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Dayspring Behavioral Health

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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5 Ways to Get Your Teenager to Talk to You

By Adolescents/Teens No Comments

It’s tough trying to get your teen to talk. Science has shown that the teenager’s brain has yet to fully develop the frontal cortex, which is the area that controls our ability to reason, and to think before we act. As your teen’s brain develops, they’re also learning new things about themselves and their surrounding world; simultaneously, they’re dealing with hormonal changes out of their control.

For all of these reasons and more, it can be difficult to find ways to talk to your teen, or to get them to talk to you. Although it’s difficult, it’s not impossible; read on to find five ways to get your teenager to talk to you.

Learn to Listen

Take the time to listen to your teenager when they want to talk. Instead of saying you’ll talk to them later, step away from what you’re doing and listen to what they have to say. Don’t talk, interrupt or be quick to offer advice; just listen. Kids have thoughts and experiences that their parents don’t know about, and the best time to listen to them is when they’re asking to talk to you.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

As you listen to your teen, your knee jerk response may be to quickly resolve their issue, offer advice or maybe even dismiss their complaints or opinions. Put yourself in your teen’s shoes; think about how you would feel if your spouse responded to you the way you respond to them.

Watch for Signs

Everyone has a desire to be heard and understood. As you talk to your teen, mirror back to them what you hear them saying. Watch for signs that they’re not being heard or understood by you. They might roll their eyes, shake their head, wave their hand at you or interrupt. When they’re nodding and/or silent, you’ll know you’ve understood.

Ask Specific Questions

Ask your teen specific questions rather than general “how was your day?” questions. Ask questions about a friend you know by name. Ask about a sport they participate in or a teacher they like. Ask open ended questions such as, “What was Mr. Burton’s class like today?”, or “What was the best thing that happened today? What was the worst thing?”

Location, Location, Location

When and where you try to talk to your teen matters. One of the worst times to talk to kids is after school. Just like you do after work, they need wind-down time. Instead, ask questions around the dinner table. It’s casual, and there’s no pressure for eye contact. The car is another great place to talk to your teen (unless their friends are in the back seat); they feel more comfortable because you’re not looking at them.

If you’re having difficulty communicating with your teenager and need some help and guidance, a licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today and let’s set up a time to talk.

Satisfied Versus Full – How to Make Sure You’re Not Overeating

By Nutrition No Comments

Most of us have felt that familiar feeling of overeating. We go from feeling “starved” to sort of blacking out as we shove food into our mouths and then roughly 20 minutes later feel “too full” and uncomfortable.

Why does this happen to us and so often? Well, there are three reasons, really”

The first reason and you’ve probably heard this one before (though ignored it maybe once or twice?) is that it takes time for your brain to receive the signal from your stomach that you have eaten enough. This is why eating slowly is very helpful.

The second reason we tend to eat too much is simple – food tastes delicious! We don’t pay attention to whether or not we have “had enough” because we’re too busy loving how our food tastes. This is especially true when eating sweets. Have you ever taken just a few bites of brownie or ice cream and then said I’ve had enough? No, because we crave sweet foods and eat them as if our life depended on it.

And the third reason is that as humans, it seems being full is a sensation that is wired into our DNA. Our ancestors, who lived a feast and famine kind of life, ate as much as they could when food was around, so they could live off the fat when food wasn’t around. This is how the human race survived.

Of course, with a Popeye’s and Burger King on most corners of America and grocery stores open 24/7, most of us have little famine to worry about! Though our modern world has changed, our wiring hasn’t – we still eat until FULL.

But it’s important to be able to listen to your body so you can distinguish between being satisfied – or satiated – and full. So how do you tell these two sensations apart?

Mindful Eating

In order to distinguish you’ll have to start being a mindful eater, which means you will really need to pay attention to your food more. Taste and smell your food, chew thoroughly and recognize how it makes you feel. When you are mindful, you tend to eat more slowly, and this will help you recognize when you cross the line from hungry to satiated.

So being satiated really means not being hungry any longer. You’ve had just enough to satisfy your hunger pains.

Being full, on the other hand, is an uncomfortable physical feeling in your stomach. Being full means surreptitiously reaching under the table to loosen your pants.

So, here are some tips that will help you stop eating too much:

When

Only eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored.

How

Eat slowly and eat mindfully, paying attention to the sensations you are experiencing.

Also, portion your food appropriately – cutting it in half and saving the other half for lunch the next day.

What

Eat clean, healthy wholesome foods that won’t leave you feeling sluggish and “off” after a meal.

