The upcoming holiday season is a time of joy but it can also feel incredibly stressful. Come to our free parent workshop on Mindfulness: Managing Seasonal Stress. Pre-registration required. Contact Susan Johnson at sjohnson@copecenter.net

Health and Wellness

Taking care of yourself is the first step to taking care of your family. Modelling self-care for your child. Practical steps for setting your family up for emotional and physical well-being.

 

Mindful Practices

Workshop: Mindfulness: Managing Seasonal Stress

  • Use mindfulness techniques and self-calming strategies to manage stress
  • Better understand, tolerate, and deal with your emotions in healthy ways by using techniques to alter habitual responses by pausing and choosing how you act.
  • Explore how helping our children manage their emotions effectively is a key building block in family communication, school success, and positive peer interactions.
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth articles

 

 

Emotional Regulation and Managing Conflict

Workshop: Emotional Regulation

  • What is emotional regulation and how might it be relevant for you and your family?
  • Develop the skills needed for managing emotions under all circumstances which will aid you in successfully keep your cool when in crisis mode.
  • How to use self-calming strategies to reduce emotionally induced stress.
  • Explore how helping our children manage their emotions effectively is a key building block in family communication, school success, and positive peer interactions.
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth Articles:

 

Workshop: Managing Conflict: Keep Your Cool and Make It a Teachable Moment

Techniques for navigating the conflicts that are a part of all families’ lives. Learning how to recognize and manage your own anger is an important step in becoming a better role model for your child.

  • The impact of a parent’s behavior on a child’s
  • what triggers anger, and ways to express and control it in non-explosive ways
  • better understanding how to manage stress
  • The effects of anger on the parent-child relationship
  • ideas for improving outcomes after family conflict
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Pocket Reference

In-depth Articles

 

 

Wellness and Healthy Life Choices

In-depth Articles

 

 

Mental Health Issues

Under Development

 

 

 

Scrolling Tows

While we should all know how to recognize the warning signs of mental warning signs of mental illness, it is equally important to build our children’s emotional resiliency. Feeling good about ourselves and using positive coping strategies when faced with challenges ourselves not only models healthy behavior for our children, it enhances our own emotional well being. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides tips for every day life that promote children’s social and emotional health.

 

 

The holiday season is busy and it’s easy to feel stressed out. Take a few minutes for yourself! Find a quiet spot, turn off the ringer and alerts on your phone, and set the timer. Practice breathing and relaxation techniques (click here for help in getting started), paying attention to how our body responds to your slower breathing and on visualizing a calm, peaceful place. You’ll find that this brief respite will “recharge your batteries” and help you manage during this busy time of year. (link for meditation tips: http://www.supportingparentsessexnj.org/en/tips-on-how-to-meditate/)

 

 

We are all taught to say thank you because it is the polite thing to do. Did you know that gratitude, however it is expressed, affects our brains and bodies in positive ways? If you increase your positive thoughts–gratitude included–you ‘ll increase your sense of well-being, and your body will respond, physically reinforcing your mental attitude.

Start your New Year’s resolutions early. Say “thank you” this holiday season even when you’re feeling stressed. Try keeping a gratitude journal to ramp up your efforts to think positively. Make time for family conversations where everyone shares what they are grateful for – whether it is something, said, done or experienced.

If you’re feeling just the opposite, here are some tips to prevent holiday stress and depression. Acknowledge your feelings. Reach out. Be realistic. Set aside differences. Stick to a budget. Plan ahead. Learn to say no. Don’t abandon healthy habits.

 

 

Tip: The next time you’re in your car waiting for school dismissal, resist the temptation to check your email or look at your Instagram or Facebook feed; take a deep breathe and let your mind wander. Our brains and bodies benefit when we give ourselves a break from mental and visual stimulation. To learn more, listen to this 3 minute story from WNYC, Why Being Bored Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing or read Five Reasons Why We Should All Learn to do Nothing by Oliver Burkeman from The Guardian.

 

 

Have you noticed some of your child’s classmates missing days from school because of the “stomach flu?” The norovirus is a highly contagious virus that leads to cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea and is often confused with the flu. Here are some tips to help prevent the spread of the norovirus in your home you can do the following; Wash your hands thoroughly with soap, be sure to rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly, cook shellfish and oysters thoroughly, clean and disinfect contaminated areas using a bleach based household cleaner, immediately wash clothing or linens after being soiled. Remember to always stay hydrated and to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen. Click here for more information on the Norovirus.<https://www.cdc.gov/features/norovirus/index.html>

 

 

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Are you, a friend or family member struggling with food or exercise issues? The National Eating Awareness Association  has resources to help. Click here to take the National Eating Disorder Awareness quiz as a first step.

