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 Your child might seem a bit withdrawn or irritable, may sleep more than usual, or is exhibiting other signs of stress.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.

Coronavirus and Vaping – What Parents Need to Know

vaping

No one could have predicted the difficult times 2020 would bring. With the Coronavirus pandemic now in its third wave, people everywhere are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.  

Experts believe that because the Coronavirus can cause respiratory infections, those who smoke or vape may be at a higher risk of complications if they contract the virus. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get informed about vaping, and be prepared to start a conversation about it with your family if the need arises. 

What is Vaping?  

Vaping is a type of e-cigarette. In a vape, a battery heats up a liquid that produces vapors, which can then be inhaled. Many of the tanks, which hold the liquid, contain nicotine. Vapes can also be used with marijuana, hash oil, or other potentially harmful substances. Although there are laws in place preventing the sale of e-cigarettes to adolescents, there has been an increase in the popularity of vaping among young people. About 37% of 12th graders reported vaping in 2018, compared with 28% in 2017. 

What are the dangers of vaping? 

While vaping isn’t new, there is still a lot that is unknown about the negative effects of vaping.  Some people tend to think that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, but with the liquid cartridges that contain nicotine, it can be just as unsafe.  

Nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco and when inhaled or ingested, it can negatively affect the brain development of youth and adolescents. Cigarette use by teens has been trending down in recent years, but teens who vape are more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future.  

Studies also suggest that vaping can lead to respiratory or gastrointestinal issues and even some types of cancers. EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury) can also occur. Symptoms of EVALI can include cough, shortness of breath, and chest pains.

Vaping statistic

Dr. Brendon Stile is an associate attending cardiothoracic surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. He speculates that because vaping can lead to inflammation, profound lung disease, and even a malfunction of the immune system in the lungs, those who vape may be more susceptible to pulmonary complications following a Coronavirus infection.

According to the FDA, youth and adolescents who vape are also at risk for seizures. This could be due to the list of toxic chemicals that are in many vape liquids. These chemicals can include: 

  • Nicotine  
  • Propylene glycol – commonly used in antifreeze, paint solvent, and in fog machines 
  • Acetaldehyde and formaldehyde – both are carcinogens, which are substances that are known to cause cancer 
  • Acrolein – a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds 
  • Diacetyl – a chemical linked to a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans aka “popcorn lung” 
  • Diethylene glycol – a toxic chemical used in antifreeze 
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, lead 
  • Cadmium – a toxic metal found in traditional cigarettes  
  • Benzene – a volatile organic compound (VOC) found in car exhaust 

What the CDC Recommends 

The CDC’s official recommendation is to avoid using vapes or other e-cigarette products 

The tanks used in vapes are not regulated by the FDA and therefore may contain harmful ingredients other than nicotine. 

How Teens Perceive Vaping 

Most teens believe that vaping is generally harmless. Some e-cigarette companies, such as JUUL, have been under fire for specifically targeting youth in their ads. Advertisements made multiple false claims that JUUL is safer than cigarettes and that the FDA would approve it soon. They also paid for advertising space on children’s networks, further pushing their message to adolescents. Vaping fact 

The product itself also plays into the appeal to youth. Vape pens look harmless and they’re cheap, which makes them less threatening to teens. The tanks of liquid also tend to come in a variety of sweet flavors that smell good, which attracts teens and adolescents. Currently, studies aren’t conclusive as to how vaping among the younger population connects to Coronavirus, but there has been an increase of younger patients who become very sick and require intubation and ventilation.

How to Prevent Your Child from Vaping 

The best way to prevent your child from vaping is to foster an environment of open communication with them. Let them know the dangers of vaping in a realistic and honest way that doesn’t rely on slippery slope logic or overt scare tactics.  

Be a support system for your child without judgment and they will feel more comfortable talking to you. If they tell you that someone in their class or group has started vaping, don’t freak out. Ask them how they feel about it and talk about the risks in a calm manner, if necessary.  

