While family members of our military service members do not actively serve, they do have a very important job – holding down the fort. Military service members put their lives on the line to protect and serve our country while their families adapt, miss their loved ones, and support them from home.
With social isolation having such negative consequences on people and seeming to have increased especially with the COVID pandemic, I thought it would be good to share this article I originally wrote in 2018. When children, teens and younger adults spend time with older adults, there are many benefits to everyone involved. Older adults can be great role models for children, while also passing on family stories, historical information and teaching the rituals and traditions of earlier times.
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric diagnosis in school-age children worldwide. Anxiety may appear in different forms, including separation anxiety, social phobia, generalized anxiety, panic with agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobic disorders causing numerous problems in their lives.
Growing up, my family had my half-sisters every other weekend, but the co-parenting relationship never took a break. I witnessed many different conversations between co-parents on many different topics like schooling, child support, drama, and even discipline. While the conversations were often filled with conflict, there was also supportive and healthy communication.
A little less than a year ago, I received a phone call from a friend who eagerly said that a foster child was on the way to their home. I was beyond excited for my friends & their family but also so excited for this child to be welcomed into a stable and healthy home. Before the phone call ended, I remember asking my friend, “How can I help?”. I was ready to help them by buying toys, clothes, and food - but that was not what they needed.
Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science. BAW was founded by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, and is coordinated by the Dana Foundation. This is the 27th annual BAW which will be observed March 14-20 in 2022.
Winter is upon us and those longer hours of darkness coupled with the colder temperatures can make many people experience those “winter blues.” Add the complications of COVID like continued distancing from others and the mental fatigue experienced by the longevity of the pandemic, and I’m afraid we are going to see more people experiencing those blues this season.
Natural disasters, such as the recent tornadoes, wildfires, and floods along with other traumatic events like mass shootings and even the pandemic can be devastating for everyone. For children, just watching the news and listening to parents talk can make life’s events seem like they are out of control. This would be magnified for children who experienced direct loss and may need help understanding what happened to their world. Most children look to adults for guidance and understanding on how to react and deal with life’s events.
As a new year is upon us, sometimes we say that we hope the new year is better than the last. As the saying goes, are you looking at your glass half-full or half-empty? Our outlook may be grim, or it could be positive. If your tendency is to find the less optimistic view, then you might want to explore ways to add a little happiness or attain some strategies to find an optimistic future.
Every year the adults in my family have a Christmas gift exchange. Around October we draw names with wish lists to prepare for the exchange. A couple of years ago my brother wanted to change it up a little, and suggested we give experiences rather than actual items. We had so much fun that year! Painting and pottery classes, massages and spa treatments, target shooting, bowling and even horseback riding sessions were just a few of the fun experiences that were gifted. We agreed that doing things was much more fun that accumulating more stuff – and was much more meaningful.
In a previous article I emphasized how ongoing stress can cause negative physical and mental effects on the body and how practicing self-care or stress management techniques can reduce or maybe prevent those negative effects from happening. Many strategies were suggested, but how do we make the time to do them? There are many ways to stay on track and help you stay accountable.
“It’s your turn to take the kids to practice after school today,” she says to her husband.
“I can’t take the kids to practice today, I have a late meeting,” he says.
“That’s the second late meeting this week!” she shouts.
“Why are you raising your voice?” he asks as he points towards her.
“Why are you pointing at me? You know it makes me crazy when you point at me!” she shouts.
“Crazy, you think my pointing is what makes you crazy? Ha!” he shouts in a smug tone.
“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”
This was an anonymous quote that I recently reshared on Facebook since it truly resonated with me. I had been experiencing months of heavy stress and was not making the time for self-care – and was starting to physically feel the negative effects.
As children return to schools and classrooms this fall after a year of a variety of learning environments, many parents and caregivers may find themselves concerned about bullying. Recent research indicated, not surprisingly, that rates of school bullying dropped during the pandemic – likely as a result of many students participating in remote learning environments.
As the new school year approaches, it’s completely normal for both parents and children experience a rush of emotions. Sadness that the carefree days of summer are ending. Anticipation of seeing friends and learning new things. Curiosity at what new opportunities the new year will bring. Excitement of new schedules, new routines, new friends. And perhaps, joy…. that the kids are finally out of the house!
