling to keep pace. This has left most families feeling uninformed and overwhelmed when it comes to creating screen time boundaries.

The truth of the matter is that none of us could have prepared for the epidemic that is screen time in the 21st century. Whether it’s playing a mindless online game, following social media, coordinating a multiplayer video game, or streaming video, there’s something for pretty much everyone. But parents simply don’t have a personal reference point for what it’s like to be a kid in this digital era. None of us were tweens or teens connecting through social media in quite the way that our children are. We didn’t have such instant access to the huge variety of media like children do now.

If you’re like me and other parents, you’ve probably had some desperate moments in search of answers around screen time limits. Perhaps you’ve found yourself asking some of the following questions: what kind of screen time should we be allowing and when? Is it ok to let my child play video games before or between homework assignments? How do I get my kid to get up off the couch? What can I do to get my kid off her phone? How violent is too violent?

While what’s best for your family won’t be the perfect balance for all, there’s a few basic strategies that many families seem to find pretty helpful.

Tips for Battling Screen Time Takeover
  1. Ditch the 2-minute warnings.

    In a recent small study of families with young children, researchers evaluated transitions away from technology (computer, tv, tablets, etc). They determined that the hardest transitions were most commonly associated with the parent giving a “two-minute warning” before ending screen time. Shocking, I know! When the end of screen time was part of a regular routine, it was met with less resistance.  For example, if your kiddo knows that the iPad always goes off once breakfast is ready, then they will be much less likely to resist this transition. Natural endings as transitions were also more successful. For instance, if screen time is stopped at the end of a TV show or after your child has reached the next level in a video game, they will tend to respond more positively than stopping midway through.

  2. Watch with the kids.

    Simply put, engage in the media actively together. For very young children, this can help prevent the language delays associated with screen time. We know that when TV is on, even if it’s just as background noise, families tend to have fewer verbal exchanges a which leads to smaller vocabularies. It’s better to make it an activity with a set beginning and ending that turns it into a springboard for more conversation. That is, use it to develop a common language together that you can reference in later interactions. With planning, you can even use it as a subtle lesson that parallels a situation that your child is working on mastering.

  3. Invest in an alarm clock.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard teens, tweens and parents say that they keep their smartphone in their bedrooms next to them because they rely on it for the alarm clock. It’s a buzzing and binging little temptation that rarely can be resisted, even in the wee hours of the night and many are getting less sleep than they should as a direct result of engaging in late night screen time. I speak from the experience of having had many kids confess in my office when I say that lots of kids aren’t telling their parents when they’re doing this. Make screens inconvenient. Invest in an alarm clock for your teen and make it a practice to dock the phone out of sight at night at least an hour before bedtime. Better yet, as a family, make a commitment to keep all screens out of the bedroom.

This screen time takeover is something that impacts all of us. The battle is ongoing. I’ve identified several moments when I know for certain that it’s impacted my ability to be a present parent. Many other parents report the same. Much of what I’ve learned, came not just from extensive reading on the subject, but also from talking to other parents and trial and error. I encourage you to do the same.

Learn about Intuition Wellness Center’s next Parents’ Heart-to-Heart Series and talk to the experts

Receive 20 FREE STRATEGIES FOR BATTLING SCREEN TIME TAKEOVER Right Now

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting pediatric 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: Dr. Brandy Baker, Clinical & Training Director; Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash.

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7 Better Ways to Bolster Your Child’s Self-Esteem

I’ve seen it time and time again. A desperate parent tells me that they don’t understand why their child is struggling with low self-esteem. This is despite the fact that they are able to name many wonderful things about their child and are constantly showering their child with praise.

Here’s the trouble: praising a child regularly and in non-specific ways simply does not lead to children who are more secure and self-assured. In actuality, a child who is often praised may become dependent on others’ evaluations of them as evidence of their value. In some cases, they may feel like a complete imposter— as if others are misjudging their ability.

