He, She, They: Why are pronouns important?

In everyday conversation, we use pronouns all the time! Most often we use the common pronouns he/she when referring to one person without using their name.  But for some members of the LGBTQ + community, these pronouns may not feel intuitively comfortable.  

Biological sex is something that is assigned at birth, based on your physical anatomy.  

Gender identity is a person’s experience of their own gender. For many people, gender identity aligns with the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Someone who is transgender, or gender non-binary has a gender identity that does not align with the biological sex they were assigned at birth and can experience their gender in a variety of ways. 

(Wondering which pronouns people might identify with? UC Davis compiled this helpful list: https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/pronouns ) 

Why are pronouns important?  

Most people don’t think about their pronouns. However, the use of preferred pronouns is very important to many transgender and non-binary people as it affirms their gender identity.  

One 2016 study found that affirming a person’s pronouns — and, in extension, their gender — lowers depression and raises self-esteem. A person affirming another’s pronoun use can help others feel comfortable with their external appearance and their gender identity.  

This is especially important to teens, who are at a critical point in their physical, mental, and emotional development. When you use their correct pronouns, you are acknowledging them as a person, their journey, and accepting them as who they are. 

Why do pronouns matter?  

People often make assumptions about the gender of another person based on the person’s appearance or name. These aren’t always correct, and the act of making an assumption (even if correct) sends a potentially harmful message — that people have to look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not. 

Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them.  

How do I ask someone their pronouns? 

If you’re not sure about someone’s pronouns, just ask. A great way to open the conversation is by starting with your pronouns when you first meet them. This way they feel comfortable sharing their pronouns with you, and you will know how to refer to them when you are speaking to others.  

For example: “Hi, my name is __________. I use (your pronouns) pronouns. What is your name and pronouns?”  

When it comes to a group setting, don’t force people to share their pronouns. However, people could be invited or encouraged to do so. 

For example: “Welcome to our meeting. Before we begin, we’d like to go around and share our names and personal pronouns. For those who haven’t done this before, this is a way that we can avoid assumptions, particularly about gender. What may seem obvious may actually be incorrect. Please keep in mind that while many people associate “he” or “she” as meaning men or women respectively, this isn’t always the case. Does anyone have a question before we begin our introductions?” 

The problem with misgendering  

Misgendering is when someone uses the wrong name or pronoun to describe someone else. This can cause distress to the person who has been misgendered because they may feel like their gender identity is not validated. Misgendering can also create a risk to someone’s safety by outing that person to others, and unfortunately, some people purposely misgender others to insult them.  

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender students in K-12 settings experience high rates of harassment (78 percent), physical assault (35 percent), and even sexual violence (12 percent). A study by Arnold H. Grossman, Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University found that attending school was reported to be the most traumatic aspect of growing up. 

This harassment is why it is so important to create spaces at home and in school that are inclusive and treat young people with dignity, letting them know that they will be seen for who they are.  

What if you make a pronoun mistake? 

If you make a mistake, apologize, and don’t be defensive. Making it a bigger deal in the moment is not necessarily helpful and could be harmful.  

Depending on the situation, you might be worried that people think you aren’t friendly towards transgender people because you made a mistake. Generally, it’s good to avoid making the situation about you and your intent.  

If it is your first time in a situation where someone is terribly upset about being misgendered, take a breath.  Remind yourself that while this is the first time you have misgendered this person, they may have prior experiences weighing on their mind. Consider how many times have they may have been misgendered accidentally, if not purposely, before.  

Here are a few examples of how to handle a situation if you made a mistake: https://www.mypronouns.org/mistakes 

Learn more   

The Bougainvilla House wants to educate parents, teachers, co-workers, and schools about pronouns and the LGBTQ+ community. The more people are informed about these topics, the easier it is for us to respect and understand one another.  

We have compiled a list of resources to help parents, educators, and youth alike to better understand what it means to identify as part of LGBTQ+ community. 

If you need more support, The Bougainvilla House can provide personalized support for you, either in person or via telehealth appointments. Please call 954-764-7337 to schedule your appointment now. 

Masks on, masks off: easing back into “normal” life

two woman’s walking out of a shopping store with bags with masks on

Wearing a mask in public places has been normalized during the COVID-19 pandemic. While mask mandates have been lifted in Florida, the recommendations for mask-wearing from public health experts have evolved with the shifting conditions of the pandemic – leaving many people confused about the best way to approach masking up. 

Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided guidance that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” except when there are restrictions in place from their city, county, or state. 

On July 27, 2021, the CDC revised those guidelines to recommend that fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. As of the date of this article’s publication, this includes many urban areas in Florida. 

