Sunshine State Counseling Center wants to remind you of our upcoming support groups for parents starting May 1, 2020. We are offering two free support groups on Friday’s:
- 12:00 PM for parents who are fluent in English
- 4:00 PM for parents who are fluent in Spanish.
We, as a practice, believe that all individuals have the right to feel supported, heard, and understood. This group will focus on positive parenting and providing parent to parent support. If there is a parent that you know would benefit from this, have them call us at 239-495-7722 to be added.
I want you to take a long deep breath before you begin reading. Ready, let’s breathe in through your nose(as if you were smelling a flower) …………hold it……and thenlet’s breath out through our mouths (like blowing out a birthday candle). During the past four weeks we have been bombarded about the importance of staying safe to promote our health and the guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by social distancing. Sometimes we need a moment to regulate ourselves, and breathing can do just that.
Even with the of multitude of information we have been presented over the last few weeks, howwe process our feelings during this time over social distancing has not been addressed. The lack of physical contact and authentic connection with individuals can present a multitude of health problems such as anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating and much more. The importance of touch to our humanity is engrained from the moment we are born. A mother’s touch to their newborn child releases Oxytocin( your feel good chemical in your body) in the mother’s body promoting the attachment between mother and child. How can we touch in a safe way during this uncertain time? Some of us have pets and families that are living with us during this time. Take the time to hold these individuals and breath in and out while engaging in these behaviors. This increases the oxygen to our brains, promote our engagement in the present moment, acts as a regulator for our emotions and releases Oxytocin within our bodies. We can even hug ourselves to produce the same effects!
Sometimes a simple hug is not enough for some individuals and they require a deeper connection. At our fingertips we have a powerful device that is able to connect us across oceans. Our phones can provide us with real time connections with individuals we love in a way that follows the Center for Disease Control guidelines. By connecting with each other, even virtually we are sharing laughs, creating memories, promoting conversations which continues the human connection we are all engrained to promote and engage in. Exercising, is another great way to promote the release of endorphins (another feels good chemical) in your body. Not only can exercise help you feel better it can also aid in regulating emotions. Incorporating exercising into a routine has been studied and has shown it improves daily functioning, increases mood, and increases ability to sleep.
All in all, social distancing at the moment is the best method in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. Although, this does not mean you can allow it create anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating or much more within yourself and your families. We overviewed about the importance of breathing as a form of regulation, different ways physical touch can benefit us and how to safely do it, and we reviewed the benefits of exercise and routines to elevate our moods. We hope you and your loved ones have found this informative and remember, let your light shine from within.
This week Sunshine State Counseling is focusing on safe space and social skills. We believe educating our children on personal boundaries, safety and self-expression are detrimental for their evolution in the school system. Soon, Sunshine State Counseling will be offering an educational program for children between the ages of 7-10. This four-week Safe Hands program is an educational program that assists children and their caregivers with an understanding of social skills, personal boundaries, communication, self-expression, and safety.
Topics that will be covered in group include:
-Communication: Good Surprises and Bad Secrets
-Strangers vs. People we know
-Good Touch/ Bad Touch
All covered topics are developmentally appropriate for ages seven to ten. If you have a child or know a child who would benefit from this group, please have their caregiver call us to register at 239-495-7722.
Spring Break can be something that families look forward to whether traveling or staying home. Parents may have worries about communicating with their teen, what their teen will do on this trip if they are not around, etc. If spring break does include travel, you may want to consider how to assist your teen in having the safest trip possible. This week we are providing safety tips that may ease your mind and help your teen have a fun and safe trip on their spring break vacation.
- Keep in Touch
If teens are traveling, most of the time it is the parents who pay for the trip. Feel comfortable in setting limits on your child’s travel companions and destination.
Text messages and phone calls can help remind your children of the limits both of you agreed to before they left. Contacting your children and asking about what they are doing also can reduce the tension parents feel over what they can’t see or control.
Get background information about the specific destination, travel warnings, and public announcements detailing any serious crime, terrorism, health risks, natural disasters or other dangers for specific countries.
- Have a frank talk
Parents can start by having a frank discussion with their children, says psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD. Start by reminding your children what spring break is all about.
- Stick with friends you know and trust
Never go out alone or leave a safe place with strangers. Even if you meet people who seem friendly, they might not have the best intentions.
- Go with your gut
Be aware of your surroundings. If you feel like something is not right, trust your instincts. If you are being followed the Office of International Education at the University of Richmond suggests, “Step into a store or other safe place and wait to see if the person you think is following has passed.”
- Lock Up
When going out make sure you leave your important valuables and documents in your hotel’s safe deposit box. Try to steer away from wearing expensive jewelry or other valuables in areas that you are not familiar with.
- Stay safe in your hotel room
A spring break safety tip sheet from Longwood University recommends the following: “Ensure there is a peep hole in the door and that the dead bolt and other locks are in good working order. Never open your door to anyone you do not know. If the person states they work for the hotel, call the front desk and confirm this before allowing them entry.”
- Choose Transportation Wisely
Use recommended shuttle services or buses to get around. Only use reputable, licensed taxi services. If using riding services such as Uber or Lyft, try to go with a friend and make sure to verify the license plate number and name before getting inside.
Having your child disobey you, throw temper tantrums, and completely ignore you at times can be difficult, however, it is important to remember that our children are growing and going through different developmental stages. With each stage and age there are behaviors that are appropriate, while frustrating, are not of clinical concern; for example: a toddler that does not want to share, a child who throws things, a tween who refuses to go to bed early, or a teenager who wishes to spend more time with friends rather than parents.
Many times, we might link these behavioral issues to a condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), however, RAD is a difficulty connecting with others and managing emotions, resulting in a lack of trust and self-worth, a fear of getting close to anyone, anger, and a need to be in control. Reasons as to why this may occur can be due to persistent disregard of the child’s emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, and affection. A child with RAD feels unsafe, alone, and may push others away out of fear, anger, and a variety of other emotions.
