This February, Celebrate All the Relationships That Matter

3 teen girls hugging

Welcome to February, the month associated with Cupids and hearts, candy and flowers – and romance. 

The history of Valentine’s Day is murky but is thought to originate with at least two martyred Christian saints named Valentine, and may have also been an effort to transform a Roman spring fertility rite into a Christian festival.  

Today, the holiday is heavily about romantic relationships – but it’s also a great opportunity to broaden this focus. Why not use this month to celebrate love in all its forms, and strengthen all your connections with friends, family, and community? 

It’s also a good opportunity to ask yourself which relationships have occupied most of your time and focus, and which ones need and deserve some extra attention. 

Relationships of all kinds are essential to our shared human experience. Some relationships are forever, while others come into our lives just for a season – but all of them play an important and sometimes overlooked role in mental well-being.  

Better Health Channel lists three kinds of connections we typically experience with others 

  1. Intimate connections – with people who love and care about you, such as family and friends. 
  2. Relational connections – with people who you see regularly and who share an interest or activity with you, such as work colleagues, classmates, or a sports league in which you or your children participate.  
  3. Collective connections – with people who share a group membership or an affiliation with you, such as people who vote like you do, or who share the same faith.  

These social connections bolster our sense of belonging and enjoyment of life. Without question, healthy interactions of all kinds also have a positive impact on your mental health. Your most intimate connections, like your relationship with your family, deserve your best ongoing efforts to strengthen (and if you need help, that’s what TBH is here for).  

As adults, we know (and must teach our children) that good relationships of all kinds reward us with a sense of trust, connection, and satisfaction, and can lead to exciting new opportunities and experiences. All our relationships become part of who we are and help prepare us for the next chapter of our lives. They deserve the time and effort it takes to build and maintain them. 

Healthy social connections support our emotional and physical wellbeing by lowering anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that those who enjoy positive relationships typically have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, and are more trusting and cooperative.   

We’ve all experienced what can happen when relationships go south – whether just two people or an entire group is involved. For relationships to work, everyone must be committed. It’s not always easy – some relationships take longer to build than others. 

How to nurture your relationships Two girls making mustaches from their hairs

Maybe you’ve moved to a new job or community, and you’d like to build new connections. Maybe you’d like to strengthen relationships that you already have. Here are five ideas to help you reach out in a meaningful way to the people in your world.

  1. Take time for the people who are important to you – It seems obvious, right? It’s amazing how taking a few minutes out of your day to check in or show someone that they’re a priority can make a difference and sustain connection – for instance, when you’re at work and your children are at school. Keep a positive, kind, and honest tone, share a moment together, and let them know you’re thinking of them.  
  2. Stay positive – Bring a calm, positive attitude to your encounters and your relationships. Look on the bright side of things, let your personality shine, and take little moments to have fun. You’ll soon see how people gravitate to someone who can make them smile.
  3. Appreciate others– Being appreciated can mean the world to someone. If you notice someone going out of their way to help you, thank them. If your co-worker did a great job, congratulate them. If your child steps in to help when you’re run off your feet, show them you noticed. Recognize the contributions of others, however small. Showing appreciation for someone’s kindness, helpfulness, or hard work makes a big difference to any relationship, whether team or individual.  
  4. It’s the little things that matter – Small words or acts of kindness really matter! Try texting an old friend to ask how they’re doing, pick up your partner’s favorite snack when they’re feeling down, or share a smile or a compliment with a stranger. You never know how much these actions can impact someone’s day.  
  5. Be available emotionally – When you know someone is going through a tough time, be there for them. You may not want to intrude during a difficult time, but it never hurts to let them know you are aware, and that you care. You can simply say, “Hi, I hope you’re okay. If you need someone to talk to just know I’m here to listen whenever you’re ready.”

These days, we conduct many of our interactions and relationships online as well as in person. It’s worth remembering that the same relationship-building principles apply, and in fact, are even more important — showing authentic interest, a positive attitude, and a willingness to listen and engage.  

As humans and social beings, the need to connect with others is part of our DNA. As a community and as parents, it’s on us to model and to teach our children the skills and sensitivity to communicate positively, to give as well as receive, and to see and sense how others react to us. Positive connection-building starts with each of us. So, take some time this month to ask yourself: How am I nurturing my relationships?  

Need More Help?  

Learning to build and maintain positive connections is challenging enough for young people, even more so if they suffer from mental health issues. A good first step is to 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 if you or someone you love needs to overcome anxiety and depression or work on skills that help build strong, lasting relationships.  

