I like this simple video for kids to understand more about Sensory Processing problems. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is not "officially" recognized, but from years of experience, I know that there are people who have difficulty with sensory issues. Take a look at this video for if you think your child might have sensory issues. There are lots of good resources online for help with this! Click HERE for Video
If you are one of my clients, you know that I am always nagging you about taking a moment to pay attention to what is happening RIGHT NOW, not past, not future and also to do breathing exercises.
Both research and experience indicate that these two things are the first-line defenses against anxiety and depression, and help increase focus and memory.
So let's go over them again!
First, mindfulness, or paying attention to what is happening right now: Remember that anxiety and depression are thoughts and feelings about what's going to happen in the future or what has already happened in the past. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now in this exact moment?” and listen for the answer from your heart and body, not just your mind. Unless you are in the emergency room being tended to by surgeons, or you've just been kidnapped by aliens, or you have fallen down a manhole, you probably will answer, "I'm okay right in this moment. In this moment right now I am okay.” If so, spend a few seconds just paying attention to that. Really note what it feels like to feel OK, even just in this one moment. Do that as often as you can during the day. It trains your brain to be able to pay attention to what is going on right now and to recognize and store times when you felt OK instead of upset.
The second item, breathing or relaxation exercises, or sometimes I call it "mini-meditation" is about relaxing your body and turning on your parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system, often triggered by anxiety , turns on your fight or flight or freeze reactions . The parasympathetic system, in contrast, is your rest and digest system. That's the one you want to make stronger!
How do you make it stronger? By activating it many times during the day. And you do that through the breathing and relaxation exercises that we go over in sessions. Click here for a YouTube link that will remind you how to do the Progressive Muscle Relaxation one.
Remember that this is all about practice! It's like training a dog or building a muscle. The more that you do it when you're not upset, the easier it will be to activate when you are upset.
PRACTICE!! That's right---that's me yelling. Just practice! It will get easier. Life will get better.
Check out this article on tips to help teenagers cope with stress. So many of the strategies are simply helping teens recognize the good things that are happening in their lives and in the world. I like number 5, which says "let the negative emotion run its course" and then gently help the teen to reappraise. It's important not to rush this process. When your teen feels out of sorts, help her identify the emotion and offer sympathy and support while the emotion peaks and ebbs, just like you did when she was little and her emotions got the best of her. After the storm has subsided, then you can step in and help her try to look at the problem from a different perspective. But the key is to do this very gently! No one likes to be told in any shape or form, "It's not that bad" when they are feeling stressed. I also like number 9 which suggests helping teens to see the bigger picture. It's very hard for teens to visualize the future. It's a brain thing. During the teenage years, the part of the brain that is able to accurately imagine things that haven't happened yet is not fully developed. That's why teens engage in such risky behaviors; they can't really imagine the consequences of their actions yet. They may be able to verbalize what they've been taught the consequences are, but on their own, they can't effectively imagine them the way an adult can. So, it's good to help them through this process. "Will this matter in ten years? Will it matter in 5 years? Will it matter in one year? How about next month? Next week?" Those kinds of questions, with time for them to ponder, are helpful. Enjoy the article: Positive Emotions: Helping a Teen with LD Cope Better With Stress.
Oh, and one more thing: the best way to help a kid cope with stress is to learn to cope well with it yourself! So, maybe try some of these tips out on YOU!
I saw this quote on Facebook on George Takei's page: "One awesome thing about Eeyore is that even though he is basically clinically depressed, he still gets invited to participate in adventures and shenanigans with all of his friends And they never expect him to pretend to feel happy, they just love him anyway, and they never leave him behind or ask him to change."
Love that! For all of those who deal with depression, pass this quote along to YOUR friends! Maybe they will take the hint!
Depression can be hard to cope with, but it isn't who you are and it doesn't have to take over your lives or rob you of friendships and community.
A new study by the National Institute of Mental Health in which hundreds of children were followed for several years, found that medication did not have a significant impact on grades in the long term. This finding was corroborated by other studies. An article in Nature poses the question, "How can medication that makes children sit still and pay attention not lead to better grades?" The answer, it suggests, may be that children develop tolerance to the drug or that while the drugs impact concentration, they do not impact intelligence and therefore as school becomes more complicated, grades do not improve. "When the MTA team examined the follow-up data, it found that many non-medical factors play a big part in whether improvements last. The best predictor of a child's response to treatment wasn't which treatment they were assigned, but a cluster of factors that were present at the start. Children with more advantages — higher intelligence, better social skills, intact families, higher parental education, fewer conduct problems or higher socioeconomic status — were likely to make big strides and hold onto them no matter what the treatment was, whereas children without these advantages typically progressed more slowly and regressed after treatment stopped.But disadvantaged children benefited when they received both medication and behaviour therapy. “The kids with the most problems needed the combination,” says Jensen, who adds that parents should have easier access to proven behaviour therapies. The effects of behavioural treatment don't seem to be longer-lasting than those of medication, however: once active treatment stops, they dissipate."
What do you think?
