Body Positivity – A Guide to Embracing Yourself!

4 woman of different body shapes and sizes smiling

These days, we can’t get away from images of “happy beautiful people” who populate our digital world. Just check out all the carefully curated posts in your social media feed, not to mention media advertisements and content –no wonder they collectively fuel unattainable body expectations.  

But the problem isn’t limited to unrealistic media imagery. We also compare ourselves to people we know – classmates, teammates, coworkers.  

We all have things we don’t like about the way we look — weight, height, skin, hair, muscularity, shape, voice, smile, style…whatever it is, it’s easy to hyperfocus on it, and to think that’s all that other people see in you as well. 

How we see ourselves, and how we think others see us, has a lot to do with how we feel day to day, fueling feelings that easily spiral into depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. To combat the negative impact that looks can have on self-esteem, the body positivity movement has gained national attention and flooded our timelines in recent years. The movement promotes being comfortable in your own skin, offering messages like “You’re beautiful just the way you are,” or “Love your imperfections.”  

This movement may feel like it’s recent, but it’s actually been around since the 1960s! To understand its true meaning, we need to go back to 1969 during the Fat Rights Movement, when a young engineer from New York named Bill Fabrey was angry about the way the world was treating his overweight wife, Joyce. He gathered a small group of people and created the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, today known as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) to promote body positivity through community activism.  

It’s easy to preach positivity, but sometimes not so easy to truly feel it. Want to transform your life and change how you see yourself? Here are some ideas on how to embrace yourself and help others feel better as well. You deserve it – we all do!  

A Guide to Embracing Yourself 

Focus on how you feel instead of on the scale  

There is no one body type that’s ‘perfect’ or ‘healthy.’ So don’t get caught up in the numbers, or what’s in the mirror, when you are measuring the progress of your health journey. Instead, focus on how you feel physically and mentally, and remember that a number on a scale does not measure your body composition, the ratio of muscle to fat in your body, or your energy, spirits, or enjoyment of life!  

Remember to speak to a health professional you trust. They can help you better understand your body’s needs, choose healthy habits and behaviors, and set realistic goals. Understand and accept that if you do want to make changes to any aspect of your health, it will take a combination of large and small goal-setting, and a lot of commitment, patience and effort. But you can get there, especially if you have faith in yourself. And it never hurts to have good professional help in your corner! 

The numbers that we often focus on – weight, BMI, and bodyfat percentage – are each only a small part of our overall wellbeing. Check out this social experiment to see how misleading those numbers can be and how hard it can be to guess them. 

Avoid body-shaming yourself 

Focus on what you DO like about yourself and your body, rather than what you don’t. Celebrate it and play it up! Try to avoid giving voice to body-shaming thoughts or comments. Be a friend to yourself – that includes your body! 

Take care of your body 

Learn to recognize and give your body what it needs – like rest, relaxation, destressing, healthy food, and activity. Learning to love and care for yourself includes loving and caring for your body – and that starts with awareness. 

Get Inspired  

Embracing yourself includes taking time to do whatever brings you joy. Not sure where to start? Write down the things that make your heart, your mind, AND your body feel good. Look for people and activities that encourage you and build you up, both in the real and digital worlds.  Find sources of inspiration and motivation that keep you positive and help you work toward your goals. 

Use Positive Affirmations  

Despite best efforts, it’s easy to look in the mirror, give in to your insecurities and make judgments about yourself. These negative thoughts can really affect your mental health especially if they develop into a pattern of behavior which alters the way you view yourself and others.  

Positive affirmations challenge these negative thoughts by reminding you that you’re worthy, strong and beautiful. They help you remember to be kind to yourself. They say talking positively to plants helps them grow — imagine what it can do for yourself and those around you.

Here are some affirmations you can say to yourself:

  • My body is beautiful, my mind is strong.  
  • I am at peace with my body, my mind, and my life. 
  • I love myself yesterday, today and tomorrow.  

 More affirmation for every aspect of your life.  

