Spring Has Sprung: Regaining Mental Clarity as Winter Fog Lifts

Spring is here and now is the time the winter fog is lifting. Green is returning to the world and flowers are blooming. We can let is stay there or we can take advantage of the renewing season. We can renew our mind and attitudes- seeking mental clarity.

Ah spring has arrived! Hopefully we can push through this last small cold front we all seem to be experiencing and getting into the most beautiful iconic spring weather!

I am ready for shorts and tanks again (ok I know Hawaii is always this kind of weather but I am weathering the end of winter here in Korea, totally unprepared for the snow we just experienced). I miss my shorts and flip-flops. The earth is in bloom again- grass turns green, flowers bloom, trees grow their leaves again. We are all coming out of our winter drearyness ready to take on the world refreshed. At least that is how I have always viewed spring.

We recently had our family pictures taken and we were talking to the photographer about what dreary weather this winter was in Korea (thankfully I escaped the majority and am just riding out the tail-end). But winter can feel heavy- its cold and dreary making it difficult to get out of the house. Even in places like Hawaii where it is warmer in the winter it is the rainy season that can get you trapped in the house. This is even more so with a little one in tow.

But Spring gives you a new fresh breath ready to take on the world renewed. To me it is more renewing than the start of a new year. Granted I have never been one for winter. Summer is my season always has been, and probably always will be- I am a true southern girl at heart.

Anyway… I think the awakening of the Earth is a wonderful time to mentality and emotionally awaken finding clarity to continue through the year. Just go up to Alaska where they have only a few daylight hours a day in the winter time and you will find a much higher incidence rate of SAD(Seasonal Affective Disorder) than in southern cities like Miami for example. People need daylight and sunshine. Beyond the fact that our bodies need Vitamin D- which other than supplements only comes form sunlight, sunshine and beautiful weather just seems to give you a pep in your step.

So as Spring rolls in fighting with greater and greater force here are some things you can to do enter spring with renewed clarity:

 

Spring Cleaning is a thing for a reason.

There is a reason everyone talks about spring cleaning. Spring cleaning brings a refreshing to your home. Whether you use it as a purge to get rid of all unwanted or unneeded items or just a good scrub down so everything is fresh, cleaning can be a great way to get a fresh start. I don’t know about you but I love when my house is clean- even though I whole heartedly admit to hate cleaning, I love the final product. I never feel rested even if I am resting if when I look around my house it feels messy. It begins to give me anxiety. So getting up cleaning my house- finishing the dishes, putting away the laundry, scrubbing the toilets, and cleaning the floors all give me deeper and deeper sense of refreshment. I list this first because if you are like me then I can’t give in and enjoy or re-evaluate my goals with that hanging over me.

Get outside and Enjoy

Spring is a beautiful time. This year I am lucky enough to be in South Korea during Cherry Blossom season. I am so excited to get to see the cherry blossoms bloom. Based on the pictures I have seen from friends and years past it is truly a spectacular sight to see. But everywhere has something that makes getting outside more enjoyable in the spring time. In Hawaii the rain lifts, in the south flowers of all type bloom, there are baby animals all over you might get to catch a glimpse of! It truly is magical. So get out and enjoy. This will also give you the much needed dosage of Vitamin D you might have been missing all summer.

Regain focus by Creating/Reevaluating Goals

Maybe you made goals in January or New Years Resolutions. But maybe you have gotten off track. I know I have. But as the world begins to renew itself, it can be a wonderful opportunity to regain your focus by creating or re-evaluating the goals you already made. It is also a quarter of the way through the year. So how have you done? What do you need to go to continue to meet your goals? Do you need to get back on track? Make some mini-goals to help you get there.

 God Intended Spring to Be a Renewing

Whether you are religious or not, you can’t deny that spring is an awakening seasoning. The plants bloom, chicks hatch, baby animals are born. More animals give birth in the spring than any other season. Easter is also a quintessential Spring holiday. It is the ultimate spring awakening and renewing. Our lives can be renewed through Christ who was brought back to life. You can’t get more renewed than that! But because God intended it to be so, he will provide you ways to find refreshment and clarity as we leave winter behind and enjoy the wonderful World He gave us!

Spring is here and now is the time the winter fog is lifting. Green is returning to the world and flowers are blooming. We can let is stay there or we can take advantage of the renewing season. We can renew our mind and attitudes- seeking mental clarity.

Do You Think Your Child has Anxiety?

Children show signs of anxiety in different ways than we do as adults. So do you know what the signs of anxiety in children are? And what to do about it.

