Feeling the Holiday Blues? Six ways to tackle seasonal depression

If you just ‘aren’t feeling the spirit’ this holiday season, we understand and offer our support.  

Maybe you usually enjoy what’s supposed to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ But this year, it’s bringing on feelings of stress, sadness, and loneliness.  

Music, movies, TV, social media, and advertising reinforce the sense that everyone should be feeling their merriest and brightest selves. You might be wondering what on earth is wrong with you.  

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, another festival, or none at all, the holiday blues (seasonal depression) can strike anyone for any number of reasons. 

It’s especially difficult if this is your first holiday experience without a loved one. It can be a lonely time, especially for those who don’t have anyone to celebrate the season with them.  

Or maybe the season becomes an overwhelming, exhausting marathon for you, with extra-heavy demands to bake and cook, shop, wrap gifts, decorate, clean, and entertain. The holidays feel like an endless list of chores instead of fun and pleasurable time spent with loved ones.  

Perhaps the pandemic’s continuing presence – and some lingering social introversion from lockdown days – might be making you feel pressured and nervous about traveling or getting together to celebrate. Is it really safe? 

If you’re already struggling with mental illness, the holidays can affect it even more. Know that you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse.  

What are the holiday blues?  

NAMI describes the holiday blues as “temporary anxiety or depression during the months of November and December that can associate with extra stress, unrealistic expectations, or even memories that accompany the season.” Even though these feelings are temporary, it’s important to be mindful of their impact on your mental health.  

Understanding your feelings and making a plan to manage your mental health can help you get through this time. If you recognize any of these emotions, here are six ideas to help manage them.  

How to tackle the holiday blues? 

  1. Stick to your routine – You may be dealing with disruptors like travel, social activities, or a long to-do list, so it’s important to preserve you-time. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible – don’t sacrifice all your personal time for holiday chores and activities. Take time to enjoy your favorite morning coffee.  Continue your usual exercise routine. Give priority to your daily self-care ritual, whatever it may be.
  2. Don’t isolate yourself –  Feelings of sadness can sometimes lead us to hide at home, but social isolation can make us feel worse. If you’re not going to be with friends or family for the holidays, it’s harder to feel connected. When you’re feeling alone, seek support from a close friend, a family member, or a community in which you’re involved. Schedule a video call with a family member, talk about your feelings, and tell them how much you appreciate them. Spend a day with a caring friend. You might find it helps to volunteer for a local community event. Talking about your feelings, connecting with others, and avoiding too much isolation will hopefully help to steady and manage your emotions during the season. On the other hand, if you’re a more introverted personality, you might actually need to schedule and protect some alone time, if the presence of additional guests and family is draining your emotional batteries. If you need that time, speak up and take it. Go for a walk, chill out with a book or music, and ask everyone to respect your need for some solo recharging time.
  3. Make a to-do list and keep it simple – And check it twice! Planning and delegation are key. Mark your calendar with all your holiday events. Plan dates for advance cooking, decorating, shopping, and package mailing. If you’re traveling, pack and plan ahead for unexpected issues and delays. Are you hosting a social event? Make sure all your guests know when to arrive, where to park, and what to bring. Set up your space the day before and delegate preparations to family and friends. Above all, try to keep things simple and manageable. Be realistic about what you can get done in the time you have, and remember that the most important things are to look after yourself and to enjoy time with the people around you. 
  4. Set a budget – Money can be a huge source of stress during the holidays, so before you start shopping, set a budget. Try not to overextend yourself financially. Figure out how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and food shopping. Write down the people you want to gift, set individual budgets, and stick to it. You can also find less costly alternatives like making homemade gifts but be sure to set aside enough time to make them. Here are more ideas on alternative gifts.
  5. Set reasonable expectations – High or unrealistic expectations can cause unnecessary pressure and tension. Focus on this year’s holiday season and try not to compare it to memories of other years. It doesn’t have to be perfect or elaborate or even the same. Remember that traditions can change, so think about ways you can make the holidays work for you and your family in your present circumstances.
  6. Honor memories – If you are mourning the loss of someone you loved – and there are many kinds of loss – be gentle with yourself. You may feel painful waves of grief during the holidays, when everything reminds you of a missing loved one. Depending on the nature of your loss, think about what might trigger the sadness, and what might help manage it. Talk to friends and family and enlist their support to plan a holiday season that recognizes your need to continue grieving as part of the healing process. 