If you follow these tips you will find you have much more control over how much you eat. And this means you won’t have to wear elastic waistband pants to dinner anymore or lie down soon after a meal to sleep off the pain.

 

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The Caregiver’s Guide to Self-Care

By General No Comments

Are you acting as a caregiver to a loved one? Maybe your elderly parent or a spouse or child that is battling a serious illness?

According to womenshealth.gov, 36% of Americans provided unpaid care to another adult with an illness or disability in 2012, and that number has almost certainly climbed as the baby boomer population continues to age.

Acting as a caregiver to another is definitely a labor of love, but it can also take a physical, mental and emotional toll on a person. When you focus all of your energy on the needs of other people, it is entirely too easy to put your own needs on the back burner.

Do You Have Caregiver Burnout?

Here are some of the most common signs of caregiver burnout:

  • Uncharacteristic irritability and impatience
  • Poor sleep
  • Forgetfulness
  • Somatic symptoms, such as headaches and gastrointestinal distress
  • Changes in appetite
  • Turning to substances to self-medicate
  • Lack of interest in friendships and hobbies
  • Thoughts of harming oneself or the person being cared for
  • Increased illness
  • Anxiety and/or depression

With so many people relying on caregivers, it’s important that these people learn to take good care of themselves!

Here are some ways you can begin practicing self-care so you don’t experience burnout:

Get More Sleep

The quantity and quality of sleep you get each night will have a huge impact on how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Stress can make it hard for us to get good sleep, so don’t make it any harder.

Avoid caffeinated beverages after 2 pm as well as using any digital screens at night. The blue light emitted from these devices messes with our sleep cycle. You may also want to use room-darkening curtains to make your bedroom dark in the morning so you don’t awaken too early.

Get Plenty of Exercise

All of the stress, tension, and balled-up emotions need to go somewhere, or you’re likely to become sick yourself. Exercise is a great way to work all of this… “stuff” out of you. As a bonus, your body releases endorphins after a good workout, and these chemicals give your mood a nice boost.

Eat Right

Your instinct may be to reach for sugary comfort foods but you need to stay healthy and strong. Opt for protein and healthy fats along with some organic produce.

Ask for Help

While everyone around you may refer to you as “superhuman,” the truth is, you’re just human, and you can’t handle everything by yourself ALL of the time. Ask people to help you provide care once or twice a week so that you may have a little bit of time for yourself.

Talk to Someone

If you are dealing with your own depression and anxiety, it’s important that you speak with someone who can offer coping strategies.

If you or someone you know is a caregiver that could use someone to talk to, please feel free to be in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

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Five Healthy Ways to Reward Yourself

By General, Nutrition No Comments

For many of us, when we think of a treat or a reward, our minds turn to food: our favorite chocolate cake at the local bakery, or a big, cheesy slice of pizza. If food doesn’t do it for you, you might want to reward yourself with some other unhealthy habit such as expensive purchases or overindulging in alcohol.

When we’re looking to treat ourselves, it’s usually to reward a positive change or goal we’ve reached through discipline and consistent effort. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence, turning to an unhealthy habit to reward good behavior can possibly un-do your hard work; at the very least, you’re taking a step back from your healthy change instead of taking a more positive step forward. If you want to find ways to treat yourself that won’t impede your progress, read on to discover five healthy ways you can reward yourself for a job well done.

1. Relax & Rejuvenate

There might be no better way to spoil yourself than a massage or day spa treatment. Schedule yourself for a massage, a facial treatment, a mud bath or a hot stone massage. You might also want to visit a hot spring, where you can relax surrounded by nature in warm, geothermal pools.

2. Get a Makeover

A makeover is a great way to celebrate hitting a goal. Get a manicure, a new haircut or hire a professional makeup artist to create a new look. You can also consult a personal stylist to help you update your wardrobe.

3. Enjoy Some Alone Time

Some alone time might be just what you need to treat yourself. Take a day off work and plan a “stay-cation” for yourself. Take a bubble bath, find a new podcast to listen to, have a cup of hot tea or coffee while you curl up with a new book or binge-watch some shows on your streaming service. You can also go out by yourself and enjoy a movie or visit an art gallery.

4. Plan a Night Out

If spending time with loved ones is something you crave, plan a fun night out with friends. Find a comedy club, a festival, concert or sporting event to attend.

5. Take a Day Trip

Plan a day trip to a locale you’ve been meaning to visit. Plan a mountain hike or a visit to a beach or lake and enjoy a swim and a healthy picnic. If you’re looking for something more active, consider canoeing, horseback riding or a bike ride. If something relaxing is more your speed, take a long drive and spend the night out under the stars with a loved one.