Inhibited Reactive Attachment Disorder vs. Disinhibited Reactive Attachment Disorder
As children with Reactive Attachment Disorder grow older, they often develop either an inhibited or a disinhibited pattern of symptoms:
Inhibited symptoms of RAD. The child is extremely withdrawn, emotionally detached, and resistant to comforting. The child is aware of what is going on around them—hypervigilant even—but does not react or respond. They may push others away, ignore them, or even act out in aggression when others try to get close.
Disinhibited symptoms of RAD. The child does not seem to prefer their parents over other people, even strangers. The child seeks comfort and attention from virtually anyone, without distinction. They are extremely dependent, act much younger than their age, and may appear chronically anxious.
Reactive Attachment Disorder is commonly found in but not limited to the following:
- An infant who is repeatedly left unattended when in distress may begin to form detachment from their caregiver.
- Children who received grossly negligent care.
- Children who do not form a healthy emotional attachment with their primary caregivers.
- Children who have been adopted and or not residing with their primary caregiver.
- Children who reside in and or have been in/out of the foster care system.
- Repeated changes of primary caregivers that prevent formation of stable attachments such as frequent changes in foster care, may exacerbate avoidance and inhibition.
- Where significant trauma has occurred by a primary caregiver.
Parenting a child who has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
Have realistic expectations. Helping your child may be a long road. Focus on making small steps forward and celebrate every sign of success.
Stay patient. The process may not be as rapid as you would like, and you can expect bumps along the way. By remaining patient and focusing on small improvements, you create an atmosphere of safety for your child.
Foster a sense of humor. Joy and laughter go a long way toward repairing attachment problems and energizing you even in the midst of hard work. Find at least a couple of people or activities that help you laugh and feel good.
Set limits and boundaries. Consistent, loving boundaries make the world seem more predictable and less scary to children with attachment issues. It is important that they understand what behavior is expected of them, what is and is not acceptable, and the consequences if they disregard the rules. This also teaches them that they have more control over what happens to them than they think.
Take charge yet remain calm when your child is upset or misbehaving. Remember that “bad” behavior means that your child does not know how to handle what they are feeling and needs your help. But never discipline a child with an attachment disorder when you are in an emotionally charged state. This makes the child feel more unsafe and may even reinforce the bad behavior, since it is clear that it pushes your buttons.
Be immediately available to reconnect following a conflict. Conflict can be especially disturbing for children with attachment disorders. After a conflict or tantrum where you have had to discipline your child, be ready to reconnect as soon as they are ready. This reinforces your consistency and love and will help your child develop a trust that you will be there through thick and thin.
Own up to mistakes and initiate repair. Your willingness to take responsibility and make amends can strengthen the attachment bond. Children with attachment issues need to learn that although you may not be perfect, they will be loved, no matter what.
Try to maintain predictable routines and schedules. A child with an attachment disorder will not instinctively rely on loved ones and may feel threatened by transition and inconsistency—when traveling or during school vacations, for example. A familiar routine or schedule can provide comfort during times of change.
Identify actions that feel good to your child. If possible, show your child love through rocking, cuddling, and holding—attachment experiences they missed out on earlier. But always be respectful of what feels comfortable and good to your child. In cases of previous abuse, neglect, and trauma, you may have to go very slowly because your child may be very resistant to physical touch.
Respond to your child’s emotional age. Children with attachment disorders often act like younger children, both socially and emotionally. You may need to treat them as though they were much younger, using more non-verbal methods of soothing and comforting.
Help your child identify emotions and express their needs. Children with attachment problems may not know what they are feeling or how to ask for what they need. Reinforce the idea that all feelings are okay and show them healthy ways to express their emotions.
Listen, talk, and play with your child. Carve out times when you are able to give your child your full, focused attention in ways that feel comfortable to them. It may seem hard to drop everything, eliminate distractions, and just live in the moment, but spending quality time together provides a great opportunity for your child to open up to you and feel your focused attention and care.
Everyday activities to help foster a closer bond with yourself and child:
- Eat dinner as a family and do your best to have it at the same time each day to create a sense of consistency for your child.
- Have set play times outdoors that will encourage your child to play with you as a team. This will remind your child that you as the parent are always on their side.
- Play show and tell. Have your child show you one thing they completed at school and share what you have done as well. This will allow your child to feel as if what they do on a daily basis is of importance.
- Hug your child when they go to school and come back from school. Be mindful that you will have to start slow because they may be hesitant to your touch.
- Invite your child to make their favorite food along with you. This can give you the opportunity to spend quality time together and to get to know them more in an easy going and playful manner.
- Remind your child that you love them regardless of any mistakes they make. Assure them that you make mistakes as well and that you are not perfect.
- Listen to music and/or sing along with your child. Finding out what their favorite genre of music can facilitate conversations about their interests. Music allows for a connection between individuals. Research has found that listening to music releases oxytocin, known as a “love hormone” that promotes feelings of love, bonding, and well-being.
- Go on dates. They can range from going to dinner, watching a movie, going to a concert, going shopping, etc. Again, be patient with your child and ease into these activities.
Sunshine State Counseling wants to remind you of our upcoming Teen Girls Empowerment Support Group that starts Wednesday, February 5! This group will focus on empowering young girls, while also creating a safe space to open up and discuss several important topics that teens face each day. If you know of a teen girl that would benefit from this group, please have them call us to register at 239-495-7722.
