Category Archives: Healthy Eating

7 Ways Childhood Adversity Can Change Your Brain (Donna Jackson Nakazawa)

According to science journalist and author, Donna Jackson Nakazawa, early emotional trauma changes who we are, but we can do something about it. This article, reprinted here with the author’s permission, first appeared in a Psychology Today blog of August 7, 2015.
(Donna wrote this as Part I; Part II offers science-based methods for reversing the changes related to ACEs. Part II can be accessed through a link at the bottom of this article.)

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7 Ways Childhood Adversity Can Change Your Brain, Donna Jackson NakazawaIf you’ve ever wondered why you’ve been struggling a little too hard for a little too long with chronic emotional and physical health conditions that just won’t abate, feeling as if you’ve been swimming against some invisible current that never ceases, a new field of scientific research may offer hope, answers, and healing insights.

In 1995, physicians Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda launched a large-scale epidemiological study that probed the child and adolescent histories of 17,000 subjects, comparing their childhood experiences to their later adult health records. The results were shocking: Nearly two-thirds of individuals had encountered one or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)—a term Felitti and Anda coined to encompass the chronic, unpredictable, and stress-inducing events that some children face. These included growing up with a depressed or alcoholic parent; losing a parent to divorce or other causes; or enduring chronic humiliation, emotional neglect, or sexual or physical abuse. These forms of emotional trauma went beyond the typical, everyday challenges of growing up. (For stories of those who faced childhood adversity, see these videos on Laura and John, two patients featured in my newest book, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal.)

The number of Adverse Childhood Experiences an individual had had predicted the amount of medical care she’d require as an adult with surprising accuracy:

• Individuals who had faced 4 or more categories of ACEs were twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer as individuals who hadn’t experienced childhood adversity.
• For each ACE Score a woman had, her risk of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disease rose by 20 percent.
• Someone with an ACE Score of 4 was 460 percent more likely to suffer from depression than someone with an ACE Score of 0.
• An ACE Score greater than or equal to 6 shortened an individual’s lifespan by almost 20 years.

Childhood Disrupted, Donna Jackson NakazawaThe ACE Study tells us that experiencing chronic, unpredictable toxic stress in childhood predisposes us to a constellation of chronic conditions in adulthood. But why? Today, in labs across the country, neuroscientists are peering into the once inscrutable brain-body connection, and breaking down, on a biochemical level, exactly how the stress we face when we’re young catches up with us when we’re adults, altering our bodies, our cells, and even our DNA. What they’ve found may surprise you.

Some of these scientific findings can be a little overwhelming to contemplate. They compel us to take a new look at how emotional and physical pain are intertwined. (For more on why I wrote about how ACEs can change the way we see illness and how we do medicine, see this video.)

[In Part I of this article, we’ll talk about the science of early adversity and how it changes us. In Part II, we’ll talk about all the science-based ways in which we can reverse these changes, and get back to who it is we hope to be, so stay tuned for the good news.]

1. Epigenetic Shifts

When we’re thrust over and over again into stress-inducing situations during childhood or adolescence, our physiological stress response shifts into overdrive, and we lose the ability to respond appropriately and effectively to future stressors—10, 20, even 30 years later. This happens due to a process known as gene methylation, in which small chemical markers, or methyl groups, adhere to the genes involved in regulating the stress response, and prevent these genes from doing their jobs. As the function of these genes is altered, the stress response becomes re-set on “high” for life, promoting inflammation and disease.
This can make us more likely to over-react to the everyday stressors we meet in our adult life—an unexpected bill, a disagreement with a spouse, or a car that swerves in front of us on the highway, creating more inflammation. This, in turn, predisposes us to a host of chronic conditions, including autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, and depression.

Indeed, Yale researchers recently found that children who’d faced chronic, toxic stress showed changes “across the entire genome,” in genes that not only oversee the stress response, but also in genes implicated in a wide array of adult diseases. This new research on early emotional trauma, epigenetic changes, and adult physical disease breaks down longstanding delineations between what the medical community has long seen as “physical” disease versus what is “mental” or “emotional.”

2. Size and Shape of the Brain

Scientists have found that when the developing brain is chronically stressed, it releases a hormone that actually shrinks the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible of processing emotion and memory and managing stress. Recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies suggest that the higher an individual’s ACE Score, the less gray matter he or she has in other key areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, an area related to decision-making and self-regulatory skills, and the amygdala, or fear-processing center. Kids whose brains have been changed by their Adverse Childhood Experiences are more likely to become adults who find themselves over-reacting to even minor stressors.