I originally wrote this article a few years ago, but always feel it is worthwhile to share it again periodically as a refresher. People are highly passionate in their beliefs and on behalf of groups they are a part of, and in our current culture, differing beliefs or create quite the stir. Difficult topics can make it a challenge to get our point across the way we intend to - whether we are talking with professionals, supervisors, family members or friends.
On Friday, July 23, 2021, the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo, Japan. There are 11,091 athletes estimated or expected to compete. My image of an athlete is an individual who is passionate, dedicated, determined, goal orientated, healthy, confident, motivated, and much more. Being prepared for the Olympics doesn’t happen overnight. These athletes had to have such a positive and strong mindset to be motivated to train during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are not Olympic athletes, but may struggle with being motivated at times.
As we are now officially in the summer season, it can be very easy to overschedule our children and ourselves. This is especially true this year as COVID restrictions begin to lift and more events are becoming available again. Enjoyable but exhausting family vacations, summer sports leagues, day and overnight camps, 4-H fairs, library and park recreation programs, and the list goes on and on. It is very possible to overcommit family members to the point where they do not get to relax, recharge and really enjoy spending time with each other before another busy school year begins.
Since we are still acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a little bit about mindful movement. Mindfulness is defined as an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can happen in many ways including types of breathing, visualization, using our senses, practicing gratitude and even through movement! Mindful movement is an effective way to reduce stress and its physical consequences.
“Decide what your priorities are and how much time you’ll spend on them. If you don’t, someone else will.” - Harvey Mackay
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is what are you busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau
Do you remember your first childhood friend? Do you still have friends that you keep in touch with from school or work? Humans are social creatures and we enjoy and do better being around others. So, knowing how to make and keep friends is an important skill for young children to learn.
The conversation of taking care of one’s mental health has come up often over the past 11 months. Whether we’re experiencing a pandemic or trying to survive in the world, caring for one another makes a difference. This past month I had the opportunity to attend Mental Health First Aid Training to become a facilitator. This program was developed by Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm from Australia, and they gave the National Council for Behavioral Health permission to update the material. As a trainer, I encourage others to attend a Mental Health First Aid training, and I will explain why:
Resilience: the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. The good news is that resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have.
Thanksgiving celebrations may look different in 2020 for many people. I have had many conversations with friends and family about whether to gather.
This year our attitude needs to be centered on giving people grace about their decisions and focus on expressing gratitude and thankfulness in a variety of ways, even if the holiday looks a little different this year.
Life has not been easy for most parents who have school-aged children. It has been unpredictable for some parents, not knowing from day to day whether their child(ren) will be in a school building or learning remotely from home.
Just recently a friend of mine got word that her daycare had to close for two-weeks because of COVID, which meant both her child attending that daycare and her older school-aged child had to stay home from school and quarantine. Forced quickly into shifting gears, my friend arranged to work from home so she could look after her children.
Impulse control involves knowing how and when to express emotions like excitement, frustration, joy, disappointment, and anger. It is a process that develops as children mature and is critical for their success in making and keeping friends, which in turn boosts their self-esteem and school success.
The Illinois Early Learning Project has a great tip sheet that includes tips on how to help young children to develop impulse control. For infants to older preschool children they suggest:
In the last article I shared with you many characteristics of people who manage well during difficult times. I would like to highlight several more for you in this article. Again, when faced with adversity, resilient people:
Things have not been easy for any of us during these past few months – or “unprecedented times.” We may feel like we’ve had many losses: loss of security, loss of contact with others, loss of freedom to come and go where we would like, maybe even loss of health and loved ones, among many more. Many of our blog posts over this time have focused on stress reduction, mindfulness, and finding balance in our lives. I would like to focus this week more on gratitude and looking at the positives that are also going on right now.
I just love the Illinois Early Learning Project (IELP) website, which is a valuable source of evidence-based, reliable information on early childcare and education for parents, caregivers, and teachers of young children in Illinois. It is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education and is housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the College of Education.