Military life can bring all sorts of challenges, and our children are definitely not excluded from experiencing the anxiety. But often times anxiety presents itself so differently in children than it does in adults and so often we miss it or misdiagnose it.

When I was completing my education as a marriage and family counselor I did my practicum and internship experience working in a family counseling program that served a school district. We worked with individual students in the schools through classroom visits, group work, and family sessions. Often I would work with children who were presenting behavioral issues- misbehaving in class, uncontrollable behavior, not completing work, disruptive and distracting to other children. Teachers wanted them tested for ADHD. When I watched these children in class I would find the same behavioral issues in the classroom. I would talk to their parents and find that often there was behavioral issue at home as well. But then I would talk to the children, get a history of their lives from their parents and you would find out that there were many events in the child’s life that are anxiety provoking.

Things like:

  • parents divorcing
  • new sibling
  • deployed parenting (I worked in a district around a military base)
  • new student
  • living with family other than parents
  • abuse in their past

Of course things like this would cause anxiety in anyone, especially in a little child that doesn’t understand them fully. And because they don’t fully understand the emotions of what they are going through anxiety often exhibits itself in children through behavioral issues and physical symptoms.

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • stomach issues- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • lack of sleep or excessive sleep
  • head aches

Behavioral symptoms of anxiety include:

  • disruptive in the classroom and at home
  • becomes disobedient and defiant
  • irritabilitiy

So now that we have identified the signs of anxiety in children, what do you do now?

If your children are exhibiting some of these symptoms in regards to a new life change (like the ones listed above- or even more) then before you jump to conclusions about a behavioral diagnosis like ADHD or ODD it might be worth looking into anxiety as a possible explanation. Especially if these symptoms seem to appear after a life change rather than having been present prior to a large life change. ADHD is over diagnosed in children because anxiety mimics these symptoms and putting your child on ADHD medication will not solve anxiety issues.

Finding a therapist or counselor who is trained to work with children can help you by assessing for anxiety. A school counselor can be a great start for this as they are trained in assessment and diagnostics just like any other counselor. They are also often plugged into resources in the community and can help find a good fit for your family.

The military also has resources to help children who are experiencing anxiety due to life moves. There are MFLCs in DOD schools and are a wonderful resource.

Counseling with Children:

While talk therapy with children may be difficult there are several creative therapeutic approaches that work well for children.

Play Therapy

This is a wonderful option for young children. Finding a counselor trained in play therapy can be a wonderful avenue. This is a non-traditional therapeutic method that works for young children because the therapist works with the child to help reveal potential causes of anxiety or other stressers through the child’s play. For young kids play can reveal subconscious thoughts and emotions that otherwise would not be able to verablize

Art Therapy & Music Therapy

Art and music therapy can also be great for young children as counselors use these techniques to help unveil different patterns. I worked with a kindergartner and often used art therapy techniques. At the beginning his drawings were often very violent in nature. He had a a childhood of being in and out of foster care, back with his mom and finally adopted by his older sister. Over the course of several months of working with him and his sister and a few other caretakers we were able to help resolve some of the behavioral issues that were being presented at home and in the classroom by using his drawings of violent tendencies to work through what he has gone through. At the end his drawings were more family oriented. Now art therapy alone did not do this but it gave us a direction to take us in while we worked in family therapy.

Family Therapy

And finally family therapy. I think this is necessary no matter what method the child is working in. Children are a product of their environments- like the stressers military life bring. If parents are anxious then it can leech over into the kids and so we have work as a family it also provides methods to help the parents work with their children at home.

 

So if you think your child may be dealing with anxiety, here are the tried and true symptoms and potential causes of anxiety and different avenues to pursue.

If you are interested in coping strategies for children here are some great ideas!

Children show signs of anxiety in different ways than we do as adults. So do you know what the signs of anxiety in children are? And what to do about it.

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

It is important to start the year out right with intentions to make this your best year yet! Here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2018!

It is that time of year again! Time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Last year I talked about how we should make New Years Goals. And so this year I also wanted to challenge you to go back through the Wellness Challenge:

Week 1: Goals for Your Marriage

Week 2: Healthy Coping Skills

Week 3: Making Friends When Military Life Makes it Hard

Week 4: Living the Simple Life- Decluttering your Home & Schedule

Week 5: Healthy Living

And look at what you had done for 2017 and what you want to change and add for the healthiest 2018 you can have. When I was going back and looking at how well I succeeded in making my goals for 2017, I was surprised how well I was able to meet those goals. Of course, I definitely didn’t meet them perfectly. And of course Military Life throws curve balls and prevented some of them from being met- Like clearly if my husband is in a different country than me then weekly date nights are a bit unrealistic.