The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to give you the tools that will support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.

Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

2022 Family Resolutions for More (or Better) Quality Time Together

2022 is here and the “New Year, New Me” sayings are hitting social media feeds. The New Year is a reset, bringing fresh energy and motivation to do better, to try new things, and to leave unwanted habits in the past.  

No surprise, the most common New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and getting in shape — gym membership directors love it. Saving money ranks high as well. If you’ve set goals in these areas, congratulations and go you!  

We at The Bougainvilla House are also big fans of New Year’s resolutions related to strong family relationships and mental well-being.  If you’ve been thinking about these areas of your life, consider how you can make this your focus as well! 

Parents spend a lot of time with family all year, but so much of it inevitably involves the logistics of life – meals, running errands, taxi service to practices and lessons, cleaning — not to mention work and school demands. It’s all too easy for the days to fly by despite best efforts to focus on sustaining strong, dynamic, and healthy family relationships.  

The new year offers an exciting opportunity to refocus. Here are a few ideas and suggestions for setting, enjoying, and keeping family resolutions! 

How to set family New Year resolutions  

Every family has different values and beliefs about what matters to them, so come up with resolutions that work for you. The new year is a great opportunity to sit down together and talk about what you want to accomplish, both as individuals and as a family. This also sets you up to work together to keep those resolutions all year long.  

Your goals can be big and small-scale, serious and fun, creative or mundane – and above all, unique —just like your family.  

Family Resolutions that work for everyone.  

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas that may be good starting points for families looking to improve their quality time together.  

1. Less screen time– You may already be doing this, but if you aren’t monitoring your family’s screen time (including your own), now is a good time to start.

Technology is the ultimate easy children’s entertainment and Facebook does an excellent job at keeping you on the app, but it’s stealing your kids’ time and your own. On average, an 8- to 12-year-old in the United States now use screens for entertainment for 4 hours, 44 minutes a day, and 13- to 18-year-olds are on screens for 7 hours, 22 minutes each day, as reported in 2018 by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media. When you add it up, that’s a lot of hours your family could spend together without screens!

 If you find this resolution too challenging for your kids, try setting their devices to a max screen time per day. This way, the device will automatically enforce your agreed-upon screen-time limits. Set an example yourself too! You’ll be surprised at the amount of free time you have. Learn how to set limited screen time here. 

2. Family exercise – If your goal is to exercise more often, take advantage of our beautiful Florida winters to plan walks or bike rides on a trail or around the neighborhood. Plan a day and time to go (and maybe a Plan B) to help you set and maintain a routine.

If you don’t have a lot of time, start small. Even a 10 – 20-minute walk is more than enough to get started. Remember that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Don’t be intimidated by these numbers –habits take time. It’s worth it!

3. Schedule family activities – Family time is important, so schedule it just like soccer practice, piano lessons, and date nights with your partner.

Family time can be anything you all want it to be — playing board games, visiting a park, watching a movie, cooking together, or taking a weekend getaway. There are so many ways your family can bond and make memories that will last your lifetime and your children’s. Have fun thinking about the kinds of things you love to do together!

4. One on One time – As much as family time is important, so is one-on-one time with each of your family members. Regular ‘dates’ with each child become fun, much-anticipated events and great opportunities to connect with each child. Plan a lunch at their favorite restaurant, go bowling, or just enjoy an ice cream date. If they like playing video games, join them in the game. 

As you enjoy time together, it’s also a great chance to check in with your child and to just enjoy them as they grow.  

We hope these ideas spark more than a few of your own – but don’t overdo it!  Start off with one or two and add more later in the year once you’ve made progress on the ones you consider to be most important.  

It’s okay to take a break!  

We understand that new habits are challenging to maintain. If you’re feeling discouraged, or if things pop up at the last minute (and they will), don’t stress. It’s okay to take a break. The point is to set goals as a family, keep trying to meet them, and enjoy the journey together along the way!  

Need More Help? 

If you or your family are struggling with mental health issues, 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 that you want for someone you love). 

Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

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 

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/    

Making and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

new year's resolutions

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

Age-appropriate New Year’s Resolutions

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

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

Take Time To Reflect

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

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

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

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

Make Friends

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

Earn Better Grades

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

Eat Healthier

NYE Resolutions

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

Read More

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

Save Money

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

Tips for sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

Why your child could be suffering holiday stress

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

Reasons for holiday stress and anxiety

 

fewer daylight hours and changes in routine

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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: 

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.

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.