Launching Young Adults from the Nest

It is easy to get caught up in the every day hustle and bustle of keeping kids healthy, fed, entertained, and motivated. Before you know it, they can be 12, 15 or even 18 years old and have never made a decision on their own or take any financial or household responsibility. This can lead to Failure to Launch Syndrome wherein your child lacks the ability to be self-reliant and is more likely to be co-dependent. 

 

In order to combat this, have annual or biannual parent check -in meetings to create and reassess parenting goals and address current or potential concerns. It is also prudent to sit down annually with each child, when it is developmentally appropriate, to discuss their roles and responsibilities and share your parenting heart and goals for successful launching at 18. Collaboratively sharing hopes and goals allows the child to be informed and engaged in their own maturation giving them some ownership and motivation. When they feel informed and responsible for their freedoms and choices, they are less likely to buck the system as their autonomy and privileges are determined by their own decision-making. 

 

Now kids will still make mistakes and probably plenty of them. However, they will learn valuable lessons with less severe consequences when they experience mistakes when they have parental respect, support and guidance. If you find as parents are struggling in preparing your kids for adulthood and see potential mental or behavioral health concerns, reach out to a licensed professional for a consultation as it is far easier to address issues proactively than reactively. 

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Gratitude

I often hear individuals report how they feel their life is boring. How they feel they are left out or unsatisfied because someone 's life is so much better. What I also hear from these individuals is how they have either forgotten their own life adventures or have minimized their experiences and accomplishments because it was just something they were “supposed” to do. I recently had to remind my own relative to still be grateful for their experiences because without them their life would have been even more boring. How we will always want more, and how we still must practice gratitude. This began my quest to educate others about the benefits and steps of gratitude.

Benefits

Many believe there are no benefits of increasing gratitude practices daily. However, studies have shown how the brain is positively affected when being grateful is increased. By increasing gratitude, it will stimulate two areas of the brain, the hypothalamus (regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (plays a role in the brain’s reward system that produces feelings of pleasure). There is also a greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex (an area of the brain associated with learning and decision making).  

Steps

  1. Keep a daily or weekly list of things you are grateful for.

  2. Write a thank-you note putting your gratitude of others on paper or via email.

  3. Write a gratitude letter to another person every week for four weeks and share with your therapist. Challenge: Also share with the person you wrote the letter to.

  4. Don’t expect the benefits of gratitude to immediately begin, be patient, it takes time.

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5/10/30 Minute Challenge: Daily Mental Health Breaks

We don't have a lot of time on our hands, sometimes it's just one minute at a time! Challenge yourself to pull a quick 5, 10, or 30 minutes a day to prioritize your mental health. Below is a list of seven, mental, physical, and emotional breaks that just take a few minutes (5 / 10/ 30) -- Challenge yourself to squeeze them in throughout your day.

  1. Go for a walk, get some sunshine and fresh air

  2. Write a gratitude note, text to a friend or family member

  3. Be Creative, Color or Draw 

  4. Have a good laugh

  5. Do some deep breathing, meditate, or pray

  6. Have a cup of tea /coffee, or a healthy snack

Clean up the clutter, clean up the space around you

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Words Have Meaning, Pt. 2

Continuing in Mental Health Awareness month we are talking about phrases we may use in a way that can demean the real struggles that people go through with mental illness. For example, someone may say they are so depressed that they didn’t get the car they wanted when they turned 16. What about the real people who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder who can’t get out of bed in the morning and about to lose their jobs. What about the families that just went to their son’s, brother’s, or father’s funeral because he committed suicide due to depression. There are people that might say the weather is so crazy lately, it is just this bipolar Texas weather. Think about how this makes light of people who have ruined their credit because during a manic phase they made poor decision and bought way too much stuff. Also think about the daughter who can’t understand why her mom snaps or yells at her because she can’t control her intense moods. Sometimes we use the term “OCD” in a way that down plays the serious symptoms that can be a part of that illness. I have heard, “oh, I am so OCD because I like my desk straight”. Most may not know the life crippling symptoms that can come with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A person who washes their hands 20 times a day until they are raw or someone in psychiatric facility who needs help getting their obsessive thoughts to be more manageable. The next time you use one of these terms, think about the people who struggle with these illnesses and maybe choose a different phrase. 