A sneak peek of what to expect from group:
- Meeting new people that are faced with similar situations/challenges
- Gaining insight on ways to improve self-esteem, self-worth, and its importance
- How to communicate openly, honestly and respectfully with peers and parents/caregivers
- Discussing the differences between healthy and unhealthy friendships and relationships
- Exploring social media, its safety, and the impact it has on teens today
- Setting clear goals and visions for your future self
This week, Sunshine State Counseling is focusing on teenage girl empowerment. We as a practice believe that all individuals have the right to be comfortable in their own bodies, believe in themselves and live their life to the fullest. Soon, Sunshine State Counseling Center will be offering a Teenage girls empowerment support/psychoeducational group. Throughout 12 weeks the girls will gain insight on expression of feelings, self-esteem, healthy communication and safe boundaries as well as other important social skills.
Why is it important to empower teen girls?
- It’s her right. Every girl deserves to feel good about herself, her body and her everyday life
- Empowered girls mean healthier families. According to UNESCO, 2.1 million children under age 5 were saved between 1990 and 2009 because of improvements in girls’ education.
- Empowered girls are key to breaking the cycle of poverty for families around the world
- Empowered girls strengthen economies: According to a new Brookings report, “Increasing the number of women completing secondary education by just 1 percent could increase a country’s economic growth by 0.3 percent.
- Hayes and Fors (1990) report that lower self esteem is often the reason why young girls engage in premarital sexual relationships and is more likely to be responsible for teen pregnancies than any other single factor
- It has been found that such programs can significantly reduce the incidence of anti-social behavior in schools, as well as reduce vandalism and the incidents of verbal or physical aggression by 40-50%. (Reasoner,1992, Borba, 1999)
- The number of women in corporate jobs is growing everyday. In any career that teen girls decide to participate in, they will need strong communication skills.Most organizations are looking for individuals with a particular, tactical, skill set and the ability to influence people to get things done.
With a new year ahead many of us decide to establish resolutions. People may use the New Year to open and enter into new relationships, experiences, and changes. While creating new goals may be exciting, staying true and consistent to our resolutions can be challenging.
Here are a few ways that may help you stay consistent in different areas of your life.
Ways to Stay Consistent to Meet your New Year Resolutions
Budgeting: In order to have the opportunity to travel and have new experiences, it is important to have funds properly planned. By creating a budgeting worksheet or downloading an app, you can better increase your chances of saving for that amazing experience.
Segmenting: If starting a health routine proves to be difficult for you, then creating SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) may be an option for you. Each day you can try to be active whether through a walk, going to the gym, yoga, etc. Starting with a specific time amount such as 15 minutes and over a few days increase until you can make it to 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Accountability: We can all plateau and that can be frustrating. The key to work through it, is to understand that if change is something you want then it is important to take actions to move towards that change. Hold yourself accountable, ask a friend or family member to call/text/e-mail you as a reminder, set an alarm, make a note, etc. to assist in helping yourself stay on track.
While you sit at home scrolling through the web looking for the best deals, remember to take measures to maintain your online safety. It is important to be extra cautious when making purchases. You may think that you are shopping on secure websites, but there is a chance that you may be a victim of fraud.
When you are surrounded by multiple ads and promotions, it is easy to overlook the simplest things.
Scam expert, Carrie Kerskie, finds the following tips useful when attempting to stay safe:
-Checking out as a Guest
-Saving Confirmation Numbers
– Not using Public Wi-Fi
-Using a Credit Card instead of a Debit Card
-Checking the spelling of the URL
In addition to these tips, it is important to note that if a deal seems too good to be true, then it most likely is. In order to verify this, you should compare the items price on other trusted websites.
A few warning signs to be aware of when shopping online include: noticing that the online retailer does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details. The seller may be based overseas or does not allow payment through a secure payment service, such as PayPal or a credit card transaction.
If you feel as if you are a victim of online shopping scams, you can visit the FTC page to file a complaint
Holidays are around the corner and with that being said, Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on gratitude.
As young children we are sometimes taught to be thankful and grateful for the things and people that surround us. Many times, as adults we may forget or find little importance in saying thank you, due to everyday stress.
This week Sunshine State Counseling will focus on informing you of 4 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others” – Cicero (106–43BC)
Long-Term Happiness: Researchers have found that being grateful actually increases your happiness and well-being for the long term. Participants in the study experienced an increase of 2% in happiness the first week, 5% after the first month, and 9% after six months simply through practicing gratitude journaling once a week.
Better Sleep: A study in 2009 found that gratitude helps to increase the depth and length of sleep. According to this study, “Gratitude predicted greater subjective sleep quality and sleep duration, and less sleep latency and daytime dysfunction.”
Protection against stress: Stress is a major cause of psychosomatic illness (or sickness that originates from psychological distress), meaning that gratitude helps to calm the whole body. Researchers have also found that gratitude helps us to successfully deal with stress and adversity while we are experiencing it. Taking situations are they are and not dwelling may also help in reducing stress.
Increase of empathy: Being grateful has been shown to increase empathy and our ability to care about others. Grateful people have been shown to be less reactive, more caring and understanding of other even when faced with an aggressor.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on Body Positivity. Body positivity is asserting that your body is beautiful regardless of societal and popular culture views. EveryBODY deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Many individuals in our society are told “You should workout to look better” or “You are too skinny”, “You look heavy”, etc. Individuals regardless of gender, age, race, weight or socioeconomic status may suffer from body dissatisfaction. A report published by Common Sense Media found that more than 50% of girls and nearly 33% of boys between the ages of 6 and 8 felt that their ideal body weight was less than their current weight.
Body Positivity can mean different things, but all involve the final message, “All bodies are beautiful”. Some examples of Body Positivity are: Self-Love, feeling confident about your body, accepting your body’s shape and size, appreciating your body as it is; including if you believe that you have flaws. One of the major goals of body positivity is to address ways that body image may affect mental health and well-being.
Some problems that can occur from poor body image are:
- Depression: Some researchers believe that body dissatisfaction may explain as to why women may have higher rates of depression than men.
- Low-Self Esteem: Research found that individuals who are unsatisfied about their body tend to have higher rates of low self-esteem regardless of gender, age, and ethnicity.