7 Better Ways to Bolster Your Child’s Self-Esteem:

  1. Be sincere with praise. When you do praise, hand it out sparingly and honestly and focus on effort (think process, not product). This will give it more meaning in the child’s eyes.
  2. Assign household tasks and chores. By doing so, the message you give is “we trust you to do important tasks and you have a crucial role in the functioning of the family.”
  3. Allow for child-directed time. If screens are turned off and a child is given free time with regularity, the child will naturally work on gaining or proving mastery over a challenging situation.
  4. Include them in family decisions. Ask them for their opinion when it’s age-appropriate, such as which of the two dinner options they suggest or which curtains they prefer for the living room. They’ll appreciate that their opinion is valued.
  5. Avoid comparing to others. Drawing comparisons between your child and their peers, siblings and anyone for that matter is a delicate matter that sets them up to feel as though they are valued only when better than others. It’s better to teach them to use themselves as the baseline comparison.
  6. Be constructive. If your child does something you don’t like, avoid focusing on the negative and, instead, simply tell them what you would like them to do instead next time.
  7. Encourage interests. Seeking out opportunities to cultivate your child’s talents and interests demonstrates to them that their uniqueness is important and allows for them to further develop competencies.

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. If you think you need some extra support, call us. We offer parent groups and other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD

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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

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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

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Contemporary Family Lessons from the Ancient Art of Taekwondo

What do sports have to do with personal wellbeing and family functioning? A lot, it turns out, if the sport you’re talking about is Taekwondo. In a recent blog series, Master Yoendry Torres, a psychologist, Taekwondo instructor and Executive Director of Intuition Wellness Center discusses how the basic tenets of Taekwondo can be applied to more general well-being.

Here are Master Torres’ blog posts compiled for your convenience:

Liked what you read? Ready to join Master Torres in the Taekwondo Wellness Program at Intuition Wellness Center? It’s easy!

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 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation and to get more information on any one of the many services and programs we offer.

Photo courtesy of creativecommons.org

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD

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8 Ways to Overcome Back-to-School Jitters

It’s not at all uncommon for children to feel some anxiety at the start of the school year. For some children though, it turns into nearly paralyzing fear and gets in the way of them enjoying school. Anxiety is generally a reaction to feeling out of control of a situation.

8 ways you can help your child feel in control and cope well with their return to school:
• Start transitioning into the school year morning and bedtime routine at least a week in advance
• Get to the bottom of the fear by asking them about their “worst case scenario”and determining, together, a plan for handling it
• Discuss what will be the same about next school year (not just what’s different)
• Arrange for your child to have a meet-and-greet with new teachers prior to the first day
• Mark the first day of school on a physical calendar that your child can easily see
• Take your child to practice finding their classroom and opening their locker in advance
• Email your child’s teacher with a list that your child makes that includes questions about their new teacher and what they want their teacher to know about them
• Make the first day fun (write a message on the bathroom mirror, fill their room with balloons, special breakfast, etc)

Visit Intuition Wellness Center’s School Help Pinterest page for other practical ideas for helping your child transition back to school, including: making it a great day, creating gifts for their teacher and getting them to talk about their school day.

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. If you think you need some extra support, call us. We offer parent guidance and a slew of other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

Written By: Brandy Baker, PsyD

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When Your Child Says She Hates to Learn (Part 2)

Now that you’ve identified that your child is a refusal-to-put-in-the-work, acting-up, perfection-or-bust, or seeking-constant-reassurance bright kid (or just a kid with a nose), perhaps you would like some guidance? Last month I talked all about a fixed mindset and how it leads to these unfortunate presentations (and if you haven’t read it, no judgment, but you’ll want to read that post before you go any further). Then I said nothing, not even a single word, about what you could do to help your child. You were left wondering, should I say no to ribbons and trophies? Should I discourage my child from counting the freckles on her ankles? What, Dr. Baker?!? What shall I do to help my child love to learn again?!?