3. Neural Pruning

Children have an overabundance of neurons and synaptic connections; their brains are hard at work, trying to make sense of the world around them. Until recently, scientists believed that the pruning of excess neurons and connections was achieved solely in a “use-it-or-lose-it” manner, but a surprising new player in brain development has appeared on the scene: non-neuronal brain cells—known as microglia, which make up one-tenth of all the cells in the brain, and are actually part of the immune system—participate in the pruning process. These cells prune synapses like a gardener prunes a hedge. They also engulf and digest entire cells and cellular debris, thereby playing an essential housekeeping role.

But when a child faces unpredictable, chronic stress of Adverse Childhood Experiences, microglial cells “can get really worked up and crank out neurochemicals that lead to neuroinflammation,” says Margaret McCarthy, PhD, whose research team at the University of Maryland Medical Center studies the developing brain. “This below-the-radar state of chronic neuroinflammation can lead to changes that reset the tone of the brain for life.”

That means that kids who come into adolescence with a history of adversity and lack the presence of a consistent, loving adult to help them through it may become more likely to develop mood disorders or have poor executive functioning and decision-making skills.

4. Telomeres

Early trauma can make children seem “older,” emotionally speaking, than their peers. Now, scientists at Duke University; the University of California, San Francisco; and Brown University have discovered that Adverse Childhood Experiences may prematurely age children on a cellular level as well. Adults who’d faced early trauma show greater erosion in what are known as telomeres—the protective caps that sit on the ends of DNA strands, like the caps on shoelaces, to keep the genome healthy and intact. As our telomeres erode, we’re more likely to develop disease, and our cells age faster.

5. Default Mode Network

Inside each of our brains, a network of neurocircuitry, known as the “default mode network,” quietly hums along, like a car idling in a driveway. It unites areas of the brain associated with memory and thought integration, and it’s always on stand-by, ready to help us to figure out what we need to do next. “The dense connectivity in these areas of the brain help us to determine what’s relevant or not relevant, so that we can be ready for whatever our environment is going to ask of us,” explains Ruth Lanius, neuroscientist, professor of psychiatry, and director of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Research Unit at the University of Ontario.

But when children face early adversity and are routinely thrust into a state of fight-or-flight, the default mode network starts to go offline; it’s no longer helping them to figure out what’s relevant, or what they need to do next. According to Lanius, kids who’ve faced early trauma have less connectivity in the default mode network—even decades after the trauma occurred. Their brains don’t seem to enter that healthy idling position—and so they may have trouble reacting appropriately to the world around them.

6. Brain-Body Pathway

Until recently, it’s been scientifically accepted that the brain is “immune-privileged,” or cut off from the body’s immune system. But that turns out not to be the case, according to a groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Researchers found that an elusive pathway travels between the brain and the immune system via lymphatic vessels. The lymphatic system, which is part of the circulatory system, carries lymph—a liquid that helps to eliminate toxins, and moves immune cells from one part of the body to another. Now we know that the immune system pathway includes the brain.

The results of this study have profound implications for ACE research. For a child who’s experienced adversity, the relationship between mental and physical suffering is strong: the inflammatory chemicals that flood a child’s body when she’s chronically stressed aren’t confined to the body alone; they’re shuttled from head to toe.

7. Brain Connectivity

Ryan Herringa, neuropsychiatrist and assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin, found that children and teens who’d experienced chronic childhood adversity showed weaker neural connections between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus. Girls also displayed weaker connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The prefrontal-cortex-amygdala relationship plays an essential role in determining how emotionally reactive we’re likely to be to the things that happen to us in our day-to-day life, and how likely we are to perceive these events as stressful or dangerous.

According to Herringa:

If you are a girl who has had Adverse Childhood Experiences and these brain connections are weaker, you might expect that in just about any stressful situation you encounter as life goes on, you may experience a greater level of fear and anxiety.

Girls with these weakened neural connections, Herringa found, stood at a higher risk for developing anxiety and depression by the time they reached late adolescence. This may, in part, explain why females are nearly twice as likely as males to suffer from later mood disorders.

