by Diana Brummer, MSW & Owner of Good Mental Health LLC
The holiday season is upon us! This is the time of year that brings families together. It can also be the time of year that reminds us why we might choose to spend time apart. Why is it that we can walk through the door of our parents' homes and immediately feel like we're ten years old again? If you find yourself anxious at the thought of spending quality time with your extended family this holiday season, taking a look at family roles and the feelings these roles can trigger may be a reason why.
As children growing up in a family system, we are often unconsciously assigned roles to fill. Were you the high-achieving hero who diligently lived up to your parents' expectations and who continues to keep things running smoothly to this day? Or perhaps the scapegoat, an example of how to not fit in with the rest of the family? Maybe you were the mascot who provided comic relief when tensions ran high? Or the lost child, fading into the background with your nose in a book, someone who no one really got to know at all?
Gathering again with aging parents and adult siblings, we may feel the uncomfortable pull of someone else's expectations for us. Those unresolved feelings from childhood and the sense of guilt, obligation, and sometimes disappointment they can trigger are what can make us uncomfortable in these situations.
The following tips are part of my Family Holiday Survival Guide that can help our quality time feel more enjoyable for all:
1. Recognize your triggers. Realize that old childhood roles and expectations no longer have to be part of your adult experience and don't allow yourself to react to them as if they are. Recognizing and then interrupting our own dysfunctional behavior pattern is the first step toward changing our relationships for the better.
2. Establish a time limit before you arrive If two hours is the length of time you feel comfortable spending with the extended family, determine an exit strategy within that two hour window. No need to stay all day if you know from past experience that inhibitions lower and hurtful things are more likely to be said the longer you are together. Traveling from out of town? Renting a hotel room to allow yourself a place to unwind and recharge is often money well spent.
3. Choose a safe word (and share it with a safe person). Choose a unique word or phrase and share it with your significant other or another "safe" family member. If you find yourself becoming triggered or upset, use your safe word to make a fast get away. Something as simple as a walk around the block is often enough to deescalate a situation and give all parties time to clear their heads.
Wishing you all a safe, joyful, and emotionally healthy holiday season! For more information on building, strengthening, and healing family relationships, please visit our blog at GoodMentalHealthLLC.com.
by Michael L. Duncan, Esq.
Duncan Trial & Family Law
11512 Lake Mead Ave., Suite 301
Jacksonville, FL 32256
If you are divorced with children, then you are never completely separated from your ex. This is because you and your ex are connected through your children and will be throughout life. And, irrespective of what you think about your former partner, you have a job to do, which is to do the best job you can in raising your children.
Thanksgiving is almost here, and the Christmas and New Year holiday season is right around the corner. These holidays are very special for many people and their families, and dealing with them during and after divorce can be challenging. Here are my top tips for helping your children have the best holiday season possible despite your divorce:
1. GET IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON - The holiday season is a time for being thankful, for giving, and for new beginnings. Teach your children to truly appreciate Thanksgiving and be grateful for the love you share with them. You can show them how to appreciate the Christmas season by being giving to others and each other. And, through your example, you can show them how the New Year can be one of healthy, fresh starts.
2. COMMUNICATE & COORDINATE: Communicate and coordinate with your children's other parent. Look, it is understandable if you find this to be a challenge. But a brief email, text message, or conversation can help make certain that everyone’s plans for the holidays work out well. Work out exactly where and with whom your children will be during what times, and when, where, and how exchanges will occur. Timely and properly detailed communications in advance can help to avoid frustration and confusion for you, your children’s other parent, and your children. A few minutes now can spare you days, weeks or months of frustration and anger (not to mention attorney’s fees) down the road.
3. TIME & ATTENTION ARE THE GREATEST GIFTS: Being able to lavish gifts upon our children can feel great. But always remember that love means far more than money and material things. Your love, time, attention, and emotional support are much more important to your children than any material possessions.
4. PLAN IN ADVANCE FOR NEXT YEAR: Avoid last-minute juggling of schedules and the agony of 11th-hour negotiations in years to come and set up a plan for next year now if possible. Even if you simply begin the dialogue with your ex now, starting the conversation now can save you a lot of stress later. And, begin planning now with your own extended family to help make this process even easier. Everyone will be happier knowing what is coming, and you can avoid conflict for next year’s holidays.
5. ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN TRADITIONS WITH YOUR CHILDREN: Holiday traditions are an important way in which we build memories that can last a lifetime. Whether it is the continuation of past rituals, or creating new ones, these traditions can give your children something to look forward to as they spend time with you during the upcoming holiday season.
6. ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO ENJOY TIME WITH YOUR EX: Encourage your children to enjoy their time with their other parent – no matter your feelings about your ex, put your children first. Your children will enjoy the greatest stability when they can feel free to enjoy enriching relationships with each of their parents.
by Stephanie Hall,
Coordinator at The Skin & Body Center
Self Care is a word that gets thrown around a lot lately. I’m a Mom of 3 boys and I have this conversation with other Moms a lot. Self care…sounds great, but when am I going to find the time to practice this mystery art? We know we should take the time to take care of ourselves because when we do, it overflows to our children, our significant other, our jobs, etc. Unfortunately, it can become a constant cycle of I should, I will, maybe tomorrow, definitely next week…
The reality is, the struggle is real. We are huge advocates at the spa of self-care because we give so much to those around us, we need to replenish ourselves so I asked the staff at Skin & Body Center for their favorite Self Care Rituals.
MASSAGE - The benefits of massage are amazing and research shows regular massage reduces stress and anxiety and helps you to sleep.
YOGA - Yes, I know you love to wear your yoga pants but actually DOING yoga is really good for you too!
DRY BRUSHING – It increases blood circulation, improves skin and drives toxins out of the body. It simply feels good and only takes a few minutes.
FINDING JUST A FEW MINUTES OF ME TIME – this could mean savoring a cup of tea or taking a bath with oils and scrubs.
EXERCISE – walking, running, group exercise, dancing.
MEDITATION/QUIET TIME – take advantage of the early morning. Get up a few minutes early and have a quick meditation and set the day’s intention.
READING FOR PLEASURE – it allows you to unplug from work, social media, stress and remain focused.
GET OUTSIDE - gardening, working outside and going to beach are all things that can help you to relax and decompress. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
SKIN CARE RITUAL – you have to wash your face, so why not make it part of your self care ritual? Find skin care products that you love how they feel and smell. Breathe and take a few extra moments.
SPEND TIME WITH A GOOD FRIEND – Your friendships are so essential to your spirit. Take the time to nurture those relationships.
Bottom line is make time. Do little things every day that take care of you because you deserve it!
by Diana Baker Brummer, CSW-RI
Good Mental Heath in Julington Creek
January is such a wonderful month. It’s full of the freshness of a New Year; the excitement of new goals to accomplish and the anticipation of experiences yet to be had. It’s a time to plan for what’s coming next and a time to reflect on what has already passed.
But as much as January is famously full of hope and promise, it can also be infamously full of disappointment and frustration. Especially when the opposite of accomplishing your goals is not accomplishing your goals and the opposite of anticipating new experiences is not having new experiences to anticipate.
Reflecting on last year’s goals and realizing you haven’t yet achieved them can be difficult. Even more difficult is setting the same goals year after year and never achieving the results you desire. What are your new goals for this New Year? And what goals have you rolled over from 2017?
Whether it’s to “lose ten pounds,” or “communicate better with my partner,” or “make more money,” or “spend more time with the kids,” we all have areas of our lives we’d like to improve. What are you planning to do differently in 2018 to move past the limitations that have been holding you back? What tools and skills do you need in order to create the life and relationships you desire?
The first step in any transformation process is to change the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves. We must change our thinking in order to change our lives. Until we can identify as someone who is capable of being physically fit, or a good communicator, or deserving of wealth, or a more attentive parent, we will continuously fail to be those things because we won’t behave in a manner that allows us to achieve those goals.
Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. So, this year, let’s embrace our New Year’s resolutions with the intention of creating the lives, relationships, and experiences we have always hoped for. It’s never too late to become the person you were meant to be.
by Theresa Scully
According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) 2012 survey, low back pain affects the daily function of 69% of Americans. Furthermore, in a survey conducted in 1999, 60% of orthopedists reported back and shoulder pain in children due to heavy backpacks. Overall, non-traumatic low back pain develops due to poor posture and muscle strain. Wearing heavy backpacks and wearing them improperly can lead to back pain, shoulder and neck pain.
