Three Tips for Managing Stress

Date: April 3rd, 2019

Filed under: Tips

A little bit of stress in your life can be a good thing. In small doses, stress can motivate you to work hard and accomplish your goals. But if you’re experiencing levels of stress that cause difficulty concentrating, a weakened immune system, trouble sleeping, or irritability, you can improve your quality of life by following these three tips for managing stress.

Recognize Triggers

Learn what causes your stress levels to spike. Everyone’s triggers are different. These can be obvious, like the stress you experience when you have to give a presentation, speak in public, or interview for a job. But you may have less obvious triggers too. Maybe you hate talking on the phone, or get anxious in crowded public spaces.

Brainstorm Solutions

Many stress triggers are unavoidable. While it’s a good idea to avoid stressful situations if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, it’s also important to prepare to deal with them effectively. Brainstorm with a trusted friend or make a list of ways you can minimize stress when it’s triggered. For example, you might practice your presentation in front of the mirror several times, or role play that job interview until you feel more prepared for it. Or, if crowded public spaces are your main concern, you can plan to do errands like grocery shopping in the early morning or late evening, when there are fewer people around.

And finally…

Make Time to Relax

Life gets busy, but carving out time to relax and take care of yourself is essential. The simple act of taking the time to go for a run, read a chapter of a good book, or soak in the tub can help lower your stress levels and boost your mood.

Remember, stress in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s the amount you have in your life and how you manage it that makes the difference. Recognizing your stress triggers, minimizing their impact as much as you can, and taking good care of yourself can help you manage your stress effectively.

Helping Toddlers Manage Emotion

Date: March 21st, 2019

Filed under: Kids

Toddlers are energetic, curious, and excited to learn about the world. When they’re not able to engage with their environment they can become frustrated. While you should always try to provide opportunities for your child to explore and play, there will be times when you have to tell your child no or set boundaries they don’t like. During those times, many toddlers—new to the world of emotion as well as the physical world—will lash out. These tips can help you teach your toddler how to control negative emotions.

Take a Time Out Together

Unless you sense that your toddler needs a break from you to cool down, try staying with them during time out. This lets your child know that you care about them, you will not reject them because of their behavior, and you are not intimidated by what they're doing. This can also be a great time to talk with your child about what they’re experiencing.

Acknowledge Emotions

Ask your toddler questions about how they’re feeling, and acknowledge their emotions. Help your child learn that how they feel is natural, but how they react to it needs to be controlled. This can be done in simple language: “I’m sorry you’re upset. It frustrates me too when I can’t do what I want. But it isn’t okay to hit people.”

Help Problem Solve

Help your toddler come up with ideas of what they can do when they’re frustrated. You might come up with a list of two or three ways they can calm down when they start to feel that way, like draw a picture, cuddle a favorite toy, tell someone how they feel, or just take a deep breath. The next time you see your toddler getting emotional, help them choose something on the list to manage their emotions.

Establish Standards

Set clear boundaries for your toddler. Make it clear that feeling frustration is okay, and can be handled with something on their list. But you should also establish consequences for inappropriate behavior like hitting, throwing things, or screaming.

As you help your toddlers learn to recognize and control their emotions, be patient and set a good example for them yourself. Helping toddlers control emotion can be a challenge, but the lessons you teach them now will carry into their school years and adult life, and help them to be happy and well-adjusted.

Spring Clean Your Mind for Better Mental Health

Date: March 14th, 2019

Filed under: Tips

With spring just around the corner, you might be getting that itch to dust the furniture, clear the cobwebs, and get everything fresh after a long winter. Did you know you can do the same thing for your brain? Try these 5 tips to spring clean your mind for better mental health.

Unplug for a day

Turn off the phone, refuse to check Facebook, and ignore your email notifications. Just for a day. Give yourself a chance to relax, reconnect with the internal, and be present in the moment. Enjoy a good book, dig in the garden, or get together with friends.