- Eating Disorders: Research indicates that body dissatisfaction is liked to eating disorders especially among adolescent girls.
Things YOU can do to increase Self-Love
- Self-Care: Look for things that make you feel comfortable and make you feel good about yourself in the now. Get rid of social media that does not make you feel good about yourself. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, you are less likely to feel good about yourself. Follow accounts that leave you with positive feelings.
- Adopt Body Neutrality: It is okay to admit that you do not love everything about your body. Sometimes faking positivity can be harmful, it is okay to feel neutral or indifferent about your body. Your self-worth and value are not determined by your shape or weight or any other physical aspect. You are more than just your physical appearance so take a moment and focus on the parts about you that you like.
With Holiday Season in full swing you may feel the effects through stress, tiredness, irritability, frustration, decreased patience, etc. The Holiday Season may touch on grief (the loss of a loved one), trauma (a previous event that occurred), financial challenges, relationship strain, and more. This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is providing relaxation tips that may help you cope with stress.
The following are three relaxation techniques that could help reduce stress during the Holiday Season:
-Guided Imagery: This involves finding a soothing place, scene, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus.
Bring awareness to the right hand.
Notice each finger of the right hand.
Touch thumb to index finger…thumb to middle finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to pinkie finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to middle finger…thumb to index finger. Relax the hand. Relax the fingers. Notice the left hand.
Notice each finger of the left hand.
Touch left thumb to index finger…thumb to middle finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to pinkie finger…thumb to fourth finger…thumb to middle finger thumb to index finger.
Relax the hand.
Relax the fingers.
-Mindfulness Meditation: For this technique it is important to find a comfortable sitting area, and focusing on your breathing, and bringing your attention to the present moment.
For one minute, repeat “May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with kindness and peace.” You can substitute “you” for “I” and think of someone you know and like or just send love to all people.
-Yoga, Tai-Chi, and Qigong: These three ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements. The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is hoping to deliver some beneficial tips for couples on ways to maintain a healthy relationship. Relationships are ever-growing and it is important to maintain that “Spark”.
After being in a relationship for some time, as a couple you may feel as if you have fallen into a bit of a rut. Having routines are beneficial however you may be surprised at how often people forget the importance of random acts of kindness and the element of surprise.
Some important things to remember may include:
–Never take each other for granted:
Be aware of each other’s habits and things you both do for each other. Be kind with each other and occasionally say thank you, even for trivial things. Acknowledgement for things that both of you do are beneficial ways to express your appreciation.
–Respect each other’s alone time:
Being together is important but of course it is just as important to remember to have some time to spend alone. Alone time can allow couples to reflect on their own feelings and can give them the ability to grow from their own thoughts.
–Share some hobbies but have your own:
As mentioned above being together and sharing hobbies is great because it gives you the ability to spend time together doing something you both enjoy. In the same way, couples should take time to explore more of their own interest and of things that make up who they are as a person. Being knowledgeable of their own self-identity can many times make relationships stronger.
–Admit when you are wrong:
Admitting when each of you are wrong may be one of the hardest things to do. Doing so may gain your partner’s appreciation and respect if you do, and if you don’t, you’re just proving yourself to be immature.
Couples may have heard honesty is key and that is because it is. Honesty and Communication are the keys to success. Small lies can result in bigger lies and it may lead your partner to think “If they lie about something so small, what other things could they be lying about?” Ultimately, honesty really is the best policy, and a strong couple will be able to work through just about anything together.
New research led by Dr. Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, found that the amount of time teens spend on social media is not directly related to the risk of anxiety or depression. They have spent eight years trying to comprehend the relationship between time spent on social media and depression for developing teenagers.
“If they increased their social media time, would it make them more depressed? Also, if they decreased their social media time, were they less depressed? The answer is no. We found that time spent on social media was not what was impacting anxiety or depression,” said Coyne. Experts have mentioned that there is not one single stressor that is linked to be the cause of depression or anxiety.
Coyne has three suggestions to use social media in healthier ways:
• be an active of a passive. Instead of just scrolling, try to engage with people by commenting or liking post.
• limit social media use at least an hour before falling asleep.
• be intentional. Think about the reasons as to why you are using social media. Is it because you are bored or because you actually want to talk to others?
Researchers have discovered that average levels of social media use increase steadily that by young adulthood, that by this time use is of two hours per day.
However, this increase did not predict future mental health. As explained by the study led by Dr. Sarah Coyne, increases in social networking beyond their typical levels did not predict changes in anxiety or depression one year later.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on helping parents understand how to guide their young children through Self-Regulation. Help your child develop self-regulation through talking about feelings and role-modeling.
Self-Regulation is the ability to understand your own behavior and have the ability to manage your reactions to feelings and things happening around you.
Some examples of this would include being able to:
- Control impulses
- Focuses on a task
- Learn behavior that helps you get along with other people
Self-Regulation is important because it will allow your child to develop socially and personally. As your child gets older, self-regulation will help them learn at school, become more independent, manage stress, make friends and behave in socially accepted ways.
The best way to help your child learn is by providing support and guidance when they need it.
- Help your child find appropriate ways to deal with strong emotions. Say things like “It okay, I can help you if you like” and “Let’s relax”.
- When your child experiences a strong feeling encourage them to try to name what they are feeling and what may have caused it. Talking about these emotions may help in preparing for future experiences.
- Try to guide your child through alternatives to their behavior. For example, “Did you slam the door because you were overwhelmed? What else could you have done to get the anger out?”
Consider seeking a professional if you are worried about your child’s behavior or if you are having trouble guiding them as they get older.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is hoping to educate parents on what social anxiety looks like in children. One common question is: What is social anxiety?