What to Do if Your Child is Vaping 

If you discover that your child is vaping, don’t overreact. The first instinct may be anger because you love your child and the anxiety of keeping them safe is stressful. It can also be incredibly frustrating if you have already talked to your child about the risks of vaping. However, your child will shut down if you start the conversation by yelling.  

Take a few breaths. When you’re in a calm place, ask your child about vaping. Give them room to talk without trying to fill in their silences. Let them know that they can be honest with you without fear of judgment. If they are honest, keep your promise and don’t judge or yell at them.  

Try to avoid lecturing them. Chances are they already know that you disapprove of their actions. Don’t let those feelings cloud your discussion with them.  

In your talk, try to determine if they are vaping because of a bigger issue.  Maybe they are stressed from schoolwork, their job or they have friends that pressured them. If this is the case, you can work with them to find a solution to their stress or help them gain the confidence to refuse peer pressure.  

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Teens and adolescents are facing more stress than ever and need our support. If you would like some help trying to navigate parenting in the 21st century, sign up for one of our upcoming Parenting Workshops.

If you need a fun break or some guidance on how to create a healthy lifestyle, sign up for our Wellness Wednesday Webinars 

 

You Need Exercise – and So Does Your Child

you need exercise

We know staying active is part of a healthy life. Regular activity can help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress. So why is it so hard to build good exercise habits? 

The habit of staying active often starts in childhood. Without a strong foundation, it’s hard to prioritize an active lifestyle as an adult. If you help your child stay active regularly, it can help them build strong muscles and bones, stay mentally healthy, and decrease their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  

Regular activity is also a great way to bond with your child through playful competition. 

Make Exercise Funencourage kids

You and your family can have fun and be active at the same time. Kicking a soccer ball or throwing a baseball aren’t the only ways to get movingListen to your child as they express their level of interest in different activities. If they’d rather do a “Ninja Warrior” style obstacle course than play a team sport, encourage them to pursue it. 

Even when they choose an activity they enjoy, don’t put too much pressure on them to excel and become a prodigy – let the focus be fun and exercise.  

Create an Exercise Plan 

Make a weekly exercise goal with your family. If this is the first time that you’re trying to be active, avoid setting unrealistic goals. This will deter you and your family and make it harder to stick to a plan. For example, consider starting with a family walk or easy bike ride instead of running. 

When you are exercising, listen to your child’s needs. Take a break if they need water, a rest or simply don’t want to play anymore. They’ll have more fun next time if you don’t push them past their limits this time.  

Be a Good Example of Healthy Lifestyles 

Parents are often a child’s first role models. If you want your child to live a healthier and more active life, it helps to be a good example. Approach your activity plan with a good attitude. Your child will feed off your energy. If you’re having fun, there’s a better chance that they will have fun too.  

Exercise as a Family 

Exercising as a family can help make staying active fun. If you or your partner are passionate about a sport, then that’s a great place to start. Grab the ball, bat, glove – whatever it is – and spend some time teaching your child the basics. They will learn a new skill and spend valuable bonding time with you.  

If you and your family aren’t sports fanatics, there are still plenty of ways to be active.  

Non-sports Exercises: 

  • Go for walks/walk the dog 
    • If you have a dog, then exercise should be easy. Take your children with you when you take the dog for daily walks. If you don’t have a dog, taking a family walk is still a great and easy way to exercise. Block off time in the day when everyone is free and take a 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. If 20 minutes is a lot, start off slow with a 10-minute walk. You can make it a family competition and try to add 5 minutes to that walk each week and see how far you can go as a family. 
  • Have a dance party 
    • Clear some floor space, get some fun lights or decorations, and have a dance party! Create a Spotify playlist of kid friendly songs to dance to or turn on the radio. Dancing is great cardio and a great way to relieve stress. If you want to follow along to some dance moves, there are great YouTube videos that feature family-friendly dance cardio workouts 
  • Garden 
    • If you have the space in your front or back yard, gardening can be a lot of fun. You may not even realize you’re getting a workout! Gardening is a great full-body exercise and with just 30 minutes of gardening you’ll workout your arms, legs and back. Go to the store with your kids and let them pick out a few flowers to plant. This will include them in the process and can get them excited to participate. 
  • Go to the park 
    • The park is full of endless possibilities. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, or create a scavenger hunt. Make some sandwiches or snacks for break time and bring plenty of water.  

