Some days are harder than others. As a Mom to a 3 year old and 1 year old I absolutely get it. Between changing diapers, feeding children, and playing hide and seek the time can feel like a blur. It’s not uncommon for Moms to feel overworked and underpaid at times.
What if I told you that you didn’t have to wait until naptime to get a calm minute? What if I said that you could find some mental peace before your partner comes home? That’s right, you can. It only takes a few minutes out of your day. You ready to hear this big secret?
That’s right, just mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present within the moment. It allows you to focus on the here and now in order to blow off some frustration or refocus yourself and your energy. The best part about mindfulness is that with a little practice it can be done at any time.
Mindfulness exercises can be with words or no speaking at all. It involves focusing on your breath and being aware of tension or conflict within your body and mind. Sounds easy enough, right?
One mindfulness exercise that works great for busy Moms (and busy people in general) is taking a SNAP break. Stop, Notice, Accept, and Pay attention to your breath. This is a great exercise for bringing awareness to your current state and calming down. Stop and take a mental (and physical if possible) pause from what you’re doing. Notice your body. Is there tension in your shoulders? Hands? Jaw? Do a quick body scan and identify where your body is tense. Accept this tension for now. Give yourself grace to experience the feelings you’re having. Pay attention to your breathing. If your mind travels off to the current stressors at hand, gently redirect your attention back to your breath. You can repeat this as many times as necessary.
Difficult times will come and go. Breathe, Mom, you’ve got this!
Christina Runnels is a mental health therapist and Mom of 2. She has a passion for working with Moms as they transition through pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, and beyond. She also has experience working with birth trauma, infertility, and other maternal mental health issues. She enjoys watching her clients grow to reach their full potential.
ADHD traits are different for everyone. While distractibility, disorganization, poor concentration, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are traits that nearly every person with the ADHD diagnosis deals with in some form, how these traits affect an individual’s day-to-day life varies. Of course, we are all uniquely different which means how we deal with, combat, or navigate our struggles are uniquely different as well.
HOW DOES YOUR ADHD AFFECT YOU?
As in any endeavor of self-improvement, the first step is to take stock. “What difficulties am I facing today?” Not all ADHD traits need to be corrected, not all can. It’s important to know the difference and focus of what skills you need to acquire to better your quality of life.
Below are some common issues faced by teens with ADHD and example solutions. Pick and choose what works for you. Modify the solutions to fit your need. Tap into one of the better traits of ADHD and be creative. This can be a rewarding experience.
COMMON ADHD TEEN STRUGGLES
Poor time management skills: This may result in missing deadlines, opportunities and doling out never-ending apologies or fibs to cover for tardiness to professors, friends and family. This behavior can make a person seem unreliable, irresponsible and cause low self-esteem.
Solution: Planners are a good solution for anyone with this problem. However, for an ADHD mind a more visual representation is in order. Large calendars on the wall can be skimmed multiple times a day making the information easy to remember, and hard to ignore. Also, the next time you need to complete a timed task, put something on that you’re familiar with so as the story or song moves forward, you will be subconsciously aware of the passage of time.
Impulsivity: Impulsivity can impact a person in a variety of ways: conversation style, impulse shopping, risky behavior, thrill-seeking ect. It is important to take note of how your impulsivity affects you and learn to take control. When does your impulsivity get you in trouble? What kind of impulsive behaviors do you have?
Typically the risks taken by a person with ADHD are not taken because of a lack of reasoning ability, but the lack of impulse control in the moment. To circumnavigate this you need to ask yourself “What risks are likely to be present in this environment?” and “How am I going to chose to respond?” When an ADHD mind makes the habit of forming decisions before they’re in that impulsive moment, they are much less likely to make poor decisions that could result in harm. Learning this skill is something everyone does to a degree, it is an essential part of becoming a successful adult.
Concentration: Concentration management is one of the most difficult obstacles to take on because it is such an intangible issue. What it comes down to is training. At what point in your day are you suffering from this problem the most?
Manipulating the senses is a great way to draw in your attention span. Find a scent, taste or texture that you can use to trigger your mind into acknowledging-it’s time to focus. For example, a piece of hard candy, gum, candle or even a keychain. After some practice using these tools you’ll find your mind will begin responding to the stimulus quicker and more efficiently each time.
While navigating some of the less-than-stellar side effects of ADHD is important for anyone struggling in their day-to-day life. It is equally as important to understand and embrace what your brilliant ADHD mind can do. ADHD minds are typically playful, creative, energetic and original thinkers. Ensuring your mind has a healthy outlet to express itself is essential in controlling the negative aspects as well. Regular exercise, low stimulant diet (eg low sugar, caffeine), time in nature, creative outlets and designated leisure time are all vital in working with an ADHD mind. Once you learn to give your mind what it needs to feel energized, only then can you work to rein it in when your mind wants to wander during inappropriate times. Be patient in the give-and-take process of learning self-regulation and know that guidance is always there if you find yourself needing help.