While some people are excited to toss their masks in the back of the closet, many others have been experiencing a variety of emotions around wearing masks: 

  • When restrictions lift for fully vaccinated individuals, not wearing a mask might feel weird.  
  • If your community reinstates a policy of wearing of masks indoors, you might feel a sense of confusion about what you are supposed to do. 
  • When you go to large public indoor (or outdoor) events, you might feel a sense of anxiety and indecision over whether to mask up in the crowds. 

This uncertainty may be more pronounced if you have social anxiety. Social anxiety is characterized by negative self-perception and fear that one’s appearance or behavior will fail to conform with social expectations and norms. 

Research from David A. Moscovitch, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo, found that mask protocols during the pandemic may increase struggles with social anxiety even after the pandemic.

“People with social anxiety will likely experience renewed fear and anxiety about behaving awkwardly or inappropriately (e.g., ‘should I be wearing my mask here?’ ‘Is it ok to have a close conversation?’) and being judged negatively by others,” Moscovitch says. 

If it is safe for you to break from your covid routine, but that change makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous, or you’re not ready to let go of the mask just yet, here are few ways you can cope with the transition back to “normal” life. 

5 tips to remember as we return to “normal” life  
 

  1. Stay informed. Be aware of your community’s specific pandemic conditions, such as the number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. Check the latest guidance from the CDC and your local public health officials. Make sure you know if your community is considered a high transmission area so you can act accordingly.
     
  2. Be respectful. Every community’s situation is different, and every individual has different needs. The person you see wearing a mask may want to protect a child who can’t be vaccinated yet, or a family member who is high risk. Many people may continue to wear masks for the foreseeable future, so it is important to be patient and respectful of others. Likewise, every business or event you visit may have different expectations about mask-wearing, so continue to respect any posted guidelines and the instructions of staff members.
     
  3. Recognize your comfort level. The world is changing frequently. Ask yourself questions that help you stay in touch with your emotions. Do I feel safe not wearing a mask at grocery store? Do I feel safe not wearing a mask at the gym? Am I comfortable going to crowded places with no mask? Am I comfortable not wearing a mask at the park? Take your comfort level into consideration when it comes to pandemic-related behavior changes.
      
  4. Take it at your own pace- If it is safe for you to start taking part in more activities, take it slow. It’s okay to return to pre-pandemic “busy-ness” at your own pace. Take small steps like meeting a friend outside or getting together with people who are also vaccinated, before diving into a large-scale public event like a wedding or concert. 
     
  5. Recognize and break the habit of avoidance. Avoidance and anxiety tend to go hand in hand. When you avoid the things that make you anxious, it may feel like a relief in the short term but will just lead to more anxiety in the long term. Although this might be uncomfortable at first, Moscovitch suggests participating in social situations rather than avoiding them. Try to catch yourself when you’re choosing to avoid interactions even when you aren’t being forced to do so by pandemic-related restrictions. Make plans to see a friend and act friendly with others by smiling as you connect with others once again. 

Need More Help? 

If you are struggling with your mental health or feeling anxious or depressed, please seek professional help. At The Bougainvilla House, we offer therapy sessions for families and young people who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviorsIf you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.   

Sources  

The Real Meaning of Self-Care

Hotels advertise spa days. The beauty industry promotes a face mask. Airlines promote relaxing “getaways.” New apps seem to pop up every day.  

Self-care has become a trending topic over the last few years, and many products and services are promoted as helpful (even essential) to good self-care. Amid all this advertising, it can be easy to forget the real meaning behind the idea.  

Self-care is the practice of restorative activities that protect your own well-being and happiness, particularly in times of stress. It is all about how you care for your own physical and mental wellness. 

Research suggests self-care promotes positive health outcomes such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming better equipped to manage stress – one of the biggest threats to our physical and mental well-being. 

Stress can be caused by our thoughts, our choices, and even what we put in our body. An excess of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods can all contribute to stress or make it more difficult to manage. Stress affects our energy levels as well as our emotional health, so it is essential that our self-care practices help us manage and reduce it. 

4 Restorative Self-Care Activities for Every Day  

Practice these activities daily for help restoring your energy, improving your decision making, and deepening your relationship with yourself and others:  

1. Take a moment of silence – In times of stress, your internal voice may be loud, critiquing your performance and reminding you of the tasks that must be done. Quiet your inner voice by taking a moment of silence or practicing meditation. Find a comfortable spot in your house where you are not likely to be disturbed. Then, for at least five minutes, breathe deeply and try to calm your mind, focusing on your breath or consciously relaxing different parts of your body. Meditative activities like this can put your mind at ease and allow your negative inner voice to slowly disappear. 