Social Anxiety is an intense fear of social situations in which the child may be made fun of or judged. Social Anxiety can cause children to experience strong feelings of worry which can be triggered by different things including speaking in large crowds, reading out loud, and talking to new people. Children with social anxiety may have a difficult time engaging in social situations such as family events, school, sports teams, and even play dates.
Social Anxiety can emerge from a history of shyness but can also arise from experiences such as bullying. The following are common symptoms of Social Anxiety:
- Dreading social events
- Fear, anxiety, and avoidance that lasts for 6 months or longer
- Tantrums, crying, freezing up, failing to speak in social situations
- Excessive clinging to familiar people
- Racing heart, shaky voice, nausea, trembling
- Blaming others for social “failures”
One important thing we can do as parents is teach our children relaxation strategies to allow the rapid heart rate to slowly decrease. Some skills are taking deep breaths and muscle relaxation (squeezing their hands and releasing, tightening their toes and releasing; this technique is also called Progressive Muscle Relaxation). Anxious children tend to have tense muscles when they are under stress, so these are designed to help them relax their bodies and cognitive re-framing. Cognitive re-framing is transforming specific negative events or thoughts into more positive ones. Key goals of Cognitive Re-framing include describing your situation as clear as possible, empowerment to understand what you are capable of coping with, and brainstorming alternative views of situations you are in.
Negative thoughts also have a role in reinforcing anxious thoughts. Teaching your kids to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts is key. Children tend to have beliefs such as:
- Overreacting: Crying and wailing when someone touches their hair
- Personalizing: Getting upset because a classmate did not want to play with them this instant and now thinks they dislike them
- Assuming the worst-case scenario: Thinking they are going to throw up in front of everyone
- Worrying and thinking others will see them in a bad light: Worrying and thinking peers will think they are not good enough
Finally, if you feel as if social anxiety is increasingly making it difficult for your child to attend school or socializing with peers, it may be time to seek help from a licensed mental health professional.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on giving tips for the entire family on sleeping habits. Routines are what most of us follow which then allows us to do well and know what to expect in the day to day. We know getting home and putting the little ones to bed is not always easy, even us as parents have difficulty getting to bed due to workload or chores around the house. We know having a set schedule is difficult but attempting to implement some of the following tips can help the entire family with their overall mood.
Here are a few tips on how you can prepare your family for a better and more restful sleep pattern:
- Keep your room at a cool temperature
- Limit exposure to light; turn off electronics 1 hour prior to going to bed
- Make a consistent schedule: Get up at the same time everyday AND go to bed at the same time (This will be a work in progress).
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Avoid eating large meals before bedtime; your digestive system will bother you making you unable to sleep.
- Reduce fluid intake before bed or make sure to use the restroom before laying down.
- Try to establish at least one hour of exercise or play time outdoors to create some fatigue to be better suited to go to bed.
These habits are a cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy, the most effective long-term treatment for people with chronic insomnia. If sleeping sleep problems persist, reach out to your doctor.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is concentrating on sharing tips on how to raise a happy child. Having our children be happy may be one of the most important goals we have as parents.
Murray, Ph.D., author of Raising an Optimistic Child: A Proven Plan for Depression-Proofing Young Children—for Life (McGraw-Hill). “There may be a genetic propensity for depression, but our genes are malleable and can be switched on or off depending on the environment,” he says. “The research clearly shows that happy, optimistic children are the product of happy, optimistic homes, regardless of genetic makeup.”
What can you do to promote happiness in your child? Below are a few examples of what you can do to strengthen your child’s capacity to experience joy.
It is important that you help your child feel connected to you, other family members, friends and even pets. “Connectedness” — a feeling of being understood, love and wanted is one of the biggest protectors against emotional distress, risky behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Having a support group has shown to prevent many unwanted occurrences.
Don’t Try to Make Your Child Happy
You may be wondering “ I thought I am trying to make my child happy”, but the best thing you can do for child is to stop trying to make them happy in the short term and instead try to for the long term. Try to step back and allow your child to develop his or her own coping skills and the resilience he or she will need to bounce back from life’s setbacks. As parents we normally feel responsible to give our child what they want, when they want however life does not work like that. Balance is important to work towards.
Nurture Your Happiness
Children are like sponges; they learn from us and in the same way their moods may be affected. Happy parents are likely to have happy kids, while children with depressed parents suffer twice the average rate of depression. Take care of your own happiness and your child will feel the difference. “If parents have a really good, committed relationship” Murray says, “the child’s happiness often naturally follows.”
Praise the Right Stuff
Murray says, “Praise the effort rather than the result.” Praise things such as creativity, hard work, and persistence more than the achievement itself. Praising your child for things that can be controlled is important, and we recommend to not praise your child on things that are out of their control and potentially fleeting. Some examples of that would be saying they are pretty, athletic or being smart— there may come a time when they cannot keep up that standard and can cause feelings of low self-esteem.
Finally remember that studies consistently link feelings of gratitude to emotional well-being. One thing you can do each day is to name and have your child name something they are thankful for. This could potentially lead to “lasting happiness and foster all kinds of positive emotions.”
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to assist in spreading awareness. This month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. Below we will provide you with six different ways that we can take action to spread awareness, promote healing, and to give hope.
- #BeThe1TO: Using the hashtag of #BeThe1To is a message which helps spread the word about actions we can all take to prevent suicide.
- Ask: Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
- Keep Them Safe: Studies show that when lethal means less available or deadly, frequently suicide rates overall decline.
- Be There: Individuals are less likely to feel depressed and suicidal and more hopeful when they have someone who listens without judgement.
- Help Them Stay Connected: Helping someone create a network of resources and finding individuals for support and safety can reduce feelings of hopelessness.
- Follow Up: Ongoing contact can be an important part of suicide prevention. Continuing periodic contact is beneficial to show support and care.