This science can be overwhelming, especially to those of us who are parents. So, what can you do if you or a child you love has been affected by early adversity? The good news is that, just as our scientific understanding of how adversity affects the developing brain is growing, so is our scientific insight into how we can offer the children we love resilient parenting, and how we can all take small steps to heal body and brain. Just as physical wounds and bruises heal, just as we can regain our muscle tone, we can recover function in under-connected areas of the brain. The brain and body are never static; they are always in the process of becoming and changing. ###

For Part II, “8 Ways People Recover From Post Childhood Adversity Syndrome,” CLICK HERE.

 

Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an award-winning science journalist interested in exploring the intersection between neuroscience, immunology, and the deepest inner workings of the human heart. In addition to this book, Childhood Disrupted, she has authored The Autoimmune Epidemic and The Last Best Cure. For more information on Donna and her work, visit her website.

 

 

Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)

As author Mike Ferry points out, adolescents today experience alarming rates of depression and stress. He shares five ways parents can help their teen be happier. We present, “Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier.”

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Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)Pimples. Hormonal changes. Emotional extremes. Argumentativeness. Romantic relationships. If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you may be living through these and other aspects of the teen years. It’s a period of great upheaval, for kids and parents (not to mention the teachers who never escape the drama of middle and high school).

Stress, anxiety and depression

Adolescence has always been hard, but today’s teens are having an especially difficult time. For a variety of reasons, teens are suffering from higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. Consider this statistic:

17% of high school students seriously consider suicide (22.4% of girls)

That’s unbelievable! Unfortunately, the trend continues into the college years:

54% of college students have extreme anxiety
30% of college students suffer from severe depression

As parents, there are some strategies we can employ to help our teenage children endure this rough patch and emerge stronger in young adulthood. We can practice these “protective factors” at home to boost our kids’ emotional immune systems.

Five Things Parents Can Do

Here are five ways to make teens happier and to promote long-term positive mental health.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike Ferry(1) Have a consistent home or family routine. I know how tough this can be. My wife and I have four kids; managing their sports schedules and social calendars seems harder than running a federal agency. If possible, try to have at least one family meal per week. You could also plan a family game night once a month and make it clear that nothing will take priority over it.

(2) Promote healthy habits. Our physical health impacts our emotional health. Encourage plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep is often sacrificed due to homework and hanging out with friends, but it is an essential aspect of sound mental health. Do all you can to help your teen get at least eight or nine hours of sleep every night.

(3) Practice spirituality. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Spirituality offers emotional support and guidance, in addition to a sense of purpose. If your family actively practices religion, help your teen grow in the faith by attending services on a regular basis. Getting involved with your religious community’s youth group strengthens social bonds and creates shared experiences that can sustain your teen in difficult times.

(4) Boost confidence. Many teens suffer from negative self-esteem. This may result from poor body image, stressful social interactions, or feeling inadequate in some way. You can help your teen feel more confident by celebrating his or her victories, large and small. Show your teen that effort leads to results, and that he or she has the power to achieve success in a variety of areas. For more ideas, you can check out my blog post on ways to develop a growth mindset in your child.

(5) Know what’s going on. Monitor your teen’s activities, both in the “real world” and online. Take a peek every now and then at your son or daughter’s social media profiles. Invite your teen’s friends to your house to hang out. Stay in touch with how your child is doing at school and beyond. Often, troubling emotional situations can be avoided by proactive and positive parenting.

Hang in there, parents of teens! It’s a wild and unpredictable ride, but it will be over before you know it. Your child will grow up and leave the nest (hopefully) with the tools needed for academic and personal success. With a great deal of patience and care, we can get our teens on track for stronger mental health in the present and down the road. If you’re interested in learning more ways to guide your teenage child through this tumultuous time, you may want to check out my online course, “The Parent’s Guide To Surviving Adolescence.”

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

 

Eating and Self-Injury Disorders: Finding the Door to Recovery (Guest: Melissa Groman, LCSW)

BTRadioIntDisorders of eating can affect both young and old. Their self-abusive characteristics are difficult to understand and, at times, can be even more difficult to manage and treat effectively. Melissa Growman, LCSW, shares valuable insights in this interview from some of our most popular programs in the archives. –JDS 

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Eating and Self-injury Disorders: Finding the Door to Recovery, Melissa Groman

Beliefs, and the thoughts they bring on, can either guide a person’s life and keep it on course, or they can erupt into feelings that torment an individual without mercy. When that happens, any behavior that covers and soothes emotional pain and anguish is an option.