A New Year is here, but before you bring out the hats and whistles it’s time to sit down and think about what you want the new year to bring with it. It’s common for people to create New Year’s resolutions, but the reality is that they rarely work.
Research shows that fitness facilities sell the most memberships in January, but if you go to one of those facilities in February it’s obvious that everyone has already thrown in the towel. So what can you do to make your resolutions actually work for you?
2. Write it down.
Writing down your resolutions formalizes them. Putting pen to paper makes them real and also helps you to feel accountable to yourself for their completion. Spend some time considering what your large goal is, some action steps or mini-goals, and then write them down.
3. Plan to fail.
Yes, you read that correctly. Identify that you will stumble along the way. This normalizes the minor set backs that are apart of the change process and makes you more likely to get up and give it another try. Ask yourself what you will down when you stumble. How will you pick yourself back up?
Use these three tips to create attainable resolutions that you won’t give up by February.
A study by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2014 found that 15.7 million adults in the U.S., between the age of 18 and above, experienced at least one depressive episode in the last one year. It has also been determined that people in certain professionals have a higher risk of suffering from depression. For example, lawyers and doctors have a high potential for experiencing depression. Despite the glaring facts on depression, a few people know much about its nature and impact.
Depression is Different For Different People
There is no one size fits all sign of depression. However, depression is easy to recognize when it is characterized by sadness. Some of the other signs and symptoms of depression include:
Depression is Different From An Episode of Sadness
Sadness is one facet of depression but it does not necessarily define depression. You may be sad but not depressed. Sadness is a reaction to hard times in life and is likely to pass with time. On the other hand, depression interferes with normal functioning and daily life. It causes pain for you and the ones you care about. It is a real illness that is often referred to as clinical depression or depressive disorder. You cannot simply get over depression; most of the people suffering from this condition require treatment.
Depression Could Be Genetic
New studies have revealed that depression may be genetic. According to a new study, certain regions in the human DNA are associated with the disorder. Scientists discovered that there are around 15 genes in the human chemical makeup that are involved with depression. These same genes are linked to the development of neurons, the chemical messengers in the brain.
Diet Contributes To Depression
Whatever you consume can either boost or dampen your mood. Studies have found that foods containing vitamin B12, omega 3 fatty acids, and tryptophan amino acids change the fats in your brain membrane and promote the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. On the other hand, processed foods and refined sugars increase blood glucose levels and aggravate depression.
Regular Exercise Can Alleviate Depressive Feelings
Exercise is one measure you can take to avoid depressive feelings. Exercise boosts endorphins, serotonin, and other brain chemicals. Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells the same way anti-depressants do.
Depression Affects Women More Than It Affects Men
Studies show that women have a high likelihood of suffering from depression than men. The reason for this can be partly attributed to a woman's hormones. Women are likely to experience depression when they are pregnant or after a pregnancy because of hormonal changes. Another difference is that women are more likely to reveal their condition while men will go through self-denial and feelings of shame before taking their condition seriously. There is also the factor that women tend to outlive men and; therefore, encounter loneliness and other difficult times in life when compared to men.
Depression Does Not Have To Be Triggered By Anything
While a difficult period or a discouraging or heart breaking episode may trigger depression, sometimes there is no explanation for depression. Since it is an illness, depression can pounce on you at any time. If you suddenly lose interest in things you normally enjoy, lose your appetite, or start gaining weight, these may be signs that your depression is caused by some biological process. In such cases, it would be advisable to consult a doctor.
Depression May Be Normal For Some People
While some people may experience temporary episodes of depression, others have depressive personalities that are constant throughout their lives. The best way to deal with such a condition would be acceptance and adaptation. Many people are able to survive with these depressive personalities. In fact, successful depressives have been observed to be sensitive, empathetic, and deep thinkers.
There Are Different Types of Depression
Depression can take on many forms. Some people may experience mild depression which is usually common after some life-changing event. Post partum depression affects new mothers whereas psychotic depression affects people who are suffering from psychosis. Persistent depressive disorder lasts for at least 2 years whereas seasonal affective disorder develops during specific seasons.
The Take Away
Depression is a clinical condition that many tend to take lightly. This illness does not discriminate on whether you are a child or adult, and affects people differently. There are many forms of depression with varying signs and symptoms. If you suspect that you or a loved one is depressed, you need to consult a physician before the condition gets worse.