Every 40 seconds, someone takes their own life. By talking openly about suicide, we can work towards removing the stigma that can prevent sufferers from seeking the treatment that could save their lives. If you or someone you know might be at risk for suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on organizational tips for parents and children, now that school is back in session. Things can seem or even get messier than usual with the start of a new school year. Parents tend to get frustrated with their child for having a messy desk or missing deadlines at school. With changes including teachers, schools, and classes, your child might feel overwhelmed and setting up an organization system can be beneficial. The following tips can be used at home or at school:
Here are three ideas to try at home:
- Enforce time concepts: help your child stay on task and stay organized. A child who masters the concept of time and sequence is better able to get organized and complete tasks.
- Make a Calendar: Calendars serve as a visual record of activities your child must complete. Having your child write down and cross off activities helps them develop a sense of accountability.
- Create a filing system: providing a place for everything helps your child not have to go back and forth unsure of where things are. Color coding things based on subject can help things all stay together in one place.
Here are three ideas to try in the Classroom:
- Give assignments in writing: Ask your child to write down assignments or have teacher give printed instructions. Having a visual reminder is often useful for the memory of child.
- Design a folder system that works: Have child work with you to create reminders and add color tabs to point to important dates. Keep trying and experimenting until you find a system that works for your child.
- Provide additional supplies: If possible, give your child two sets of supplies—one for home and one for school. This way, there is less of a chance your child will forget things and will not have to remember to bring items back and forth to school.
Remember, it is trial and error with children. Remain patient and do not forget to praise your child for even what may seem like small accomplishments.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is focusing on the communication used between parent and child. It is not uncommon for parents to get frustrated with their child, and therefore, can lead to words being spoken without thinking first. The following phrases or situations are some examples as to what we should avoid saying to children and why this can be significant to a child’s mental health.
“Hurry up, or I’ll leave you here”
Although this might be a common thought a parent has when trying to get well…anywhere with children, it is a phrase that can add to a child’s pre-existing fear of getting lost or feelings of abandonment. It is also important to remember that children do not have the same understanding and concept of time as adults do. Instead, focus on what it is that is causing them to lollygag around and help them get going without putting fear into words. Instead try: I know how badly you want to play longer at the park. But right now we have to go home to eat dinner.”
“You never do what I ask you to do”
This is a phrase that unfortunately seems to be used time and time again. However, this is one that can cause a child to feel that they cannot do anything right. If this is used consistently with a child, they may begin to wonder why they should listen at all. Instead, try being specific with them so they can better understand what, how, and why you need them to do something. Instead try: “The only thing left now is to drive the trucks up to their place on the shelf. Want to show me how you do that?”
“I wish you were more like your brother/sister”
No person, let alone a child, likes to be compared to someone else. This can potentially not only cause sibling rivalry, but can also lead to your child feeling inadequate or not worthy of accomplishment because they will never be as good as their sibling/s. It is important to love your child for who they are and embrace each child’s strengths and abilities rather than comparing them. Instead try: “I appreciate that you brushed your teeth with only one reminder.”
Avoid speaking about the other parent
A child should never be caught in the middle of parents’ arguments, disagreements, or witness hearing negative talk about the other parent. This can not only set a bad example for your child, but it can also cause your child to feel they have to choose sides or feel pressured to also speak negatively of the other parent. It is best to speak kindly about your partner in front of the child to avoid these feelings of pressure and differences.
No parent is perfect, and therefore, finding the right words in the moment can sometimes be a challenge. All parents get frustrated with their child from time to time and some of the above statements may be said. If that is the case, remember to apologize immediately and let your child know that you did not mean what you said and that you love them. Children need parents that encourage them rather than being spoken to with hurftful words that ultimately could affect their mental health and self-esteem.
Coping with Stress during the Holidays
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is discussing the topic of emotional stress that the holidays can often bring. For many people, holidays are filled with happy and joyous emotions, however, others can be left feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or tense. While stress is necessary for our survival and zest in life, too much of it can have a negative impact on both our mental and physical health.
Here are some tips to help cope with holiday stress:
Understand that some things are out of our control: This can be a tough one for many of us! It is important that we realize that we cannot control the weather, the traffic, or actions of our family members. Instead of fighting against what is out of our control, we can give ourselves permission to let go of the struggle and move forward. This can ultimately lead to less stress and a happier
Although the holidays are surrounded with fun plans and activities, it is important to pinpoint the ones that offer the most positive impact and eliminate the ones that only add unnecessary stress. For example, in the past, you may have been in charge of the baking, participated in caroling, visited relatives, and sent a family newsletter. Maybe this year try not to put all the
pressure on yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no to the multiple locations you are requested to visit. If your immediate family is the priority, then stick to that. Picking a few important activities or traditions can lighten the load and remove some of the overwhelming stress that multiple activities can cause.
If you are someone that could never fathom the idea of skipping some of your holiday traditions or activities, maybe try to simplify them instead. For example, if you must send a family newsletter, try only sending to your closest friends and family rather than sending to every single friend, neighbor, coworker, etc. Or another option is cutting back on the baking. If you must bake, try having others help in the kitchen or even pick up some of the sides from the grocery store. Hopefully, your friends and/or family is willing to help or is understanding if not everything can be
With some planning, positive thinking, and self-care, the holidays can be less stressful and much more
enjoyable. Learning to plan ahead, recognize holiday triggers, and keeping realistic expectations for yourself
and/or family members can give you the peace and joy during the holiday season that so many of us often lose
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is discussing the benefits of Sandtray in Therapy. Sandtray is an expressive tool that allows for direct demonstration and expression of one’s own emotional and mental experiences without having to use verbalization. This tool in psychotherapy involves the processing of intra- and interpersonal issues with sandtray materials as a nonverbal medium of communication.
Why use Sandtray in Therapy?
Creative expression: Sandtray in therapy allows for the expression of nonverbalized emotional issues, while given the opportunity to explore new possibilities, which may not be possible through verbal expression. The use of the sandtray in therapy assists in providing an environment full of self-exploration and self-expression that incorporates symbols that allow one to channel expression beyond the use of words.