Difficult to Address

According to our guest on this program, eating and self-injury disorders are difficult to address because they serve their purpose, at least in the short-term. Like other behaviors that can become addictive, bingeing and starving, or the compulsive cutting of one’s own flesh, provide welcomed distraction and relief from much deeper pain.

These behaviors can become a cycle of self-abuse that occurs in more adolescent girls and young women than you might think. Ultimately, the cycle becomes a trap.

Is there hope for change?

Ambivalence is an Issue

Better is Not So Far Away, Melissa GromanOur guest on this program, Melissa Groman, psychotherapist and specialist in eating and self-injury disorders, suggests that, although recovery from these disorders is possible, ambivalence toward recovery can be a major obstacle. In this program, Melissa will share with us why this is so, what it takes for recovery to become a reality, and what caring parents, other relatives and friends can do to help.

Melissa Growman, LCSW

Melissa’s trademark warmth, sensitivity and profound understanding of human nature permeate her work. She has more than 25 years of experience helping people live healthy, satisfying lives. Although she maintains a busy private practice, Melissa writes regularly for a number of magazines, websites and blogs. This program features her book, Better is Not So Far Away: Decide to Recover from Bingeing, Starving or Cutting. (27:43)

www.melissagroman.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


(START/STOP Audio)

 

Better Living Through Chemistry? (Dr. Larry F. Waldman)

Our children are watching us, always. With little effort or fanfare, they typically adopt our characteristics, mannerisms, behaviors and beliefs. This can be a good thing, or, as psychologist Dr. Larry Waldman cautions, it can be a path to trouble. A collective desire to always “feel good” seriously can harm us and our most precious relationships. We present, “Better Living Through Chemistry?” –JDS

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Better Living Through Chemistry?, Dr. Larry WaldmanAll living things, human and animal, strive for homeostasis, the ability to keep things in balance. For instance, when they are hungry, they eat; when thirsty, they drink; when sleepy, they nap. Humans, though, take this one step further. Not only do we want our biological processes balanced, we want to feel good. (We feel good when the pleasure center in our brain is stimulated.) Things like alcohol, drugs, fatty and greasy foods, jewelry, fancy cars, expensive clothes, sex and intense video gaming have little to do with balance but everything to do with seeking pleasure. It’s a feeling good movement of epidemic proportion.

To a very large degree, our health care system operates in similar fashion. If the patient doesn’t feel well, a pill is prescribed with the hope they will feel better in the morning.

Dangerous lifestyles

Unquestionably, the number one killer of adults in the United States is lifestyle: bad diet, overeating, lack of exercise, drinking and drugging, and smoking. All these habits are aimed at, that’s right, “feeling good.” Approximately 50% of US adults today are overweight, and, accordingly, there is an epidemic of diabetes and hypertension. How much will the next generation of adult men weigh when most of them spent their entire adolescence seated staring at a video screen? Interestingly, the recreational use of marijuana for purposes of inducing pleasure, has been legalized in several states; it stimulates binge eating.

The response to this situation has been bariatric procedures and, yes, more pills. I distinctly remember a fertilizer/chemical company in the 60s named Monsanto. Their business motto was, “Better Living Through Chemistry.”

We had no idea how true that would become.

The Primary Treatment

The primary treatment today for depression and anxiety, the two most common mental health issues, is, again, medication. Antidepressants certainly have a role in the treatment of these major maladies, but pills should not be the only intervention, but that’s often the case. Changing behavior and thoughts have been shown to be quite helpful in managing depression and anxiety, but they rarely are used.

Recently a friend of mine noted he was depressed and his doctor (a general practitioner) had prescribed him Zoloft, a common antidepressant, several weeks ago. He was not yet feeling well.

I asked him, “What is the number one thing you would like to have happen that would might make you feel better?” He answered he would like to be in a relationship. When I next asked him, “What have you done to find a relationship?” he admitted he had done nothing. (I was unaware that Zoloft can bring you a girlfriend.)

Who's Raising Whom, Dr. Larry WaldmanWe discussed ways to increase his odds of finding a partner. A few weeks later, he reported he was feeling better. He had met a woman and they were about to have their third date.

Was it the Zoloft or the behavior? I don’t know for a fact, but my vote is for the changed behavior.

As a long-term behavioral psychologist, I am fond of the statement, “It is easier to behave your way into a new feeling than to feel your way into a new behavior.” I submit lots of people today are taking pills and/or drugs simply hoping to feel better.