2.Maintain a Healthy Diet – It is important to understand how food choices affect your mind as well as your body. A diet of healthy food will reduce your mood fluctuations, giving you an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus, says Dr. Cora, a board-certified psychiatrist. Try to reduce how often you eat highly processed foods, and instead fill your stomach with mostly fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa.

3.Move – Our bodies are meant to move! Walking, running, jumping, working out, dancing, and any other form of exercise are all activities that produce endorphins. These “feel-good” chemicals help us cope with pain and stress and can be a happiness booster. You don’t need a gym to help you exercise. An area in your house – or an open area outdoors — is all you need to get moving. Your body and your stress levels can benefit from as little as 10 minutes of exercise every day. 

4.Go Outside – Registered psychologist Dr. Lynne M. Kostiuk reminds us that humans have a deeply ingrained need to feel connected to the natural world. Unfortunately, our tendency to spend long hours inside and in front of the computer can make anyone feel disconnected from nature. Studies have shown that being outdoors has the power to lift your mood and lower anxiety. So, next time you find yourself with a free afternoon…go outside! A walk around the neighborhood, visiting a park, or going to the beach are just a few possible activities. 

Self-Care Inspiration to Help You Stay Motivated 

The more you practice self-care, the better it will be for your health. Just a few minutes in a day can change your outlook on life.  

If you need a little extra inspiration to start (or continue) good self-care habits, here are some YouTubers, books, and documentaries to help you.  

YouTubers  

  1. muchelleB – Michelle is an Australian YouTuber. Her videos are guidelines to self-development, self-care, goal setting, and intentional living. She will motivate you to create routines and habits and stick to them
  2. Hey Fran Hey – Francheska is a wellness influencer, YouTuber, and podcaster who shares tips on DIY beauty, natural hair care, mental and emotional hygiene, nutrition, and fitness; all with a bohemian twist. 
  3. Lavendaire- Aileen Xu advocates personal growth and development for creatives, dreamers, and artists alike. Her videos focus on goal setting, vision boards, decluttering challenges, and financial planning advice. 

Books 

  1. Breath by James Nestor: What you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are — none of it matters as much if you’re not breathing properly. Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.
  2. Silence by Erling Kagge – In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge took a solo trip across Antarctica for fifty days. He was the first person to ever reach the South Pole alone, with only a battery-less radio for company. The long journey was life changing for Kagge, and in this book, he shares his experiences and findings while exploring the true meaning of solitude. He shows us why silence is essential to our health and overall happiness, and how it has the power to change the way we view the world.

Netflix Documentaries 

  1. Fed Up – Fed Up” shows the damaging effects of sugar and how important it is to reduce or eliminate it for the overall betterment of your health. It will inspire you to look closer into what goes into the foods you eat and make positive changes to your health.
  2. Hungry For Change – Hungry For Change” shines a light on the damage that comes from following a modern processed diet and the amazing changes that come when you reintroduce your body to real, whole foods.
  3. Happy – This documentary looks at what really makes people happy. From people who live in slums to the swamps of Louisiana you will learn how our society’s definition of “happiness” might be giving us a skewed idea of what really leads to true joy.  

Need More Help?  

If stress is becoming more prominent in your life and you need additional support, The Bougainvilla House can help. The Bougainvilla House offers free weekly webinars on topics like de-stressing, managing anxiety, and more. Sign up for our next webinar here: https://thebougainvillahouse.com/event-gallery/webinars/    

6 Ways for Teachers and Staff to Manage Back-to-School Anxiety

To help students succeed academically and manage the stressors of life in the classroom, it has always been important for teachers and staff to effectively manage their own anxieties.

For some, the changes, uncertainty, and stress of 2020 and 2021 have resulted in a lingering sense of anxiety. Even more students are likely return to full-time in-person learning in the fall, which will place renewed demands on staff and teachers to help them transition.

Even if your school is virtual or hybrid, back-to-school anxiety can still happen leading up to any new school year. This might be a general sense of anxiety, or because of specific challenges related to setting up a remote classroom, work-life imbalance, difficult student behaviors, and many other factors.

Whatever is causing your stress, here are a few tips to help you head into the new school year as your best self mentally and emotionally.