But I wanted to try and start 2018 off in much the same fashion. I am a big believe in what I put out there I will reap. And so by sharing my goals publicly then I am being held accountable to making them happen.

So here are my top Goals for 2018:

  • Should my breast feeding journey succeed, I would love to breastfeed our new baby for a whole year! It is something I want to do as a bonding time for me and baby. This is especially important to me since it will just be the two of us for most of 2018.
  • I would love to live as a natural life as possible. Recently I have been doing more and more research into Essential Oils. While I don’t use them for everything, I do enjoy using them when I can. Even if it is just to make my room and house smell fresh.
  • When our year apart is over, I would like to reinstate weekly date nights for my hubby and I. Just because now we are a family of 3 doesn’t mean our marriage isn’t important. In fact it is more important than ever! And so even if that means staying up late after baby is in bed a few times a month- cause lets face it date nights with a sitter can get expensive! Still he is my priority and so we will make it a priority when we are back in the same home again. This will be especially important with reintegration.

So these are my top Goals for 2018! What are yours! Share them in the comments so we can support each other as a community as we grow together this year!

It is important to start the year out right with intentions to make this your best year yet! Here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2018!

Where to Find Help When You Need It

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

Military Life is hard, and we all need some help from time to time. And as much as we hate to admit it, we can’t always do it on our own. But sometimes we need a little bit more help than even a friend, neighbor, or family member can give us. And that is OK. It doesn’t make us broken, damaged, or any other negative idea we get about people who seek counseling. It can be hard to find help when we need it.

Know It’s Ok to Seek Help

Sometimes we exhaust all our coping strategies, self care just isn’t working and we need a little extra support. It is not a sign of weakness, but knowing when you’ve hit your limit can be a sign of strength.

The military has improved the services to meet the mental health needs of service members and families. However, these services are often not publicized. So few people know where to find help when they want/need it.

Where to Find Help:

1. Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs)

MFLCs are social workers and licensed counselors contracted by the military to provide free, 100% confidential counseling services. They are equipped to handle individual counseling, counseling for children, family counseling, and marriage counseling. If you are looking for them they are housed by ACS. Military One Click recently published an article about what it is like to talk to a MFLC. Hopefully that will help demystify the process.

2. Family Life Chaplains

Most soldiers know that chaplains have 100% confidentiality as well, but are hesitant to seek out help from their unit chaplains because often their offices are very close to the commander’s office and so they may be seen going to and from appointments. Service Members worry that the chaplains are not equipped to do formal counseling, pushing religion down their throats. Most chaplains only have a course or two in counseling during their seminary. Family life Chaplains have degree in counseling. Their sole responsibility is to provide marriage and family counseling services. While yes, they are chaplains they are not there to necessarily provide Christian counseling. I have worked with the family life chaplain’s office at two different posts and provided services through them.

3. Military One Source

If you are looking for other resources, providers that are outside of the military post you can go to Militaryonesource.mil and click on Confidential Help and they have options for face-to-face counseling, online counseling, phone counseling, or video counseling. While I have no personal experience with using this resource I know many people who have had lots of success using these services.

4. Behavioral Health

This is service members least favorite option. The reason this is that since it provided through Tricare, commanders know when you are receiving services here. Service Members can be mandated such as ASAP (alcohol or substance abuse program) or PTSD treatment.

The next time a friend or fellow MilSpouse is suffering, hopefully you will be able to share resources with them. Nobody should have to go it alone, just because they are unaware of the resources available.

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

Mindfulness Techniques You can Do to Reduce Anxiety

Life gets crazy, we get anxious; but using mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety by centering our mind and regaining focus.

There are a lot of coping mechanisms you can use to combat anxiety and depression. One of the newest areas that is being promoted to reduce anxiety is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental state that is achieved by focusing on the present moment. It is a calming technique that involves acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, or bodily sensations.

How does Mindfulness work?

Mindfulness can be a great relaxation technique, which is one reason why it is used so frequently in reducing anxiety. Anxiety is worrying over things that have already happened or something that may happen. Meaning it is a past or future emotion, and your brain power has been removed from the present.

Mindfulness is a method of bringing your focus back to the present. By doing so you reduce the tension caused by your past or future thinking. The present is a finite period of time. The smaller the period of time, the easier it is to cope with the struggles at hand.

