Monthly Archives

January 2021

How to Keep Your Child from Obsessing Over Academic Success

By School & Academics No Comments

Almost everybody in America knows what a GPA is. The Grade Point Average, a standard of measuring academic achievement in the United States, unfortunately tends to be seen as a definition of a student’s intelligence and potential. What is meant to measure achievement can be a destructive and discouraging system for many students. If your child is obsessed with getting good grades, this can be harmful to their creativity, their individuality, and their mental health.

Why Do Kids Get Obsessed with Getting Good Grades?

Many times, kids are obsessed with getting good grades to please their parents. You may have had a reward system for when your child got good grades – you may have celebrated their good grades or punished them for not meeting your expectations. Naturally, a child wants their parent’s love and approval.

If you can in good conscience say that your child’s obsession with getting good grades has nothing to do with your influence, there may be other factors at play. She may have unrealistic ideas about what is needed for her to pursue a specific career. There may be a culture of grade obsession in her classroom or at her school. Talk to your child to see if they can identify reasons why they’re striving for high grades.

How Can You Stop Your Child from Obsessing Over Good Grades?

Help your child refocus by emphasizing the development of a good work ethic and a positive attitude. Teach your child that hard work in the end is what counts; so that regardless of the grade they receive, they can never be disappointed knowing the effort they expended.

Of course it’s important to teach your child to work hard and always do their best. While grades are an important factor in their academic success, it doesn’t define them or their abilities. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as to think.”

 

Every person has their strengths and weaknesses, and tests and grades aren’t always the best measure of one’s knowledge or potential. Remind your child that it’s not about what they know, but who they are as a person that truly matters.

If you or your child need help making the best of their educational experience, a specially trained professional can help. Call my office today to schedule an appointment.

How to Find the Right Therapist in Your Town or City

By General No Comments

It’s a new year and many of us have committed to making changes that will allow our best selves to shine through. And in most instances, we know exactly how to get the help we need to facilitate this change.

For instance, if we want to get into good physical shape, we know to head to our local gym and get help from a personal trainer. If we want to eat better to prevent disease, we ask our doctor to refer us to a licensed nutritionist.

And when we want to work on our mental and emotional health, we know we should seek support from a licensed mental health counselor. But finding the right one can seem overwhelming to many and stop them from getting the help they need.

With this in mind, here are some tips on finding the right therapist in your local town or city:

Ask for Personal Recommendations

There was a time the topic of mental health was considered taboo. But luckily those days are behind us and many people are now open to seeking therapy. You may very well have a friend or family member who has or currently is working with a therapist they love.

Ask Your Doctor

If you already have a good relationship with a doctor, dentist, or anyone in the medical field who honors your confidentiality, they are a great resource to tap into about a mental health professional referral since they are connected to many people in the medial field.

Use Your Insurance Company

If you happen to be one of those lucky individuals with an insurance company that has a stellar customer service department, you might want to ask them to suggest a therapist in your network whom they have vetted.

Do an Internet Search

If you have no one you can personally ask, then you will need to perform an internet search for therapists in your local area. One of the best places to start your search is a website called Psychology Today. This site has a comprehensive list of therapists from around the country. To be listed on here requires a minimum of professional qualifications. In other words, a therapist cannot be listed on this site unless and until they can prove they have a legitimate advanced degree in their discipline and an up-to-date professional license or certification.

The beginning of the year offers all of us so much potential. Let this year be the year you deal with any issues you may be having so you can begin to live your best life!

If you live in the area and would like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

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How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

By Adolescents/Teens, Depression, Self-Esteem No Comments

What does it mean to have a healthy self-esteem?

Some people think it means you are okay with how you look. Other people think you must accomplish something big in your life to have a good self-esteem.

But the reality is, having a healthy self-esteem means you like and appreciate yourself faults and all. A good self-esteem can be the difference between being a happy, resilient individual, able to face life’s challenges head on, and someone who suffers from depression and anxiety and is often overwhelmed with life.