Click Here for a link to the article.
Dr. Caroline Heldman, professor at Occidental College has a lot to say about the images that we see about women and what they means to us as a society. She starts out by saying that it is a LIE that being a sex object is empowering and she goes on to prove her theory. It's very interesting! Here is a great quote from the video: "We raise our little boys to view their bodies as tools to master their environments. We raise our little girls to view their bodies as projects to constantly be improved." OUCH. Hits home. I like that she gives us a quick way to tell if an image is exploitive...and I thinks its disturbing that we don't always know! Take a few minutes to watch this and share it with your teenagers. Click HERE for the Video.
Are you feeling sad, irritable, or extra tired right now? Have you noticed that you feel this way every time Fall rolls around and the leaves start to drift onto the lawn and days start to get shorter? You may have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Remember that all psychological conditions occur on a continuum and are changeable. You may have just a little bit of feeling down, or you may find it impossible to get out of bed! However it hits you, if it does, there are some things you can do to make yourself feel better.
First of all, educate yourself about SAD. It's a real condition, caused by an impact on our circadian rhythms due to the change in sunlight (something similar can occur for shift workers who are always awake during the dark and sleeping during the daylight hours). We are animals, naturally attuned to the seasons that we live in. There's nothing surprising about having some feelings of depression in the Fall. Our bodies are gearing down for the Winter, expecting to spend a lot of time sleeping and conserving energy. Except we aren't cave-men and cave-women any more and we still have to get up and go about our lives! (Thanks, lightbulbs!)
Secondly, keep moving! Schedule exercise into your day and get support for doing it. Get a buddy who will help encourage you to do it. Reward yourself. Research has proven that exercise is right up there with medication in terms of helping depression. It doesn't have to be a marathon. A half hour walk will do it. So, walk to the coffee shop and reward yourself with a nice cup of coffee (caffeine helps too).
Third, get a little extra sunshine. There are two really good tools for this. One is a light box that you look directly into for about 15 minutes a day. Another is a sunlight simulation alarm that is creates an artificial sunrise in your bedroom when it is time to wake up. It's particularly helpful for people who have to get up before the natural light comes in the window. I have both of these and they are worth the money! Or, maybe a trip to a tropical island?
Fourth, go see a therapist. Of course you knew that was coming! (smile)
Finally, get medication if you need it. You can take it for a short period of time to get through the season change. Other great options are homeopathy (my favorite) or naturopathic solutions.
Hang On. Everything changes. Enjoy what you can out of this time of year: the beautiful colors, the crisp leaves underfoot, breaking out those warm sweaters and boots. And enjoy those Saturday mornings when you can snuggle in your warm bed a little longer.
(photo by Alycia Hendrickson)
We warn our daughters about dangers associated with growing up: getting pregnant, getting "used" by a boy, getting in risky situations. But what do we say to our sons? As puberty strikes, teenage boys often go inward, spending a lot of time alone or in their rooms, playing video games, listening to loud music. Those sweet little guys who used to drop into our laps and tell us how much they love us turn in to large, often uncertain, sometimes surly young men who rarely want to show us any type of real feelings. And yet, experts will tell you (and many mothers too) that young men are filled with feelings of romance and love and think just as much about finding The ONE as do their female counterparts. They just don't talk about it! But we need to talk with them, especially about how to navigate the dangers of becoming sexual. Although they can't get pregnant, they can get very hurt and they can do a lot of damage if they don't have some good strong parenting at this critical time in their lives.
Ask him some questions: What would he do if a girl started coming on to him and he didn't love her? Maybe didn't even like her but thought she was sexy? What if she was drunk? What would he do if he saw some other boys messing around with a girl who was drunk? What if it seemed like she liked it? Would it make a difference? Would he say anything? What if the boys were his friends? What would he do if a girl liked him and wanted sex with him and he wasn't ready? Does he think that if a girl had sex with him, she might be more inclined to think she was in love? How would he know she was only with him? What if she offered to send him a picture of herself without clothes? Does he know anyone who got a girl pregnant and what happened to the boy? What would he do if that happened to him? What is important to him about love? What would he do if his girlfriend made him really, really mad? Who would he talk to?
There are so many questions that a boy needs to think about. He may not want to talk to you but that's OK. Ask the questions. He will think about them in his own time and and probably to some loud crazy music. But if you are very quiet and very available, he will probably come in some day and plop down and say, "You know, I was thinking about that thing you said the other day...."
No one likes to think about it or talk about it, but all parents worry about it: child abduction. Experts agree that the main way to keep kids safe (because you really can't watch them every moment of the day!) is to talk with them about the dangers. But how do you talk to your kids without terrifying them? Here is a great article that gives you conversation starters based on your child's age and developmental level. Remember, it's just a STARTER. You need to keep the conversation going all the time, asking questions, figuring out what they are thinking, how aware they are. And talk to other parents; get-and give- advice! Believe me, you are not the only parent wondering what to do! Here's the article: http://www.take25.org/~/media/Take25/ResourceDocuments/ConversationStarters_2013-EN.pdf