exercise with kids

Exercising doesn’t have to be tedious. Make a plan. Make it kid-friendly. Make it fun.

For an easy way to be active with your kids, sign up for our newsletter and view our Wellness Wednesday Webinars. We often have Zumba, Yoga, How to Grow Your Own Garden and more!  

Past Wellness Wednesday Webinars: 

Why Your Child Refuses to Do Homework (And How You Can Respond)

child-refuse-to-do-homework

Homework battles can turn into an exhausting nightly struggle that stresses both you and your child Addressing this family issue can be challenging, but good communication and early action can make a big impact.   

Get in the Right Mindsetparent stress

Before talking to your child about avoiding homework, take a step back. How are you feeling? Anxious? Angry? These emotions can affect how your child responds to you. Take a few deep breaths, stay calm and approach the topic with empathy.   

It’s important to be okay with your child failing a few assignments so they can learn that their choices have consequences. It shows them that failing is part of life, but it doesn’t make them a failure.   

Talk to Your Child 

You can make plenty of assumptions about why homework isn’t getting done, but your child is the only one who really knows the answer. Give them a chance to explain without the fear of your angry reaction or rapid judgment. Listen to their answer and work together to find a solution. Encourage your child to take ownership of their education.  

Why Your Child Could Be Avoiding Homework 

There are many reasons, major and minor, why a child might refuse to do schoolwork. Take the time to understand what could be affecting your child.  

  1. Academic Reasons

    Your child’s teacherare a valuable resource. Talk to them about how your child seems to be progressing with important concepts and skills. Work to understand details such as: 

    • Is your child struggling with a particular subjectunit, concept, or skill  
    • Is there an unreasonable homework load across all your child’s teachers? 
    • Is your child getting along with his or her classmates? 
    • How well is your child responding to his or her teachers? 
    • If your child struggles with a particular assignment format, would the teacher consider offering options for students to choose? (e.g. write a paragraph, draw a picturecreate a diorama)
  2. Behavioral Reasons

    Your child may be testing his or her limits. Make sure they understand what you expect as well as the consequences for not meeting those expectations. Be consistent with established boundaries and follow through with consequences. If they must complete homework before watching TV, stick to that. Your child needs a reliable, consistent structure surrounding homework routines.

  3. Family Pressures & Attitudes

    Look in the mirror. Think about how your attitudes might be influencing your child’s attitudes toward schoolwork. Are you contributing to the problem in any way? This might include nagging, hovering, or trying to do the work for the child rather than stepping back.  

  4. Health Reasons

    Your child could be struggling with health issues that make it harder to do homework. Sleep, physical activity, healthy eating, fresh air, and positive social relationships all influence success in school.  Issues with vision or hearing or physical issues such as wrist pain could deter your child from doing work, particularly if he or she is attending school onlineYou may also need to talk to your pediatrician about the possibility of a learning challenge such as dyslexia, processing deficits, or ADHD.  

How to Help Children Focus at Home create a routine

Some children don’t view home as a place to work, so the right routines and workspaces can help them settle and focusDon’t be discouraged if it takes a while for you and your child to find a structure that works. Ask for your child’s input and work together

Creating a new routine:
 

  1. Establish a schedule

    Plan an afterschool schedule with your child: for example, math homework 3 pm – 3:30 pm. English homework 3:30 – 3:45 pm, etc. Your child knows if he or she needs more time for one subject and less for another. Make sure your child understands which days the routine is in effect, especially as holidays come and go.

