How to Practice Self-Care

on Tuesday, 29 August 2017.

How to Practice Self-Care

Self-care refers to the practices a person consistently takes part in to maintain good health and well-being. A person’s health and well-being can be threatened by the daily strains and challenges they encounter, and self-care is a way to alleviate the stress caused by these strains and challenges.

Self-care also helps to maintain relationships – which you may neglect due to other duties –and create a balance between your work or school life and personal life. It can help you refocus your priorities and prevents you from becoming overwhelmed from too many activities.

You can practice self-care in different ways. Exercise and healthy eating are key parts of self-care because they help keep your body strong and healthy. You may be neglecting your body’s health due to work or school, but you truly need a healthy body to feel good and effectively fulfill your responsibilities.

Relaxation is another key part of self-care. With work and school, you may feel that you never get the time to relax. You might even feel as though relaxation is a waste of time –time that could be spent at work or at school. But, relaxation is not laziness. Relaxation allows you to step away from your work and “recharge,” so your mind is not overwhelmed the next time you complete your activities. It’s similar to exercising – you cannot just exercise for hours without a break. The body needs time to recharge from an exercise session so that it is rested and not overwhelmed for the next one.

Lastly, practice time-management skills. Often, stresses in your life are caused by poor time management. We take on too many tasks or we spend too much time on one activity. Ways to improve your time-management skills include making a schedule (and sticking to it), creating lists of tasks that need to be completed, and avoiding procrastination. You also need to know when you have too much on your plate; avoid taking on too many tasks.

Self-care is a vital part of living a happy and healthy life, and it should not be neglected. Work/school may be an important aspect in your life, but you should not neglect the other areas of your life because they are just as important. If you ever feel overwhelmed or stressed, turn to self-care. Your body and mind will thank you. 

Is Jealousy Causing Issues in your Life?

on Tuesday, 22 August 2017.

Is Jealousy Causing Issues in your Life?

Jealousy is an emotion that has a wide range of definitions. Defined by Dr. Helen Fisher, it is an emotion that consists of possessiveness, suspicion, rage and humiliation. And defined by Dr. Robert L. Leahy, jealousy is “angry agitated worry.” Jealousy can be defined in many ways, but it always involves “a third party seen as a rival,” according to Psychology Today.

Whereas envy is wanting what someone else has, jealousy is triggered when you see someone threatening a relationship you have with a significant person in your life.

Jealousy is a negative emotion because it can cause problems in relationships as well as create stress and anger in your own life.

If jealousy is really causing problems in your life and in your relationships, there are ways for you to overcome it. First, recognize when you are feeling jealous, and try to think about your jealous feelings in a calm manner. Ask yourself if you are overreacting. Could you be misinterpreting a situation that is (unjustifiably) making you jealous?

You also can try to build up more confidence. Low self-esteem has been connected to jealous feelings. When you are more confident in yourself, you are not as worried about the actions of others that could trigger jealousy.

Other ways to overcome jealousy include avoiding circumstances that could bring on jealous suspicions. For example, if you have jealous feelings concerning your significant other, it would be best to avoid excessively checking their whereabouts/activities throughout the day. Doing so just increases suspicions and jealousy.

Lastly, communicate. If you are feeling jealous, communicate with the person who you are having jealous feelings over. You may be able to help them understand your feelings, and the two of you could work out a solution.

Jealousy does not feel good, and there is no good reason why a person should choose to allow it to control their life or cause problems. You can choose to be willing to take the necessary steps to break free of jealousy and live a more satisfying and happier life. 

Dealing with Rejection and Criticism

on Tuesday, 08 August 2017.

Dealing with Rejection and Criticism

Experiencing hurt feelings after rejection or criticism is normal. But, if you respond too strongly to rejection or criticism – which could mean experiencing anxiety, shame, anger or strong defensiveness – then you may need to understand why you respond so strongly and what you can do to prevent it.

People who are oversensitive to criticism or rejection may have developed the oversensitivity from childhood experiences. Children who had trouble getting along with others; who did not receive praise for their accomplishments; or whose parents had overly high expectations, gave overly strong criticism or who shielded them from every little critique are more likely to develop oversensitivity issues.