There are no studies yet that address the long term affect of back pain from backpacks, but in my 14 years as an orthopedic physical therapist, I have seen postural faults and low back pain beginning in youth manifesting into chronicity in adult life. Why risk long term muscular imbalances and spinal degeneration if prevention is a choice? The way a heavy backpack affects a young developing spine is simple. Weight is distributed unevenly on one shoulder, causing the child to compensate and shift the hips and upper back over center line to counterbalance the load. This causes improper muscle activation and non-activation on one side of the spine and the other, causing a “scoliotic-like” spine that can cause stress and pain in the joints and muscles. Posture is severely affected not only with this sideways shift as in one shoulder backpack carrying, but also with carrying a heavy backpack on both shoulders with rounded shoulders, forward head, severe front lean, and a flattened low back. Growing tweens and teens already have a battle with holding themselves in proper posture. The last thing they need is a heavy back pack worsening things.
The APTA recommends limiting backpack weight to 10-15% of the body weight of the child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a lightweight backpack such as canvas with two wide, padded shoulder straps because narrow straps can dig into shoulders. A safe backpack should also have a padded back, which is comfortable and protects kids from being injured by sharp objects such as scissors, pens, wire notebooks. A waist belt and multiple compartments can also help distribute the weight more evenly.
Overall, be an advocate for your child and look for signs and symptoms of back stress. Ask your child if his/her back is sore or achy. Perform a visual inspection before you send your child off to school and see if your child’s posture is affected by the backpack. Conference with the teacher to ensure that there is enough time in between classes to return to lockers and exchange books.
If pain in the back, neck and shoulders persist even after proper measurements have been taken. Seek the medical help of a physical therapist. Chances are pain can be reversed with proper muscular strengthening, stretching, and manual therapy. Your therapist will include home exercises to treat muscle and postural imbalances. Such as the cat/cow stretch, hamstring stretch, mid-back stretch and upper trapezius stretch. Strengthening will include rows, scapular stabilization, and core strengthening. Manual therapy will reduce abnormal tissue tightness relieve stress on the spine bones. Apply ice for 10 minutes for new onset, intense pain because the cause is most likely inflammation. Use heat sparingly as heat can increase inflammation and therefore increase pain. Only use heat as a contrast to treat the inflammation. The contrast is applied with 10 minutes heat and 10 minutes ice immediately afterwards. This contrast technique will help “pump” the swelling out of the tissue.
I am a firm believer that if you keep adding micro stress on a joint or muscle over time, the muscle and joint complex will break down. Just as a butter knife cutting away at a 6 inch thick climbing rope will eventually cause the fibers to fray and fracture.
Backpack Carrying Tips:
by Dr. Raquel Watkins, Allergist
Watkins Allergy & Asthma Clinic
The common cold and chickenpox aren’t the only ailments parents should worry about this back-to-school season. Allergy and asthma are the most chronic illnesses in children, and are a leading cause of missed school days in the United States. Asthma accounts for 10.5 million missed school days annually. Symptoms of these conditions can also interfere with nightly sleep, concentration in the classroom and cause learning disruptions.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), 28 million American children have allergies and 7.1 million suffer from asthma. There can often be many more allergy and asthma triggers in the classroom than in the home environment, causing children’s immune systems to over respond.
With schools commonly known as being a petri dish of germs and viruses that get passed around from child to child, parents shouldn’t just chalk up breathing difficulties and runny noses to yet another cold. Both can be signs of something more serious, such as allergies and asthma.
To help parents understand if their child is at risk for missing school days due to allergy and asthma, Dr. Raquel Watkins, Jacksonville’s board certified allergist and the ACAAI offer the following tips.
Know what Triggers Symptoms – There are a number of inhalants in schools that can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, such as the classroom pet, pollen and dust that has settled in the school which can contain mouse allergens. Peers with a pet at home can also trigger an allergic reaction in your little one, since these allergens can be transferred to school via clothing and backpacks. If a child says they are coughing, having difficulty breathing, have a rash, runny nose, or are sneezing, these could all be signs they are allergic to something in school.