  2. Include breaks.

    Plan breaks in the schedule so your child can have a snack, play with a pet, or get some water. Ican be difficult to redirect attention away from devices, so avoid electronics such as TV, video games or phone time until homework is done for the day.

  3. Start homework together.

     Starting each homework assignment with your child can help them feel confident that they’re on the right track. If the homework topic is unfamiliar to youmake it a fun journey of figuring it out together. Even more empowering – get your child to teach you! 

  4. Change the homework location.

     Set up your child’s homework area in the kitchen, dining area or living room. You can keep an eye on their progress and be more available if help is needed. 

Encourage Your Child 

When you’ve found a routine that works for you and your childencourage your child with praise and occasional rewards 

Stickers aren’t just for little kids – tracking good habits can help to keep any child motivatedConsider offering rewards if your child collects a certain number of stickers. This could include a favorite meal or treat, picking the movie for family movie night, or hosting a sleepover with friends. 

Homework doesn’t need to be a daily battleground. Talk to your child. Listen with empathy. Create a plan and a new routine together. Once you find the system that works, your child and your family life will reap the rewards 

Online School: Making It Work for Your Child and Your Family

Girl in online school who may be struggling with mental health challenges from virtual classes

What we want back-to-school 2020 to look like: excited children, seeing friends and meeting teachers.

What back-to-school 2020 actually looks like for many Florida students: laptops, online platforms, and learning at home.

Whether online school is a temporary, permanent, or part-time experience this school year, it’s important to set up your children and the whole family for success right from the start.

If you’re having difficulty adjusting to a virtual school day, your children may be as well. Try these tips to help everyone settle into this ‘new normal’.

1. Build an online school routine.

Every family’s lifestyle, dynamics, and living situation is unique, and so is the routine that makes it all work, including remote schooling. As the school year begins, and as it progresses, hold regular family meetings, and ask your children for input. Creating and managing routines together will help them understand what’s expected, and also reinforces a sense of control and ownership.

Some online school options follow the school day period by period, while others allow students to work at their own pace. Be sure to understand the school’s expectations and those of the various teachers who work with your children. Communicate early regarding any issues concerning your children and the routine that works best for them.

As you work out your family’s daily and weekly routines, remember to block off specific times for your children to watch lessons, complete homework, and do assignments. Involve each child in determining the length of these timeStudent establishing routines for online school blocks. For example, one child may need more time for reading and less time for math, and the schedule you create together can reflect that.

Make sure you schedule plenty of breaks as well. Depending on the age of your child, take breaks for snacks, naps if needed, exercise and play, or just “doing nothing” to process and absorb what they’ve learned. Browse our Take a Break page for more ideas.

Remember, the plan works when not only your child but also you, the parent, follow it. Resist spontaneous ideas to alter the routine without good reason for doing so.

Routines and structure are helpful, even essential, but so is flexibility. Life happens. Children and teens have days when they’re tired or just feeling less than motivated – and, let’s face it, days that turn into complete meltdowns. It’s okay to adjust the routine, take the breaks they need, and if necessary, talk with teachers when it just isn’t working for you or your child.

2. Create your child’s remote learning workspace.

A designated workspace helps signal your child that it’s time to focus and to work. In deciding where your child can work most successfully, consider your home’s interior and exterior spaces, and the needs of working adults as well.

Think about supervision as well. Some children need more oversight, while others work well on their own. If you have an office in your home, consider making a space for your child to work alongside you. This may help to limit distractions from other family members and from phones, toys or other entertainment.

If your child’s workspace is part of a communal area, such as the kitchen, help family members understand the importance of staying as quiet and unobtrusive as possible during class time.

An inexpensive free-standing cardboard trifold poster, such as those used for school projects, is an easy, space-saving way to create some privacy, block out distractions, and serve as a bulletin board, all in one. Together with a kit of school items for each child, it creates a private workspace that is easily set up and put away at the end of each class day.