How Teachers and Administrators Can Manage Anxiety

  1. Establish clear lines of communication. There is always a lot going on at the beginning of any school year, and peace of mind for students, parents, teachers, and staff alike starts with good communication. School administrators and teachers can make a difference by clearly communicating what to expect for the school year – including your recommendations for keeping children and teachers safe and healthy in the classroom.
  2. Reconnect with your colleagues – Your fellow staff members may be a great source of advice and empathy when it comes to easing your concerns about the new school year. Schedule time with your colleagues before school starts – either casual conversations over coffee, or formal meetings. This opportunity to discuss each other’s experiences may yield new techniques that alleviate your anxiety and will also help you build stronger professional ties with your colleagues.
  3. Understand your triggers. Understanding the source of your stress is essential to helping you address it. According to David Donnelly, a licensed behavioral analyst, we normally look to external triggers for the source of our stress, but we experience it internally. Understanding your underlying emotions will help manage your reaction. For example, many teachers are stressed because they care intensely about the success of their students. Make sure to acknowledge when caring is the source of your stress.
  4. Plan a routine that works for you. Just when you thought you had remote learning figured out, it is time to return to the routines of the classroom. A personal routine that addresses your daily needs – from exercise to food to grading — can make a big difference in your success. Think about your ideal daily schedule and energy levels. When are you at your most alert? When does your energy lag? Then match your most important daily habits to appropriate ties of day and do your best to stay consistent.
  5. Know your limits. Even more than other professions, teachers and school administrators bring their work home at night: grading assignments, planning upcoming classes, communicating with parents, and more. Despite the importance of these work activities, it is also vital to your mental health that you take time to “shut off.” If you are having trouble ending your workday, consider working only in designated areas and times. These predetermined boundaries will mentally help you shut off work when it is time to let your brain relax.
  6. Take time to relax. Educating children is an important, stressful job. Doing so much for others can distract you from self-care, so take time to sleep, exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and nurture hobbies and relationships with family or friends. And before the new school year begins, embrace the summer as a time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Transitioning to a new school year is never easy on teachers and staff – and the 2021-2022 academic year will be no exception. Working in education demands that teachers keep up with the ever-changing needs of students – including their emotional needs in a hyperconnected, smartphone-centered world. Teachers who can successfully manage their own anxieties are teachers who can be successful caregivers to the students and families they serve.

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Need more help?

Mental Health Awareness Month is coming to an end, but our mission to provide support for the mental and emotional wellness of children, youth, and young adults never stops. If you find yourself struggling with stress and anxiety. The Bougainvilla House, offers therapy sessions for students and adults who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here. 

Coping with Transition Anxiety: From High School to College to “The Real World”

Congratulations! You’re graduating. 

…Or is it, “You’re graduating! Are you okay?” 

Television, movies and other media have been telling you for years about how exciting it will be to transition from high school to college, or from college to the “real world.” In reality, although some students might be excited to start a new chapter in their life, you’re all confronted with the same challenges.  

In college, you’ll need to make new friends, navigate a heavy workload, and take your first steps toward independence by living on your own or with roommates, instead of with your family. 

These challenges seem like a piece of cake when you face the “Real World” for the first time, whether that’s after high school or after college.  

With all of these transitions loomingit’s normal for high school and college students to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety in these years 

So how can you learn to manage these feelings?  

High School Transitioning to College   

As exciting as it is, the initial transition to college can bring a lot of anxiety to students 

A recent study showed that levels of anxiety, depression, and stress among college students increased steadily during the first semester of college and remained elevated throughout the second semester. This reflects what many students already know: that the first year of college is particularly anxious time 

 

Here is what we encourage for first-year students:   

  1. Anxious about making friends? Get involved! In college, you might feel like a small fish in a big pond, but there’s something for everyone! If you’re stressed about making friends, start by researching student organizations that you’re interested in. Colleges often have organizations for any interest: from arts groups to intramural sports to student government and more!  These groups and events are a great way for students to get involved and meet new people.   
  1. Struggling with changing routines? Treat your body right! For some students, it’s difficult to maintain healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and proper sleep on their own. It’s important to remember that all of these things are important to your body and your overall well-being. They are the most essential forms of self-care and building a daily routine around them eases the mind and releases stress. Being physically active also gives your brain something to focus on and can be a positive coping strategy for difficult times.   
  1. Having trouble managing your new workload? Stay organized! College comes with a lot of substantial assignments and multiple exams in a week is not unusual. When you’re not organized and ready for the workload, the stress becomes even greaterYour disorganization, unfinished projects, and piles of “to-dos” may be contributing to your stress and depression. To avoid this, try to stay consistent with a schedule and plan ahead. Find a system that works for you. If you like to have a physical reminder and enjoy crossing off tasks, a paper agenda might work for you. If you’re always on the go, an electronic planner on your phone or laptop that sends you notifications might be ideal for you. Schedule your exams, quizzesand projects as well as events, days off, and self-care. This way you’re prioritizing school and your well-being. 