Do you see what I did there? So clever of me to rope you in and then leave you wondering, though I do hope that you signed up for our monthly newsletter as it gave a nice little intro to this post. Wait no longer loyal readers, here’s what you came for…

Super speedy review first!

Fixed mindset is:

A belief that your qualities are carved in stone–that you have a certain amount of talent and that’s that. In a fixed mindset, effort is only for those who can’t make it on talent and success is about being more gifted than others.

Growth mindset is:

A belief that basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through effort– that, while people may differ in initial talents, interests, aptitudes and temperaments, everyone can change and improve through application and experience. People in a growth mindset are able to look frankly at their weaknesses, challenge themselves, learn something hard and stick with it. Effort, finding strategies that work, and seeking input from others are seen as the keys to success.

We ALL have a fixed mindset sometimes. We ALL have a growth mindset sometimes. And in many cases, we have a smattering of both. However, it’s a real service to our children and ourselves to strive for a growth mindset ALL the time as too much of a fixed mindset can literally undo the natural love of learning we were all born with.

Instill a growth mindset:

Talk to your children about mindset. The very act of teaching the difference between a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset makes a difference! Research by Dr. Carol Dweck indicates that telling children about stories of a growth mindset helps them adopt a similar outlook. For an example to share, you might tell your child about some of Dweck’s research on students entering junior high who were matched on grades. Dweck concluded that those with a growth mindset improved their math grades incrementally over the course of their junior high experience while those with a fixed mindset demonstrated worsened math grades by the end of junior high. Another super fun example of how a growth mindset can be beneficial can be found in this little video that I like to show children, especially if they have interest in athletics. Spoiler alert: it includes some friendly banter between olympic runners who seem pretty committed to improvement despite their obvious success.

Model a healthy response to failure. The next time you don’t master something, you have the perfect opportunity to discuss your experience with your child. Struggling to get out the door on time in the morning? Burned the meal at dinnertime? Forgot about a deadline? These are all instances when you can fess up to your mistakes and talk out loud about how you might improve. This normalizes the learning process and reminds your child (and you) that there is always work to be done in order to get better.

Encourage studying to learn, not to memorize. Repetitive review of material to ace an exam is memorization and a lot less likely to stick than true learning of the material such as going over mistakes until you’re sure you understand them. Looking for unique strategies that suit the learner and studying with the purpose of understanding will result in better grades! It should be noted that, for those in a fixed mindset, rather than trying to repair or learn from a failure, they are likely to try to repair their self-esteem by looking for others who are worse.

Allow progress, improved learning tactics, and effort to be the basis for success. Making your 15-year-old daughter’s phone privileges dependent on her getting all A’s and B’s at school may be very tempting given how motivated she seems by her phone usage. One problem with this, however, is that it sets a tone that you value good grades not good study habits and fails to acknowledge that school is a place for learning (and seems to suggest that she should have mastered the subject already). A better strategy? Praise your child for improvements in study habits. Question how she studied and discuss how well those tactics worked for her or help her study and have a conversation about what you notice. Reinforce the work that your child puts into learning (such as attending after school tutoring or asking for additional practice). Don’t emphasize scores, grades, or trophies.

Teach the importance of strategy and goal-setting. Think of a time you were enjoying doing something and then it got hard and you wanted out. Unless you were just in it for fun, chances are that you didn’t have a realistic perspective on the work that it would require. If there’s something that your child enjoys and wants to get better in, help him create realistic, short-term goals for himself and figure out what he needs to achieve it. Consider hiring a coach or tutor and creating a practice schedule. If your 5-year-old son is expressing interest in learning how to write all of his letters by the end of summer, make a plan to introduce 2 or 3 new letters each week and help him map it out on a calendar so he can see his progress toward achieving his goal. Praise his work toward his goals.

Use the word “yet” regularly. People with a fixed mindset thrive when things are safely within their grasp. Depending on a person’s current capacity, this could signal some pretty big limitations. The concept of “yet” is simple. If your child says, “I don’t understand the math…” you add ”YET!” Again, this sends the message that working toward something is the norm and reinforces a value around effort.