Try to make your child’s space both comfortable and as ergonomic as possible. If your child doesn’t work at a desk, consider getting them a comfortable chair cushion. No one wants to spend hours in a hard dining room table chair.

In a computer-based learning environment, physical problems can develop quickly. Look for ways to set up your child’s workspace with an eye to ergonomics. For example, when typing or using a mouse, your child’s shoulders should be relaxed, arms close to the body, wrists straight, and hands at or slightly below elbow level.

For further information: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169

In addition, blue light glasses are helpful in reducing eye strain, and good headphones can both limit distractions and make it easier for your child to hear their teachers and classmates.

3. Become familiar with your online school platform.

Both you and your child should take time to get to know the online learning platform that your school uses. This may seem obvious, but in the chaos of getting used to a new routine, it can be easy to overlook. Take advantage of any training available. Make sure you review any parent-specific features, such as how to communicate with teachers and keep track of your child’s schedule, homework and project deadlines, and tests.

Even for computer-literate students and parents, every platform has its quirks, and taking time to understand it can avoid frustration later. Find out who to contact, should issues arise, and it might also help to pool your knowledge with that of other parents.

4. Understand that everyone needs to show extra patience and understanding.

Students and parents alike need extra patience for online school

It’s normal to feel increased stress during this time. Online school is still new for everyone involved in the learning process. It’s a time that calls for extra levels of stress management, patience with self and others, and regular communication with the school, teachers, and family members.

You are an advocate for your family and your child, but don’t forget to look after yourself as well. If you feel the stress building up, take a break. Take some deep breaths or go for a quick walk. Talk to your spouse or partner, or to a trusted friend. Hold family meetings to work out difficulties and adjust routines and expectations, if needed.

Professionals like our team at The Bougainvilla House are here to help. Explore our website resources or call us for support anytime. We are also continuing to offer our Wellness Wednesday webinars, with new videos every week. You can explore past topics and register for upcoming sessions on our Wellness Wednesday page.

5. Communicate with your child.

Your child knows what he or she needs. Check in regularly to see how they are doing. Cultivate a relationship that allows them to be open and honest, without fear of being reprimanded. Ask them how they’re feeling, and give them space to vent their frustrations.

If you’re not used to open communication with your child, try adding in a weekly check-in to your routine. Make it clear that their honest feelings are welcome during this time, and that you’re there to listen. This will go a long way toward helping your child feel supported.

6. Respect classroom relationships.

Online school offers you an unusual window into your child’s day-to-day classroom life. This can be useful and illuminating, but also requires restraint on your part. Respect the relationship that needs to exist between your child and his or her teacher, and between your child and other classmates. Before acting on anything you overhear, talk to your child, and resist the urge to intervene unless necessary. If ever there was a time to ‘pick your battles,’ this is it.

7. Work together.

This is a strange time, with few rules to guide parents, students, and educators. What may work for you may not work for your children or your spouse/partner. It’s okay to have disagreements and frustrations. Create opportunities to promote honest communication within your family. Listening, understanding, patience, a sense of humor, and an ongoing effort to work it out together will make all the difference as your family adjusts to the new normal.

 

Looking for even more resources? Browse our various Wellness Wednesday Workshops, which offer topics such as communicating with your child, dealing with family dynamics, the importance of role models and more.

Who You Gonna Call?

Who You Gonna Call?

         Ghostbusters! Okay, maybe they can’t help you with your non-ghost problems, but it’s important to know who can. Who do you call when you’re having a bad day? Who can you reach out to when you’re struggling at school? Who do you trust when you’re struggling with your home-life? These answers are integral to ensuring you are focusing on proper mental health care and healthy communication.

What Constitutes Healthy Support?