Boundaries and limits: Sandtray in therapy naturally provides a safe and controlled environment. The sandtray is a safe and protected space, while the symbols (objects) hold a focus for a symbolizing function. Due to the absence of interpretation and minimal verbal comments from the therapist, there can be a decrease in feelings of fear and engage fully in expression to work with their implicitly held experiences.
Sensory and symbolic therapeutic method: Because the sandtray is a symbolic means of expression, the objects involved represent all aspects of life, humans, animals, mythology, fantasy, nature, and more. The only skill needed is the ability to move the objects and allow the imagination to speak and share its story.
Sandtray in therapy has provided a way of understanding oneself and their story. We are reminded that we to respect the emotional adaptations as well as the sensory adaptations. Sandtray offers a medium for expression free from evaluation and fear. Sandtray in therapy has opened the doors for us to understand people more fully and improve our intervention planning
Sandtray therapy makes the internal external so it can be weaved into the narrative of life – Amy Flaherty
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center would like to discuss the several benefits that pets have on human health. It may be of no surprise to the animal-loving individuals out there that pets provide a type of companionship that is different than any other type of relationship we might have. Pets are found to not only decrease stress and increase relaxation, but they can also improve mental, emotional, and physical health. The better we understand the human-animal bond, the more we can use it to improve the overall health of humans.
Here are three areas where humans can benefit from a pet:
Impact on Mental Health: Studies have revealed that individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and PTSD report feeling an ontological security when taking in a pet. This means that there is a feeling of stability, continuity, and a meaning given to one’s life when it is shared with a pet. Several studies have shown that pets provide an invaluable support system for people with mental health conditions.
Impact on Physical Health: Studies have shown that pets can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Not only do adults have the ability to benefit from pets, but children have also been studied as well. One study was done with children aged 3-6 and took place during two separate routine doctor appointments. When a pet was present, children had lower blood pressure measures, lower heart rates, and less behavioral stress versus the measures taken when a pet was not in the room.
Impact on Social Well-Being: Pets not only decrease loneliness and depression, but they can also promote socialization. It is not uncommon for a dog to lead us into striking up a conversation with a stranger. Taking your cat to the veterinarian encourages nurturing. Feeding the birds or watching a pet fish swim in the tank are all ways that offer the potential of slowing down the hectic pace of life. Pets overall encourage friendlier exchanges, enhance opportunities of interaction, and promote mindfulness.
Any pet that offers comfort and support can be looked at as a great benefit to one’s health. Regardless of the species, a pet can allow us to learn empathy, feel comfort and support, and help us live in the present moment which we so often forget how to do.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is recognizing the benefits of yoga and what it can do for mental health. Practicing yoga not only incorporates breathing exercises, poses and meditation designed to promote relaxation and stress reduction, but it also brings the mind and body together in a way that benefits both mental and physical health. We will discuss a few evidence-based benefits of yoga that may enhance your overall health, while increasing strength, flexibility, and mindfulness.
Here are 3 Evidence-based benefits of Yoga:
Decreases Stress: Studies have shown that yoga decreases the secretion of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone. Yoga encourages slow breathing and focuses on shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (flight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. This creates a calming effect, lowers blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and organs, and therefore, decreases the body’s stress.
Relieves Anxiety: Some people find that practicing yoga is a great way to cope with feelings of anxiety. One study has shown that individuals who suffered from anxiety disorders that participated in yoga twice a week had significantly lower levels of anxiety than the control group that did not participate in yoga. Another study followed 64 women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After 10 weeks of practicing yoga once a week, 52% of participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD. These findings help emphasize the importance of finding the “present moment” and allowing yourself to find a sense of peace.
Helps Fight Depression: Studies have shown that the practice of yoga can also have an anti-depressant effect. This may be true due to the fact that yoga is able to decrease levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that influences levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter often associated with depression. One study took participants from an alcohol-dependence program. After two weeks of yoga practice that focused on rhythmic breathing, all participants showed fewer symptoms of depression and had lower levels of ACTH, the hormone responsible for stimulating the release of cortisol.
Yoga is one form of exercise that fits people of all ages and fitness levels. Regardless of the type of yoga you prefer, each one offers a holistic approach to mind-body connection and strength. Yoga offers lasting benefits and cultivates a sense of inner peace and calmness, boosting your physical, emotional, and mental health.
This week Sunshine State Counseling Center is recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week. Although mental health is a topic we should discuss year round, this week allows us to highlight the importance of mental health awareness and dedicate this time to educate the public on fighting stigma and providing support. Millions of individuals face the reality of living with a mental health condition, and yet, the stigma attached to mental illness creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence which prevents many individuals from seeking help and treatment. In some cases, this costs individuals their lives.
Here are 4 reasons why Mental Illness Awareness week matters:
- The amount of people impacted by mental illness.
The National Institute for Mental Health did a study in 2015 finding that 1 in 5 (43.8 million) American adults suffer from mental illness in any given year. Adolescents are also impacted by mental illness, with 21.4% experiencing a severe mental illness at some point in their lifetime.
- Awareness must be made.
When we talk mental illness, it lets other people know that they are not alone. Having this discussion also informs society on the severity of the issue. It can be beneficial to understand the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment of mental illness.
- We must eliminate stigma.
Stigma is 100% preventable! The shame, fear, and guilt that is placed on the topic of mental illness can cause people to feel even more isolated than what they already do. We do not want mental illness to define anyone or have people feeling alone. Eliminating the stigma can do just this!
- The importance of treatment.
Seeking treatment can be the first step in the right direction and can overall improve the quality of your life. Understanding what mental illness is and why seeking treatment is a crucial part to the recovery process can allow someone to seek help sooner. Individuals suffering from mental illness can also develop other chronic medical conditions depending on the severity of the mental illness.