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Words Have Meaning

This month is Mental Health Awareness month. We are all obviously aware of mental health, but we may not always be aware of the words we say and the effect that can have on people who struggle with mental health issues. One movement in the last few years is to ask people to stop using the word “retard”. This gained so much popularity that it even changed the diagnosis name from Mental Retardation to Intellectual Disability Disorder (IDD). Many people use the “R” word not to only to refer to those with this diagnosis but also distort it to call people or things dumb or use it to refer to something they don’t like. They sometimes use it in disgusting ways to bully people and belittle people. This feels insulting to the people and families who deal with IDD. The real people who struggle with learning in school, have difficulty taking care of themselves, or being independent. The real families who have to support their loved ones for the rest of their lives because they are unable to live by themselves or get and keep a job. Mental health awareness can be about being more aware of how your words can affect people around you. There are other phrases we use but may not be aware that can affect those with mental illnesses. Learn more in part 2 of Words Have Meaning.

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It Just Happens!

Stress, anxiety, and frustration are feelings that everyone experiences from time to time, just like happiness, excitement, and joy. There is this tendency to connect the latter to what has occurred. “I am so overjoyed my granddaughter was born today...I could not be happier that family is visiting...I am so excited to be graduating!” When it comes to the initially identified feelings though, people tend to shrug their shoulders and through up their hands exhausted, “I don’t know why I’m so stressed...I don’t know why these anxiety attacks keep happening...I don’t know; it just happens!”

 

“It just happens,” implies automatic. That is exactly what is occurring for many of us. Our senses, memories, and thoughts are trying to tell us something. But, these processes are so automatic that we often times do not realize they have occurred. Go back to the anxious individual throwing up their hands. Perhaps, they have experienced increasingly intense anxiety everyday for the last three months. At some point, you stop noticing what precipitated the feeling, even though the precipitating factors still occur. Your senses still take cues from the environment, memories still triggered, and thought processes still flowing. 

 

If you find yourself throwing up your hands, take some time to truly be present with yourself and your thoughts. What automatic processes are occurring that could use your attention? The first part of changing your answer from “I don’t know,” to “I was thinking...” is acknowledging that it has taken place.  

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Learning To Wait

Waiting is an art. Waiting can be powerful. 

 

Not many people enjoy waiting or learning patients, yet people who are the most successful at living and loving are those who learn to wait successfully. Not many people enjoy waiting or learning how to be patient. Most of us want things just to happen pretty quickly- no line to stand in or stop to wait at. Yet, we can not always have what we want when we want it. Waiting, therefore, becomes a powerful tool that can help us accomplish good in our lives. We need to look at waiting as not being time wasted. Waiting simply means something is being worked out- in us, in someone else, in the world. Rather than looking at waiting as something useless, lets focus in on what waiting allows us to do.

 

Waiting allows us to focus on:

 

Acceptance- Surrender to the moment. So much relief, release, and change are possible when we accept. Acceptance does not mean we are giving up- it means that we accept what is, so we can make conscious decisions to change.

Patience- Being patient does not mean we go through things without feeling our feelings. Feel the impatience. Get angry. Feel your fear. Patience comes from feeling yor feelings and being ready to move forward. 

Grattitude- Once we acknowledge that waiting is our friend some important things will shift in our heads- we lean to practice thankfulness. Instead of being frustrated and overwhelmed, we can be grateful for them and make the most of them. 

Tolerance- Waiting can be great humbler. A humble person is aware of the struggles of others and can empathize with their troubles.

 

 

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Helping Your Toddler Express Emotions

Feeling and being with our emotions can be difficult and overwhelming at times. Imagine that you are just beginning to develop the common language. And in order to get your needs met for the last few months, you have relied on crying. Starting to feel all of those big feels would understandably be frustrating when crying no longer adequately expresses your needs but you don’t yet have the words either. 