Changing out our bad habits for healthier ones takes time and effort. By learning to reward ourselves in a more positive way, we reinforce our newer, better habits while discarding the old habits that held us back.

If you’re trying to make positive changes in your life and need guidance and encouragement, a licensed professional can help. Give my office a call today, and let’s schedule a time to talk.

4 Exercises to Help Teach Young Children Mindfulness

By Children No Comments

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body and feelings in the present moment. If you’re silent for a moment, you will notice the subtle smell of your freshly washed clothing, the sound of your breathing, and watch a small leaf blow past your window. Mindfulness is an incredibly calming, relaxing practice that can help adults in numerous ways, and it may surprise you that it can help children, too.

Studies have shown that children who learn mindfulness practices showed better grades, increased patience and improved coping skills. When taught in schools, mindfulness increases optimism in classrooms while decreasing bullying and aggression.

It can be remarkably simple to teach a child mindfulness. Here are four exercises to get started.

Muscle Awareness

Teach your child to become aware of their body with a muscle awareness exercise. Sit down on the floor and do some exercises where they focus on one muscle at a time. They can point their toe and hold, and as you do the same ask them what they feel and where exactly they feel the tightening of their muscle. Hold for a few seconds and release, then repeat with other muscles.

Breathing Buddy

Have your child lie on her back with a favorite stuffed animal on her belly. Have her watch the stuffed animal, which will naturally rise and fall as she breathes in and out. Teach your child to breathe in through their nose slowly, to hold their breath for a few seconds, then slowly release the breath as they watch their stuffed animal rise and fall to match their breaths.

A Mindful Walk

Take a mindful walk around the block or at a local park with your child. Take in the sights, sounds and smells. What does your body feel like as you’re walking? What muscles do you feel working the most? Notice sounds you may hear, especially subtle sounds like a leaf skittering across the grass, or the crunch of a leaf as you step in. This will help them relax, get in a little bit of exercise and learn to appreciate all their body does to keep them moving.

A Mindful Snack

Have a mindful meal or snack with your child. As you eat, do so mindfully. Focus on the food. What are the colors? How does it taste and smell? Have your child describe what happens when they chew and swallow. Have them notice what muscles are moving as they eat or bring the food to their mouth.

Children learn what they see at home, so by modeling mindfulness practices yourself, you will benefit them greatly.

Are you a parent looking for unique ways to cope with challenging parenting issues? A licensed therapist can provide the support and guidance you need. Give my office a call today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Are You Doing Self-Care All Wrong?

By General No Comments

The topic of self-care is one that has been discussed openly and often over the past decade. But for many, the concept of self-care is one that is still a bit mysterious, if not downright confusing.

What Is Self-Care?

First, self-care is a practice and a commitment we make to ourselves. It is any activity we do deliberately to support our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Not only does the right kind of self-care improve our health and life, but it can also improve the relationships we have with others.

Some examples of self-care might be:

  • Creating better habits
  • Eating right
  • Getting plenty of quality sleep
  • Exercising
  • Meditation
  • Spending quality time with loved ones
  • Making time to enjoy a hobby
  • Learning something new

Self-care isn’t always fun or easy, but you do it anyway because you know that the activity is what is BEST for you. In this way, self-care is a bit like acting as your own parent, making sure you do the things you don’t necessarily feel like doing because it is what your mind, body, and spirit need.

What Self-Care Isn’t

Self-care isn’t necessarily about making yourself feel better.

Person A has had a very bad day. They practice proper self-care and, when they get home, they change clothes, go for a 3-mile run, then cook a healthy dinner that refuels their body.

Person B has also had a very bad day and practices phony self-care. On their way home, person B stops at the store and gets a 6-pack of beer and a gallon of ice cream, then spends the entire night on the sofa drinking and eating poorly in an attempt to make the bad day go away.

This phony style of self-care is very immature. It is not parental but something a child does. If the parent insists you eat your veggies because they are good for you, the child will eat only candy bars when the parent isn’t looking.

Self-care is about making decisions based on what is good for you, not what you FEEL like doing at the moment.

Self-care should also not be confused with pampering. While there is nothing wrong with getting massages and pedicures, these again tend to be quick fixes we give ourselves to make ourselves feel better in the moment.

At the end of the day, self-care is a commitment to yourself to live, grow, and evolve in healthy ways. It means making choices that will lead to your best self and greatest potential.

 

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