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STRESS

Mindfulness: Teaching Children to Love Their Bodies Through Yoga

1.6.14

 By Laura Harper, CSW If you have ever watched a four-month old reach for her toes or stretch on her belly, or a three-year old running across the grass and falling in ecstatic giggling, or a seven-year old jumping on the trampoline for an hour trying to land a back flip, you know that it is the natural state of childhood to be in tune with our bodies and to enjoy free and joyful physical expression.  As the years pass and we enter the self-conscious adolescent years, the developing child can become more inhibited, often self-critical, disconnecting from their physical self.  Traumatic experiences as well as social conditioning can also contribute to the experiencing of a separation between mind and body.  We start to live in our heads, ig

Be yourself!

11.4.13

I love this quote.  I found it recently by reading Brené Brown’s “The Gift of Imperfection.”  She quotes E.E. Cummings and she talks about the need to be authentic and how we need to embrace who we are.  She says: Choosing authenticity means: Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough. She goes on by saying:  “Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the

How to Make Stress Your Friend

9.23.13

I recently discovered a talk given by Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist.  Her topic was stress.  I felt validated as I have been telling my clients who experience stress to make it their friend.  I usually teach them skills to change their attitude towards stress or anxiety.  It is their attitude that will make the difference. McGonigal reports that for the past 10 years she has been teaching that stress makes people sick.  However, she changed her approach towards stress after reading a study.  She discovered that indeed, stress is harmful, but only when people believe it’s harmful.  Below are the most relevant points in her talk. 1.  If we believe that the physiological sensations and feelings we experience when we are stressed are h

Some Quick Parenting Lessons for the Duchess of Cambridge

8.29.13

[View original article published in Psych Central here] I imagine that even Kate Middleton (the Duchess of Cambridge in England’s monarchy) will experience her son, Prince George, throwing temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way or is asked to do something he doesn’t want to do. The prince, despite his royal heritage and training in comportment, might even be bossy with other children his age. Do you sometimes feel like you’ve tried everything, and aren’t sure if your child will ever attain self-control? Being a parent is challenging; when you have a strong-willed child it can be a source of serious stress and conflict. Here are some suggestions to help: Awareness. It’s been said that before you can change a behavior, you must first be

7 Ways to Help Your Anxious Child

8.27.13

When children are afraid about the unknown (new school, new grade, new house, etc), how do you handle it?  Do you reassure them and say, “it’ll be okay, don’t worry about it” or do you try to help them process their thoughts and feelings?  Our children need to know we understand how they feel.  Don’t try to fix the worry or dismiss it; instead, validate their feelings and empathize with them.  Here are additional ideas to help you with this process. 1.  Read: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to get your child thinking about caterpillars and butterflies. 2.   Invite your child to draw a caterpillar, a cocoon, and a butterfly. 3.  The other day I was helping one of my young clients with her fears.  I decided to use my caterpillar/butterfly puppe

Anxiety in the United States

8.12.13

Take a quick look at America’s state of mind:  Most likely you know more than one person who is suffering from anxiety. Are they doing anything about it?  Are they getting the right help? Show them this infographic from OnlinePsychologyDegree.net and encourage them to seek help. There is no reason to suffer in silence.

Got anxiety? Don’t relax!

8.6.13

As Sophia came into my office she said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but in the past few days I’ve been feeling miserable. My arms and legs are tense, my fingers and toes are numb, my stomach is in constant pain, and I feel like two walls are crushing my head on each side. My face feels like a dripping faucet of sweat and my heart is ready to jump out of my body anytime.” As I spoke with her, it was evident she was experiencing a severe anxiety episode that was lasting too long. She said she didn’t understand why it was happening; she denied having negative thoughts and was having a difficult time speaking. I had previously taught her some basic Mindfulness exercises and suggested we do them right then. We began with deep breathing as she

Improve Your Mood in a Hurry

6.6.13

[View original article, published in PsychCentral, here] One week not long ago, I found myself busier than normal and unable to do my daily workouts. I didn’t worry because I knew I would get back to my routine the following week. But something “strange” happened to me. The last time I ran on my treadmill had been Friday; five days later, I was not my typical self. You could ask my husband! Nothing that he said or did was “good enough.” Something had come over me. One day a stranger at the grocery store said, “You look exhausted.” I wasn’t sure how to respond. I seemed to unload all my frustrations on my loved ones. Before getting home I would do some positive self-talk: “Count your blessings. You have a wonderful husband. There is no reaso

What’s On Your Plate? 10 Stress Management Strategies

3.19.13

[Original article published here.] Do you wish there were more hours in the day to get through your to-do list? Have you had a friend ask, “Are you okay?” If so, were you surprised because you hadn’t even noticed what you were feeling lately? Career, home, and other activities can get overwhelming. When it’s time to take something off your plate, how do you handle it? Recognize your body signals. The time comes when our stressed-out brain can’t take it anymore and our body begins to suffer the consequences. Our neck and back begin to ache. Our sleeping becomes disturbed and our appetite changes. We often get sick and begin to experience pains we didn’t know were possible.Are you able to recognize your body signals when your plate is gettin

How Do I Know If I Need Therapy?

3.16.13

If a physical pain is not debilitating, we tolerate it for a few days because we believe it will go away. There are times we talk to friends and family members to find solutions to our ailments.  Sometimes we are lucky and the pain goes away on its own.  There are times, however, when the pain becomes unbearable and we end up in the ER having surgery 30 minutes within arrival.  Then after a few weeks of recovery, we go back to being ourselves. What do you do with emotional and mental challenges?  Do you treat them the same way? It’s wise to be informed and learn what may be happening with your emotions and thoughts.  In this day and age, it’s easy to enter keywords online and come up with enough answers.  This can be helpful but it can also

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