Tuesday, August 2, 2022



Creating Connections with Your Children with Technology

Do you find yourself always getting on your children for being on their phone or tablet too much? You might wish that you could just throw all the technology away. Maybe this is you or maybe it isn’t. However, you might consider this: while technology use can seem like an independent activity to many, it doesn’t have to be. Parents who use technology intentionally with their children often feel more connected with them. You probably use your cell phone to text and call your friends and family members all the time. This can be an effective method to connect with your child as well, especially if it tends to be one of your child’s preferred methods of communication. Use it to communicate things more often and see what happens. Single parents may also find this helpful so that they can check in with their child frequently while they work long hours away from home. Many parents frequently watch television and movies together. This time doesn’t have to be mindless viewing for parents or children. If you try to make the time a learning experience by discussing what you are watching together, you might find more things that you have in common and enjoy with your children. It can also be a good way to ensure that what your child is watching is age-appropriate for them. These same principles apply to other activities like video games. One study has shown that parents who coplay (play video games together) with their children tend to report feeling more connected as a family. So, in other words, don’t be afraid to interact with your children through technology! It can be a helpful tool if we intentionally use it rather than allowing it to control us. Intentionality is the goal here and the key to connection.

Reference: Padilla‐Walker, L. M., Coyne, S. M., & Fraser, A. M. (2012). Getting a high‐speed family connection: Associations between family media use and family connection. Family Relations, 61(3), 426-440.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

 Connecting With Nature This Summer





With warmer weather on the way, the ability to go outside for fresh air and sun rays grows fast! If you are a local to Idaho you are never too far from nature. If you reside elsewhere, there are other methods of getting into touch with the natural and gaining the benefits of grounding, peace, and a general sense of oneness. 

The easiest and often overlooked method of practice for this is simply stepping outside. The strength of the sun combined with the warmth it radiates has the power to release serotonin in the body. This can promote mood stability, emotional stability, and is generally associated as "the feel good chemical". Also keeping note of safety, remember to use sunblock as needed or if you are prone to sunburns.  

If you have grass or can find a local park that does, another great method for connection with the earth is to enjoy walking in grass barefoot / sitting and touching the grass. The benefits from grass walking and or touching may seem far fetched but the recorded outcomes have come as insomnia control, improved eyesight, stress relief, and many more. Green is a calming color to the mind and grass is often found right outside your door. In some inner city office business' it is becoming more popular for an entire staff force to go outside and find grass and or trees to touch and spend time with due to the lack of nature. 

The examples stated above are just a few examples of the infinite doorways to "connecting with your roots". You can do the same things with safe bodies of water, desert type landscapes or other geographically different environments. Even small plants for your living and working spaces  can provide similar effects! 



" Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better" 

- Albert Einstein 



Nall, Rachel. “What Are the Benefits of Sunlight?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 1 Apr. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight#_noHeaderPrefixedContent.

“The Health Benefits of Walking Barefoot on Grass.” The Health Benefits of Walking Barefoot on Grass, 8 June 2022, https://thewoodsresorts.com/blogs/health-benefits-of-walking-barefoot.



Monday, May 2, 2022

Is laughter really the best medicine? 



Most of us have heard it, or read it on a sign in our grandparents living room, “laughter is the best medicine.” Could it be true? According to the Mayo clinic laughter can have some pretty strong positive correlations when it comes to stress relief. Some short term effects of laughter can be as follows: stimulating your organs and releasing endorphins into your body. Ever laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe? Well those moments after when you finally catch your breath can help send oxygen to places like your brain and also releases dopamine(pleasure & motivation) and endorphins (feel good chemicals) into your body. Laughter also helps cool down your stress response. Do you have cortisol (STRESS) racing through your bloodstream? Well it turns out a good belly chuckle can help decrease your heart rate and your blood pressure and help relieve your body of that stress. 

If you aren’t already sold (really what more could I say?) laughter also has some LONG TERM EFFECTS, that's right you heard it first folks laughter can improve your mood, improve your immune system, relieve pain, and even increase personal satisfaction. Laughter has shown to help lessen stress, depression and anxiety as well as improve your self-esteem. Feeling stressed? Laugh! You can laugh at a friend (or with..), laugh at dog videos or even laugh at yourself. It turns out that laughter really could be the best medicine. So throw away your apples, and instead have a laugh. AND REMEMBER, self care is NOT a joke, but joking could be self care. 