Stop saying “You’re so smart.” In fact, re-think labels altogether. Labeling someone as smart actually has a negative impact on them! Likewise, saying things like, “Ben is such an artist” or “Elizabeth is so bright, she got an A without even studying” lead to Ben thinking to himself  “I shouldn’t try too hard, they’ll see I’m not that talented” and Elizabeth thinking “I better not study or they won’t think I’m bright.” Making these sort of statements devalues the effort needed to be exceptional at things and reinforces a fixed mindset.

There you have it folks– 7 things that you can do that I guarantee will help you and your child begin to love learning again. One more reminder also that no one is ALWAYS in a growth mindset. If you’ve been making some mistakes due to fixed mindset issues, you’re one of many. Now that you know these things, put on your observation goggles. You’ll notice lots of opportunities to support a growth mindset in your children. Know also that a lot of this may not feel intuitive since many of us were the victims of empty praise ourselves, but don’t give up just because you haven’t mastered the growth mindset… yet!

At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated behavioral health services and programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. If you think you need more than what this mindset series offered or, if after trying this, you still think your child (and/or those around her) could use some extra support, call us. We offer school success consultations and a variety of evaluations as well as parent guidance and a slew of other supportive services. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.

You might also pop on over to our Facebook or Pinterest pages for lots more great stuff.

Written by: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image Credit: Steven Depolo. via creativecommons.org

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My Child Was Exposed to Media Coverage of a Tragic Event… What Can I Do?

With in-depth minute-by-minute coverage of news now literally at our fingertips, it’s impossible to shield our children from the tragedies of the world. While this may be ok in some cases, some children are particularly sensitive. In addition, many parents also worry about desensitizing children to violence and cruelty. If your child is fearful or anxious following exposure to a media-covered event, you may be wondering about how to proceed. For this reason, I offer some tips on how to help your child.

 

Talking to Children about Tragedy:
  1. Be your child’s news source. However you decide to talk about the situation, it’s much better for the child if you’re the one who tells them. You want to be the one to set the tone and share the facts. Doing so in a calm and developmentally-appropriate way is important. Give them a break from watching the news even if they are interested in getting the latest developments. When you’re ready to turn on the news again, watch it with them so that you’re available for questions.
  2. Follow your child’s lead. Invite them to tell you anything they may have heard about the situation and how they feel. Try not to ask leading questions. Be prepared to answer their questions, too, but avoid language that will encourage their fear and don’t give more than what they are asking for.
  3. Validate your child’s feelings. Listen to your child and be empathic. It’s important to accept their feelings and let them know it’s ok to feel what they are feeling, but don’t give power to the fear. Help your child understand what they’re anxious about, while sending the message that “we” can handle it.
  4. Be reassuring and realistic. Your child may be fearful because they are worried something bad could happen to them or someone they care about. Reassure them that you are going to help them get through their fear and let them know of any safety measures in place to protect them. Sometimes it may also help to talk through what would happen if your child’s fear came true. For some kids, having a plan in place helps to reduce their uncertainty and worry.
  5. Be consistent. Kids find great comfort in the predictable and usual. Fear of something bad happening can sometimes lead to avoidant behaviors, but avoidance can actually reinforce anxiety. Keep as many things stable as possible and preserve the family routine. Sometimes just spending time with your child may help them feel safer.
  6. Model a healthy response. Let your child see you cope with worry. Kids are very perceptive and they will notice how you manage stress and anxiety. Let your child see you managing it calmly, tolerating it, and feeling ok about getting through it. If you’re having trouble managing your own anxiety, seek support from other adults— family, friends, religious leaders, or a therapist.
  7. Take action. Some children may feel better by taking on a prosocial pursuit in the aftermath of tragedy. Find a developmentally-appropriate activity for them to take action such as sending a card, raising money, or organizing a vigil. Help them see the good that can come out of trauma— heroic events, helpers stepping forward, etc.
  8. Watch for signs. If your child seems to be expressing excessive fear and worry or avoiding their usual places or activities a few weeks after the event, seek consultation from their school counselor or psychologist, pediatrician or a private therapist.