Transitioning to the “Real World”  

Whether you’re anxious about moving across the county, going on job interviews, starting your first job, or making life-changing decisions about relationships, being nervous about the future is a normal reaction to uncertainty.  

Uncertainty is a major stressor, preventing us from planning the future. When the future is uncertain or we’re experiencing something new, we can’t rely on past experiences to make decisions. Without that tool, we become anxious about what the future might hold.  

 

How can you deal with the uncertainty?   

  1. Put things into perspective. What’s the most optimistic scenario that could happen? What is the worst-case scenario? And what is the most likely scenario? Ask yourself these questions, then ask yourself how you would be most likely to handle the situation. You may realize that even in the worst-case scenario, things will be okay.    
  1. Understand what creates meaning and purpose for you Take some time to consider what you most value in different areas of your life. Your purpose can be anything that makes you feel the most fulfilled. Some people find purpose by reading, practicing meditation, through religion, by healing others, or by spending time with loved ones. Finding your purpose and meaning can help you to remain motivated to take action and face uncertainty. 
  1. Accept what you can’t control. Wanting to know and control everything fuels uncertainty. Recognize that sometimes all you can control is your effort and your attitude.   

Find Resources:   

Whether you look for help at your college or from a mental health professional, it can be helpful to seek support when you are dealing with transition anxiety. 

Colleges offer resources to help students navigate the initial transition to campus, including academic advising, counseling, and student mental health.  

At The Bougainvilla House, we offer therapy sessions for teens and young adults who struggle with managing their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.    

Declutter your room, declutter your mind: Inspiration and tips for a more organized space

teen organizing

At first, remote learning seemed like the dream scenario for students, but it turns out that more time at home eventually equals more mess.  

Your room, which may previously have just been used to chill and sleep, is now also your classroom and your library When this happens, the lines between relaxation and work can become blurred.  

What to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter 

Clutter accumulates in a sneaky way, often without your knowledge 

Just when you think your room is all right, clutter creeps in and piles up while you’re distracted. (You know that one chair in your room that holds all your clothes because you’re going to hang them “later”.)  

As we get comfortable at home, chores like cleaning your room can easily be procrastinated.  

Even though it may start out seeming like nothing, clutter can make it significantly more difficult to focus on tasks, especially if it overwhelms your visual space.  

Having a clean space can de-stress your mind and make you feel more productive. So, what can you do if you’re feeling overwhelmed by clutter?  

Get inspired!  shows to inspire cleaning

If you need a little extra motivation to start decluttering your space, here are 5 shows to help you feel inspired.   

  1.  Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix) – Expert Marie Kondo tries to help everyday people declutter their homes and their lives. Kondo assists her clients in clearing out the clutter and choosing joy in a series of inspiring home makeovers.  
  2.  The Minimalists: Less Is More (Netflix) – A documentary where less means more, rejecting the American ideal that things bring happiness.  
  3. Get Organized With The Home Edit (Netflix) – Expert home organizers Clea and Joanna help celebrities and everyday clients edit, categorize and contain their clutter to create stunning spaces. 
  4. Hoarders (Netflix) – Explores the world of extreme hoarding and provides an in-depth look at real-life stories of those directly affected by compulsive hoarding. A team of experts try to help clean out their massive hoards and set these individuals up for future success. 
  5. Bea Organized (Amazon Prime) – Beatrice Copeland helps people transform their spaces by changing the way they think about their stuff 

Benefits to cleaning up  

  1. More free time. The less cluttered your living space, the quicker it is to clean and easily find things. benefits to cleaning 
  2. More energy. When you’re not weighed down emotionally and physically by your stuff, you have extra energy to take new opportunities. 
  3. Easier to focus. When your space isn’t distracting you, it can be easier to focus on the task on hand — whether that’s schoolwork, homework, games, music practice, or whatever inspires you! 

Tips for refreshing and organizing your space

Organizing and cleaning up isn’t fun for a lot of people. It can seem like it will take forever to do. This doesn’t have to be true!  

Even if you only have a few minutes, you can help your space feel more organized and less stressful by following these simple tips:  

  1. If you have 10 minutes – Do a fast clean up. 
    A quick way to make your space feel better is to simply throw away trashput all your dirty laundry in a bin and clear off your desk. You’ll be surprised by how much it can make a difference in the amount of visual clutter.
     