A Better Way

Suggestion: The next time you wish to feel better, don’t pop a pill, down a beer, or smoke a joint. Instead, tell your significant other you love them; read a story, take a walk, have a bike ride with your child; stroke your pet; call your parent and tell them you were thinking of them; go to the gym; write a letter of gratitude to someone who has been kind or helpful to you; meditate; do a yoga practice; do some rhythmic breathing. All of these examples, and there are many more, are healthy, natural behaviors that can effectively change our feeling state.

“Better Living Through Chemistry” has led us down a dark and dangerous path. It is time to take a new direction.###

 

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 38 years. He has worked with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of five books (currently) involving parenting, marriage, personal wellness, and private practice. His contact information is: 602-418-8161; LarryWaldmanPhD@cox.net; TopPhoenixPsychologist.com.

 

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Part Two (Alison Kero)

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Alison KeroThe holiday season can be a special time of togetherness for families, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. But it can also be a frustrating and less-than-perfect time, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. Organization specialist, Alison Kero, offers us some great tips to help make this holiday season the best ever at YOUR house. We present, “15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays.” (This is Part Two, as we conclude this two-part post.)

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Alison Kero, ACK Organizing(Continued from Part One)

#9 Expect the Unexpected: Chaos happens despite our best intentions or how organized you are. Expect that you’ll burn something, forget something or a kid will throw up at the worst possible time because then, when it actually happens, you won’t be thrown off. To help you stay organized, add in extra time for unexpected delays, especially when traveling, and even consider throwing a frozen lasagne in your freezer as a “just in case” to help you remain calm in the midst of unexpected chaos and you might even enjoy the holidays more knowing you have a backup just in case.

#10 Ask for Help: Even Santa has helpers. Hire or ask people to help you with such task as: a professional cleaning service to do the cleaning, a catering company to do the cooking, asking customer service or the online store to wrap gifts for you, use decorative bags to place your gifts in (no talent necessary), ask friends and family to help you decorate, ask friends and family to help you take down the decorations, and lastly, if you need additional emotional support, schedule a session with a therapist so you can manage the holidays more easily. Outsource or delegate what you don’t like doing or don’t have time to do and no, it doesn’t make you less of a person to ask for help; it makes you a smart person who recognizes you need and deserve support.

# 11 Keep It Simple: Intelligent people love to solve complicated riddles. It makes them thrive. The problem is when they get in their own way and start over-complicating simple matters, thinking everything must be solved in a complex manner. Not every problem is complex and sometimes a simple answer is the best and easiest solution. Simple doesn’t equal stupid, rather simple actually allows you to then focus on complex matters while allowing the simple things to flow easily to and from your life. Simple will keep you sane and organized this holiday season. So, if the lights don’t work, consider buying new ones rather than spending hours hunting down one old-fashioned light bulb to get the whole strand working again.

#12 You Don’t Have to Keep It All: This is in reference to any clutter you might accumulate during the holidays. Whether it’s spiritual clutter because once again you say “yes” when you really mean “no!”, or emotional clutter that you accumulate when someone criticizes your efforts, or the physical clutter you have by keeping every gift anyone has ever given you out of sheer guilt. Let it go. Let it ALL go. Do your best this holiday season by continuing to let anything go that won’t allow you to be happy, healthy or productive in your life.

#13 Plan Ahead: If you already know that you are looking at a busy schedule, actually using your scheduler will help you see where you have time to run errands, shop, bake or just relax and enjoy yourself. If you plan everything you need to do and everything you want to do ahead of time, you’re much more likely to achieve an enjoyable holiday feeling relaxed and organized.

#14 Don’t Get Stuck In the Past: We all have great memories of holidays in the past with certain decorations or traditions being carried out year after year. However, sometimes traditions no longer work within a new environment and decorations get old, break or no longer work. While we all want to recreate what we felt was a great memory, it’s also just as great to create new memories or collect new decorations. It doesn’t mean you aren’t respecting the past, it’s just that you are also allowing for new experiences to come in and create wonderful new memories for you and your family. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you’re willing to let go when you realize it’s time to move forward.

#15 Breathe: Sounds simple, but it will save your sanity. No matter what holiday you celebrate, there will be a point where you feel overwhelmed, annoyed, frustrated and/or ready to throw in the towel. Breathe when that happens. Take deep breaths in and out. In fact, before doing any task associated with the holiday, take 3 deep breaths and see how much more focused and relaxed you are. You might even find it’s a great way to start your day and continue using this method long after the holidays have ended.