If you have struggled in the past with self-esteem issues, there are some things you can do to give it a much-needed boost:

Face the REAL Reality

Are you someone that generalizes your lack of self-esteem? By that I mean, do you make generalities about yourself such as, “I’m an idiot,” “I’m not pretty enough or smart enough?” The truth is, we all act like idiots from time-to-time, and most human beings on this planet can find someone who is smarter and more attractive than they are.

If you’re going to work on your self-esteem, you need to first recognize that you often lie to yourself with these generalities. It may be a very convincing lie from your point of view, but it’s still a lie.

To become familiar with reality, make a list of 10 of your strengths and 10 weaknesses. If you have a hard time coming up with your strengths, think about what others have said about you: you’re a good listener, you are thoughtful, you cook a mean burger.

When you’re done making this list, you’ll see there are plenty of things you are really good at. And, some of the weaknesses may be things you can absolutely change over time and with some effort.

Forget About Perfection

Perfection doesn’t exist. Now you may think all of those Hollywood A-listers that are on the cover of magazines are the epitome of perfection, but even they are air-brushed, photoshopped and have a team of people following them around so their hair is never out of place.

Stop spending your energy trying to have the perfect face, body, bank account, career, children or relationships. None of that exists. Focus your energy on achieving attainable goals like obtaining your degree and enjoying hobbies.

Get to Know Your Authentic Self

We spend so much of our lives comparing ourselves to others that we don’t really take the time to get to know ourselves. Beyond strengths and weaknesses, who are you as a person? What makes you happy or excites you? What hobbies do you enjoy? What kind of brother or sister are you?

The more you know about yourself, the more chances that you’ll find things out you really like.

If you would like to speak to someone about your self-esteem issues, please be in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

What is Conscious Parenting?

By Parenting No Comments

How many parents have said at one point or another, “I wish my child would have come with a users’ manual,”? Nearly every single one.

Nothing can really prepare us for parenthood. No class, no advice, and no user manual can give us the tools we require for raising happy and healthy kids. The truth is, to be good parents requires us to be conscious parents.

Mindfulness – It’s Not Just for Meditation

Your 8-year-old runs in from the backyard, excited to tell you about the frog he just found in a puddle. Before you even recognize his joy and desire to share that joy with you, you yell because of the mud he just tracked into the house.

Was this reaction really warranted? Were you reacting just to the mud on the floor (which can be cleaned), or do you have a need to control everything in your environment at all times? And does this need stem from your own childhood wounds?

Often parents react to their children subconsciously. That is, they have a knee-jerk reaction to something their child says or does. This reaction may stem from an event that occurred in their own childhood and, without realizing it, they are having a profound reaction to it instead of to their child’s current behavior. Conscious parenting requires mindfulness, and mindfulness requires a parent to be fully present in the moment. Bringing our full awareness into the ‘now’ can help us recognize the meaning and truth in each moment and make better, healthier decisions.

Mindful parents are less likely to have automatic, unexamined reactions to their children’s behavior. Staying present also means parents are less likely to “pop back” into their own childhood traumas and wounds.

Getting Started with Conscious Parenting

Conscious parenting is easier than it sounds. To start, you’ve got to slow down so you recognize when you are reacting to a present moment authentically and when you are reacting to your own past moment.

And speaking of slowing down, try and take a three-second pause before reacting to anything your kid does. This small space will allow you to check yourself. Does the reaction you were about to have match the actual situation? If not, what WERE you reacting to?

And finally, forgive yourself for any past parenting errors. We all do the best we can do. As Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”

Speaking with a therapist may help you discover old wounds and programming you are parenting from. If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be very happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

5 Signs You Aren’t Practicing Self-Care

By General, Self-Esteem No Comments

Self-care is complex. Anyone can tell you to do it, but only you can bestow the gift of self-care onto yourself. But before you can begin bestowing, you’ve got to first recognize that you are worthy of caring for yourself as you do others.

How do you do this? By noticing the ways in which you are currently not taking very good care of yourself.