Choose your media

Didn’t that feel great? After your 24-hour media embargo, take a look at how you use media, and what things you wouldn’t mind losing permanently. Studies have shown that exposure to negative media elevates stress levels, and nobody needs more of that in their lives. Choose only positive media that serves a useful purpose in your life, and lose the rest.

Clear out the clutter

Just like clearing out physical clutter in the house or garage, you can clear mental and emotional clutter from your brain. Take care of a task that’s been weighing on you, let go of a bad relationship, and experience how much lighter your mind feels.

Make a list

You may not be able to get rid of your brain-clutter all at once, but you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to deal with once it’s out of your head and organized in the physical world. Make a list of the things you’re wanting to get done, and set aside a little bit of time each day to work on it.

Meditate

Many people find meditation to be a relaxing and cleansing mental exercise. Take a few minutes each day to quiet your mind, focus your thoughts on that particular moment, and allow yourself to turn inward.

Spring cleaning your mind for better mental health can be easy and even enjoyable. By doing just a few simple things, you can clear your mind so it has plenty of room to let in that spring sunshine.

Helping a Loved One with Addiction: Supporting versus Enabling

Date: February 20th, 2019

Filed under: Substance Abuse

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s natural to want to help them. But trying to figure out what help to offer—how to support rather than enable—can be tricky. How do you tell the difference?

When you support someone, you empower them to make positive changes in their own life. When you enable them, you allow them to perpetuate their problems. Below are two common ways people enable their friends and family members, as well as suggestions to turn them into support instead.

Making excuses to yourself or others.

Telling yourself that your loved one is just going through a phase enables both of you to turn a blind eye to destructive behaviors. Making excuses or covering up by lying also only makes it easier for the problem to persist.

Try this instead:

Privacy certainly needs to be respected, but encourage your loved one to be honest about the problems they’re facing. Having the courage to face the reality of a situation is the first step towards being able to change it.

Taking over responsibilities.

People struggling with addiction often neglect basic duties like paying bills, cleaning the house, or taking the kids to appointments. While it’s tempting to step in and take care of things yourself, this only makes it easier for the person you’re trying to help to avoid responsibility for their actions.

Try this instead:

Make it clear that the only person responsible for the consequences of your loved one’s actions is that person themselves. Instead of taking over, help your friend or family member develop a plan for fulfilling their responsibilities. If they fail, encourage them to try again. Offer to be someone they can be accountable to, but not someone who will take over the things they need to be doing.

It can be hard to watch your loved one struggle, and even harder to allow them to live with the consequences of addiction and poor decisions. Remember, enabling isn’t true help: it only makes it easier for someone to keep hurting themselves. You can offer real help by paying attention, expressing confidence in your loved one’s ability to change, and supporting them as they make those changes to free themselves from addiction.

Helping Your Child Manage Screen Time

Date: February 7th, 2019

Filed under: Kids

With electronics ever-present in our homes, schools, and offices, unplugging can be a challenge, especially for kids. However, learning to manage screen time instead of being managed by a screen is an increasingly important skill to learn. Here are a few ways you can help your child to keep their screen time under control.

Work Together to Set Clear Expectations

Clear expectations are a must, but your child is more likely to stick to the rules if they helped to create them. Depending on your child’s age and level of maturity, you may want to lay out two or three options for them to choose from, or facilitate an open family discussion to determine appropriate expectations for screen time.

Stick to the Rules

Every family situation is different, but consistency is key. Whether you’ve decided to manage screen time by eliminating electronics from bedrooms or setting a time limit, it’s important that you and your children hold each other accountable to stick to the rules. Yes, that means that when you’re setting expectations, you should set expectations for your own screen time as well. Your kids will be much more willing to follow rules if you do too.

Find Replacements

Nature abhors a vacuum, and kids abhor boredom. Make a plan for creating other activities that can take the place of screen time. If evenings are when most of your screen time takes place, choose a night for family games or an outing. For young children, try a special box of toys, playdough, and other favorites that can replace passive screen time for something more interactive.

Whichever plan you and your children come up with, you can feel good about the fact that you are teaching them important tools for mental health and relationships by helping them to manage their screen time.

See more articles →