Helping your child grow developmentally appropriate language to express their needs and feelings is an important piece of their cognitive and emotional development. Consider the ways in which they have learned to sit, walk, and say their first words. They are constantly observing, while others in their environment model the behavior. They interpret and process this information and begin to practice themselves. So, consider your role in their development of emotional expression:

  • Be a model

 Use appropriate feeling words as often as you can

 “That makes me feel scared that you will fall...I am sad because...I am so excited to...”

  • Naming feelings

 Until they have developed appropriate feeling words, help them name their feelings

 “I can see that you are sad that we need to leave the park...That fall was scary for you...Are you so happy to see daddy? ”

  • Foster empathy

 Displaying empathy will encourage your child’s understanding that other may feel and respond differently than them at any given time

 “It looks like your friend is feeling sad right now...Your friend looked really happy while opening her gift from you.”

 

What they learn now, lays the groundwork for years to come.

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Your Thoughts Are Just Thoughts

What if I told you your thoughts are just thoughts, nothing more, nothing less, and they don’t always have meaning or purpose. Would you believe me? For many people thoughts present to pass on through, and instead of holding onto every thought they can let them go. However, for those who struggle with OCD the concept of letting go of an intrusive thought is so much more difficult because the thought/s must mean something. Changing your thought process isn’t as easy for everyone, but it is possible with practice and being open to different techniques and ways of thinking.  

  1. It is learning and accepting your that mind is a separate entity from your brain and yourself. Think of your mind as a component of a computer, it is the processor. The processor filters the data such as feeling, emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. It then decides what to do with that data such as to add, reject or promote color and meaning to the data.  

  2. By using mindfulness, you can take a step back, observe what your mind is doing, and decide how much you want to be involved in this process.  

  3. It is knowing your OCD can twist things to present as what Is happening Now when instead it Is what Has already happened.

  4. OCD lives in the “what if” not the “what is”.

  5. Although your intrusive thoughts may be a part of your experience, it is remembering these intrusive thoughts do not get to declare or determine your identity, and you do not have to act on those thoughts.

  6. By changing our perception of these intrusive thoughts, we get to decide how we view and interpret them.

  7. By taking away the meaning and validation you give intrusive thoughts you begin to give yourself a true reflection of your character.

  8. Sometimes trying to ignore the OCD thoughts can make them worse and even multiple, which  can trick you into believing they must mean something. Being mindful doesn’t mean that everything will go away, and you will be at peace; it is accepting what is going on right now, without judgement, and potentially without fear.

  9. It is knowing that OCD will take your core values and flip them; e.g. if your OCD thoughts are reviewing ways you could snap and hurt others, then being in control is one of your top priorities.

  10. OCD presents through a black and white lens, however in real life there is always some amount of gray. 

What OCD thoughts do you see as all or nothing scenarios? Now challenge yourself by thinking what the gray area in each scenario would be.

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Daily Mental Health Workout

Our mental health plays a huge role in our well-being. Mental health affects how we think, feel and act. It helps determine how we make healthy choices and cope with stress. Because our mental health can affect us in drastic ways, it's important to take care of it. 

 

Here are a few mental health workouts we can do everyday:

 

  1. Exercise: Studies have consistently shown us that exercise positively affects our brain function. Getting our heart rate and moving our body supports healthy mental functioning. We don't need to spend hours at the gym. A good 20 minute workout will do the trick.

  2. Socialize: Spend time with others. Having strong social ties can decrease risk for depression, improve physical heath, and lengthen lifespan. Spend time making genuine connections. 

  3. Express gratitude: Take 5 minutes each day to write down things you are thankful for can help lower stress and allow for a more positive mindset. 

  4. Go outside: Go for a walk, do something outdoors, especially if it's sunny. Sun exposure helps boot our mood. 

  5. Have a good laugh: Find a funny show and laugh. Laughing is important, as it can help improve mood and decrease anxiety. 

  6. Practice kindness: Committing kind acts can not only benefit someone else, but it can also make us feel better. Hold the door open for someone, say hello, or compliment someone.  

  7. Get a good night sleep: Sleep is important. Strive to get good sleep. Sufficient sleep energizes your brain cells and can help improve motivation.

 

Take care of your mental health. Your mental health is important and you deserve to care for it. 

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