An Example

a couple of weeks ago my stress levels were going through the roof. We were having issues selling a car we couldn’t afford to fix (it didn’t run), trying to fix a car that did run so it could be shipped, extra blood draws and labs for monitoring my health during pregnancy. I was struggling, no matter how hard I tried, everything seemed overwhelming because there was just too much to do, and not enough time. However, had I used some mindfulness techniques I may have been able to center myself more quickly. Rather than taking a day or two I could have calmed down and relaxed in a few hours.

So the next time you’re getting anxious, overwhelmed, and can begin to fathom solutions to your problems try out some of these mindfulness techniques and see if they help!

Mindfulness Techniques

  • Breathing Exercises:

    • Deep breathing is an excellent way to draw your focus on of worry and into a calming presence. When we begin to get anxious we begin breathing rapidly and shallowly. The logical part of your brain shuts off when overwhelmed, and so we can’t get to a place where we can problem solve. By slowing our breathing intentionally, we create a pattern that automatically pulls our brains out of the anxiety provoking thoughts. When physical symptoms of anxiety dissipate we can begin to problem solve. Deep breathing creates a reduction in the physical sensations that anxiety brings. Centering you into the present, rather than past or future.  It is recommended that you spend at least one minute, but up to five minutes can have an even more lasting effect. If you are having a hard time focusing on breathing, try listening to a YouTube video, or an app that has guided breathing exercises.
  • Grounding exercises:

    • When we are anxious we become overwhelmed and recess into our thoughts, losing track of our surroundings. A simple way ground yourself bringing your back down is to find 5 things you can smell, touch, see, and hear. It is all about using your senses to identify your current surroundings. While yes, taste is one of the senses, unless you’re eating something it isn’t useful as a grounding sense. The way it works is when you become overwhelmed and you begin to recognize those feelings open up your senses. I like to start and encourage others to start with sight. I think it is easiest to start with identifying 5 objects that you see around you. Maybe it’s a stop sign and a tree, maybe it is your dog. Either way it will orient you to the location in which you are in. Then identify 5 sounds you hear- cars going by, the tv, birds singing. Repeat with things you can smell, and things you can touch. This will help bring you back to your present situation.

Why Mindfulness Works

Mindfulness has a way of restructuring the wiring in our brain. This means that the more we practice Mindfulness when we are anxious and stressed, the less stress we will feel overall. We will be more equipped to handle the challenges that come up against us.

You don’t have to be perfect at it; just have to keep trying. As a counselor, I have worked on this in my own practice with myself. As a military wife, there are so many circumstances that come up in my life that I have no control over, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by it. That is why I turn to mindfulness techniques to regain my focus on what I can control.

You don’t have to be a counselor or being seen by a therapist to manage any anxiety in your life using these mindfulness techniques, or many others.

Have you ever tried mindfulness as a way to manage your anxiety? Did it work for you?

Life gets crazy, we get anxious; but using mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety by centering our mind and regaining focus.

When is Anxiety more than just normal anxiety?

We all experience anxiety in our lives, its a normal reaction to difficult situations we face. But sometimes for some people anxiety goes beyond the normal levels, this is considered an anxiety disorder. Here are some easy ways to help determine if what you experience is normal or when you might need some more help in managing your anxiety.

Anxiety is a natural, and necessary part of life. Without it we would never feel pressured to get something done. There would be nothing lighting a fire under us to keep us moving. So, anxiety is a good thing. In fact, stress can be divided up into two components: distress – the negative kind of stress we all know and no so much love. And Eustress. Eustress is a good kind of stress; it is motivating. Without it we would get nowhere. But what happens when stress and anxiety begin to take over every inch of our life. We become paralyze by anxiety and so it keeps us stagnant in a constant state of worry and panic that no matter what we choose to do, something terrible will happen.

This is called an anxiety disorder- and there are several types: panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and phobias. Having an anxiety disorder is totally different to experiencing anxiety. But so often we fail to realize the difference. We may experience a great deal of anxiety. For example, as military spouses we are constantly faced with anxiety: where is my husband? Is he safe? When will he get home? But unless the anxiety we feel from that uncertainty becomes crippling, we don’t really have an anxiety disorder.

And if we don’t begin to learn the difference between everyday anxiety and an anxiety disorders than those who need more help, will never go get it. In today’s society we have so normalized feeling anxious. We have anxious children, and we talk about being anxious over this or that. And for most people after the stressful event is over our anxiety is gone. But what about the rest of the people, the ones who are so anxious they can’t leave their house, even though from the outside it looks as though all things are clear? If we don’t talk about what it isn’t normal, then we will never know when we need help and how to get better. And it is so important to know when to get help; because anxiety disorders are 100% treatable.