This season, too many people are mourning the deaths of loved friends and family members from Covid and many other causes. If you are among them, it may help to think about special ways to honor your loved one. It can be as small as lighting a candle every night, sharing memories, or making your loved one’s favorite food. Honoring the person you lost can serve as a physical reminder that although they are gone, the good memories and the love remain. Find more ways to deal with grief here. 

Need More Help?  

If your holiday blues are overwhelming you, look for a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that critical first step and ask for help to overcome anxiety and depression, and reconnect to the life you want to live, or want for someone you love. Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. In addition, these resources (https://www.nami.org/help ) are also available for you. Please reach out if you or someone in your life needs help.  

Source:  

https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/november-2015/tips-for-managing-the-holiday-blues 

Why you should consider pet therapy for your child

Have you ever wondered why just being around our pet makes us feel better, no matter what kind of a day we’re having? The science behind those pet snuggles might actually be helpful for your child, especially if they are feeling uneasy, stressed, sad, nervous, or any number of strong emotions. The presence of a pet can have an amazingly positive effect on your child’s health.

How do animals make your child feel better?

Scientists have observed that interacting with animals increases levels of the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that induces feelings of love and closeness. It slows a person’s heart rate and breathing, reduces blood pressure, and inhibits the production of stress hormones. All of these changes help create a sense of calm and comfort.

Why should your child consider Pet Therapy?

As children grow and discover more about themselves and the way they react to different people and situations, some challenges may be hard for them to tackle on their own. Through Pet Therapy, trained animals can be incredibly effective at helping children to overcome obstacles and cope with those difficult feelings and mental health issues.

Studies have shown that human-animal interaction (HAI) positively impacts social behavior, interpersonal communications, and mood. Most importantly, it increases trustworthiness and trust toward other people; reduces aggression; enhances empathy, and improves learning.

Most children love animals, making it easy for them to bond with their special ‘therapist’. Pet therapy offers not only time with a favorite friend, but also valuable emotional support.

Which animal therapy is best?

When choosing a therapy, consider both your child (including comfort levels and potential allergies) and the therapy’s desired outcome. While it is common to use dogs or cats in animal therapy, other types of animals also serve as therapists, including guinea pigs, fish, and horses.

Equine therapy involves activities with horses that enhance physical and emotional healing. During therapy, children learn to be responsible and respectful of the horse and to earn its trust, so that eventually both they and the animal feel comfortable being close enough for petting and hugs. These lessons extend outside of therapy too, as children learn to build trusting relationships with others, just as they do with horses. If your child struggles to find friends or communicate with others, equine therapy can be a natural transition to help them improve those important social interaction skills.

Equine Therapist Maria Glenn says horses can be large and scary, but there is no better animal for helping children build confidence and self-esteem, when they realize that this giant 600-pound creature is listening to them and will do their bidding when asked in an appropriate manner.

What makes Equine Therapy so special?

Equine therapy is especially successful for children with disabilities or special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and more. As well as building important social skills, equine therapy can help children improve their motor coordination, balance, concentration, and self-esteem. Children who have a tough time speaking are taught to use their own words to command the horse, which improves their speech skills and confidence. Not only do children learn as they have fun outside instead of in a doctor’s office, they are also enjoying nature and the special joy, and connection that equine therapy offers.

Looking for an animal therapy camp?

Hearts & Hooves healing day camp, a program provided by The Bougainvilla House, promotes growth, healing, relationship-building, and connection through a unique combination of equine and traditional group therapy.