 

When receiving criticism, there are steps you can take to process it in a healthy manner. Be calm, request clarity if you do not understand and, no matter what, thank the person for his/her feedback. Above all, do not just react to the criticism out of anger or shame. Instead, assess the criticism to understand if it even has value. If you determine that the criticism has no value to you or your goals, then you should easily move on from it. 

Other ways to deal with criticism include understanding that the criticism may hurt in the short term, but it hasn’t ruined or broken you. You will recover from it. You also can learn to think more positively about criticism in that you understand that criticism can help you develop into a better person or professional. You should begin to see criticism as something you can learn from.

 

When dealing with rejection, you need to understand and confront the emotions you are feeling – whether it is shame, anger, sadness or disappointment – instead of suppressing them. Suppressing your emotions will only cause you to feel pain over the rejection longer. Also, understand that rejection is a sign that you are taking risks in your life. Never experiencing rejection means that you are living life on the “safe” side rather than trying to experience new or more exciting things.

 

After a rejection, treat yourself well. Do not get down on yourself and feel as though something is wrong with you. Instead, treat yourself kindly. Give yourself messages of support like a good friend would. And above all, just like with criticism, learn from rejection.

But, if none of these methods work and you still have serious problems coping with criticism and rejection, then seeing a therapist can help. Therapists can help you understand why you have trouble dealing with criticism and rejection and find personalized ways to help you cope better.

 

Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse as a Parent

on Tuesday, 01 August 2017.

Preventing Childhood Sexual Abuse as a Parent

Ten percent of children will be sexually abused before they turn 18. As a parent, this statistic can be very scary, and it should be. Studies show that children who have been sexually abused are more likely to experience rape, develop drug and alcohol problems or suffer from mental health issues, such as low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness or suicidal thoughts.

As a parent, you have a big responsibility in preventing your child from being a victim of sexual abuse. There are steps you can take in order to decrease the possibility of childhood sexual abuse.

 

First, understand that strangers often do not cause childhood sexual abuse. Ninety percent of victims know their abuser. In these cases, the abusers can be people like family members, friends, teachers, coaches or babysitters.

 

Second, decrease isolated, one-on-one meetings between your child and other people. More than 80 percent of childhood sexual abuse cases happen in these types of situations. Try to schedule group activities, or make sure that one-on-one meetings occur in areas that can be observed by adults. Stop by unannounced when your child is alone with another person. And always ask the adult what your child will be doing with them before the meeting/activities occur.

 

After a meeting between your child and another person, ask your child what went on. Notice if he or she is hesitant to talk about what happened, or if the child does not want to hang out with that person anymore. Be aware if your child suddenly becomes depressed, angry, withdrawn or rebellious.

 

Lastly, you need to talk with your child about sexual abuse. Explain to them what it is, that it is never okay, and to speak to a trusted adult if it occurs.

 

Childhood sexual abuse is probably one of your worst nightmares as a parent, but you can work to make it less likely for your child. If your child comes to you to report an incident of sexual abuse, remain calm, listen to your child and report the incident to authorities.

 

If you are looking for information about how to prevent childhood sexual abuse, attend our free and fun child and caregiver workshop: Super Hero Safety Camp on Sunday, Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Click here to learn more and you can go to this site to register.

 

 

Super Hero Safety Workshop

on Tuesday, 18 July 2017.

Super Hero Safety Workshop

Keeping children safe from physical and sexual abuse is a daunting challenge. While parents and caregivers obviously have a critical role in protecting children, the children themselves have a role as well.

But there has to be a balance between what children need to know and how you present information to them.

As part of that effort, The ITM Group is presenting Super Hero Safety Workshop on Sunday, Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at our office (1208 NW Sixth Street).

The goal of this workshop is to present appropriate tools and techniques for children under 7 years old and their parents. The presentation to children will allow them to learn though games and activities. Parents will be presented with tools and concepts focused on how to keep their children safe at home and in the community.

Some of the topics on the agenda will be:

  •          The myths of stranger-danger
  •          Choosing safe adults
  •          Avoiding tricks
  •          Introduction to online safety
  •          And more

This event is free and open to the entire community. You can register your child by going to https://superherosafey.eventbrite.com. Parents and caregivers do not need to register.

 

To learn more about Super Hero Safety Workshop, click here.