This is not to make your fears and worries any less valid. Being a military spouse is hard and full of anxiety provoking events and we can learn to cope with that. In fact, if you are interested in learning more ways to reduce anxiety, I wrote a guest post here are my Top 10 Ways Military Spouses Can Reduce Anxiety.

Unfortunately, because of military life, military spouses are more likely than their civilian counterparts to being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. While anxiety disorders are treatable, we must recognize the difference between experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. So what are some signs and symptoms that you might be experiencing more than just anxiety?

The anxiety you feel…

  • … prevents you from leaving you house;
  • … prevents you from being able to make decisions;
  • … causes you to become isolated;
  • … avoiding all situations associated with anxiety (e.g. you quit running because the elevated heart rate reminds you of the way you feel when anxious);
  • … excessive fear or anxiety that is disproportionate to the event;
  • … evidence of avoidant behaviors- becoming isolated;
  • … last for more than six months;
  • … and, you find yourself fearful and worried even when nothing is wrong.

These are signs that maybe you need to get further help to manage your anxiety because it is more than just the normal stress we feel from day to day.

What to do if you think you have an Anxiety Disorder?

So now that we know what to look for, where do we turn when we believe we need help? Thankfully the military has lots of resources to help family members get the help they need. And most of these resources are free and confidential. One of my top recommendations are the Family Life Chaplains. These chaplains, unlike the unit chaplains, are trained as family counselors. Not only that but there is the added benefit of more confidentiality because they are removed from husband’s unit as they are centrally located typically to serve all units on a post.

If you are uncomfortable seeing a religious leader, Military Family Life Consultants (or MFLCs) are another wonderful, free, confidential service that is provided. They are independent contractors and are licensed clinical social workers or counselors. They don’t bill tri-care so no records are kept. These are the two I am most familiar with- however there is also behavioral health doctors who can help, especially if medication is required to manage your anxiety. Family Advocacy Program (FAP) also has many resources for families, but these do vary from post to post.

If you are looking for alternative help, online therapy has been growing in popularity. Better Help is an online mental health resource that has articles about all sorts of issues that may help with anxiety. They even have online therapy resources.

However you decide to seek help, no that you are not alone, so many military spouses struggle with anxiety, I mean it is hard not to with all the decisions we have to make for our families day in and day out.

We all experience anxiety in our lives, its a normal reaction to difficult situations we face. But sometimes for some people anxiety goes beyond the normal levels, this is considered an anxiety disorder. Here are some easy ways to help determine if what you experience is normal or when you might need some more help in managing your anxiety.

How my Puppy Eased my Transition to being a Military Spouse

There were so many times I was lonely in a new city, by my sweet puppy helped ease me into the transition!

“A dog is man’s best friends”

Well I don’t know about all dogs, but my Lucy truly has been my biggest comfort. I had just moved to a new city and state. And to top it all off my husband spent more days in the field than he did at home. I have seen a lot of people talk about how having a pet can be a grounding for a military child. But I haven’t seen much about how comforting a pet can be to the spouses who are constantly moving around.

I am sure if you follow me on any social media, have seen pictures of my sweet Lucy. Before we got her I had wanted a puppy for months! But I was still in school so it had to wait! But as soon as I graduated we were going to get that puppy! I was determined! Although there was a lot of disagreement about what kind of puppy to get. My husband wanted one that would grow up to be a monster, a horse our children could ride! I wanted what he called, an ankle biter, or as I called it the most adorable things ever!

Anyway, by chance I found the sweetest little thing, and she needed a home! And we gave her a home! Just look at her, how could you not!

Anyways, Lucy is absolutely my buddy, according to my husband she pouts and mopes when I leave the house. She is my best cuddle buddy! And when my husband had all those long weeks in the field, I had a friend. I was not used to being alone, I had lived with roommates before I came here, and was so busy I was rarely home. Now I am in Columbus, living with my husband, who for a while was barely home, with no where to go! Thank goodness for Lucy!

Not only did she keep me company when I didn’t have anyone else around to listen to me! But also because having a puppy was such a great way to get out of the house and meet new people. Having Lucy made me get out of the house. We don’t have a backyard so the only way for her to get out is to take her for a walk or to the park. She is little bundle of endless energy! Lucy is destructive when she doesn’t get out to play! And she has destroyed every “indestructible” toy in 30 minutes tops!

So here is how my puppy helped me ease into being a Military Wife

She forced me out of my comfort zone.

