Apps Which Help

mobilephone

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since I can’t be with my clients 24/7, I usually suggest a few apps that they can put on their smart phones to use throughout the day. Here are a few of the ones that I suggest (unless otherwise stated, you can find them for both iPhone and Android):

1. Mindshift – an app which is useful for those suffering from anxiety issues. http://www.anxietybc.com/mobile-app (free)

2. Positive Discipline – for all your parenting needs. This app has a set of cards to help you think through possible parenting solutions.
http://www.positivediscipline.com/positive-discipline-iphone-app.html (not free)

3. Relax Melodies – great for when you need a bit of help falling asleep. You can set a timer for the soft sounds which is a bonus. (free)

4. Breathe2Relax – useful for learning to slow down your breathing
http://t2health.dcoe.mil/apps/breathe2relax (free)

5. Depression Check – helps you check the symptomology and whether they are getting better or worse. iPhone only.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/depressioncheck/id398170644?mt=8 (free)

6. Depression CBT Self-Help – an Android only app that gives you the CBT tools for depressive symptoms. Android only.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.excelatlife.depression&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS5leGNlbGF0bGlmZS5kZXByZXNzaW9uIl0 (free)

7. Recovery Record – a useful app for those who are in recovery from an eating disorder or who are struggling with disordered eating/emotional eating. http://www.recoveryrecord.com (free)

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A Controversal Parenting Topic

I just read an article in the Guardian titled “Parents will raise happier children ‘if they put them second to their marriage'” Interesting. The title, of course, drew me in.

Then they started to talk about not being that ‘helicopter’ parent. Yup, I can agree with that. A lot of the helicopter parents aren’t allow their children to make mistakes or to grow resilience. Okay, I can go along with this idea.

They said, don’t cram their free hours with tons of stuff, from tutoring to sports to music and beyond. Again, I agree. Like all human beings, we need some down time to process everything that comes at us, we need time to play and we need time to do the not so fun stuff (like learning to clean) in our lives. So far, so good.

The rest of the article goes on to explain why doing the above would be a good thing, not only for your child, but also for you and your partner. Too much focus on your child puts too much pressure on them to be your everything and to be ‘successful’, thus raising their anxiety levels to an unhealthy state.

So, what’s the happy medium? How much time should a child be spending on those extra activities? How much should a parent check on how the child is doing? What happens if your kid is about to fail? That’s something that no one seems to talk about in this article. But I do think it’s out there. What I teach in my parenting classes, Positive Discipline, is that you want to raise you child looking at what qualities and strengths you want them to have at 25. If you think of a list of those traits, then think about what a child needs to get there…this can be your path forward. If I had a child, I would want them to know how to problem solve, to be kind, to be caring and to have a work ethic – all of which comes from some training but also from making mistakes and the learning that follows.

So, how do you parent well and still allow your relationships to thrive?

Making Stress Your Friend

Want to live longer and healthier?  You must watch this Ted Talk!

How to Make Stress Your Friend

Let’s say that you hit a situation that makes your heart start to pound, your stomach swirls and you begin to sweat.  In many situations, you will interpret this as anxiety or that you aren’t coping.    But what if you interpret this differently?  What if you see this as your body as helping you rise to the challenge?  If you do so, your body will ‘believe you’ and your response to stress will be much more healthy.

So, instead of trying to get rid of stress or deal with stress by lowering it, perhaps what we should be doing is re-interpret our stress response in a more positive way.  There’s a lot more to the video than this idea, so definitely check it out!

Anxiety & Stress

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Life can get overwhelming. Many of us have so much to juggle. And we begin to see these things as stressful or anxiety producing. Anxiety and stress can be tough to deal with, and can even be debilitating. Much of my work centres around helping people to deal with stress and anxiety.

What is stress? What is anxiety? According to the American Psychological Association, stress an uncomfortable emotional experience that comes with a physiological reaction and may lead to cognitive and behavioural changes. Anxiety is an emotion which brings about feelings of tension, bodily changes and worried cognitions.

So, how do I help people deal with stress and anxiety? In several ways, all of which include changing both body and mind reactions. The most important thing to note is that your body cannot physiologically experience stress/anxiety and relaxation at the same time, and your mind cannot hold both stress/anxiety producing thoughts as well as relaxing ones at the same time, so we work to change both. Here’s a few things that you can do to work with your stressors:

1. Deep breathing. Stress and anxiety bring about changes in your body. You may experience nausea or those butterflies in your stomach. Your heartrate will typically increase. The muscles in your neck and shoulders may tighten. And your breathing gets faster. Deep breathing is an important aspect to stress relief. Now, many people try to train you to breathe a certain way – personlly, I can’t breathe easily through my nose so I just do mouth breathing, and that’s fine. But the one thing I would encourage you to do is to breathe from your diaphram. To do this, put your hand on your tummy and breathe. You should feel your stomach going up and down rather than your chest. This is the best deep breathing you can do. It will calm down your systems and many of the symptomology will go away with time.

2. Do a visualisation. I’ve used the same visualisation with students for a long time. It can be brief or you can take your time with it. Many like to have calming music in the background, and I’ve found multiple youtube videos which have hours of music to use. Here’s my favourite visualisation: Take deep breathes and every time you inhale imagine a calming colour going into your body. Each time you exhale imagine a stressful colour leaving your body. Continue with the deep breathing until you feel that only the calming colour is left. I like to imagine the stressed out coloured air is going into a balloon and then I let it go in the end.

There’s a lot more you can do to relieve stress and anxiety. I’ll continue to talk about this as I ‘blog away’. But these are a good start.

Mind-Body connection

Since I was young, I always believed in the mind-body connection. I saw the results of it in myself and in my friends…anxiety and stress causing headaches & stomach-aches. I saw that how I viewed myself invited different behaviours from others and from myself. I even used that old adage, “Fake it until you make it.” But this Ted Talk about how body language shapes who you are really spoke to me. Don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you ARE it.

Amy Cuddy’s talk on Body Language & Self