Here are 5 signs you aren’t practicing self-care. If any seem familiar, it is time to make more time for yourself:

1. You Get Sick More Often

When we don’t take proper care of ourselves, our health takes a big hit. Lack of proper sleep and nutrition can lead to a taxed immune system, which in turn makes you vulnerable to infections, colds, flu, and other immune-related medical problems.

2. Increased Moodiness

What happens when a child does not get the care and attention they deserve? They begin to act out in order to get any attention. In much the same way, a lack of self-care and feeling of unimportance can lead to increased irritability. Leaving this unchecked can result in personal and professional relationships being negatively affected.

3. Unpleasant Physical Symptoms

What can start out as unpleasant (and even scary) physical symptoms, can be a sign of poor self-care. Symptoms may include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pains, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, headaches, and fainting spells. All of these symptoms should be checked out by your healthcare provider immediately.

4. A Feeling of Isolation

When you feel you don’t deserve to care for yourself, you naturally feel unworthy of enjoying other aspects of life, like socializing and a true connection to friends and family. This can lead to a detachment of others and a sense of isolation.

5. Depression

Feelings of worthlessness can snowball into feelings of hopelessness and depression. If you have noticed yourself slipping farther and farther into a depression, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you recognize where the darkness has come from, and how to break through back into the light.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, or would simply like some help practicing self-care, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

At Home Family Physical Fitness Ideas (during COVID-19 and beyond)

By Sports / Exercise No Comments

As many families continue to shelter in place together, they are finding it challenging to beat the stress and stay in shape. Exercising as a family is one-way families can accomplish both of these goals! And the good news is, there are plenty of ways families can exercise without the need of going to a public gym.

Make Fitness a Game

Take a pack of regular playing cards and turn them into fitness cards. Hearts stand for crunches, clubs push-ups, diamonds for squats, and spades for jumping jacks (or any other exercises you may want to substitute). Have each player take turns selecting a card and doing the activity. So for instance, if someone draws the five of hearts, they need to do 5 crunches.

Go for a Bike Ride

Strap on your helmets, hop on your bikes and take the kids for a nice bike ride around the neighborhood. You can also decide to bike to the library or to the park for a picnic. Just be sure to pick a route that is safe and isn’t too much effort for your child.

Have a Dance Party!

Decorate your living room with a disco ball or other fun string lights, turn on some good tunes, and have a dance party. You can even choose to record yourselves and share your dance party with others on Youtube.

Play Classic Outdoor Games

Chances are over the years your kids have begged you to play certain games like hide-and-seek or kickball. Now is the time to embrace these requests and head outside for some family fun. There is also tag, jump rope, dodgeball, and kick the can.

A Timed Scavenger Hunt

This game will get everyone moving to get some aerobic exercise. Take turns and split the family up into 2 teams. Team A will start by hiding objects around the house or yard. Then team B has 10 minutes to find them all. This means they’ve got to really RUN around looking for all of them. Then swap so Team B hides items and team A has to find them. The team that finds the most items wins and doesn’t have to do the dishes that week.

Go for a Family Walk

Walking is such a great form of exercise and an equally great way for families to connect. Try and build walking into your daily schedule. Maybe after dinner take everyone out for a walk around the neighborhood. If you have dogs, take them, too!

 

These are just a few ideas you can try with your own family. Get creative to come up with some ideas of your own. While Covid has definitely made our lives more stressful and challenging, the silver lining is that it has helped many of us reconnect with our families. Take this time to do the same and stay fit at the same time.

 

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Contemplative Spaces: The Connection Between Prayer and Mindfulness

By Religion / Spirituality No Comments

In the frenetic, fast-paced world we live in, mindfulness has become increasingly important. When we talk about being mindful, we’re talking about the ability to be fully in the present moment, aware of our surroundings; where we are, whom we’re with, and what we’re doing. Mindfulness keeps us grounded, keeping us from overreacting or becoming overwhelmed.