  2. If you have one hour — Address one section. 
    Pick one area that overwhelms you and start decluttering. When you approach decluttering in sections, you view each area as a separate task. Consider choosing from your closet, drawers, bookshelf, desk, or nightstand. Understand that decluttering will temporarily create more of mess! Think about getting nice boxes/baskets to have a designated place for your items and keep clutter out of sight. Here are few options you can use in your space.
     
  3. If you have one day – Try the KonMari method. 
    If you have more time, try the KonMari method. Named after Marie Kondo, a tidying expert and author from Japan, the KonMari method is based on asking yourself a simple question: Does it bring you joy?  If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you thank it (a show of gratitude) and put it in a donate pile or trash pile. 
     
  4. If you have two days – Make it a habit.
    Once you declutter, the harder part is to maintain it. If you do a little decluttering on a regular basis, you can save time and relieve the stress of doing it every 6 months or year.   

Don’t forget to donate

Giving your items to nonprofits and charities not only helps those in need, but it helps boost your physical and mental health. Giving activates the parts of the brain related to pleasure, trust, and relationships with other important feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. This rush is often referred to as the “helper’s high. 

Here’s an extra benefit to enhance your “helper’s high”  giving away items supports sustainability. When you donate your items like clothes, room decor, or games, you are giving them a second life instead of sending them to a landfill.  

Need more help?  

If you feel overwhelmed by clutter or other problems that are holding you back from being productive, The Bougainvilla House offers weekly webinars on topics like de-stressing, managing anxiety, and more. We also feature activities like yoga and Zumba, free of cost. Sign up for our next webinar here: https://thebougainvillahouse.com/event-gallery/webinars/    

How to Handle Career Anxiety

Career Anxiety Blog

When your friends post on social media about getting dream jobs, moving out of state, and starting new lives, it’s easy for doubts to creep in when you compare your situation to theirs. Even if you’re sure of your path and career, you may feel anxious when you look at their curated lives and wonder about your ability to measure up.

If moments like this cause you to struggle with anxiety, you’re not alone.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or about 18.1% of the population, every year. And millennials are 30% more likely than older generations to report that they experience anxiety.

Anxiety is a normal body response. It’s meant to protect us and warn us about danger. It keeps us on edge so we can be more alert. But when we experience prolonged anxiety, it becomes detrimental to your rest, your physical health, and your overall outlook on life.

What is Career Anxiety?

Career anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that can be experienced at any stage of your professional life — not just during a job search. Even the

career anxiety

most seasoned and qualified professionals struggle with career-related insecurity. Career anxiety can be triggered in many ways. If you find yourself questioning yourself or your abilities, worrying that you’re not making enough money, or stressing about your general career path, you could be suffering from career anxiety.

 

How to Cope with Career Anxiety

If you begin to feel career anxiety in your own life, here are some coping strategies to help you through it.

  1. Be aware – It’s easy to feed into the negative narrative of our lives, but it’s not beneficial to our mental health. Take some time to think about your journey and your accomplishments. List and affirm your personal and professional strengths. Know that you’re on your own path, and honor the progress you’ve made so far. When you are feeling overwhelmed, go to a quiet place, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths.
  2. Talk to a friend – Friendship can play a key role in helping someone live with or recover from a mental health problem, and overcome the isolation that often comes with it. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help rebuild your confidence, break the cycle of repetitive negative thoughts, and give you a different perspective. Tell your friend how you’re feeling and how they can best support you. Ask them for practical advice, or tell them you need an empathetic ear. Friends and family are part of your support system and leaning on them can help you feel less stressed and anxious.
  3. Exercise – Regular exercise improves your self-esteem and relieves anxiety and depression. You don’t need to put yourself through rigorous activities to feel the benefits of exercise. Psychologists suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. If you begin to feel career anxiety sneaking up on you, take a break. Go for a walk, take your yoga mat outside, do some outdoor photography, or play with your pet. Read our blog for more on exercise ideas and how to stay active.
  4. Self-care – Take time out of your day for “me time”. If you’ve never really thought about intentional “me time,” it can be difficult to know where to start. At its core, it’s just a designated time for you to do whatever you want. It can be as simple as taking a bath, reading a book, exercising, listening to a great playlist, or cooking your favorite meal – anything that helps you relax and unwind. This is also a great time to learn a new hobby or practice – think of it as an investment in your future. There are no rules for how you spend your “me time.”
  5. Take a break from social media – So
    cial media brings us together, but consuming too much can contribute to your anxiety. It’s easy to compare our lives with those of the people we see on social media, and this can feed negative thoughts. While it’s great to be happy for and celebrate others’ accomplishments, we shouldn’t do so to our own detriment. If scrolling through your newsfeed is making you feel more depressed than happy, then it’s probably time to take a break. If you need help, there are various apps that can help you limit your time on social media.  

