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Archive for the ‘Wellness’ Category

Taking a brief vacation

Posted on: July 15th, 2021

Whether you are at home or away from home, one of the best strategies for coping with big feelings,
stress and our disrupted lives are finding a space in which to get away from it all, even if only 20 minutes.
It’s like an extended break, but with your thoughts focused not on the problem, but on things that can
bring about some peace. Numerous sites are out there about staycations and vacations. According to
Travel Bugs World, there are numerous ideas to do just that. Here are a few helpful ones.

  1. Plan a weekend just for yourself. Consider a hotel, camping, a day trip, or visit the beach. Can’t
    get away? Perhaps a local road trip, historical tour, museum, the zoo, a concert, or some self-
    care just for you.
  2. Eat or drink your favorite food, mindfully and slowly. Consider a picnic or local cafe. Perhaps
    pick your favorite fruits at a local orchard.
  3. Get outside! Go to the beach, go fishing, visit a park, or botanical garden. Watch the sunrise or
  4. Get moving! Go for a hike, ride a bike, take a walk, go bowling…
  5. Relax! Have a spa day, try a little yoga, read a book…
    Our world has been hit hard this past year and continues to be affected by COVID19. Be kind to yourself
    and to others. Relax, my friend.
    For more information on ways to cope, contact me at SHCS.

Music Relieves Stress

Posted on: March 15th, 2021

March is National Music Month.  There are some fabulous ways to experience music, even if you cannot attend live events at this time.  With apps like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube, we literally have selections at our fingertips.  Did you know, though that what you listen to can literally heal or harm you?

Music has been used for hundreds of years to treat illnesses and restore harmony between mind and body. Research today has provided evidence-based support for incorporating music in our lives to reduce pain, stress, among other components.

According to psychcentral.com, the soothing power of music is well-established.  It has a unique link to our emotions and can be an extremely effective stress management tool.  Slow, quiet, instrumental music can relax our minds and bodies.  The Power of Music To Reduce Stress (psychcentral.com).  It slows the pulse, heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and decreases stress hormones.  The music focuses our attention, provides a healthy distraction and helps to explore and express emotions.  It can aid meditation and help prevent the mind from wandering.  

Music preferences vary widely, however.  What works for one person may be different for someone else.  It’s important to find and explore what works for you.  If you’re not someone that gravitates to trying music when feeling stressed, avoiding music is often common.  However, I encourage yourself to give it try.  

Here are some simple ways to explore music for yourself:

  • Make a portable playlist.  Listen from your computer, phone, computer, or car. 
  • Listen while walking, bathing, meditating, or doing household tasks.
  • Listen while walking your dog.
  • If your music has lyrics, sing along to release tension.
  • Listen to calming music for peace and relaxation before bed to induce sleep.
  • If you play an instrument, practice with intention, without judgment, and listen deeply. 

For more information about music therapy and how it could benefit your life, please contact me at SHCS.

National Play Therapy Week

Posted on: February 15th, 2021

February 7-13 is National Play Therapy Week.  According to the American Play Therapy Association, play therapy is “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

More simply put, child play therapy is a way of being with the child that honors their unique developmental level and looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child – play.  Licensed mental health professionals therapeutically use play to help their clients, most often children ages three to 12 years, to better express themselves and resolve their problems.

Play therapy works best when a safe relationship is created between the therapist and client, one in which the latter may freely and naturally express both what pleases and bothers them.

Mental health agencies, schools, hospitals, and private practitioners have utilized play therapy as a primary intervention or as supportive therapy for:

  • Behavioral problems, such as anger management, grief and loss, divorce and abandonment, and crisis and trauma.
  • Behavioral disorders, such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism or pervasive developmental, academic and social developmental, physical and learning disabilities, and conduct disorders.

Research suggests play therapy is an effective mental health approach, regardless of age, gender, or the nature of the problem, and works best when a parent, family member, or caretaker is actively involved in the treatment process.

At SHCS, I use play techniques with children 12 and under to work on an array of treatment goals.  Some children are learning how to play, or how to engage with others, while others are developing flexibility, learning to take turns, or expressing to me their world, feelings, and perspective, with friends, at school, or with family members.  Play is both fun and powerful!  

For more information on play therapy or play techniques with your child, contact me at SHCS.

COVID19…How are your doing?

Posted on: April 30th, 2020

It’s April.  We continue to hunker down and practice social distancing.  I hope you and your family have been staying well and healthy.  And if you have been ill, I wish you comfort and healing.  For those of you who have faced financial setbacks, grief, and loss for any reasons, my sympathies are with you during this time.  

While COVID19 continues to be prevalent, I am practicing gratefulness for the downtime I am able to enjoy with my family now that we are not running around in different directions to activities.  We have played board games, taken walks or hikes, and read/talk more together.  I genuinely miss hugging my extended family members and spending quality time with friends.  I am more mindful of the little things that are a blessing to me and am reminded of the things in the world that are truly meaningful. 