Take care of yourself folks, laugh a little (or a LOT)! 

Resources: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art -20044456#:~:text=Improve%20your%20mood.&text=Laughter%20can%20help%20les sen%20your,also%20improve%20your%20self%2Desteem.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Make Sure Your Friends Are Okay. 

 

There is no better way to describe MSYFAO than they do on their website, “we’re starting a conversation about conversation — building a community that encourages you to have meaningful discussions with people you care about”. The topic of mental health is becoming less taboo, especially since the pandemic, which has left many wanting to get the conversation started but not knowing how. Make Sure Your Friends Are Okay provides resources that can help any individual navigate some of the most common tough talks. Some of the resources include “Helping Friends Experiencing Abuse”, “Talking to A Friend with An Eating Disorder”, “Making Friends as An Adult”, “How to Be A Better Listener” and more. Make Sure Your Friends Are Okay is providing a platform for people to feel comfortable talking about not only their mental health, but in asking friends and family about theirs. They also sell some merchandise where they donate a portion of the proceeds to help mental health organizations. In addition to promoting checking on your friends they also promote taking care of yourself. With the dark times of the pandemic and the turmoil going on in Ukraine I want to encourage you to reach out and Make Sure Your Friends Are Okay. 

 

Make sure your friends are okay. Make Sure Your Friends Are Okay. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2022, from https://www.makesureyourfriendsareokay.com/ 

Friday, February 25, 2022


War breaks out in Ukraine as Russia invades!

How to help your children & talk to them about Violence & War!

Contributed by: Becky J. Wolery, PsyD

Recent findings: "Children's contact with media coverage of war is pervasive and is associated with numerous outcomes and with their parents' reactions. Younger children are more affected by news stories with visual cues, while older children are more distressed by stories about actual threat." (1)

Don't let your children be a victim of vicarious trauma by continually exposing them to traumatic events. Vicarious traumatization is a negative reaction to trauma exposure and includes a range of psychosocial symptoms. Children especially may exhibit symptoms such as emotional reactivity, irritability, outbursts, aggressiveness, sleeplessness, distractibility, clinging behavior, fear of being along, eating more/less, worrying, feeling vulnerable or helpless, somatic symptoms (stomach aches/headaches), bedwetting, nightmares, and tension or fighting in relationships (siblings/friends/parents). It is not possible to protect children from all exposures of violence or war events. The following guidelines can help minimize the risk to your children. Seek professional help if your child begins to exhibit some of the symptoms above.

 What can you do to help!

1.  Avoid exposure to horrific news and pictures and minimize the amount of exposure of general news about the events. i.e. young children exposed repetitively to the twin towers falling in the 9-11 attack in U.S. thought the attacks kept happening over and over again.

2. Identify a time and place for your children to talk and ask questions. Let them know their questions and concerns are very important. Don't force children to talk about things if they are not ready. Some children will simply want to be children by playing and ignoring the problems which can help them feel safe or cope better.

2. Provide re-assurance that your family is safe, but don't make unrealistic promises. Young children up to middle school age may believe that the violence or attacks are happening near them and they may be next.

3. In communicating, use words and concepts your child understands. Use explanations appropriate to your child's age and ability to understand. Avoid telling them to much information.

4. Ask children of all ages, what they are hearing and what they have seeing on Television or social media. Take time to listen to what they know. Appease their concerns and take them seriously by trying to understand what they are experiencing. Don't confront your child's way of handling the experience.  Some children may be more curious than concerned.

4. Provide age appropriate education based on facts and the context of the situation. Give honest answers.  Teach older children that information is often limited or unknown and politically complicated. Teach them how to check the facts and create awareness of how the media/social media is often missing information or purposefully misleading. 

5. Avoid labeling  or stereotyping groups (good guys vs bad guys). A young child that is told they are being bad may think they are a bad guy. Use the actual names of the groups.

6. Encourage them to continue to talking and be willing to repeat answers and conversations if needed to provide understanding and reassurance.

7. Ask what they are thinking and feeling. Provide support and acknowledge their thoughts, feelings and reactions. Address their negative emotions by normalizing their feelings (You may feel the same way). Telling them if you are feeling worried or anxious can normalize their feelings. Avoid telling them all your worries and concerns. We should be reassuring them instead of them re-assuring us. Be mindful that young children may not be able to identify their feelings but may act-out instead.