Curate Your Social Media 

We spend 5.4 hours a day on our phones, so it’s important to be intentional about the content we consume. Social media platforms curate your feed based on content in which you show interest, and the people and organizations you engage with and follow. Review your feed and ask yourself: does this content help me mentally or physically? Does it inspire me? Does this person make me feel good about myself? 

If the answer is no, it is best to unfollow them and look for people who do.  Follow social media accounts that truly align with your life goals. Not only will this boost your self-esteem, mental health and well-being, it will help you redirect yourself toward the life and self-image you want and deserve.  

Beauty is Defined by YOU.  

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched but must be felt with the heart.” Despite Helen Keller’s sight and hearing disabilities, she felt and was constantly inspired by the beauty of the world.  

Beauty is defined by you –not by a number on a scale or by other people’s opinions. So, love and care for yourself. Your sense of confidence and conviction will not only inspire and sustain you – others will feel and respond to it as well.  

Women Who Embrace Body Positivity  

  1. Ashley Graham — The first size-16 model to land on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The supermodel quickly became an icon and example of body positivity in the fashion industry.  
  2. Lizzo – This singer and songwriter doesn’t shy away from advocating for the body positivity movement. The Grammy Award-winning artist has been open about how society judges people’s appearances, and about negativity towards plus-size women. 
  3. Estefania (Tefi) Pessoa – Famous for her TikToks about pop culture and life advice. She is known for her personality and views about the beauty industry, as she shared her struggles with an eating disorder in her teens.  
  4. Laverne Cox – You might know her from the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black. The actress and LGBTQ advocate makes it a priority to inspire others to love themselves, across all identities, shapes, and sizes.
  5.  Jules Von Hep – Influencer, podcast host and celebrity tanning expert. He’s best known as a promoter of body positivity and inclusivity in his videos.  

For more inspiring people to follow, click here.  

Need more help?  

If you or a loved one feel depressed or are having a hard time with self-image or self-esteem, consider talking to a mental health professional. Find 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 important first step and ask for help.    

The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to provide tools and strategies that 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. 

 

Communication, Comfort, Caring: Age-appropriate conversations about school shootings

Our screens are full of horrifying images and accounts of the recent massacre of children in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, and of other shootings both before and since.   

Here at The Bougainvilla House, we are thinking with compassion of the families and their trauma, and also of all the families across the nation and right here in our community, trying to make sense of the senseless loss of precious lives. Of parents trying to support their children. Of children and teens as they wonder if they are safe at school. 

We understand the shock, the sorrow, and the stress our families are enduring, and also the importance of talking about it together. Below, we offer a few thoughts on how to talk to children and teens about school shootings, and additional resources for further information.  

How to talk about tragedy: 

  1. Manage your own response 
  2. It’s important to talk 
  3. Age by age 
  4. Keep it normal 
  5. Limit media exposure 
  6. Know your child 
  7. Seek help if it’s needed 

Manage your own response.

Before you talk with your child, make sure your own emotional reactions are under control. It’s understandable to feel deep grief, fear and other emotions, but take time to look after yourself and to process these feelings so that you are ready to support your children. 

Should I talk about it with my kids? 

If you are a parent of a young child, decide if you want to tell them about the event. As a general rule, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics counsel against telling children age 8 and under about tragic events like a school shooting, unless they are directly affected or likely to hear about it from others. Know your child and the likelihood that they may find out about the event, and decide accordingly.  

It’s important to signal to teens and older children that you’re open to talking about the tragedy, even if they don’t bring it up themselves. Equally important, don’t force the conversation if your teen is unwilling to discuss it. Let them know you are willing to talk anytime, that you’re concerned about their feelings and want them to know they can come to you with questions, comments and concerns.  

Age by age 

 

Preschool and early elementary-age children:

Decide on the simple story and message you want to give very young children. If you have reason to think they have seen or heard something about the shooting, plan out a simple sentence or two to explain, and try to balance it with a positive or caring message; for example, “a very angry person hurt some people, but the helpers are taking care of their families, just like we are here taking care of each other. Especially when we feel sad.” 