  • Listening– a person who supports you not only listens to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, but they do so without judgment. They aren’t simply looking to change you or force an opinion on you. True support is there to hold space for you without getting anything in return.
  • Consistent– a person who supports you will make time for you, especially if you are going through a rough patch. That doesn’t mean they can give you every moment of their lives, but they will work with you and your schedule to ensure you are supported and heard on a regular basis. They don’t come and go from your life. They are a consistent part of your health and wellness.
  • Support Not Enable– a person who supports you listens and validates your feelings and experiences, but they will not enable you. If you are partaking in destructive behaviors or relationships, they will let you know. They will also go above your head if self-harm or abuse is involved. This thought can feel like a betrayal, but keeping you safe stems from care, compassion, and love.
  • Honesty– a true supporter will tell you the truth and creates a space that allows you to do so, too. They provide a comfortable space where you can truly be yourself, so much so, you may tell them things you’ve never told anyone else. When you’re honest with yourself and, in turn, others, healing can begin.
  • Safe Space– a person who supports you, while still human, has shown you no signs of abuse, toxicity, or harm. They are stable and can consistently offer love, guidance, and emotional support.
  • Growth– a true supporter will always push you to be better. This may hurt sometimes to always hear the truth and see yourself through the eyes of another, but people who love us want the best for us. They help us become our best selves. People who care will help us get out of our comfort zones and help us make the best choices for our best possible future.

It’s important to remember that we are all human and to not make the mistake of putting someone on a pedestal. No one is perfect, so make sure you are reminding yourself that your supports are still humans with regular lives who make mistakes.

When it comes to our supports, we also want to ensure we aren’t creating co-dependency. It’s important to be able to reach out to people in a time of need, but it’s just as important to learn how to support yourself in those moments if others are occupied with their own lives. Lean on your supports, but remember: this time of growth means learning how to lean on yourself.

Who Supports Me?

         You don’t need a whole army of support. You need a few key people in your life you can connect with who will give you the support and guidance you need. This could come in the form of a family member or family friend, a friend, a teacher, a therapist, or a coach.

So now, ask yourself: Who supports you unconditionally? Who ensures you’re feeling okay? Who is there to listen to? Most importantly, who hears you but doesn’t enable negative or self-destructive behaviors? When it comes to a confidant, someone you can trust to help and support, you want to ensure they have your best interest in mind. Take some time to evaluate the people in your life and make sure to tell those who care for you that you see them and they matter.

 Learning to Support Yourself

No matter where you are on your health and wellness journey, the goal is to learn how to support yourself. Yes, you can always rely on a group meeting, a therapist, and close friends and family, but it’s important to learn how to cope and manage your feelings when no one else is available or present. While you work through addiction issues, mental health illness or trauma, be sure to create the ultimate support with yourself. Ask yourself how you are. Make some time to get to know yourself, just as you would a new friend. You might be surprised at how deep the relationship can get.

Sometimes we can’t find the right supports in our families, schools, or communities, and that’s okay. If you or an adolescent you know is struggling with addiction or mental health issues, you can always reach out to the Bougainvilla House. We are here to support you! We offer individual and group therapy programs, along with family counseling to help bring you closer to those who love and care for you. Let us help you create the ultimate support with your community and most importantly, yourself. Call today to learn about our programs and treatment options: (954) 764-7337

Talk To Your Kids

When communication falls short, teens and adolescents take other measures to express their emotions. That’s why it’s so important for parents to talk to their kids about the challenges they face every day. Our youth is experiencing a new wave of bullying and social anxiety like we’ve never seen it before. Whether or not they make all the right choices, it’s imperative that their voices be heard and supported. 

Here at The Bougainvilla House, we’ve received a lot of phone calls recently from kids in distress. So we put together a list of crisis prevention tips to share with your family and friends.

Tip #1: Learn the warning signs.

These won’t be obvious, so you’ll need to look hard. Really, really hard. Reckless behavior often indicates a lack of direction. Increased substance use or social withdrawal may be associated with depression. The red flags are there. We just have to see them.

Tip #2: Don’t just hear, listen.