 

 

Getting your family on track to have a healthier diet doesn’t mean you have to fill your pantry with unfamiliar foods. “Put you best fork forward” and identify a handful of ways to tweak what your family eats.

 

If you want to learn more, the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, eatright.org (embed links) has many resources to help.

 

 

Spring is in the air! You shouldn’t need an excuse to get outdoors, but in case you need convincing, here are some of the health benefits:

  • Being outside in the sunshine for 10-15 minutes a day will give you a healthy dose of vitamin D — studies are suggesting that it may have protective effects against a variety of health risks, including depression, cancer, heart attacks and stroke.
  • Getting outdoors means you’re more likely to get more exercise; even moderate activity has long lasting health benefits.
  • Light tends to elevate people’s mood, just getting outside can make you happier.
  • Are you having trouble concentrating? Researchers have shown that children with ADHD have better concentration after walking in a park. While this research studied children, it’s not a stretch to think that it will work for everyone. Experiment yourself; see if you feel better after strolling under the trees.
  • Some studies have shown that after spinal surgery, exposure to natural light benefited patients. If it helps patients in the hospital, exposure to natural light plus some fresh air has to be a good prescription for us all.

Find time and take a walk this weekend with your family — breathe deeply and you can smell the changing season!

 

 

The Netflix series 13 Reason Why, a fictional story about teen suicide, has made us all aware about the tragedy of teen suicide. Starting a conversation with your child about suicide is not easy, but it is very important and can be life saving. Whether or not your child watches the series,  be aware of the issues it raises and the possible effect on your child and your child’s friends. Don’t do nothing because you don’t know how to start the conversation. The Jed Foundation and Save.org have created 13 Reasons Why: Talking Points ( click on the title to access the talking points in both English and Spanish) as a resource to help parents and educators.

According to Dr Deborah Gilboa on The Today Show: “This show is just one way of opening that conversation at home. If you don’t want to use this entry, find another,” she said. “Teens need to know that their adults are ready to talk about difficult topics, this one in particular.”

Dr. Gilboa said that more important than the show is how your individual child reacts to it. “I would watch my child even more than I watch the show, to see if they are affected by or interested in any of the topics or scenes. I’d also watch for their reactions.”

For help: Call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  or Text “START” to 741-741

 

 

 

While we should all know how to recognize the warning signs of mental warning signs of mental illness, it is equally important to build our children’s emotional resiliency. Feeling good about ourselves and using positive coping strategies when faced with challenges ourselves not only models healthy behavior for our children, it enhances our own emotional well being. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides tips for every day life that promote children’s social and emotional health.

(We can also substitute this link for the warning signs of mental illness, if you feel it is more appropriate: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs)

 

 

Don’t Hold It All In: talking about your feeling can be a scary and uncomfortable step but it is a great way to deal with any problems that you have been worrying about in your head. Holding in emotions can cause stress, depression, anxiety and, affects your physical health. You can talk to a family member or someone you know. If you feel like there is no one that you can talk to it is a great idea to reach out to a counselor.

 

 

Give Yourself a Break: often we are running around handling all the many things that need to get done in days that are not long enough. Even a five-minute break to gather your thoughts and not worry about what needs to be done is a good way to help lower stress levels. Taking a break can mean different things for everyone, some may choose to be active while others may need time to relax, either way it is important to make time for yourself in your routine.

 

 

Taking Care of Your Body: since the mind and body are so closely related it is important to take care of your body. This means eating healthy foods and staying physically active. Eating a diet that only consists of junk food can have negative effects on your immune system and ability to sleep. Trying different nutritious foods can help you learn what works best for you. Staying physically active also helps to lift your mood and energy. You don’t always have to go to the gym, going for a walk or running outside with your pet is enough to make a difference.

 

 

Have some fun! It is important to spend some time doing things that make you happy. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and find ways to fit them into your schedule. Doing something that you enjoy helps you feel refreshed and makes it easier to cope with problems you may be dealing with. Often we forget about the little things that bring us joy; these are the best for lifting your spirits when you are feeling down.