Parents who want to talk more directly about the event may want to consider this approach, offered by Dr. David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement. Schonfeld, who works with communities affected by mass shootings, suggests parents include some context for the location of the event relative to their own community: “I want to let you know that in a school that is hours away from us, there was a person who shot some children and adults, and a lot of people are sad.” 

Older elementary-age children: 

Find out what your child knows and wants to know, if anything. That gives you an opportunity to correct any misinformation and to answer their questions, but without giving too much detail. If you don’t know, or want to think about your response, say so, and follow up if you think it is appropriate. 

Young children quickly focus on how the event affects them. Talk with your child about everything that the school and the community do to keep them safe. It may also help to remind them that these events are uncommon (even if it doesn’t feel like it to you) and that they can go to school without worrying about their safety.  

Tweens and young teens: 

You can safely assume your child knows about the event, so ask them what they’ve heard. Listen actively and carefully, for both possible misinformation and for their emotional response to the news. They may be sad and scared, but afraid to show it or to appear babyish. Reassure your child that it’s okay to be upset, that this is a time when we all need to lean on others, and that you’re there to listen and support.    

Teens: 

Teens are old enough to understand if you express your own feelings about tragic events. Depending on your child’s personality, it may open the door to a discussion of their own feelings. Again, active and sensitive listening is the key, as well as respect for their own willingness to discuss their feelings.   

Make sure they know you are willing and open to talk about the event, including a discussion of the larger issues at stake, and what the country, state, community, school, and individuals can do to address it.  Gen Z teens can be skeptical challengers of information and opinions, so be prepared to say, “I don’t know” and to be honest and direct with your teen.   

With older children and teens, an event such as a mass shooting is also a reminder to reinforce the need to avoid bullying, judging, or isolating others, to be kind and inclusive with fellow students, to let a trusted adult know if they see or hear something concerning, and to call out negative behavior when they see it in others.  

Other healthy practices: 

 

Limit media exposure 

For your children’s sake and for your own, limit the amount of exposure to media coverage of events like the recent school shooting. It’s easy to keep watching and following every sad, horrific detail, but there is a cost to your family’s peace of mind and to yours as well.   

Keep it normal

Maintain normal household routines, rules, and expectations: doing homework, getting rest, exercising, enjoying activities, and eating healthy meals.  There is comfort in routine, for both you and your children, and it will help to reassure them that their world continues to be safe and predictable.  

Know your child 

You know your child, so watch for any changes in behavior, habits, attitude, mood, and socializing. If you have concerns, keep in touch with teachers, coaches, employers, youth leaders, and others who might need to be aware. And be sure to keep an open line of communication with your child, whether or not they appear to welcome it.  Find out more here. 

Seek help 

If you or a loved one are struggling with fear, anxiety or stress, consider talking to a mental health professional. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with a safe space and an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that important first step and ask for help.    

The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to provide tools and strategies that support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.     

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

Additional Resources: 

 

https://www.schoolcrisiscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Guidelines-Talking-to-Kids-About-Attacks-Two-Sided-Onesheet-Format.pdf 

https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//parents_guidelines_for_helping_youth_after_the_recent_shooting.pdf  

https://healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/talking-to-children-about-tragedies-and-other-news-events.aspx 

https://kidsafefoundation.org/topics/an-age-by-age-guide-to-talking-to-children-about-mass-shootings/ 

Original source: https://www.nytimes.com/article/talk-about-school-shootings-kids.html? 

“The voice inside my head” How to quiet your inner critic

Ever find yourself thinking things like “I shouldn’t have said that!” or “Why did I do that?” or, more positively, “I nailed it today!”? 

What are you thinking right now, as you’re reading this?  

What you’re experiencing is an internal thought monologue, also known as “the voice inside your head,” or your “inner voice.” It’s perfectly normal.  Think of it like the Netflix show You, where the protagonist Joe narrates his thoughts –but without his creepy intentions. This internal conversation might be nothing more than mundane observations or self-queries like “Did I turn off my flatiron?” when leaving the house or “What’s for lunch?” when you’re hungry. Or more emotional concerns might be on the internal agenda.  