There are a lot of resources for parents and therapists out there who are helping children navigate these stressful encounters. For more resources, here’s our FREE list chock full of clickable links– Download Caregiver Tools: Talking to Children About Tragedy

And, if you are a member of the media, please visit the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network’s tips for covering traumatic events.
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: Brandy Baker, PsyD

Image Credit: Randen Pederson via creativecommons.org

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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 textmyjournal.com 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

 

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Psychological Hygiene: Here’s what the doctor ordered…

The last time you went to the dentist and she reminded you to floss more regularly, maybe you nodded or giggled nervously, but certainly you didn’t walk out of her office thinking, “What a ridiculous suggestion!” You accepted it as a reasonable recommendation. And when you told yourself, “Self, it’s time to take better care of your teeth,” I doubt that your next thought was, “Gee, I’m so selfish and overindulgent.” Perhaps it’s because an expert told you to do it or perhaps it’s because it’s widely accepted in our culture that flossing is part of a solid oral hygiene routine, but for whatever reason you knew it was the right thing to do.

I’m making no judgments about whether you kept up your oral hygiene commitment. I am, however, making a judgment about our society’s lack of attention to the importance of psychological hygiene– the things that we do (or should be doing) on a regular basis to maintain good mental health. As a society, we seem to be a bit slower to jump on that bandwagon though there are some pretty clear reasons why to pursue it further. Intrigued? Good.

6 things to pay attention to right now for better psychological hygiene:

  • Mindfulness. This is about being in the present moment– the right now– with intention and without judgment. With the fast-paced chaos many of us currently live in, a mindfulness practice is becoming more important than ever. Greater Good in Action and Mindful.org are two great resources for lots of easy activities.
  • Exercise. Admittedly, most of us probably know that exercise is important to our wellbeing, but not everyone knows about all of the psychological benefits. Specifically, that exercise is also effective at treating psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.  Pair up exercise with mindfulness and you’ve got an especially winning combination that recent research suggests can ward off and greatly relieve depressive symptoms.
  • Sleep. Unhealthy sleep patterns may increase the risk of mental illness and lead to problems with emotional regulation, memory,  and immune functioning. Some great resources for helping a child sleep include the American Academy of Pediatric’s sleep tips as well as our very own handout on getting a good night’s rest.
  • Nutrition. For so many reasons, good nutrition is important to our overall health and we are learning more and more about this every day. It’s far too complicated to get into a detailed analysis of all of the ways that nutrition link to emotional wellbeing, but I’ll offer a few examples. Perhaps most intuitive is the fact that sugar affects mood and may even be contributing to depression and anxiety. We also now know that gut health is directly linked to emotional health. There are also many things that are being added to food and coming into contact with items we ingest (such as the teflon on our pans) that are considered toxins for the brain, particularly in children and have been linked to a variety of behavioral and emotional health problems such as aggression, ADHD, Autism, and other neurodevelopmental issues.
  • Social Support. Hands down, social support is the most important buffering factor in times of stress, adversity and trauma. There are a series of fantastic long-term studies on this topic, which suggest that, for a child, the perception of having at least one invested adult is a significant protective factor.
  • Play. Well, of course! In this wildly hectic world, adults and children alike are becoming workaholics and achievement addicts. It’s not that we can’t get enjoyment from work or school, but certainly a healthy balance is necessary. With the positive psychology movement, we’ve now learned about the importance of awe and the concept of flow, which are sometimes nice benefits of play.

Did you know that first aid for mental health also exists? Yup. It’s a real thing. It’s what you should do if you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis or a metaphorical emotional bruise, scrape or cut. I’d encourage you to read about it also.

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.

My colleagues and I at Intuition Wellness Center 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, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

Image by Yann (talk) – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7866365

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