Please enjoy a happy, healthy and safe holiday season! ###

 

Speakers Group Member, The Changing Behavior NetworkAlison Kero truly enjoys teaching her easy and effective decluttering system to her clients through her company, ACK Organizing. To reach Alison, go to http://www.ackorganizing.com.

 

 

 

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Part One (Alison Kero)

wreathThe holiday season can be a special time of togetherness for families, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. But it can also be a frustrating and less-than-perfect time, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. Organization specialist, Alison Kero, offers us some great tips to help make this holiday season the best ever at YOUR house. We present, “15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays.” (This is Part One of a two-part post.)
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Alison Kero, ACK OrganizingHolidays are supposed to be a fun and joyous time for everyone. That’s the message as we are bombarded with commercials, movies and television specials featuring happy families who have decorated their homes as if they were Martha Stewart themselves. They are able to afford piles of gifts under the tree, and, of course, everyone easily forgives one another for past grievances no matter what bad things were done. We’re told it’s a time of family, forgiveness and of giving to others.

Yet, for many of us, it feels more like the most stressful, exhausting and frustrating time of the year rather than the happiest and most serene. So how do you manage the stress, keep up your energy and maybe even enjoy yourself this season? Here’s my favorite 15 ways to organize and enjoy the holidays.

#1 Know Your Priorities: Weeding out what can wait is just as important as knowing what you can’t do without as it will help you manage your time well and ensure you make smarter decisions, even in the midst of chaos. However, figuring out what is important can be difficult when you have a child begging for that latest “must have” toy while everyone is asking you to make that special cake that takes 5 hours to bake. So how do you choose what is imperative and what isn’t? Make a list; if Santa can do it, so can YOU. If the holiday fell apart, what would still make it okay? To make it special, focus on what’s important, rather than getting mired down in the smaller, pettier matters.

#2 Focus on the Positive: If you have a huge bank account, a large support team, and a perfect family then, yes, you probably can have a perfect holiday with bells and whistles. But if not, the main priority is that you have food on the table and that your family has gathered together to celebrate the season. The best way to ensure you enjoy the holidays is to choose to focus on the fact that everyone is together and hopefully healthy, not the large amounts of dishes you’ll have to wash as a result. Choose to focus on the true gifts of the season rather than focusing on what gifts you didn’t get or those that didn’t arrive on time. Focusing on the positive will help you stay organized and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy yourself for once.

#3 Set Boundaries: Holidays are not about the stuff; they’re about reconnecting with people you care about. But sometimes some of those people will try to walk all over your boundaries and your feelings. When that happens, it’s time to empower yourself by setting up healthy boundaries with family members and friends, then keep them enforced no matter how much they push you to back down so they can have their way. Whether it’s choosing to walk away from an argument up or saying “No, but thank you!” to the 4th holiday party you’ve been invited to this year, remember that only you can control how you react to things. So lessen the amount of emotional clutter you bring into this holiday season by choosing to let others be responsible for their own behavior.

#4 Shop Online to Save Time: If you’re short on time or dislike shopping then purchasing gifts online is your best resource. It’s a great way to keep yourself and your gift giving organized, plus it will take less than half the time since there’s no traveling. You can literally have everything purchased, wrapped and shipped without ever leaving your home. Best of all, you’ll avoid long lines and crowds, and you won’t have to wait your turn for hours only to find that the store ran out of what you wanted. Just remember to pay attention to how long it takes to ship so you ensure your gift arrives on time.

familyshopping#5 Start Early: Whether you shop online or prefer to stick with stores, shop early. It will make the experience more enjoyable because you won’t be rushed or stressed out. You might even find yourself finishing early so you’ll even have time to actually enjoy the holiday season without feeling stressed or rushed. Also, if you ship gifts early, not only will you be guaranteed it will arrive on time, you’ll avoid waiting in a long (and often impatient) line and it won’t cost you your entire holiday budget to get it there on time. If you are someone who waits until the last minute, then at least scout out in advance one store that’s open late on Christmas Eve where you can find suitable gifts. And no, heading to CVS and buying gift cards at the last minute doesn’t count.