This inner conversational capability is thought to develop during childhood, at the same time as external communications skills begin to flower. However, not everyone experiences an internal monologue — others think in a more visual way.  It’s perfectly normal if you don’t experience an inner monologue as described here. 

Your inner voice is actually helpful for problem solving, critical thinking, emotional self-management and behavior regulation. Because the voice inside your head can sound like your own, it is usually tied to your sense of self.     

Your inner voice can serve as a cheerleader, encouraging you to persevere or reinforcing feelings of accomplishment. Unfortunately, it can also be a harsh critic, exacerbating mental health issues like anxiety and depression.   

What kind of messages is your inner voice feeding you, and how do they make you feel? 

Inner Critic  

Your inner critic voice may surface in times of stress and doubt, pummeling you with extremely judgmental messages about your capabilities, looks, or actions, making you think that “I’m not smart enough” while studying, or calling you names (“stupid,” “fat,” “failure,” “ugly”).  

Pediatrician and teen health expert Dr. Anisha Abraham says, “With constant exposure to social media, pressure to fit into a peer group, demands from parents and coaches, and other stressors, teens nowadays are particularly vulnerable to being self-critical.”  

A constant inner stream of criticism isn’t normal or healthy. This destructive inner commentary negatively affects your self-esteem, confidence, and performance at school and work, causing you to quit when things are hard, or to not try at all. However, it’s important to recognize these hurtful thoughts when they surface — because ignoring them just doesn’t work. 

If you push aside negative thoughts or emotions rather than addressing them, they are more likely to recur and to intensify.  If you’re constantly battling your inner critic, here are some suggestions to help you quiet this negative monologue — to say, as Alberto teaches the title character in the Pixar movie Luca, “Silenzio, Bruno!” 

 4 ways to silence your inner critic  

Acknowledge your thoughts – Our brain is a busy place.  As well as running our body systems 24/7, thousands of not-very-organized thoughts swirl around our mind every day. “By one estimate, each day, an average person thinks fifty thousand spontaneous thoughts…chaotic and mostly repetitive from one day to the next,” says Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic. 

 As mentioned, it’s important to recognize self-critical thoughts when they surface and to maintain a healthy balance, by separating the facts from exaggerated reactions and feelings that are simply not true. Most importantly, don’t let these thoughts bully you. It might also help to identify the source of and possible motivation for these negative thoughts (for example, an incident from childhood) as a way to keep them in their place.

Change the narrative – When your inner critic starts to kick in, replace the negative thought with a positive one. This practice will be hard at first. Start by questioning your thoughts. If you’ve been thinking, “I’m not good enough to make the team” you can say, “How do I know? I’m trying my hardest and maybe I AM good enough.” In other words, reroute the inner critic with a positive affirmation, keep your inner monologue light, and actively try to go easier on yourself.

What would your friends say? – This is a serious question you should ask yourself! If you talk to a friend about your feelings of doubt, they will respond with compassion and words of encouragement because they believe in you and they care about you. So be a friend to yourself. Live by the rule “If I wouldn’t say these hurtful things to a friend, then I shouldn’t say them to myself either.”  

Use your inner voice for the better – Your inner critic has a positive role to play, protecting you from danger and helping you to set standards and stay on track. Once you learn how to silence your negative thoughts, you can learn how to use your inner critic to help you choose your path and make better decisions in life. Reframe your inner comments with thoughts like “I’m capable of achieving my goal.  What do I need to do or change to be successful?” 

How can we help? 

If you are having a hard time navigating your inner critic and maintaining positive thoughts, consider talking to a health professional. 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 important first step and ask for help if you or someone you love needs to overcome anxiety and depression or work on skills that help tame the inner critic and build self-confidence.   

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. 

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/ 

 

 

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/    

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/    

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

sad-holiday-1024x581

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.