Hearts & Hooves is open to children ages 6-11 and teens ages 12-17 who are struggling with mental health issues. A day spent interacting with horses and rescued farm animals can be a fun, healthy, and meaningful way for young people to bond, build trust, heal, and learn to cope with their feelings.

Hearts & Hooves healing day camp is coming soon, and will take place at Marando Farms & Ranch, Fort Lauderdale. For more details, please email Veronicac@tbhcares.org.

I have dark thoughts, what can I do about it?

Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is scary.  Yes, it feels like you’re all alone. 

It’s okay if you don’t have it all together. We know how hard it is to struggle with your thoughts and feelings. Depression is dark and empty, making you believe that you can contribute nothing to anyone or anything. And it feels like life means nothing anymore.  

You may think that isolating yourself or dealing with it on your own is the best thing to do. You don’t want to be a burden to family and friends, and you may think you’re crazy for feeling this way, but that isn’t you. That is the bully in your head talking. 

The bully says it will be better without you. Don’t believe it. Suicide only causes lifelong trauma for the people you love. But you don’t have to live in this dark place.  

Or maybe you’re trying to push away the darkness or relieve the relentless pressure with substances or self-harm. 

If this is you, be honest with your feelings. Please talk.  

If this is someone you know, reach out, tough as it is. Maybe your support will help a friend or relative find the words and the assistance they need. 

Let’s Get Real  

If you’re in a dark place and feeling alone, ask yourself: “Who do I want to talk to?” A family member? A friend? An adult you trust? Chances are, that person already knows something is wrong, but maybe they just don’t quite know how to start the conversation.  

If you can’t think of anyone, don’t give up. Or maybe you’d rather talk about your feelings with someone who’s outside of your circle of family and friends. If either situation is true, call any of the resources listed below. That might feel a bit weird and impersonal, but truly, the people at the other end of the conversation care and will listen. 

Bottom line – if this is you, run toward help. If this is someone you’re worrying about, don’t run away if you think they’re struggling – show them support when they need it the most.  

Danger signs 

Honesty time. Do any of the following warning signs feel like you, or someone you know?  If this is you, a friend, or someone you know, seek help.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to attempt suicide, even jokingly 
  • Looking for suicide methods, like searching online or buying a gun 
  • Talking about or feeling anxious, hopeless or having no reason to live 
  • Pretending everything’s fine when it isn’t 
  • Talking about or feeling trapped or in unbearable pain 
  • Talking about being a burden to others 
  • Personality changes – not feeling, acting or behaving like the person you, or they used to be 
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs 
  • Feeling or acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly 
  • Unexplained or unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behavior 
  • Sleeping too little or too much 
  • Eating too little or too much 
  • Trouble focusing 
  • Withdrawing or isolating from friends and family 
  • Feeling or showing rage or talking about seeking revenge 
  • Extreme mood swings 

Does any of this sound like you? If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust if they’ve noticed any of these behaviors in you. If you’re worried about someone and seeing any of these actions or behaviors, take them as the warning signs they are.  

Been there: stories from the darkness 

Others have been through this. They know the fear, the shame, the aloneness. Maybe their stories will help you or someone you know to find the encouragement to reach out for help. 

Emma’s Story on Wellness Wednesday

Shattering the Silence: Youth Suicide Prevention | Sadie Penn | TEDxYouth@Lancaster 

I witnessed a suicide | Joseph Keogh | TEDxPSUBehrend 

Crisis Resources 

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. 
  • If you or someone you know are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) 
  • If talking on the phone is uncomfortable, text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.  

Get Help 

Don’t minimize your feelings or someone else’s – look for a safe person and space to talkThe Bougainvilla House is there for you, with a safe and welcoming environment for teens and their families. Take that critical first step and ask for help to overcome anxiety and depression, and reconnect to the life you want to live, or want for someone you love. Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

Sources:  

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=teen-suicide-learning-to-recognize-the-warning-signs-1-1696 

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/ 

https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month 

https://paradigmtreatment.com/teen-depression-really-feels-like-according-16-year-old/ 

 

 

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/