Pay close attention to what your teens say, the way they talk about themselves, and the people around them. Be mindful of their feelings and avoid interruptions. Most importantly, be present and open in times of sorrow. That’s when they’ll need your support the most.

Tip #3: Encourage transparency.

Keep an open line of communication and talk about therapy as a healthy alternative. The benefits of seeing a therapist are endless, even for people who seem to manage bullying and anxiety well. Make sure they understand it’s okay to ask for guidance.

Tip #4: Reach out for help.

Sometimes it’s hard for family members to talk openly about their concerns. Find someone your teen or adolescent can chat with. Whether it’s a teacher, family friend or our team of trained behavioral health specialists. It’s not about when they’ll talk. It’s about who they talk to.

Know whatever your family is facing, we’re here to lend a helping hand. The Bougainvilla House is committed to reconnecting relationships through guided child and family therapy. If your teen is showing signs of distress, don’t wait for a crisis to occur. Help is just a phone call away.

The Other Side of FOMO: What Am I Really Missing?

The Other Side of FOMO: What Am I Really Missing?

         Most of us know FOMO is the fear of missing out. People claim to have FOMO when they are unable to partake in an event or experience and feel anxiety based on their absence. But FOMO implies that one experience is far more important, impactful or meaningful than another which fuels the fire of comparison culture. We may think FOMO is a love of exploring, of getting out and seeing the world, but the bottom line is FOMO is a trigger for mental illness and substance issues because if we give in to FOMO, we aren’t staying true to ourselves and our needs.

         When we see the word FOMO on social media, we usually see this acronym tagged to parties, concerts, and travel experiences. Rarely do we see this term linked to events such as family parties, family dinners, and or a quiet night in. This contrast is the real curiosity of FOMO. It seems to be centered around friends and costly events, but why can’t someone be jealous of a quiet night in?

If you’re someone who connects to this message, it might be time to ask why the external experiences are more important than inner growth and family. Why don’t you want to spend time at home? Are you afraid to be alone? Do you even like the band everyone is going to see? These questions are an important step in the direction of unpacking the reasons you feel you are missing out. Ultimately, they will help you unpack issues with mental health, addiction, and so much more.

Why Do I Feel I am Missing Out?

         If you’re the type of person who experiences FOMO, it’s important to stop and ask why? Say your friends are going to see a band that you kind of like, but you don’t really have the money. Plus, you’ve had a long week at school. Do you really want to go? Or let’s say your friends are going to a party at a popular kid’s house. You don’t like drinking, you don’t know anyone there, and the thought actually gives you anxiety because there will be significant underage drinking. However, you feel that if you don’t go, your friends might stop talking to you or you feel you will miss a connection with the people there.

         These examples illuminate the underpinnings of FOMO. In both scenarios, the people making the choice are driven by fear, hence FEAR of missing out. Fear is an archaic emotion that connects to survival. It’s the thing inside of us that yells WARNING and tells us certain ideas or behaviors are going to cause us pain, sadness, or even death. Fear is a response that was designed to keep us safe, but in a 21st-century world, fear can be a trigger for deeper mental illness.

         Understanding this concept of fear is an important part of unpacking why we are afraid to miss out because fear can mask other issues that could connect to negative experiences and even repressed trauma. And the more we make choices out of fear, the farther we get away from what we truly need in relation to health and wellness. So, the next time you feel FOMO, it might be the right moment to stop and assess because in doing do, you can break this negative response patterning once and for all.

The Importance of Family and Community

         The concept of a family is integral to healing and health. Whether we are talking about blood relations or not, the word family means a group of people that unconditionally love and support each other. Without this archetype, it can be difficult to heal from things like trauma, addiction and substance abuse, and mental health ailments.