I had never had a dog before, I grew up with cats and hamsters (which my children will never get!!). So first she forced me to stay at home instead of traveling back to South Carolina. If I didn’t have Lucy it would have been so easy for me to just drive back to Columbia or Charleston each week while my husband was gone. But traveling with a dog is much more work! Being in a position that I was “forced” to stay at Benning gave me the opportunity to meet friends that I will have forever now!

She got me out of the house.

I could have stayed on the couch watching Gossip Girl, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and One Tree Hill forever. I have discovered that having a puppy in a way is like having kids, by making a “date” to go to the dog park with another lady the dogs give us an excuse to get out and get to know each other better! Going hiking together worked the same way. It got me out of the house and interacting with real people. And she is definitely a dog that needs to get out of the house, the only indestructible toy I have bought this year she hasn’t destroyed is the KONG Extreme Dog Toy!

She gave me company.

I am one of those pet parents that talk to my dog. In general I am a chatty person so living “alone” is not my forte. I love being around other people. So while I wasn’t exactly with other people I was at least able to talk to her, cuddle with her and play with her while I was at home instead of just twiddling my thumbs.

She comforted me.

As we all know dogs can be really attuned to people’s emotions. That is why they make such great service and therapy animals. While obviously Lucy is just a puppy, and she is far from trained she is attuned to me and can easily read when I am feeling sad, angry and happy. When I was home by myself and feeling lonely and sad, without any prompting Lucy would run and hop on the couch. She gives such great cuddles.

And finally,

She gave me a purpose.

Once the boxes were unpacked and the house set up and decorated I was feeling a bit lost in my purpose. I was a wife without a husband at home to serve; and I didn’t know what to do with that. But enter Lucy. It was my responsibility to feed her, love her, and train her. I wasn’t the best trainer by any means, but she can do all the basic things!

See so as grounding as a pet can be for military kids, I think they can absolutely ease the transition into being a military spouse just the same. Dogs and puppies make wonderful companions and can teach us so much! So if you are looking for one more reason to get a pet, here are five!!

Lucy is my best friend sometimes and as I prepare to spend a year away from my husband there isn’t anything I won’t do to get this dog to Hawaii with me! My in laws graciously offered to host her for the year I was gone, but I just can’t be away from that sweet thing for that long! The month at Christmas was hard enough!!

How has your pet helped you make it through the crazy ride of military life.

Being a military spouse is hard, starting over in every new city. But my sweet puppy helped me ease into this transition!

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My Self Care “Tool Box”

Self-care is so beneficial and necessary to our well being. But it only works if we actually do it. Here is what is in my self care tool bx to help make self-care convenient

I have read 100’s of blog posts about self care – ways to care, checklists, why it’s important; and so many other great benefits about having self-care built into your schedule. But I know I am not the only one who finds it difficult to fit it into my day! As a counselor I was told constantly in my classes to practice good self-care.

I am constantly on the go, running from one place to another and so often caring for other people. This makes making self-care a priority hard for me. That is until I really saw how run down I had become; I was exhausted, irritable (just ask my husband), and ineffective at helping other people. But life is so busy, it doesn’t slow down just because you are exhausted. The key to making self-care a part of my routine was to make it convenient, take all my excuses away! So I created a self-care “tool box” Today I thought I would share what is in my tool box and why!

Nail polish & accessories –

Who doesn’t feel better after a mani/pedi. But being a student and a babysitter doesn’t pay enough to routinely get them done. So I decided to keep them neatly done myself, Essie nail polish is my favorite, and lasts the longest. Doing my nails myself is calming and relaxing for me. Plus, I feel so much more confident and pretty when my nails are done.

Coloring book & pencils –

Adult coloring books, like this one Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs, are everywhere right now. Focusing on the colors and shapes can calm down emotions and physiological reactions to stress and anxiety. Coloring can help regain mental clarity when you are upset or overwhelmed.


Journal & pens –

Being able to get your feelings and emotions down on paper can relieve tension in the body. The physical release is beneficial because there are no more pent up feelings waiting to burst out.

My favorite music –

You know that feeling on a beautiful day driving around with the windows down, blaring your favorite song, singing at the top of your lungs? Its great isn’t it! Well not every day can be beautiful, but put on your favorite song and just belt our frustrations away!

Tissues –

It is ok to cry, healthy even. So if you’re mad, sad, exhausted, hurt or just need a good cry, just let it out! That is what tissues are for!