I am thinking more of the things of the world that are unnecessary and thinking of ways to be more resourceful in the days ahead as we prepare for more disruption.

While increased time together can be a blessing, it may also be more stressful for many families.  For children and adults alike with anxiety, depression, or other mental health needs, feeling confined and around the same people, every day is taxing.  Here are a few ways to pass the time more productively.

  • Time apart (quiet time, personal time, breaks).  Everyone needs time to him or herself.  
  • Together time (prepare a meal together, eat together, have fun together)
  • Get outside and play (walk, hike, garden, etc.)
  • Practice mindfulness (pray, count a particular color in a room, eat slowly paying attention to your senses, focus on a particular sound, a sensation in the body, or your own breath)
  • Stay Busy (clean a room, work on a project, school work, journal about your day, color, call a friend, etc)
  • Find ways to relax (yoga, stretch, bathe, meditate, listen to music, play an instrument, etc)

It may feel like Gilligan’s Island for a while, but remember you are not alone and everyone all over the world is dealing with this.  However, if you and your family need additional support at this time, please contact me at SHCS.  

Explaining COVID19 to Kids

Posted on: April 6th, 2020
Virus enlarged picture of Corona Virus

For the first time in many of our lives, our world has been completely disrupted due to the coronavirus, affecting the lives of billions of people in their work, school, livelihoods, relationships, and health.

Its impact is still underway as scientists learn more about the virus, its symptoms, and how it manifests. Projected data about the virus have increased social distancing measures and brought the needs of our health care workers to the forefront.

Parents have felt extraordinary stress and anxiety due to loss of income, concern about elderly relatives, themselves, or children. Our world is in survival-mode at the grocery stores and pharmacies as families prepare to hunker down for what seems to be many months of unknown solitude.

Grief and loss are forthcoming realities for many families in the days ahead.
Our children also feel this stress, though may show it in different ways. They may talk more, talk less, be more active, or withdrawn. Many have questions or misunderstandings about the virus. In the podcast, The Daily,
children provide their questions and are answered by a virus expert. You can check this link out below.

Another great resource for explaining the COVID19 response for parents is through the Gil Institute.

Here are some general considerations to help children during this time:

  • Reassure children. Allow them to comfort themselves (this is not a time to remove stuffed animals, blankets, or soothing objects).
  • Stick to routines as much as possible.
  • Encourage daily exercise and physical activity.
  • Check-in daily with your child.
  • Practice positive coping skills and pleasurable activities.
  • Encourage connection with others virtually to maintain social distancing.
  • Practice good hygiene.

I have recently moved my practice to Telehealth in order to continue to support clients during this time. Kids are enjoying teleplay, parents are able to check-in about their children, and clients continue to have a connection outside the home for mental health care. Insurance companies are also responding by making this outlet possible for families, and in some instances waiving copays and deductibles so that more can access care. If you or your child require additional care during this time, please contact me at SHCS.

How to Remain Mindful Amidst Life Business

Posted on: February 29th, 2020
How to Remain Mindful Amidst Life's Busyness

Working full-time, busy schedules, and parenting children can be hectic.  Most parents today are working, shuttling their kids to activities, taking care of the household, and ending the evening with bombarding thoughts of the day, tomorrow, next week, etc.  Kids are running from school to activities and many are feeling overextended or have a little downtime. 

How best to be mindful in times like these?

Paying attention to the here and now takes as little as 5m.  Be intentional.  Slow down.  Imagine your thoughts just floating by.  Be alert to them, but don’t let them stick.  Let them drift away.  

Observe and describe your thoughts, but do not judge them.  If you find your mind wandering, this is normal.  Gently bring your mind back to the present and focus on one thing…an object, sound, color, body sensation, or your breath.

Some highlights of mindful activities are listed below, but for more info check out the Healthline Website on Tricks to Reduce Anxiety.

  • Try a guided meditation or app.  Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm Mind are some helpful apps to get you started.  Many involve breathing deeply to help you feel centered and peaceful.
  • Practice breathing.  Before you speak, before checking an email or messaging someone, while waiting in line, at a stop sign or traffic light, etc.
  • Color.  Coloring is relaxing.  It helps reduce anxiety and increases focus.
  • Take a Walk.  Listen for sounds as far away as possible.  Count your footsteps with your breath.  Notice your surroundings.  Look for soothing colors.
  • Eat a meal slowly and thoughtfully.  Use all of your senses to experience the smell, taste, texture, or sound it makes.
  • Safe Place imagery.  Imagine with all your senses what your scene looks like, sounds like, feels like, etc.  The important part…the brain doesn’t know the difference between what you imagine and whether you are actually there.  
  • Wish others happiness.  Even those who bother or annoy you.
  • Turn off your phone.  Turn off notifications.  Give yourself a technology fast.  Leave your phone in a different room.  Designate a tech-free zone, or tech-free time frame.  