 

Career anxiety

These are a few techniques you can start to practice today. However, if your anxiety is affecting your life on or off the job, you might benefit from more support. The Bougainvilla House teaches essential coping methods to help children, teens, and young adults manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We offer a variety of programs that fit your needs, such as individual and group therapy sessions as well as intensive outpatient programs.

Treating your anxiety with a professional can reduce or eliminate symptoms over time, and many patients notice improvements after just a few sessions. It’s okay to admit you need help, and to reach out.  If you would like to get started, please schedule your free screening here.  

Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

The New Year’s resolution: love it or hate it, it’s a time-honored way to start fresh with new goals for a new year. However, we all know how difficult it can be to stick to those resolutions by the time February rolls around. It is no easier for your child than it is for you.

Age-appropriate New Year’s Resolutions

Should your child set New Year’s resolutions?  Yes, but they need to be achievable and age-appropriate. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers focus on specific ‘helping’ goals like picking up toys each day; ‘health’ goals like washing hands, or ‘social’ goals such as sharing toys with friends.

The AAP says children ages 5-12 can understand and tackle specific goals, from improving health and study habits, to speaking up if they see or experience bullying. Teens 13 and up can set goals that encourage them to take responsibility for their choices and actions, e.g. volunteering more, self-care, family responsibilities, academics, and use of leisure time.

Take Time To Reflect

Start by having a reflective, open discussion with your child about the previous year. What did they enjoy? What gave them a sense of accomplishment? What attitudes, actions or habits would they like to improve – or leave behind? Is there anything that they didn’t get the chance to explore? Talk about areas where you, as parent, feel some goal-setting would help, and encourage these to become your child’s goals as well as yours.

Listen and work with your child to choose just a few important resolutions.  Then give your child the best chance to succeed by framing SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, time-bound) goals. Make sure they understand what these goals will require of them, and that you’ll be there to encourage them every step of the way.

Which New Year’s Resolutions Are On Your Child’s List?

Resolutions are as unique as your child. He or she may want to focus on any of the following areas – or they may have completely different ideas about what matters!

Make Friends

If your child’s ultimate goal is to make friends, help them to set smaller goals such as ‘talking to two new people a month’ or ‘planning one Zoom hangout a month’.

Earn Better Grades

If your child has been struggling with schoolwork, help them set specific goals, such as earning one letter grade better on tests. From there, create a game plan, such as studying for an hour per day for a week leading up to each test. As well, your child’s teacher might have insights that will help your child succeed in his or her academic goals.

Eat Healthier

NYE Resolutions

Healthy eating goals are well worth pursuing, with benefits that include controlling weight, preventing disease, improving mood, and more. If your child wants to eat healthier, help them set SMART goals; e.g. eating one cup of vegetables three times a week for a month. This diet change helps your child shift toward healthier eating practices, but sets a time limit for trying it out. At the end of the month, evaluate this approach with your child, and decide how to continue. Bon appetit!

Read More

If you and your child set a goal to read more in the coming year, think about quantifying it (for example, ‘read 12 books in 2021’) and plan to make a monthly trip to the library or bookstore. Remember to consult your librarians or bookstore staff for enticing titles that appeal to your child’s reading preferences and level.

Save Money

If your child has a job or an allowance, it’s never too early to start teaching them the value of saving a little for the future. The general rule of thumb is to save 20% of a paycheck: this might be achievable for your child if they don’t need to help with other expenses. Another approach might involve saving a certain amount of money by year’s end. Those first big purchases like cell phones, cars and college aren’t far away, so teaching your child the patience to save now will pay off all their lives.

Tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

Do it together (if possible). Consider making family resolutions. If your child’s goal is something that would benefit everyone, like exercising, reading more, or eating more healthy foods, make it a family goal. Not only is it a great bonding opportunity, you’re increasing your child’s chances of successstick to your NYE resolutions and doing something that’s good for all of you. Some families might enjoy setting up a competition, but keep it healthy and never force anyone to compete if they don’t enjoy it.

Be flexible. Even with specific milestones to achieve, life can get in the way. If your child doesn’t meet his or her monthly goal, don’t make an issue of it. Do encourage them to keep right on trying. If you’re too strict or show too much disappointment, your child may not want to continue, so keep it positive and focused on ‘next time’.