Know the Difference – It is easy to mistake a cough and a runny nose as signs of a common cold or respiratory infection. If symptoms are persistent, lasting more than two weeks, it’s likely due to allergies. Colds evolve, usually starting with a stuffy nose, throat irritation and low grade fever. Next comes the sneezing and a runny nose, with thickening mucus that often turns yellow or green. Trouble breathing, wheezing, chest tightening and often a cough that won’t stop are signs of asthma.
Find Relief – Parents should make an appointment with a board- certified allergist to have their child tested, diagnosed and treated for allergies and asthma. An allergist can also help a child understand what is causing their symptoms and how to avoid triggers. For children with particularly bothersome allergies, an allergist may prescribe immunotherapy (allergy shots) which can modify and prevent allergy development. Patients under the care of an allergist also have a 77 percent reduction in lost time from school.
Inform, Educate and Carry – A child’s school, teachers and coaches should all be informed of any allergy and asthma conditions and have medications available. But the education shouldn’t stop there. Children should understand what triggers their symptoms and any warning signs to watch out for. If they are prescribed life-saving treatments, such as a rescue inhaler and epinephrine, they should know how to use their medication. Many schools allow students to carry medication, making communication between parents and the school the key to a healthier child.
Dr. Raquel Watkins is a Board-Certified Allergist who treats infants, children and adults with asthma and allergies to pollen, pets, and insects as well as skin allergies. Her office is centrally located in Bartram Office Park, 13241 Bartram Park Blvd, Suite 2601 Jacksonville Fl 32258 http://www.watkinsclinic.com/
by Nancy Cohen, RDN LDN Nutritionist & Owner of Feeding the Body Feeding the Soul
In a few short weeks, the backpacks will be out. The first day of school clothing selected, and the opportunity for your children to grow physically, mentally, socially and emotionally has begun again. Kids have so much energy to expend during their busy days. The best solution is to make every calorie count and pack it with nutrients that offer stability, value and sustained energy release. A great “out of the gate” strategy for eating well this school year is just what you need to send your kids into a successful flourishing calendar year.Try these Winning Strategies to make our kids the best learners they can be!
Frequent Meals and Snacks
Kids do best when they receive calories with a little protein every 3 hours- they are growing, using their brains and muscles and food supports all this and keeps them calm and focused.
Food Group Balancing
Be sure to incorporate something from every food group at most meals- for kids this would be starches, fruits, veggies, dairy, proteins and fats. Try to see that you hit the mark by the end of the day. Missing a whole food group? Consult with your pediatrician or Licensed RDN Nutritionist.
Avoid Energy Dropping Foods and Beverages
Offering your children sugary soda,sweetened coffe drinks and candy is a guaranteed way to expect an energy crash in one to two hours.Offering your children water, milk, nut milk, unsweetened teas or healthier snacks can stave off the crankies.
Snacks are a kids best friend
Providing fuel in the form of a carbohydrate and a protein is a win-win situation. You get peak performance, better focus and continued energy supply for growth.
For more Nutrition Guidance and Nutrition Counseling contact Nancy Cohen RDN LDN at www.feedingthebodyfeedingthesoul.com or 904-687-0720. St. John County, St. Augustine, St. Johns, Jacksonville.
by Nancy Cohen
Nutritionist, Dietitian & Energy Healer
Feeding the Body Feeding the Soul
Building a healthy plate is easy when you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great way to add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. All this is packed in fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and fat.
Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal.
Try the following tips to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day.
For more tips*See “Color Your Plate with Salad” at www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets for more tips on creating healthy salads
by Theresa Scully of Arch Pilates
When that first little one enters your life, it is truly a gift, and your primary focus is providing, snuggling, protecting, and bonding with your new baby. That foggy, sleepy brain you wear for 3 months is a happy ailment, because you know that it affords precious moments with this little human who needs you in the middle of the night, around the clock, 24/7, always and forever. But, you wouldn͛t have it any other way! As weeks pass by, though and you start falling into a groove, there is a sneaky, foreboding realization that your body needs attention. No longer are you the same shape and size as you were before baby, and you tell yourself, I have to get back in the gym. Looking at that sweet cherub in the crib, makes you put it off for another day, though. Tomorrow, youl go to the gym, you promise yourself.