Need more ways to be more mindful in your life?  Contact me at SHCS.

Tips to Make This Year Less Stressful

Posted on: February 7th, 2020
Tips to Make This Year Less Stressful

t’s 2020.  Our nation has never faced more division than now.  Race, hate, and bullying are rampant in society.  Concerns about war, natural disasters, and school shootings contribute to this societal stress.  News reports and social media platforms not only keep us informed but keep us on high alert and wary of things happening all around us.  Everywhere we look, stress is upon us, good stress and bad stress. 

But there are things we can do to experience less of it.  Here are a few highlights, but for more info, check out the Healthline website.

  • Exercise: Exercise relieves mental stress and reduces anxiety.  Find something you enjoy and get moving.
  • Just breathe.  Breathing deeply controls the relaxation response, lowers your heart rate, and helps you feel more peaceful
  • Journal.  Write down the things that cause you stress.  Then, practice identifying the positive things going on in your life.
  • Self-Soothe with your senses.  Burn a scented candle or use essential oil.  Chew a stick of gum.  Hug or cuddle someone you love.  Pet your dog or cat.  Listen to calming music, water, or nature sounds.  Look at soothing pictures.
  • Reduce caffeine.  Higher levels are linked to increased anxiety.  
  • Spend time with friends.  Having strong connections reduces stress and anxiety and may help you get through harder times in life.
  • Laugh.  Laughing reduces stress, tension, and improves mood and the immune system.  Watch a funny show.  Read a funny book.  Laugh with friends.
  • Say No.  Take control of your life.  Be selective about the things you take on and say no to things that add to your load.
  • Prioritize.  Make time for what needs to be done today.  Stop putting things off.  Stay on top of your to-do list. Try starting with just three tasks a day.  
  • Take a stress-relieving class: Try yoga or Tai ChiIt may help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and GABA, a neurotransmitter that is lowered in mood disorders.
  • Be Mindful. Use the breath, a sound, an object, or a physical sensation to anchor yourself in the present moment.  

Still, want to learn more?  Contact me at SHCS!

A Guide to a Healthier Happier You

Posted on: January 17th, 2020
A guide to a healthier, happier you.

If you are like me, setting goals for the year might be both inspiring and daunting.  It’s one thing to be motivated and another to create it.  The trick I’ve learned is to make goals that have reasonable outcomes and that involve smaller steps that can be “chipped away” gradually over time.  

One of the benefits of a new year is simply a fresh start.  A time to regroup and think about what’s working, what’s not, what is a drain to our lives, and a time to revisit things that generally make us feel happy.  Our thoughts, physiology, and behaviors are all connected.  So, why not take a look at these aspects more closely and “clean house,” so to speak.  If living more mindfully and emotionally healthy is important to you, try some of these tips for starting your year out with success.

What are you eating? 

The types of food we take in are directly linked to our mental health. Healthier options result in better wellness overall, however poorer food choices are linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety.  Not sure what you eat?  Try a food diary or app to track patterns.  

Get Physical. 

10-20m a day of brisk walking has wonderful mental health benefits, discharges heightened emotion, and can assist with improved sleep.  Walk your dog, or find a buddy.  Either way, get moving!

Improve your sleep

Do you have sleep hygiene?  Do you get enough sleep?  Consider how you prepare your body for sleep.  Taking a bath, doing quiet activities (reading, journaling, coloring, etc), stretching, and stopping screen time 1-2 hours before sleeping results in a better quality of sleep.  Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is another benefit to consistent sleep cycles.


Seriously, we are a society bombarded with stimulation and anxiety.  Tense and release your muscles, try a few yoga poses, listen to calming music.  Find an activity that is enjoyable, results in feeling calmer, and do that activity often!

Have Fun

Accumulate positive experiences.  Play board games, go bowling, get outside, play!  Pleasure increases the “feel good” chemical in the brain.

Connect with healthy people

Spending time with others (i.e family, friends, religious community, and pets, etc) reduces loneliness and improves our social well-being with others.  Read more here: The Power Of Connections.

Practice gratitude and positive thinking

This does take effort, but reflecting on the positive aspects in one’s life has long-term health benefits and can change the brain for the better!

Consider therapy 

While not everyone needs therapy, it is a place to vent concerns, learn new ways to cope, establish goals, and creates a climate for improving one’s situation with support. Anyone can benefit from talking to someone and learning new ways to better one’s self.

Create a new habit

Did you know it takes 21 days to create a new habit?  To create a new habit or change an old one, first determine your goal.  Break that goal into smaller steps.  Begin tracking the behavior you wish to change.  Next, consider a healthy alternative behavior you could do instead.  Track your progress, and include that change daily so it becomes a routine.