Depression in teens is a serious issue that if left unaddressed can lead to a variety of negative consequences. Teenagers, like adults, have an increased chance of becoming depressed during the holiday season. This affliction alters how young people think and feel, and can lead to behavioral issues. In some cases, being depressed can even cause teenagers to experience physical distress.
It is important to keep in mind that adolescence is a tumultuous time that will cause teenagers to have many highs and lows emotionally. Because of this, there is no need to panic if a teenager seems a little sad occasionally. However, the state of being clinically depressed in teenagers is a very real condition and it is important for parents and loved ones to recognize the signs.
Reasons Adolescents Become Clinically Depressed
A central cause of an individual becoming clinically depressed has not been identified but there are a variety of causal factors.
• Biochemical Factors- Neurotransmitters are responsible for the transfer of signals throughout the brain and nervous system. When Neurotransmitters do not function properly one result can be the increased likelihood that an individual can become depressed.
• Hormonal Disruption- Sudden changes in the body’s hormones can cause teenagers to become depressed
• Genetic- Adolescents that have relatives who have been diagnosed as clinically depressed are at a higher risk of developing the disease themselves
• Traumatic Childhood Events- Trauma experienced in childhood can increase the chances of an individual suffering from being depressed in adolescent years.
Symptoms Of Clinically Depressed Teenagers
The signs and symptoms for clinically depressed teenagers can vary greatly in severity but often include obvious changes in attitude and behavior. These changes often manifest in dysfunction at home, in school, or in social behaviors.
I would suggest that parents closely monitor their teenagers if seeing any of the following behaviors:
• Expressions of sadness, especially crying for no known reason
• Sudden irritability
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Anger and frustration over small matters
• Lack of interest that once was a source of enjoyment
• Inability to get along with family and friends
• Grim outlook on future
• Inability to reason, concentrate, or to remember things
This is by no means an exhaustive list of signs a teenager may be suffering from the effects of being depressed but presents an idea of things to be aware of.
I would also like to reiterate the point that adolescence is a time of intense turmoil in the life of teenagers and many of these issues may be seen occasionally in teens who are not clinically depressed. A good barometer to use is if these feelings are accompanied also by sudden changes in behaviors like:
• Lethargic behavior
• Extreme change in sleeping habits
• Sudden changes in appetite
• Drug and alcohol usage
• Restlessness or inability to sit still
• Neglectful of hygiene or appearance
• Disruptive behavior at home or school
• Poor performance at school, especially if the teenager was previously a good student
When To Seek Professional Help
If a teenager that you suspect is depressed continues to exhibit any of these symptoms it is important to talk with a doctor or mental health expert that has experience working with adolescents. The school or family doctor of the teen is a good place to look for resources or references to seeking out any help a teen may need.
Teens suffering from clinical depression are unlikely to get better on their own and this disorder can subject them to many consequences, both immediate and long-term if left untreated. Depressed teenagers are at a higher risk for suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency and a host of other potential problems.
When To Seek Emergency Help
Thoughts of suicide are often a byproduct of clinical depression in teenagers. Do not take any chances when a teen expresses suicidal thoughts or feelings. Always err on the side of caution and assume any thoughts of suicide to be a credible threat.
Teenagers that are clinically depressed is a serious issue and should be addressed with the necessary diligence. Teenagers that are clinically depressed are at risk for a number of negative consequences that can have adverse effects on their futures.
Adolescent angst is normal and should not be confused with the more serious condition involving clinically depressed teenagers. It is important for parents and loved ones to first know the signs and symptoms of a teen that is clinically depressed, and then to seek out the help the teen needs.
Walking up to the stores you most likely hear the bells jingling, maybe even a deep voiced “ho ho ho”. That’s right, it’s that time of year again. To be completely honest, this is one of the times of year that I enjoy motherhood the most. Tree decorating is much more fun with little twinkling eyes to admire your hard work on those lights. Christmas plays are in full effect, and who can forget the ever-growing Christmas list?
As exciting as it can be, the daily hustle and bustle can drive the holiday season out quicker than you can say “Happy New Year”. I’m making it a point to be more present and emotionally accounted for this holiday seasons. Here’s how:
Hey SuperMom, no one can do everything. Make a list of your priorities for the season and be intentional about completing them. Cut yourself some slack if you’re not able to get to everything. Try to choose things that you’ll enjoy with your family and things that will make lasting memories.
2. Put the planner down.
Over-scheduling is something that I’m guilty of. It’s okay to decline invitations and shorten time spent at events if you need to. Your exhausted children will thank you for it.