Don’t nag them. Of course you want your child to succeed and to know the satisfaction that comes from achieving their goals. However, putting the work in to meet that goal is ultimately up to your child. No amount of pestering will make them achieve it faster and in fact, too much pressure will make them resent the process.

Be ready to adapt. Be comforting, empathetic and supportive, both when they succeed and especially when they don’t. If your child is having trouble making progress, think about whether the goal should change. You’ll only know by checking in with your child. If motivation is the issue, think about little incentives that could encourage them: e.g. for each book read, they get to pick the dinner menu. Be creative and always communicate with your child.

If you and your child need a break, visit our Take a Break page or sign up for one of our fun and free Wellness Wednesday Webinars.  Good luck!

Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

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The holidays can be an especially anxious time for anyone. If you’re noticing more tension than usual, your child may be experiencing similar feelings. Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress. Some stress is okay, but when these feelings start to overwhelm your child, it’s time to intervene.

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

The ‘holiday blues’ are real, and have many underlying causes:

  • Fewer daylight hours. The decreased number of daylight hours can have a significant effect on mental health, including your child’s. Even in the Sunshine State, many begin to feel the effects of seasonal depression during these shorter winter days.
  • Changes in routine. When your child is off from school for winter break, the whole routine changes. Even if they don’t recognize it, your child could be affected when the familiar daily structure of school, bedtime, and mealtimes becomes less rigid.

Tips to help your child with holiday-related stress and anxiety

 

Even if your child isn’t showing any particular signs of holiday stress, these tips are great for fostering a healthy and strong family connection.

  1. Take care of yourself. Kids are attentive, and they pick up on family ‘vibes’ more than you might think. If you are in a bad mood, it can affect their mood as well. When you are stressed and anxious, it can increase their levels of anxiety as well and make them more irritable. Although the holidays can be a busy time, make sure you set aside time to take care of yourself and unwind. Your body and mind will thank you for it and so will your children. You can start by exploring these ideas for taking a break.
  2. Stay active. Staying active as a family can be difficult, but keeping up with physical activities is crucial for a happy family and healthy children – and parents! If your child plays a sport, winter break might be their off season, but that doesn’t mean that all physical activity should stop. Physical activities aren’t just limited to sports, either. Here are some ways to help your child and your family stay active:
    1. Start a dance party in your living room with a fun dance cardio routine
    2. Start a small garden and celebrate that we can do that in Florida in December!
    3. Do some family-friendly yoga
    4. Create a scavenger hunt
    5. Here’s a list of even more fun activities 
  3. Eat well. Eating well is another crucial part of living a healthy lifestyle, but it can be difficult and sometimes inconvenient for busy families. It’s also difficult during the holiday season when many want to simply indulge. Along with their holiday treats, make sure your children are getting the proper nutrition they need daily. Involve your children in menu planning, shopping, and cooking!
  4. Meditate. Meditation can be intimidating at first, but can be extremely beneficial to anyone experiencing high levels of stress and take time to relaxanxiety. A guided body scan meditation can be a great introduction to meditating because the purpose is to check in with yourself and your feelings. Try this body scan meditation as a way to relax for yourself, or for your family to unwind together.
  5. Foster open communication. Talk to your children about your holiday traditions and be open to their answers. If they don’t like a certain tradition, talk about ways to change it and make it more special for your family. If family dynamics have changed (such as a divorce, new partner, or a death in the family), talk about that too. Let your child know that it’s okay (and encouraged!) for them to come to you and to be open with their feelings.
  6. Give your child control. During winter break and without a set routine, life can feel a bit unsettling. Talk to your child about what they want the winter break routine to look like. Having a discussion with them about their new schedule will give them a sense of autonomy and ownership over their own lives.
  7. Manage gift expectations. Gift-giving comes with its own stress, both for you and your child. If you know your child wants something out of your price range, be honest with them ahead of time. If your child believes the gift will come from Santa, be ready to deal with those expectations as well.
  8. Get crafty. Being creative is a lot of fun and a great family bonding activity. Have your kids choose and help with a new recipe, make some cookies that they can decorate, or create some fun holiday decorations and gifts. The possibilities are endless and anything that gets the creative juices flowing is a great stress reliever.
  9. Enjoy holiday stories, movies, and music. Even though some favorite community and school events have been canceled due to the pandemic, there are still many wonderful events happening online and through the creative programming of libraries and museums. Enjoy!

Don’t let the holidays get you and your family down.

If you need help talking to your child about changing family dynamics or just want to learn more about parenting, browse our parenting workshops or call us to schedule an appointment.