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, a licensed mental health professional may be able to help. For more information, please call Sunshine State Counseling Center at 239-495-7722.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of mood disorder that women can develop after having a baby. Extreme sadness, anxiety, tiredness and depression are some of the symptoms that make it extremely challenging for a new mother to care for her baby and herself. Although there is no single cause for PPD, this condition likely results from both physical and emotional factors. PPD is the most common complication for mothers who have just had a baby, with 1 in 7 women diagnosed after giving birth. PPD typically develops 1-3 weeks after giving birth and is a serious condition that must be addressed and given proper treatment.
Although postpartum is naturally a scary time for any mother, it is important for moms to know that they are not alone. PPD is not your fault and this condition does not make you a bad person or bad mother. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of PPD can help mothers to potentially seek help sooner rather than later, and ultimately will create a healthier environment for herself and her baby. If you or someone you know is showing five or more of the below signs and just recently had a baby, it is possible that PPD may be present:
Changes in feelings: Feeling constantly depressed, having severe mood swings, feeling panicky or scared, and/or feelings of shame or guilt.
Changes in everyday life: Having little interest in normal activities, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, feeling tired all the time, and/or eating a lot more or a lot less than normal.
Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby: Having trouble bonding with your baby or
thinking about hurting yourself and/or your baby.
Although many women experience the baby blues, which have similar symptoms as the PPD symptoms listed above, it is important to understand the longevity of your symptoms and how severe they are. The baby blues often go away within a few days, while PPD symptoms last much longer and are much more severe. Please remember that you are not alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help from a partner, friend, or another caregiver.
If you are a mom and experiencing signs of postpartum depression, a licensed mental health professional may be able to help. For more information, please call Sunshine State Counseling Center at 239-495-7722.
Why is it that parents dread the topic of teenagers? The truth is this: the teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physically, but emotionally and intellectually as well, causing confusion and frustration for many families. It is no secret that parents are biologically driven to protect their children, thus, sometimes getting in the way of the teen and their desire to “grow up” and “separate” to gain their independence. This is often the time period when parents begin to feel stress and conflict with their teen for a variety of reasons. It is vital that parents take this time to understand their teen and the very real changes that they are undergoing. It may also be of great help to both you and your teen if you attempt to understand the ever-changing and challenging world they are living in, while also taking a look at yourself as well during this process. Here are some tips on how to approach this:
Let it go: Your child has to grow up at some point in life and adolescence is there for that very reason. It is normal for teens to pull away from you. Because parents are biologically driven to protect their child(ren), it can be extremely challenging to let go and allow them to achieve independence. Some questions you can ask yourself are: “Am I a controlling parent?”, “Do I listen to my child?”, “Do I allow my teen’s opinions to differ from my own?” Remember, while you are driven to protect your child, your teen is biologically programmed to separate during this time. The best thing you can do here is to embrace the fact that your teen is entering into a new stage of life.
Inform your teen: Experimentation and risky behaviors are often presented during the teen years. Many parents tend to ignore or avoid the subjects of sex, drugs, and alcohol; consequently, making it worse for their teen down the road. Discussing these tough topics prior to your teen’s exposure will make your child more likely to act responsibly when presented to these types of scenarios. It is okay to share your family values and what you believe to be right versus wrong.
Know the warning signs: Change is normal during the teen years; however, drastic or long-lasting behavior or personality changes may be a signal for trouble. Some warning signs include but are not limited to: extreme weight gain or loss, signs of alcohol or drug use, skipping school, sudden changes in friends, and/or run-ins with the law. Inappropriate behavior that lasts longer than 6 weeks may be a sign that your teen needs to seek professional help.
As most parents are aware, the teen years are filled with both highs and lows. Take the time to understand your teen, ask questions, and know that your teen still needs you even if they think or say otherwise. They will slowly develop into becoming responsible and independent young adults as you navigate through these challenging, yet exciting times.
Most people have heard of human trafficking, but many have no idea what it looks like and where it happens. Human trafficking is defined as modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Human Trafficking is the second largest money-making industry in the country, second only to the drug trade. This modern-day slavery affects more than 20.9 million people around the world today. Although there is no age limit on a victim of trafficking, the most vulnerable population of trafficked victims in the U.S. are ages 12 to 14 years old. The typical age of a trafficking victim sold into prostitution for the first time in the state of Florida is only 9 years old. Florida is ranked third in the nation for trafficking, following closely behind California and Texas. Florida has been identified as a top hub for trafficking activity, and therefore, has some of the highest incidences of human trafficking in the country.
Although there are several forms of recruitment that traffickers will use to attract American youth, one of the most popular forms in the United States is false employment offers. This includes but is not limited to modeling, waitressing, and house cleaning. Social media plays a major role in facilitating the process of recruitment and allows traffickers an easy access point in reaching youth across the country. Another recruitment method involves seduction. Many traffickers will take extreme measures, such as marriage, pregnancy, or long-term courtship to trick the victim into thinking they are loved however, it is not long before the victims are thrown into the trade and sold for sex and/or labor.
Human trafficking is a growing problem world-wide. It is extremely important to understand what this crime is and where it is happening. The dark truth is that it is happening right here, and many times, right in front of our face. The first step in combating this world-wide crime is to understand what contributes to the exploitation of children and teens. This includes understanding the individual factors, family factors, peer factors, and environmental factors. Human trafficking affects all sectors of our community and victims can be found in plain sight if we learn to identify the signs and factors that make children and teens more vulnerable to this type of victimization.
To read the full blog on the details on factors that contribute to human trafficking, please visit: http://sscc.center/whats-what-wednesday/
To request help or report suspected human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).
If you or someone you know have been a victim of human trafficking, a licensed mental health professional may be able to help. For more information, please call Sunshine State Counseling Center at 239-495-7722.