What To Do When You Have Been Sexually Abused

on Thursday, 06 July 2017.

What To Do When You Have Been Sexually Abused

Sexual abuse, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is unwelcome sexual activity under threats, force or taking advantage of the victim who does not have the power to resist or consent. Victims of sexual abuse often know their perpetrator. Sexual abuse can have many negative effects on the victim including anxiety, fear, poor self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder; children who have been sexually abused can continue to experience these psychological effects into adulthood.

If you have been sexually abused and feel that you are in danger, the most important step to take is to contact emergency services (911 in Fla.). You also can talk to family members, friends, therapists and social workers about the abuse, and you may find it helpful to visit a medical center. If you are living with the perpetrator, it is important to get away from him/her, and that could mean staying with friends or family members or even at a shelter or refuge center.

Following the abuse, you may experience feelings of shock, isolation, guilt, vulnerability, distrust and anger. You may feel as though you have lost control over your life or have trouble concentrating, sleeping or eating.

To cope with the abuse, you may find that writing about it and your feelings can help to reduce stress. You also can talk to a therapist or counselor, who can help you understand and work with the feelings you are experiencing.  And group therapy gives you the opportunity to talk about your experience with other people who have suffered from similar experiences.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse, remember that it is not your fault and that it is not okay what happened to you. Always remember that there are people and resources that can help you. Trust yourself, and do not be afraid to reach out to the appropriate people following an incident of sexual abuse. 

Preventing your Teen from Developing Body-Image Issues

on Monday, 05 June 2017.

Preventing your Teen from Developing Body-Image Issues

Children as young as 6 years old are concerned about their body image, according to studies done by the National Eating Disorder Association.  These concerns increase once children go through the teenage years. Negative body image, defined as feeling unhappy with the way you look can lead to depression, eating disorders and feelings of isolation in your teen.

As a parent, you can have a huge influence on how your teen processes and feels about his or her body image. Your teen is watching your habits and behavior, and if you are constantly speaking negatively about your own body, your teen notices and can apply those negative feelings to their body.

One of the best things to do as a parent to promote positive body image in your teen is to be positive. Don’t make critical remarks about your own body or your teenager’s body. Instead, point out to your teen what makes their body beautiful or special, such as their eyes or their smile.

And you also can point out the many other features, besides their physical appearance, that make your teen special. Compliment your teen’s athletic talent or high grades in school. Praise their kindness or leadership traits. Your teen will learn that there are other important qualities to be proud of besides just their physical appearance.

It is important to explain to your teen that the images they see of celebrities in the media are not fair indications of what people actually look like. Teens will look at images of celebrities in the media to compare their own bodies to without realizing that those celebrities often have personal trainers, makeup artists and plastic surgeons at their disposal, and their images are usually heavily photoshopped and airbrushed in magazines and on social media.

Lastly, you can use your influence to establish healthy life habits in your teen. Instead of fussing over your teen’s weight, promote a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious and regular meals as well as exercise.  Teens will feel good about themselves if they are taking care of their bodies.

The teenage years can be a difficult time for your child if he or she feels negatively about their body. But, as a parent, you can prevent this by taking an active role in promoting positive body image in your teen. Doing so will help your child in the long run toward feeling good and confident about themselves and living a happy life. 

Recognizing signs of child abuse

on Thursday, 18 May 2017.

Recognizing signs of child abuse

Signs that a child may be facing abuse or neglect at home can become clear to those who come in contact with the child, if they know what to look for.

Physical signs of abuse such as cuts, burns or bruises are often covered up as accidents, sports injuries or products of rowdy playtime. It is not uncommon for a child to lie when being questioned about their injuries or try to cover up the actions of their abuser. This can be out of fear or confusion, as their abuser is often a loved one or their primary caregiver. 

It is crucial to be on the lookout for behavioral warning signs if you think a child might be being abused, either physically or verbally. Children who appear to be excessively nervous, fearful, shy or wary of physical contact may be being mistreated by an adult in their life. 

It is also common for an abused or neglected child to revert back to old behaviors from a younger stage in their life. This might include sucking on their thumb or becoming attached to a toy or stuffed animal. A child who is abused in the home may begin to suffer in school and struggle to maintain social relationships and friendships. 