#6 Make Self Love Decisions: If you go into your holiday season with the mindset that no matter what everyone is going to be over-the-top happy, then you’ve set yourself up to fail. You can’t allow yourself to be held hostage to what everyone else thinks makes a perfect holiday, but you can choose to remain as calm and happy as possible, no matter how chaotic it might get. You can only control your own reactions, so you might as well decide to make them good ones. You might find you actually enjoy yourself because you chose not to get caught up in unimportant matters.

sleep#7 Get Some Rest! You are no good to anyone if you’re exhausted, and you certainly won’t enjoy the holiday season when you’re running on empty. Incorporate at least 8 hours of rest into your day and nap if you can. Try going to bed at the same time each night. This routine will help you fall asleep more easily. Getting enough rest will also allow you to think and organize your days more easily. It will also help prevent you from getting sick during this holiday season.

#8 Eat Healthy: Yes, enjoy the cookies and other delights the holidays bestow upon us, but be mindful that it’s a self love and smart choice to eat healthy foods in between those sips of eggnog and nibbles of gingerbread. Eating well throughout the season will ensure that your energy stays up and that you keep your body, mind and spirit happy and healthy during the holidays. Eating fruits and veggies will actually help you keep your weight down over the holidays and you’ll crave less sugar. A healthy diet will also give you a great head start on your 2017 resolutions.

We will conclude with tips 9 through 15 in Part Two in the next post. ###

 

Speakers Group Member, The Changing Behavior NetworkAlison Kero truly enjoys teaching her easy and effective decluttering system to her clients through her company, ACK Organizing. To reach Alison, go to http://www.ackorganizing.com.

 

Grandpa’s Good Advice (Dr. Stephen Robbins Yarnall)

The Changing Behavior NetworkNational Grandparents Day is the first Sunday in September following Labor Day. This story by the late Dr. Stephen R. Yarnall honors grandparents everywhere. The story appeared in the book, GRAND-Stories: 101 Bridges of Love Joining Grandparents and Grandkids. This book was compiled by Ernie Wendell and was published by Friendly Oaks Publications in 2000. We are pleased to feature “Grandpa’s Good Advice.”

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Stephen R. Yarnall, Grandpas Good AdviceHis name was Colonel Charles Burton Robbins. To me, he was Bompy, my maternal grandfather. I still have memories of a week with him at his summer cabin in the Iowa woods. I was 6.

Bompy was a quiet, good-humored, kindly, gray-haired grandfather whose casual ways belied his considerable wisdom and experience. His collection of weapons from the Spanish-American War and World War I was an awesome sight. It made a lasting impression on a young boy.

That summer visit was really special because we were alone, just the two of us at his backwoods cabin. The experience took on even greater proportion when, after a bit of begging on my part, Bompy let me ride his horse around the cabin area.

“Just Let Go of the Reins …”

He told me to be careful, not to go too far, and not to get lost. But he also gave me some advice in case I did get lost. “Just let go of the reins and the horse will bring you home,” he said.

Grandpa's Good Advice, Stephen Robbins YarnallOff I went down the cool and inviting trail. I came to a large, open meadow. After riding around in the meadow, enjoying every minute of my new freedom, I decided it was time to head for home.

But, as fate would have it, I couldn’t find the trail. On the fringe of panic, I searched the border of the meadow. I was covered all the way around; trees, trees, and more trees.

Lost

There was no opening anywhere.

I then remembered Bomby’s advice: “Just let go of the reins and the horse will bring you home.” Well, I did … and he did!

the Way Home

I have never forgotten that good, loving advice. On numerous occasions I have had reason to use it again and again. Indeed, there are those times when one should let go of the reins and be shown the way home. ###

 

GRAND-Stories, Ernie WendellDr. Stephen R. Yarnall passed away in 2011. He was a practicing cardiologist in Edmonds, Washington for 50 years. He also was an accomplished speaker and an active member of the National Speakers Association. CLICK HERE for more information about the book, GRAND-Stories: 101+ Bridges of Love Joining Grandparents and Grandkids.

 

 

Kids and Summer Camp: Coping with Homesickness (Guest: Dr. Frank Sileo)

BTRadioIntAs schools close for the summer across the country, thoughts turn to activities for kids and families. One of those activities is summer camp. Here’s an earlier interview I did with child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Frank Sileo, regarding something that might be an issue for some youngsters, especially first-time campers. We present “Kids and Summer Camp: Coping with Homesickness.” –JDS

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Bug Bites and Campfires: Coping with Homesickness, Dr. Frank SileoThe excitement of going off to summer camp and all the fun it brings can be offset by a first-time camper’s anxiety about leaving home. Summer camp and homesickness are real, indeed.