Some chocolate –

Chocolate after a good cry can feel so rejuvenating and help bring you back together. Now I am not advocating eating your feelings away, but chocolate has endorphins in it, and endorphins are a natural chemical in your body that helps create feelings of happiness. It can be a way to boost your spirits.

My phone –

Talking to my mom, dad, husband, or best friends can help me when I am feeling rundown. It helps remember I am not alone. Just because it is self-care doesn’t mean it can’t involve others. As long as it is boosting yourself!

Some bubble bath (or other spa like things) –

Again like getting your nails done, we can’t always make it (or afford) to go to the spa. But a home spa night can be relaxing too. Set up some candles, fill the tub, some quiet music, maybe a glass or wine or some chocolate, and a good book can relax the mind and the body. So get that lavender vanilla bubble bath and feel the stress melt away.

A good book –

Maybe it’s one you’ve read before, or a brand new book, but loosing yourself in a good book can do wonders. Reading lets you move out of yourself and open your imagination. Freeing your imagination can help you find new solutions to your every day stresses.

Doing something just for me –

Now this one might not fit in a box, but I love to craft, scrapbook or work on a DI project I have had pinned for ages. I love getting out my pictures and crafting supplies and just working. It makes me feel productive and satisfied with my results. In the past one of the things I have done just for me is to take an hour out of my week to spend with a counselor. This has helped in so many ways process different things that happened like loneliness from my hubby moving away shortly after the wedding.

So these are my top 10 items in my self-care tool box. The idea is to keep everything together in one little box or bin so that it can be handy. Maybe you have a few minutes and so you pull out the journal or coloring book for a 15-minute mental break. However, you do it is up to you, because remember it is your self-care. Now take a lesson from me, and don’t wait till you are run down and exhausted to start taking part in self-care, do it now and do it often to help stay on top of your game! I promise it can make a huge difference in your outlook on life!

If you want to read more about self care see my guest post on reducing anxiety. Have a child that suffers from anxiety check out my post for reducing anxiety in children here.

What are some of your self-care go to’s?

Self-care is important, but often overlooked due to our demanding schedules at work and at home. Here are the contents of my self-care tool box that I use to make self-care convenient so I am more likely to use them.

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Taking a Leap of Faith

Taking a leap of faith can be scary, but so rewarding. Looking to take a step of faith but not knowing what to do next? Check out here my plan for reducing vulnerability when taking a leap of faith

In the last few weeks I have taken a huge lead of faith, and it definitely was not easy. My lead of faith was making an investment in my blog, a few actually. This is the first time I have spent money on my blog since starting it July 2016! But we have all been in a place where we have to make a choice – stay where we are OR jump and take that leap of faith in hopes of reaching something even greater! My leap of faith was moving from a free site to a purchasing my domain name and becoming self-hosted, investing in some branding images and purchasing planning resources! This is the first move I made towards making my blog a business. I am so nervous, but also excited! And you too can take the leap of faith.

The first step towards taking that leap of faith is having faith in yourself. It is hardest to have faith in yourself and your own abilities. When my husband has a challenge at work I am always confident he will overcome it. When my friends are job hunting, I am always sure they will find the perfect job. But for some reason I struggle to have the same enthusiastic confidence in myself. I know I am not alone! I have talked to many people who struggle to have faith and confidence in themselves. But if our goal is to be happy and healthy people, we need to be confident people. Not afraid to step out and take a risk. So how do we get there and grow in our own confidence?

The short and simple answer is practice; but that is not very helpful. Practicing vulnerability sounds like a terrible idea to most people, myself included. Putting ourselves out there with no plan to succeed is frightening. And I am with you, I wouldn’t want to do that either. BUT what if I proposed another solution. One with a plan, a plan to succeed when you take that leap of faith.

Here is my guide for growing in confidence in order to take that leap of faith!

Finding someone who believes in you

            Let their encouragement build you up. I am sure you have noticed changes in yourself based on the mood of those around you. When you surround yourself with positive people who believe in your. Then we can feed off of that as we begin to belive it. In trying ti get my blog going, the person who believed in me has been my husband, encouraging me along the way.

Make a Plan

We don’t like to take a step ad feel like we don’t know what is next. Taking a leap of faith can be like that. But that doesn’t mean we have to go in blind. So what do you want to accomplish with your leap of faith? Build a business? Go back to school? Take your relationship to the next level? Grow your family? Move far away? Whatever that leap is for you what do you want to happen next? I would love to grow tis blog into a business. Why? Because I got into the business of counseling to change people’s lives. I think I can do that here too. So here is my plan to do so. By starting my own website, I open myself up for the opportunity to become a business. I plan to find adds and sponsored posts. By earing money, I can invest more into my blog and continue to grow it. I am taking that leap of faith, but I am not doing it blindly.