 

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help: sometimes people see asking for help as a sign of weakness when it is in fact the exact opposite. Knowing that something is wrong and reaching out to a counselor, family member or, a friend takes a lot of strength and courage. Everyone gets overwhelmed at times and some may need some outside help to understand why. The quicker one addresses their emotions the quicker one can get the appropriate help they need to start feeling better and living a happier life. By the same token, if you see someone close to you struggling, ask if you can help; sometimes that simple question lets them know that someone else cares and it can make all the difference. The Cope Center can help you find a counselor if you don’t know to whom to turn. (embed link in “The Cope Center”)

 

 

It’s only the middle of the summer, but you’re already running out of steam. Summer is supposed to be a time when everything and everyone slows down. As a parent, it probably doesn’t feel that way. Here are some ideas for giving yourself, and your family, some time and space:

 

  • Slow cooker meals: make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for next week.
  • Plan ahead and enlist the entire family in shopping and preparing the week’s snacks and quick meals. Store them in the fridge and freezer where everyone knows where to find them. Have an at-home picnic once a week with utensil-free food (think dinner on a bun with cut up veggies and fruit).
  • Experiment with cutting the cord: try using the limiting app yourself that you’ve installed on your child’s phone; park your phone when you go for a walk; turn off notifications on your phone, even better delete social media apps that make it all too easy to constantly “check-in.”
  • Take a news vacation. You’re not any less committed if you only watch the news once a day instead of 24/7.
  • When you go on vacation, make a pact with your family to unplug together. Extend the feeling once you’re home by designating times during the week when everyone turns off their devices.
  • Enlist other family members in the housekeeping chores you always seem to do yourself. With fewer other commitments, it’s a great time to make those tasks part of their routine. Make a chart or job wheel and maybe even offer rewards (a trip to the ice cream shop?) for getting their job done without having to be asked.
  • Schedule some down-time for yourself. If it seems impossible, find a friend and offer to take turns getting some time off while the other person covers.

Be sure to check-in with yourself before and after trying out some of these suggestions to see if they’ve helped. Sit down on the front steps or back porch, take a few deep breathes, reflect and let the summer seep into your bones.

 

 

The lazy days of August are a great time to promote good goofing off. Did you know that downtime gives the brain the mental space to “dive into itself and uncover what it knows.” “How Goofing Off Helps Kids Learn” by Lea Waters in The Atlantic describes the importance of giving your child time to do “nothing.” During downtime the brain organizes itself and processes information. “Letting a child press the pause button allows her to reboot her attentional resources and come back strong to continue building her strengths. Good goofing off is as an important part of a child becoming who they are.” Waters also writes that screen time doesn’t count.

 

 

A Parent’s Sixth Sense: Getting Help When Something Just Not Right with Your Child

By now, the routine of the school year has been established, it may be a good time to step back and think about how your child is doing, both academically and emotionally. All children face challenges, and like adults, kids have good days and bad. If when you ask yourself how your child is doing, it feels like their difficulties are interfering with their ability to function normally, it might be a good idea to reach out for help.

 

 

Is your child having difficulty at home, in school, with friends or within the family? Are those difficulties affecting their ability to eat or sleep? Are they having a hard time in situations where they used to be okay? Are these problems significant enough that are causing your child or other family members distress? If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, reach out to a professional, like your pediatrician, school counselor or clergy. The Mayo Clinic explains about recognizing warning signs in children. Contact the Cope Center if you need help finding the right resources for your family.

 

There are many reasons why children struggle with school work, but if it seems like “something isn’t right,” trust your instinct and check in with your child’s teacher or counselor. If your child does have a learning disability, early intervention is critical to getting the right support in place. Click here for a useful resource is from the Learning Disability Association of American explains the range of learning disabilities and disorders.

 

The important take-away is that you, as a parent, best knows your child. Trust your instinct and when something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

 

Mayo Clinic article: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/mental-illness-in-children/art-20046577

Linked LD article: https://ldaamerica.org/support/new-to-ld/

 

 

 

The end of daylight savings time brings disruptions to everyone’s sleep patterns as we “fall back” and clocks are set back an hour, making daylight hours feel even shorter. You can tweak your family’s schedule to ease the transition: starting now, adjust mealtimes, especially breakfast; make a special effort to get outside during the day; exercise helps normalize sleep schedules; and get enough sleep. Now is a good time to think about your family’s “sleep hygiene.” In addition to getting outside and exercising, good sleep practices include limiting naps to 20 to 30 minutes a day; avoiding stimulants like caffeine in the evening, having a regular bed-time routine; making your bedroom an environment conducive to rest – keep it cool – 60-67 degrees, limit light and noise (if black out shades and a white noise machine aren’t options, try ear-plugs and eye shades).

 

Sleep impacts behavior and development in children and teens. In some studies (click here to read about one such study) it has been shown that children who have insufficient sleep as toddlers have higher risk for problems with their executive functioning (attention, working memory, reasoning and problem solving) later in life. Generally, in addition to ADHD-like symptoms, sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity and behavioral problems. Click here for suggestions to help school aged children sleep better.