         Maybe you’ve drifted away from your family, focusing on concerts, parties, and other distractions that have been fueling your addiction or mental illness, and that’s okay. But it’s time to rewrite that narrative and help you realize that turning in towards your support group could be the thing that stops the feelings of said fear. The FOMO we should actually be focusing on should be with the people that have raised us and supported us. Why does society push us away from the people that birthed us and raised us? The answer is unclear, but to start healing and get back on the track to health and wellness, healing within our family systems is an integral step.

         Reconnecting with family isn’t always easy, especially if you’re suffering from addiction or a mental health disorder. If this hits home, The Bougainvilla House can help. We focus on getting kids connected to themselves and their families with a community-style practice. We offer individual, group, and family treatment programs that are customized to fit your individual needs. There’s no need to fight mental illness alone and live in fear. Call now to learn about your options for a better and brighter future: (954) 764-7337


Managing Impulses in Recovery

Managing Impulses in Recovery

Impulse is often talked about in addiction recovery because it can be hard for individuals to exert self-control with certain stimulations, such as those who’ve battled with substance abuse.  Addiction affects the prefrontal cortex, which influences the way a person makes decisions, speaks, learns, judges and more. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for helping us make rational decisions, but addiction can mix things up as it alters the way a person thinks and makes choices. When this happens, a person is no longer using substances for pleasure – rather, they are seeking out substances because their mind and body feel compelled towards it.

Previous research has explained that addiction causes a person to make choices based on immediate reward, rather than long-term benefits. For years, researchers have tried to explore more the ways that impulsivity occurs when addiction is involved, as this plays a major role in both addiction and recovery. There are three general “types” of impulsivity that people tend to experience in regards to addiction:

·       Impulsive Choice – choosing immediate rewards over longer-term ones

·       Impulsive Action – having trouble with holding off on reacting to something that could bring immediate rewards

·       Impulsive Personality Traits – having a personality trait that coincides with impulsivity

Impulsivity, attention and working memory deficits are common occurrences for people who’ve battled with addiction, and much of this is tied to impulsivity and the way the brain stores memories as a person is going through addiction. Even those who’ve been working hard towards sobriety in addiction recovery may experience issues with impulsiveness, and it’s something to work on every day.

In the past, much research has been done on impulsivity and how it’s experienced with various addictions. A clear example of this is shown with meth addiction, where people often experience much more difficulty with attention and working memory, planning, and organization and mental flexibility compared to people who’ve never struggled with substance abuse.

The effects of addiction, including impulsivity, can weigh heavily on a person’s recovery at times – but it’s truly a process of recovery that involves learning and relearning in order to get back on track.

Those in recovery can benefit from trying out different approaches to combat impulsivitity – and while it may seem uncomfortable at first, it just takes time to develop skills necessary. As time continues and a person keeps working hard towards healing, the brain learns to ask questions, problem solve, weigh out decisions and more, which are tools towards combating relapse and living more mindfully.

Of course, impulsiveness can still rear its head, even for someone who has been working diligently towards their recovery for quite some time. In some moments of vulnerability, we may find that we’re more susceptible to acting on our emotions – and that is when we have to remind ourselves that recovery is a process and that it truly takes some time.

When it comes to relapse prevention, it’s a gradual process. Different stages take place and along with that come with different milestones as it relates to personal, professional and recovery goals. One of the main tools of recovery is cognitive behavioral therapy, where certain skills are focused on for a person to be able to navigate tough situations regarding impulsiveness. A clear example of this includes being confronted by a slew of thoughts of wanting to revert to old habits – cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) then gives the person choices with which to choose from. In this type of instance, a person can think about what they need to do to address the thoughts and feelings that they’re experiencing in the present moment, and then determine what action should be taken that would be most beneficial to them.

Recovery can be challenging, but it’s absolutely worth it if you’re able to gain back some of what you lost when addiction was active. It is never too late.

The Bougainvilla House has created a safe and welcoming environment for adolescents and their families which focuses on helping you overcome your feelings and connect you back to the beauty of the world. With a variety of outpatient treatment options and individualized programs, we are confident we can get you feeling healthy and happy. Call now to find a support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337