Evaluate & Readjust

So we’ve surrounded ourselves with people who believe in us, gained enough confidence and we have made a plan. So now it is time to take the leap! You can do it!! Now we have to ask if we are accomplishing what we set out to! Are we meeting our goals? If not, what can we do about it? My goals for myself when I bought and created my website was to make back the $40 I invested! Hopefully even make a little more than that so I can continue to pay for it next year. As I am still in the building phase I am not ready to re-evaluate yet, but I am hoping by the 3 month mark I can start monetizing. Then I will check inn again at 6, 9, and 12 month markers. If I don’t think I am making enough I will adjust my strategy for marketing.

I know it is scary. I worry all the time whether I am going to reach my goal but for now I am just going to be excited that my website works and is up and running. So celebrate the small wins every day! Remember with big risk comes big reward. And it is not called a leap of faith for nothing! You can do it! I believe in you

What are some ways you have found to help you take that leap of faith?

Deciding to take a leap of faith can be a hard thing to do. It leaves us vulnerable to our fears. Here are some ways to grow in confidence and feel more secure in your vulnerabilities when taking that leap of faith

10 Ways to Help Anxious Children Calm Down

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids pinnable image

As much as we adults get stressed out, so do our children! And military life provides lots of opportunities to create anxiety in our children- deployments, field time, training, frequent moves, changing schools, and constant fluctuation of friends. Or things such as adding new children to the family that many families face. As their parents, teachers, babysitters, or other family members we need to be prepared to help them calm down and relax when they are stressed and anxious.

Here are my top 10 tips for helping calm down when they are feeling stressed and anxious!

 

  • Blow Bubbles! Having a little kid sit there and just take deep breaths in and out can be hard, as most parents know! But blowing bubbles is so fun and cane help the child visualize the deep breaths by watching the bubbles.

  • We’ve all seen the pretty calm down jars like these ones! Watching the glitter move through the jar can still the child, which can have a calming effect, especially if the child is visually oriented in other tasks, such as learning.
  • Give them a big hug! Wrap your baby up and hold them tight. Knowing they are secure and safe in your arms can relieve a lot of anxiety for little ones.
  • Pop some bubble wrap. This is great for children who are kinesthetically oriented. Having something active, constructive, and nondestructive can help relieve anxiety. Doing something with your hands can help swap the mind from the emotionally over-charged center of the brain to the calmer logical part.
  • Coloring. We have all seen that adult coloring books are all the rage right now for decreasing anxiety, well if it works for us then it works for the little ones too! Sit down with them and spend some time coloring together. Maybe put some soothing music on in the background for an extra effect.
  • Put on their favorite Disney Jam and sing it out with them! Singing out loud has been shown to release endorphins, which lifts the mood! So have a dance party while you’re at it and shake those worries away!
  • Put the kiddos in a nice warm bubble bath and have them splash and play their worries away! What momma isn’t relaxed by a nice warm lavender vanilla bubble bath! This means what works for us, typically works for them. If you have more than one, and bath time is normally full of conflict, maybe bathe them one at a time tonight!
  • Got play-dough in the craft room? Give some to your kid and let them squish it between their fingers, roll it around. Playing with something in their hands can be a grounding effect. For people who suffer from panic or severe anxiety one of the most suggested ways to ground oneself is find things you can see, smell, touch, hear, taste. Squishy play-dough is something to feel.
  • Get some exercise in! Go for a bike ride, play tag, jump rope, just get outside and run around. Exercise in any form can release endorphins to have a calming effect.
  • If you notice that your kid still suffers from anxiety and have tried a variety of calming methods perhaps it is time to look into counseling. One of the main modes of therapy for kids is play therapy and incorporating expressive art therapy. Both of these modalities is helpful for children who struggle to express their feelings verbally or who express most feelings physically, in a more negative manner as it allows them to express their feelings in any form in a safe, contained area.

I hope you find these methods helpful in your household! I know the struggles of living with children with anxiety, as it often feeds our own anxiety which feeds theirs and we end up in a never ending cycle. These methods have been shown to break the cycle! If we can calm our children down it will reduce our own anxiety as well.

Military parents, we know how stressful military life though for our kids! Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing our kids are placed under so much stress! If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: Behavior Chart & an Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children.



What are the best methods you have found to help reduce anxiety and stress in your kiddos?

10 ways to reduce anxiety in kids

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