Be kind to yourself

If you have a setback, look at your self with compassion and not with criticism.  Goals might take longer than expected sometimes.  It’s ok.  Keep plugging away!

If you find that you’d like more support with goal-setting and improving your mental health wellness for the better, contact me at SHCS!

Understanding ADHD…for teachers.

Posted on: December 30th, 2019

I have been fortunate to have had positive teacher experiences when advocating for my children’s needs at school.  While I have found that most teachers are open and receptive to learning about ADHD and making adjustments to accommodate children with these needs, this remains an area of need.  Here are a list of things that teachers do that an ADHD child appreciates:

  • Preferential Seating (away from distractions)
  • A consistent place to find daily HW or classroom notes.  Many kids with ADHD miss visual or auditory information due to distractibility or tracking issues.  (Unfortunately, peers are not consistently reliable as a resource.  Many kids with ADHD face more peer rejection than typical kids.)
  • Eliminate distractions.  Testing in an environment with fewer people make s huge difference.
  • Regular check-ins for organization of materials, reviewing the child’s agenda or schedule.
  • Chunking or breaking down of larger assignments.  Kids with ADHD struggle with attention, organization, long-term planning, and time management.  They tend to procrastinate.
  • Look, rephrase.  Be clear and specific.  Be patient.  Don’t criticize.  An ADHD child is usually doing the best they can.  Be sure your expectations are reasonable. 
  • Be mindful of your own triggers and overreactions.  Yelling, ignoring, sudden or harsh consequences, making comparisons, nagging, negative labeling, and lecturing help the child underachieve.  A defiant child with ADHD may avoid work because it requires sustained mental effort.  This child may also lack emotional intelligence.  The ability to be self-aware, to manage mood, self-motivate, have empathy, and manage relationships is immature. Instead create a calm emotional atmosphere for learning.
  • Prepare for changes and transitions.  Kids with ADHD lose track of time and have difficulty understanding directions.  This cannot be fixed with punishment.
  • Use of fidgets to improve focus, attention, and to discharge heightened energy.
  • Breaks during times of frustration.  Understanding that frustration is very real when work is too hard, too easy, too long, or not stimulating.
  • Being understood.    A child with ADHD struggles with daily challenges, bombarding thoughts, and emotions.  A sense of helplessness can occur when overwhelmed.  Negative feedback diminishes self-esteem.  Instead, be calm, firm, and non-controlling.
  • Expect setbacks.  Help the child cope with setbacks and making mistakes.  “Let’s figure out to succeed next time.”
  • Praise, positive reinforcement, rewards or incentives for their efforts, not outcomes.
  • Avoid power struggles.  Free your mind of the need to win.  Pick your battles wisely.  Offer choices.  Use humor. Empower the child.  

Teachers are great role models.  However, they are not immune to feeling drained or overwhelmed by kids having ADHD.  Consult others who are knowledgeable.  Stay proactive and involved.  Contact me at SHCS for more information.

Stress…The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Posted on: November 15th, 2019

I recently left a stable full-time job to embark in private practice.  The amount of decisions and tasks required to get started felt enormous.  There were times my mind was spinning in different directions just thinking about the things I needed to do, how best to keep up, and get ahead.  Painting, getting paneled with insurance companies, moving, learning new systems, working full time, attending trainings…all happened at the same time.  Then, I got a sinus infection.  The consequence of being overworked and run down.  I did it to myself and I knew better!

Stress is a feeling people experience when struggling with life challenges.  From feeling rushed or pressured at work, to financial worries, disorganization, or having too many demands.  It can be a real or imagined, or a threat affecting one’s well-being.  It can be brief, or long-lasting.

Stress can be impacted by reactive thinking and negative thoughts about situations or events.  It is commonly found in those having Type A personalities and those who are chronic worriers. Under stress, workplace environments can become burdensome.  Burnout is common.  Relationships among co-workers and family members often deteriorate.  Illness, cold/flu, are more frequent.  

Signs of stress can include:

  • Anger, irritability
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Muscle tension- headaches, back, neck, or jaw pain
  • Stomach, gut, and bowel problems
  • Hyperarousal symptoms- increased blood pressure, heart rate, sweaty palms, dizziness, cold hands or feet, shortness of breath, sleep problems, and chest pain

Stress left untreated, that becomes chronic, can significantly damage physical and mental health. Other factors include aversive experiences in childhood (i.e. poverty, abuse, family dysfunction, unemployment, substance abuse, etc) or traumatic experiences later in life.  Chronic stress can also lead to feelings of hopelessness.  

Reducing stress takes lifestyle changes, attitude adjustments, healthy boundaries, attention to self-care, and accountability for our choices.  Ready to manage your stress more productively? Contact me at SHCS.