Two months later, working out becomes a thing of the past, finding the time, a babysitter, a child watch at the gym doesn͛t seem like a use of good quality time with your child. Sitting on the floor and watching your baby play on her mat, hold her head up in tummy time, and rock in a crawling position seems more fun! Well, did you know that all that work your baby does in sitting, crawling, and pulling to stand is her way of exercising!? Why not follow along and work out together! Mommy and me exercising is becoming more popular. Just think a baby who weighs 10 lbs is a good weight. Your child is in sponge stage, absorbing everything in her environment. Movement, exercising, sounds, and sensations shape a baby͛s brain. Exercising with baby and showing baby how to exercise starts a healthy routine of wellness at a very young age.
When exercising with your child take a few things into caution.
1. Get clearance from your doctor. Especially those with cesarians. It may take 3 months before
the cesarian is clear.
2. Watch for baby͛s head control. You and your baby can work out as early as 6 weeks postnatal. However, the child͛s head will be wobbly at this age, so always support her head and move slow when using her as a weight
Some of the movements can require repetitive movement of the baby which stimulates your baby's vestibular system. So if your baby is sensitive she will complain. It is a good place to train her brain however go slowly and give her breaks.
Place baby on mat underneath you so you can lock eyes. Hold a rattle in your hand, spine neutral, don't sag your back. Bring opposite elbow to knee curl your abdominals, close your eyes and as you reach opposite arm and leg away, open and look at your baby say, "peek-a-boo" and/or shake the rattle. 5-10 reps on each side would work well!
Baby Carrier combo squat and arms (photo at top)
Put baby in carrier. Stand in front of a mirror for visual stimulation. Hold onto a stretchy exercise band, legs wide with toes and knee pointed out, comfortably. Reach arms overhead and as you squat do a side crunch and pull the band down with elbows bending to 90 degrees. Just lightly touch the top of your head with the band and slide the shoulder blades down into back pockets. 10 reps with breaks is great!
by Nancy Cohen, Nutritionist
It’s that time of year - the clothing is ready, the back packs are packed, the schedules are posted and our children are returning to their routines of school and after school activities.
Let’s add something new to the back to school list this year. Let’s add the winning CPF strategy of feeding our kids for optimal focus, fitness and fun! Fun? Did I say fun? We all know as parents that there is nothing worse than a grumpy, hungry kid. Imagine that if you knew the secret formula for lasting energy- there could be more laughter, better attention and better self-esteem associated with making great breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack choices!
What is CPF?
CPF stands for Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Using this threefold formula can make any meal or snack have greater duration, steadier blood sugars and assists in less hunger and dare I suggest moodiness?
So how do you implement such a plan? At every meal or snack you match a starch or a fruit with a protein and a little fat. So let’s have some simple examples:
Cheesy Egg sandwich with juice or fruit.
Sliced Apples with nut butter and a glass of milk
Waffle or toast with nut butter or chicken pork/veggie sausage and fruit.
See the pattern? (Of course you can substitute gluten free and vegetarian options along the way).
A great Snack might be: nut butter on crackers, a string cheese with fruit or a rolled up piece of turkey in a small pita or slice of whole grain bread. You could also send a yogurt with nuts or granola and a spoon. The idea is to pair the carbohydrate with a protein.
Become the “coolest lunch packing parent” ever!
Sandwiches always work, salads with protein in them or yogurts with cereal or fruit.
A smoothie is a good choice if it is dairy or protein based or has protein powder or yogurt in it. Be careful to look out for smoothies that have unnecessary added sugar and are as sugar loaded as a Slurpie or canned soda.
Slip in veggies and dips - and so many other ways to bring in those necessary vegetables.
The science behind this tasty formula is that when we overload our children with starches or fruit without a protein source, then the blood sugar stands to drop sooner than if we add protein or fat to any meal or snack. So bring on the fun! Make a breakfast burrito with eggs, beans or cheese. Be clever, be consistent- the same for after school but rename it to something fun.
Repeat the same for dinners. Use your new CPF guide. It’s simple, straight forward and takes the guess work out of meal planning for good health. We love our kids, we want the best for them and we want it to be another great year full of good work, good times and great accomplishments. Their nutrition does make a difference. You now have the winning strategy to make it all come to life.
For more Nutrition Guidance and Nutrition Counseling contact Nancy Cohen RDN LDN at www.feedingthebodyfeedingthesoul.com or 970-875-7114. St. John County.
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