By its nature, prayer helps us become and stay more mindful. By connecting in quiet reflection to something deeply spiritual and meaningful, we’re able to see our life and experiences from a broader perspective.

Increases Focus
Studies have shown that prayer, a type of meditation, helps to increase your focus. Prayer makes you better equipped to quiet your mind and avoid becoming lost in thought. With increased focus, you’re able to control mind wandering and stay in the moment.

Controls Impulses
According to a 2009 study on religion, self-regulation, and self-control by the University of Miami’s Department of Psychology, being a religious follower can promote self-control and self-monitoring.

Additionally, when studying the effects of meditation on the brain, brain-imaging studies have shown that meditation increases frontal cortex activity. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for, among other things, emotional expression, problem solving, and judgement.

More Gratitude
Gratitude is a feeling of gratefulness for gifts and blessings. By practicing gratitude, we’re sharpening our attention towards the good in our lives. We see and appreciate everything around us that’s positive.

Prayer helps you maximize gratitude by helping you reform your thoughts, much in the way that mindfulness does. We can surmise that regular prayer for religious followers may help them feel more clear-minded and able to concentrate on what’s positive.

Gratitude is also a feeling that we choose; we can choose to be grateful, or we can choose to be ungrateful. By utilizing prayer to concentrate on blessings or mindfulness to concentrate on the good in our lives, we help keep our mind distracted from negative thoughts. Both techniques help you appreciate the moment in which you’re living.

When your life is busy with work and family, it can feel impossible to make time for either mindfulness meditation or prayer. But even five minutes a day will make a difference over time, as your steady practice of quiet contemplation will help you learn to redirect your thoughts and focus your attention.

 

If you’re looking for guidance and direction on how to become more mindful through prayer, give our office a call today. One of our specially trained staff will be more than happy to help.

The Best Foods for Pre- and Post-Workout

By Nutrition No Comments

You’ve committed to an exercise routine, but do you find you run out of energy halfway through your workout? Or maybe you feel good during your workout but kind of crash a half-hour later?

Your body requires proper nutrition to perform optimally. With this in mind, here are the best foods to eat before and after your workout.

OPTIMAL PRE-WORKOUT NUTRITION

Eating the right foods before your workout will help to fuel your body so you can perform your best. Here are some of the best foods to eat before your workout.

Carbohydrates

The glucose derived from carbs will help to power your muscles during your workout. Some great carb options for a pre-workout snack are bananas, whole wheat toast, oatmeal, fruit salad, and pasta.

Protein

Eating protein before exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis. Eating protein before your workout will help your muscles recover and help you to see more gains.

Some good pre-workout protein options include eggs, meats, yogurt, and whey protein drinks. If you opt for the protein shakes, just be sure your protein powder doesn’t contain copious amounts of sugar or unnecessary fillers.

Fat

Glycogen from carbs is what will help fuel your shorter, high-intensity workouts, but to fuel your longer moderate-intensity workouts, you’ll want to make sure you eat some healthy fats before your workout. Some great fat options are eggs, full-fat dairy, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon.

OPTIMAL POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION

You’ve eaten the right foods to power your body through your workout and now you are done, stretched, and showered. That doesn’t mean your work is done. Your post-workout nutrition is just as important as your pre-workout nutrition.

You see, when you were working out, your muscles used up all of your glycogen stores for fuel. Some of the proteins in your muscles also got broken down and damaged by physical activity. Your body naturally wants to rebuild and replenish and so you’ve got to make sure you give it the right tools to do so.

And guess what those tools are? They are the very same MACRO nutrients you gave your body before your workout: carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Here are a few more ideas of foods to try under each category:

Carbs

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Rice cakes
  • Potatoes
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables

Protein

  • Cottage cheese
  • Chicken
  • Protein bar
  • Tuna

Fats

  • A salad with olive oil
  • Nut butter
  • Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)

The bottom line is, if you give your body the proper nutrition, it will work and work hard for you, so you can reach your fitness goals! So be sure to eat the right foods before and after each workout.

 

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