8. Set an example. Children often listen to adult conversations even if you don't think so. Children learn from watching family, friends, and teachers. Be mindful of what you are saying and how they may interpret it. 

How to further help!

1. Maintain or establish daily routines and schedules to provide normalcy and reassurance.

2. Provide positive distractions- fun family outings, playing games, one on one time!

3. Help them process their feelings through play, art, poems, or stories.

4. Talk to teachers or other caregivers and ask them to limit conversation and exposure to the events. Provide them information about your child's struggles and how they can best help.

5. Take positive action together, if appropriate. i.e. write letters to soldiers, make care packages for children, create hygiene kits or make blankets to send.

6. Help them understand healthy ways to resolve conflicts through communication. 

7. Contact a professional counselor if needed.

How to help children with military families or family overseas.

1. Help children express their feelings and their very real concerns about the safety of their family.

2. Help children with frequently contacting family by calling, video, letters, texting or emails. This will help them feel more secure and connected to the absent family member.


(1)https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32535808/#:~:text=Recent%20findings%3A%20Children's%20contact%20with,by%20stories%20about%20actual%20threat.

Friday, February 11, 2022

                                                 Positive Psychology 

The old question is still true. Are you a person that sees the glass as half full or  half empty? Almost from the start of the modern study of  psychology, researchers were glass half empty  people. The focus of the research was on mental  illness, abnormal behavior, or why people did bad  

things. There was a lot to study. The research has  

benefited our world in many ways with  

medications, treatment options, and hope for  

those suffering. Yet, the focus was on healing after  

damage or illness had already taken place. 

Interestingly, there wasn't a corresponding  

amount of study focused on the positive elements  

of humanity. Questions regarding how someone  

seems to be "unsinkable" just never got the full  

attention of the world of psychology. It was attributed to personal strength,  heredity, or pulling one's own bootstraps. 

In 1998, the world of psychology started to really take notice that new insights  could be gained by making serious science of how resilient and successful  people are resilient and successful. You may have noticed new concepts and  terms such as "mindfulness," "self-care," and "gratitude." These concepts  and terms have been covered in past posts on this blog. All came out of this  new world of psychological study. 

What are some of the most important things science has learned about positive  psychology? First, each person is unique and there is no secret plan to the  perfect life that fits for all of us. Science has taken a look at happiness and  identified three common building blocks; positive emotion, engagement, and  meaning (Seligman et al., 2004). 

Positive emotion is what most people are talking about when they casually  mention happiness. This may involve finding forgiveness for past events or  actions. It could involve savoring the moment as we live it. Of course, it also can involve optimism and hope. This is highly personal. It could be the simplicity of a hot bath. It can be  forgiveness for a long-held mistake. It can be the joy in the future of a new grandchild. 

Engagement is that thing that gets some people out of bed in the morning or drives them to work late without a sense of time passing. We enjoy being involved in something that earns us gratification. Engagement draws out our creativity,  perseverance, and appreciation. The interesting thing about engagement is  that shortcuts to success dampen the enjoyment. The experience and required  endurance are all part of the joy we find from the effort. 

Meaning is what brings color to our perspective of what we have done, what we  do in the moment, and what we will do in the future. Connection to something  bigger or of greater importance than our individual life is fulfilling. What holds meaning for someone can be highly unique. There are some common ideas  about what adds meaning to life such as knowledge, community, and justice. 

Positive psychology is relatively new and who knows what we will discover  about ways to develop and nurture happiness in the future. You can do your  part to further advance our knowledge by paying attention to the things that  bring you joy, the work that you love, and the purpose that drives you. Of  course, make sure to share your research with others. 