Feelings of homesickness are typical; most youngsters experience them the first time they spend the night away from the familiarity of home, family, pets and long-time friendships. Although it is a common type of separation anxiety, homesickness doesn’t feel common at all to the youngster caught up in it.

Our guest on this program, Dr. Frank Sileo, will offer insights and ideas for addressing feelings of homesickness. He will also share ways parents can help their child become more capable and confident BEFORE the youngster goes off to camp, often preventing many of the symptoms and experiences of homesickness.

Bug Bites and Campfires, Dr. Frank Sileo, Bug Bites and Campfires: Coping with HomesicknessDr. Sileo is the author of the children’s book, Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness. It’s a great example of evidence-based treatment wrapped up in a great story.

Dr. Sileo is the Executive Director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He has been recognized time and time again for his skill as a child and adolescent therapist and his abilities as a speaker and author. (26:55)

http://www.drfranksileo.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Our Children and Healthy Eating: Bringing the Two Together (Dr. Dina Rose)

 

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75Getting their children to eat healthy and right is an ongoing hassle for many parents. In many ways the struggle itself can empower youngsters against the parents. That’s hardly a way to build family harmony. Yet, if they DON’T take a stand on what their children should eat and why, moms and dads could feel guilty and ineffective as parents. What’s the answer? This program, “Our Children and Healthy Eating: Bringing the Two Together,” looks at the problem and offers insights.

Dr. Dina Rose, It's Not About the BroccoliTo start with, our guest on this program, sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert, Dr. Dina Rose, suggests that talking about nutrition is the WRONG conversation. As she will share in this program, good, healthy eating for our children (and ourselves, also) is much more about creating positive habits regarding eating. In short, it’s about a change of focus, and it works!

It's Not About the Broccoli, Dina Rose, PhDListen in as Dr. Rose discusses the three healthy eating habits of Proportion, Variety and Moderation. She will share how teaching these habits to our children will make any mealtime a more pleasant event, and it will give our kids a “how-to” model for a whole lifestyle of eating right.

Dr. Rose is the author of It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating. Her work has been featured nationally on television and radio, and in print and online news sources. In addition to writing her blog, It’s Not About Nutrition, Dr. Rose writes for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today. (27:41)

http://www.itsnotaboutnutrition.com/

 

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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Anxiety: An Emerging Challenge for Children & Parents (Guest: Peggy Sealfon)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75It’s been said that if a person never experiences difficulty or failure, it’s likely they aren’t doing anything really significant. Worthy plans and goals involve risk; no argument there. But sometimes anxiety can be a big issue. With that in mind, welcome to this program: Anxiety: An Emerging Challenge for Children & Parents.

Peggy Sealfon, Escape From Anxiety, Integrated Life Personal Coaching SystemWhen is the stress of life too much? At what point does anxiety come into our lives and sets up residence? What it is costing us in terms of overall health and relationships? Why do we too often seem dead-set on adding to our own misery?

Where is the “off” switch for stress, or have we lost it along the way?

Although some folks manage stress amazingly well, others do not. For a parent to expect a son or daughter to manage a full plate of expectations and pressure as well as they do could be costly mistake. Excessive anxiety in our children might not be fully realized for weeks, months, or even years later, but it can hurt them, just the same.

How can we best reach out to youngsters that are struggling, especially those that seem more susceptible to what troubles them? How can we offer relief where we can, and impart insight and skills of coping when relief might not be an available option?

Escape from Anxiety: Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to ZHere on this program to help us sort through these issues is Peggy Sealfon, stress and anxiety specialist and author of Escape from Anxiety: Supercharge Your Live with Powerful Strategies from A to Z. Peggy will share useful tools for reducing anxiety in the moment, tools she calls “Interrupters.” Many of these are easily adaptable for children and teens. She will also emphasize how youngsters can improve significantly when parents set an example for them. What better way for them to learn effective and adaptive skills for today and well into tomorrow?

Peggy is an internationally recognized personal development coach, author and popular speaker and trainer on dealing with stress, anxiety pain and trauma. She is certified in life-changing modalities from ancient yogic techniques to training in functional medicine, modern psychology, energy medicine, nutrition and the neurosciences. From these, Peggy developed her successful Integrated Life Personal Coaching System. In this program, we are featuring her book, Escape from Anxiety. (27:48)

www.PeggySealfon.com

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


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BONUS: Peggy has developed a three-minute audio designed to help a person with the de-stress process. It can be accessed HERE.