I recently completed a training by clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. David Nowell, which talked about ways to help kids and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In the training, Dr. Nowell gave several strategies for home and school. I wanted to share this information with you in case you wanted to try it at home with your child (or for yourself!).
Welcome to Our Blog!
This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to respond when someone experiences strong or negative emotions. Often we feel awkward, uncomfortable, or even nervous, and may be unsure of how to respond. This is made more challenging because the socially acceptable response to someone asking us how we are is often “Good, and you?”. Whenever someone answers with a genuine response, such as “I’m actually having a tough day today”, our mental gears come to a halt and panic sets in.
This doesn’t only happen with co-workers or acquaintances. Even with close friends and family, we tend to be most comfortable around expressions of joy, happiness, and excitement. So how can we support someone experiencing a strong negative emotion?
One effective strategy is “Being With”, a core concept of the world-renowned “Circle of Security” attachment-based parenting model.
When I meet a parent and family whose teen is engaging in self harming behaviors the revelation is almost always met with high anxiety, sadness, and a whole lot of fear. It makes sense that finding out your child has been harming themselves would lead to a great deal of confusion and concern for most parents. However, learning how to talk about this painful subject is one of the most effective strategies adults can use to reduce shame, end stigma, and help their adolescents to find a healthier way to cope with negative emotions. But the question remains: How do we talk about self-harm?
Here’s a neat original post written by one of our colleagues, Joanna Townsend, at Bethesda Counseling Services. Here’s a link to the original post:
Self-care is surely a buzzword these days. We hear about it on the news, in social media, amongst friends, in advertising, apps, and most likely, in therapy, too. It’s encouraged as a way to relieve anxiety and stress, to make time for oneself, and to handle all of the daily challenges that life brings us.
But what is it really? Or rather, what is it not?
We typically think of self-care in terms of rest, relaxation, movement, massages, or taking time off. Maybe we even classify that online shopping splurge, booking that trip, or that extra glass of wine as #selfcare. But just because something feels good in the moment, does not necessarily mean it’s true self-care. There is a difference between numbing and restoring. And too often we’re missing the point and facilitating unhealthy cycles of stress and reprieve.
What self-care really is is the things we do on a consistent and ongoing basis to care for our mental, emotional, and physical selves. No amount of food, sleep, exercise, facemasks, or television will help us long-term if their purpose is to distract from or avoid negative emotions. Sure, maybe these things help temporarily and produce a short-term dopamine burst. But chances are, unless we’re revisiting, and exploring the roots of our lows and woes, we’re not going to get far. And we’re going to think it’s self-care that’s the problem, that it’s not working, instead of considering it’s actually about how we’re using self-care that is either keeping us stuck or helping us move forward.
Sometimes self-care is the hard stuff—accepting our feelings, honoring our needs, creating boundaries, being assertive, making an informed decision to take medication, or prioritizing our financial health.
Self-care can also look different depending on the day and the person. Sometimes it does look like taking the day off, going to the gym, a night on the town with friends, or turning off work email alerts on your personal phone. On other days, it’s showing up for life and your responsibilities. The fine line between restoring and numbing has to do with the “why”, not the “what” of what we’re doing. Why are you on Facebook, buying things, baking, or logging miles? Is it to escape, numb, or comfort? Or is it because you’ve made a conscious decision to engage in a habit or action in support of your mental, emotional, and physical health?
Whatever self-care practices you decide to use, take a moment to first think about why you are needing self-care—are you anxious about work? Unsettled about an argument with your partner? Feeling down? It’s important to always try to identify your feelings before acting on them. Then, see if you can pair self-care as you work through your emotions. Think about what will help you and leave you feeling restored and nourished versus simply indulging to buffer your emotions.
The more we pay attention to our thoughts, engage in consistent and adaptive self-care habits, the more at peace we can be with our emotional worlds.
Ahhh, summer. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, the days are long, and the kids are out of school. The end of the school year was exhausting, and you are ready for a restful and relaxing break. Although you’ve vowed to be more present this summer, the daily demands of life continue to get in the way of that promise. Between camp carpool, work deadlines, and packing the family for the beach, your stress level (and your family’s) isn’t any different than it is during the school year. If this sounds like your version of summer vacation, mindfulness can help!
What is mindfulness?
Sometimes when people hear mindfulness, their initial response is to picture a skilled yogi sitting cross-legged in a candlelit room chanting “ohhhmmm.” Often, this preconceived notion gives mindfulness a bad rap. Mindfulness is, in fact, the act of consciously focusing your mind in the present moment without judgement and without attachment to the moment.
Why be mindful?
Research has shown that mindfulness can help with a variety of issues stemming from depression, emotion regulation, and anxiety to sleep disturbances and self-esteem. It can help us bring our awareness to what is going on for us externally and internally. We can then become much more attuned to what’s happening in the present. Mindfulness practice can also help our kids learn to pay attention to their minds and their bodies and to better understanding their feelings.
How can I introduce mindfulness to my family?
Mindfulness practice looks different for everyone. It can include yoga, meditation, or deep breathing and can be practiced individually or with others. A wonderful benefit of practicing mindfulness as a family is that it can fuel connection and create fun memories. It also gives our kids (and us for that matter) a much-needed break from screen time. Now that we know what mindfulness is and how it can be beneficial, here are three ways to incorporate it into your family’s daily life, starting this summer!
Observe the Sky
Spread a blanket out on the grass and take some time to stare at the clouds. What shapes do you see? Are there any animals or people? Spend about 15-20 minutes really studying and observing the sky. Take notice of how the clouds roll along. Are there any changes in the shapes that you saw initially? Did a cloud look like a dog and change to a giraffe? This is a wonderful way to introduce the idea that our minds can act like the sky: thoughts float through and change on their own. We can take the time to watch our thoughts in our minds like we watched the clouds.
Change it up: Try this on a particularly starry night! How many stars can you count? Do you see any constellations?
Get Outside for the Popsicle Challenge
Eat a Popsicle on a hot day! Except this time, do it mindfully. Challenge your family to be completely silent until they finish the whole popsicle. Really encourage them to use their senses while eating. What flavor do they notice? Do they hear anything while they’re eating? What does the popsicle smell like? Does the popsicle start to feel different in their mouth as it starts melting? Was it hard to stay quiet the whole time?
Change it up: Try this mindful eating with delicious summer berries or some refreshing lemonade after a fun family bike ride.
Take Your Senses on a Walk
Go for a walk in your neighborhood and ask your family to notice 10 things they’ve never paid attention to before. Maybe it’s the color of the neighbor’s front door or how many different types of flowers they can find. Maybe there are different sounds or smells that they notice too! Start a conversation about why these things have gone unnoticed. Mindfulness involves slowing down and observing, so this activity is great to turn movement into mindfulness practice!
Change it up: On a particularly stormy or steamy day, try a listening walk at the mall! What sorts of foods do you smell at the food court? How many voices do you hear walking through the halls? Are there stores you’ve never noticed before?
-Posted by Erin Futrovsky Gates