3. Just say “No”!
You don’t have to bake everyone’s favorite dessert for Christmas Eve. It’s okay to say no to additional responsibilities, especially with the already added holiday stressors.
4. Be Mindful.
Being mindful means being present in the current moment you’re in and actively involved. Push the long to-do lists to the back of your mind and focus on what feels important to you this holiday season?
5. Set aside free time for yourself.
I know your Mom guilt probably came right to the top when you read that, but it’s true. Finding time for you is key to feeling more refreshed, less stressed, and burnt out. Make time for you, even if it’s a walk around the block or curling up on the couch to watch your favorite holiday movie.
Yes Mom, you’ve got an important job during the holiday season, but you can have fun doing it. Happy Holidays!
Many adults and children suffer from ADHD. While a combination of psychotherapy and medication may be helpful, there are also some more natural “tricks” that can help ward off hyperactivity and increase focusing.
B-Complex vitamins (specifically B1, B3, & B6) are shown to help improve impulsive behavior. These are usually found in foods such as fish, meat, nuts, sunflower seeds, and leafy greens such as spinach
Eating more foods with calcium and magnesium can help to calm anxiety, fidgeting, and restlessness. Good sources of calcium and magnesium are nuts, seeds, sardines, and salmon.
Omega-3s help aid in focusing, and improving memory and mood. Many vitamin stores now sell an Omega-3 without the fishy taste (my favorite is Sprouts). Eating fresh water fish such as salmon, halibut, and more pasture-raised meats can help increase your intake of Omega-3s. Sometimes our diet and eating habits play a big part in our physical and mental health.
19 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. That means that everyone in the United States has a 28% chance that they will develop an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Anxiety can lead to physical ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. And what’s even more alarming is the average age that someone develops an anxiety disorder is 11 years old!
So what can you do about an anxiety disorder? Anxiety can be treated with psychotherapy, medications, or alternative methods such as massage therapy or acupuncture. A trained professional can help you make decisions about appropriate treatment.
Often people that suffer from anxiety worry that this will affect their ability to be successful. Many public figures have struggled through anxiety and continued to lead meaningful positive lives. Whoopi Goldberg, David Beckham, and Johnny Depp are all people that have publically shared their struggles with anxiety and how they have managed it.
Don’t suffer in silence. Reach out for help for you or a loved one to get through an anxiety disorder.
Like any other field, buzz words come and go through the world of psychotherapy and psychology. One word that has been trending lately is “attachment”. And not just attachment, but “reactive attachment”. Like the announcement of the ADHD era, parents and caregivers may be concerned and wondering what reactive attachment disorder is and does it effect me or my child?
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) refers to individuals that have aversions to touch and physical affection, control issues, anger problems, difficulty showing genuine care and affection, and failure to show guilt or remorse. Specifically in children, detached or unresponsive behavior is common. Children and toddlers also are less likely to reach to be picked up, reject efforts to be calmed or soothed, and attempt to avoid eye contact.
There are two types of RAD: inhibited and disinhibited. Inhibited type refers more to indiviudals that experience detached or unresponsive symptoms, while disinhibited individuals typically have difficulty selecting the appropriate people or caregivers to attach to.
Now I know what it is, but what can I do about it?
There are many ways to assist adults and children with working through Reactive Attachment Disorder in order to have more healthy and fulfilling relationships. For childen, unconditonal love is key to helping them learn to re attach in a healthy way. Setting positive limits and boundaries, maintaining predictable schedules and routines, and talking and playing with them regularly also can be helpful. For adults, changing faulty thinking patterns that have led to disengaging from others can be helpful. Working on gaining a positive sense of self-esteem and self acceptance may help as well. Professional help is available for children and adults that are struggling with or are concerned about RAD.
For your reading pleasure
A great book for promoting and repairing attachment with children is I Love You Rituals by Becky A. Bailey, PhD. It gives different activities for parents and children that encourage bonding and showing unconditional love.
August is the time where summer is winding down and parents are preparing their kids for back to school. During this time period many adults become overwhelmed and begin to lose sleep because they are up at night thinking about their to do list. This can also be a stressful time for children. Children may develop anxiety about making new friends and having a larger homework load. Here are some tips that parents can do to make the transition of going back to school easier for themselves and their children.
Begin a routine similar to the school routine. Most children stay up later and have different eating habits over the summer. A parent can help the child prepare for school by starting a more “school like” routine about two weeks before school starts. This requires an adjusted bedtime and ensuring healthy eating habits.
Start discussing what will change when school starts. This prepares children for the upcoming school year.
Relax and breathe deep! The transition to back to school can take some time but it won’t last forever.
Brace yourself and emphasize the positives of going back to school again!