 

For teens, there are greater risks, including an increased risk of traffic accidents, inability to self-regulate emotions, may lead to substance abuse and risky behaviors, and less sleep correlates with higher levels of depression. Check out this link on teens and sleep.

 

For everyone, keep electronics out of the bedroom. If a bedtime snack can’t be skipped, eat something high in protein and low in sugar, avoiding any foods that might disrupt digestion. To Try a mindfulness exercise, like a guided meditation to help relax.

Embedded links:

Study Flags Later Risks for Sleep-deprived Kids https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/03/study-flags-later-risks-for-sleep-deprived-kids/

teens and sleep

https://drugfree.org/parent-blog/school-stress-teen-needs-good-nights-sleep/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImK6fi8Od1wIVBZ7ACh06vAzhEAMYAyAAEgKe6_D_BwE

Helping Our School Age Children Sleep Better

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/25/helping-our-school-age-children-sleep-better/?_r=0

 

 

 

Is the holiday season a sprint or a marathon for you? It’s easy to get caught up in the “to do” list in the midst of what may feel like holiday madness. Action for Happiness has created this kindness calendar for the month of December. Print it out and post it on the refrigerator door, make a kindness challenge for your family, at your next family meeting, or make your family’s kindness action plan an agenda item. Any (or all) of these steps is an easy way to making this holiday season a giving season for your family.

 

http://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/625566/kindness_calendar.jpg

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embedded link to website: http://www.actionforhappiness.org/kindness-calendar

jpeg link is an image file to use on website

 

 

 

Everyone uses the word “mindfulness” but many of us don’t really know what it means.

Check out “Why Mindfulness is a Superpower,” a beautiful animated explanation, as well as a calming a rewarding way to spend 3 minutes.

 

https://my.happify.com/hd/why-mindfulness-is-a-superpower-animation/

 

 

 

The holidays are a hectic time of year, filled with gatherings and celebrations with family and friends. Don’t forget to be a role model for your children, especially teenagers. It’s a time for greater care and responsibility as well as merriment. If you’re going to be drinking at a holiday party, make a plan for getting home safely ahead of time. Talk about who is going to be the designated driver or if you’re going to use a ride sharing app to get home. Know your limits: use this interactive calculator to determine your blood alcohol level, based on your weight, alcohol consumption and hours spent drinking.

 

http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/interactive/alcohol_calculator.asp

Check out the website Rethinking Drinking for taking a look at your drinking habits and how they affect your life.

https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Default.aspx

 

 

 

It’s January and you put off getting a flu shot:

  • It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Yes, this year’s flu shot is less effective than in some years, but the flu bug that’s going around now is a particularly nasty strain, and getting the shot reduces your risk without a downside.
  • If everyone in your family has already gotten their flu shots this year, there’s more you can do to stay healthy.
  • If you or a family member gets sick, stay home from work or school – not only is it important to take care of yourself, but you don’t want to spread the flu to others; drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, and see a health care provider if your symptoms worsen.

 

Why It’s Still Worth Getting A Flu Shot:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/upshot/flu-shot-risks-benefits-strain.html?_r=0

Debunking flu myths:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/10-flu-myths

Prevention:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

What to do if you get sick:

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm

 

 

It’s flu season and it’s brutal this year. To protect yourself and your family, take these preventative steps:

 

  • Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and stay home if you’re sick. It’s not the time to tough it out by going to work or school – until you’re fever free (without medication) for 24 hours.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes – use your elbow if you don’t have a tissue.
  • Hand washing. Make it a habit for everyone in your family to wash hands when returning home. Buy a bottle of moisturizer to put next to the sink, so no one complains about how dry their hands are getting!
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects: door handles, telephones, remotes. Throw a container of wipes into the car to wipe down the steering wheel and door handles.
  • If you’re sick, overcome being self-conscious and wear and mask if you have to go out. You’re doing everyone around you a big favor.

 

If you get sick, especially if you’re in at high risk for developing flu related complications, see your health care provider (or visit an urgent care facility) for treatment. Children under 5 are at greater risk for complications, so don’t wait to bring them in. Anti-viral flu medications can lessen the flu’s symptoms, shorten the time you’re ill, and may reduce complications. Read the CDC’s What You Should Know  to learn more.

 

Finally, take care of yourself and your family, get enough sleep and exercise and eat healthy. Taking a little extra care gives your immune system a boost to help fight off illness. It’s no guarantee, but it’s a good excuse to do what’s right for your body.

 

June 2018

 

 

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