References 

Seligman, M. E. P., Parks, A. C., & Steen, T. (2004). A balanced psychology and a  full life. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B:  Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1379–1381. 

https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2004.1513


Tuesday, February 8, 2022


Resilience 



Some hear the word “resilience” and think of a stoic figure, solid and unmoved, by the events taking place, the enemies threatening, or the storm raging. This image often is of a warrior from an ancient time who is victorious over anything and everything. However, the image that most resembles “resilience” is a tennis ball. The ball is crushed and rebounds. It is designed to answer a reasonably expected crushing blow by expanding back to its original shape as quickly as it can so it can be ready for the next, coming impact. There is something important in both images. We may need to be logical and unwilling to let our emotions drive us to acting without wisdom or thought. This is the stoic warrior. This can be an extremely important mindset when emergencies take place. However, even stoic warriors are defeated, hurt, and in need of rest. It is the wisdom of the warrior to understand and expect this eventuality. Stoic is defined as, “a person who accepts what happens without complaining or showing emotion” (Merriam-Webster, 2021). The importance of the tennis ball is that crushing blows are, well, crushing. We hope to build ourselves and our children to understand that bad news is an expected part of life. However, like the tennis ball we hope to also build ourselves emotionally so that we can bounce back as soon as reasonable. If you are struggling with a crushing blow, pick up a tennis ball and consider how you can best bounce back. Realize that even tennis balls get worn down. Sometimes they can be revived with strong and steady support all around them. Sometimes it’s time to start over and invest in a new ball. 


References 

Merriam-Webster. (2021). Stoic. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stoic.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Sunshine For Your Health



Sunshine for your Health



With winter months soon to be behind us, we often see the improvement in moods for many individuals who may be struggling with mental health. In the summer it is easy for individuals to obtain vitamin D in natural form, such as the sun, but in the winter time many people struggle to have the convenience of the sunshine as soon as they walk outside. Luckily for us, you can take a supplement of vitamin D that can be found over the counter at many local stores. 

Vitamin D has been proven to have many positive effects on mental health and physical health for individuals. Studies have shown that individuals with mental health disorders such as depression, have shown positive improvements when taking vitamin D supplements for those individuals mental health symptoms. There are also many health perks that come from vitamin D supplements such as the following:

  • Vitamin D is necessary for the maintenance of strong bones and healthy teeth.

  • Keeping a healthy store of vitamin D gives added protection to such diseases as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.

  • Helps with diabetes management and maintaining healthy insulin levels.

With good mental and physical health, people begin to feel better and the use of vitamin D is a great way to maintain a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle. With summer months coming means more sunshine and with more sunshine means mental health improvements!!


Monday, August 9, 2021

 




Finding Your Mindfulness

 

 Mindfulness derives from Buddhist teachings and practices that focus on increasing our own awareness on the present moment. It is a form of meditation that focuses on sensing and feeling the moment. Our minds may become preoccupied with worries about the past or future, and mindfulness can help redirect our mind back to the present and reduce stress.

 

            If you feel like it is difficult to “shut off” your mind meditation can help unwind and relax. Meditation may feel like a complicated practice that can only be mastered with help from a professional, but there are simple techniques that can be used at home to practice mindfulness.

 

Simple mindfulness techniques include breathing, paying attention and living in the moment. Many books and blogs provide structured mindfulness exercises, take time to review different techniques to find a few that work well for you. If you decided to try some techniques on your own remember to focus on the here and now, don’t let your mind wonder or daydream.

It may be difficult to focus in this way at first and you may find your mind wondering off and having to reel yourself back to your exercise. Just like any activity, mindfulness takes practice and the more you practice the easier it will be to stay focused on the here and now. Patience with yourself is key towards taking the steps to the life you want to live.

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

 The Importance of a Sleep Routine


Having a sleep routine helps promote a healthy bedtime environment and a more consistent sleep quality. This is one of the first things I talk to clients about when they are experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms. Often lack of sleep, or quality sleep, can contribute to cognitive disfunction, emotional disturbances and some chronic health conditions.

Sleep routines are set activities that are done before bedtime to help cue your mind and body that sleep is coming. It’s important to set up a healthy sleep environment. Consider these ideas:

  • Keep a low noise level
  • Lower the room temperature 
  • Avoid electronics
  • Keep your bed for sleeping only. Don’t get into bed until you’re ready to sleep

Follow the same routine and try to maintain that routine even on weekends. Here are some activities to consider:

  • Pajamas 
  • Brush teeth
  • Washing face
  • Prepping your bed with blankets and pillows or favorite stuffed animals
  • Doing a calming activity such as listening to calming music, stretching, practicing gratitude 
  • Taking medications
  • Turning down the lights
  • Applying a scented lotion that calms you

And remember that if you’re struggling to sleep it’s okay to try some breathing exercises or get out of bed to engage in another calming activity. 

It takes 21 days to build a habit so make sure you stick to it and at the 21 day mark take note of any improvements.