A child suffering from emotional abuse may display some physical indications that they are in distress. This can include hair loss, weight loss or the development of a stutter or other speech impediment. 

Many people are hesitant to step in when they believe a child is being mistreated. They think it is none of their business and that it’s wrong to interfere in the personal life of another family. But it is everyone’s responsibility to report the possible abuse of a child. Whether you’re a teacher, tutor, babysitter or the parent of a classmate, if you have reason to believe a child is being verbally, physically, emotionally or sexually abused, report it to the Florida Department of Children and Families immediately.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

on Thursday, 11 May 2017.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Each year, health organizations across the country recognize May as Mental Health Awareness month. This month is dedicated to providing aid and support to those dealing with mental illness, as well as providing information and education to every American. It is important to learn about mental health so that society can stop stigmatizing those who are mentally ill and begin to help understand them.

What is mental health? The dictionary defines mental health as a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. For many people, their mental health is affected by things like stress, anxiety, nerves, paranoia or fear. However, some people have diagnosed mental illnesses.

Commonly known mental illnesses include depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. These disorders are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. They are not personality traits or a way in which an individual chooses to behave. It is important to understand that depression goes beyond typical sadness and cannot be overcome as easily. People with mental health issues must work to live with them on a daily basis. 

Though some conditions are more severe than others, one in five Americans each year will experience some type of mental health issue. Some conditions can be managed through doctor prescribed medications, but it also helps to seek guidance through therapy. If someone close to you is struggling with a mental illness, it may be beneficial for you to speak with a professional together.

Understanding mental health is the key to removing the negative stigma that often causes many individuals not to seek the help they need. It is something that many people struggle with and if we can start to facilitate dialogue and education about mental health, we can start to improve the ways in which we treat it. 

For more information on mental health and what you can do during the month of May, please visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may.

Preventing Your Teen from Developing an Eating Disorder

on Monday, 24 April 2017.

Preventing Your Teen from Developing an Eating Disorder

As the parent of a teenager, it is important that you are able to recognize the signs of a possible eating disorder and take active steps in preventing its development. Eating disorders are more common with girls but can develop in boys as well. Today, eating disorders are often triggered through exposure to unrealistic, edited media, and they include anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three factors which may lead to unhealthy eating habits. There is a societal pressure to be thin that is emphasized daily by photoshopped models, the portrayal of teens in television, and social media models who are paid to post the perfect shot. Your teen does not need to be overweight to develop an eating disorder. Many healthy teenagers can develop the belief that they are fat and become fixated with losing weight. This could be the result of constant exposure to unrealistic bodies in the media. 

Teens may also face pressure from their hobby or sport. Many elite athletes feel the pressure to stay thin and some develop eating disorders after periods of intense weight gain or loss during the season. 

There may also be personal factors that contribute to your teen’s perception of their body and their relationship with food. Teens with high anxiety or teens who feel pressure to be perfect all the time are at greater risk of developing an eating disorder. 

Pay attention to your teenager’s eating habits. If they often skip meals, go to the bathroom immediately after meals, periodically eat unhealthy foods in large amounts, or are not eating enough, these may be signs of an eating disorder. There may also be warning signs unrelated to diet, including excessive exercise, frequent negative comments about their appearance and depression. 

It is important to talk to your child at an early age about their body. Teach them that food is fuel for their everyday activities. Food is not the enemy. Be careful how you talk about your own body when you are around your child or teenager, never emphasizing your weight or the need to diet. Give your child positive affirmations and tell them they are beautiful, loved and healthy. It is also helpful to provide your child with meals that are both nutritious and delicious, but give them the option to eat unhealthy every once and a while.

Being a newly-single parent

on Monday, 17 April 2017.

Being a newly-single parent

Raising a child alone is always hard, but it can be especially difficult after experiencing the loss of your partner. Whether the loss is due to divorce, separation or death, you will inevitably go through a grieving period as you transition to life as a single parent. 

Many parents do not want their children to see them upset. Communication with your child is essential during this time. If they do see you crying or getting emotional, explain to them that it is not their fault. Tell them you miss your partner or that you are feeling overwhelmed but that everything will be okay. This must be handled differently depending on the age and disposition of your child.

Recognize that your child is also going through the loss of a parent and be there for them. Establish a strong family routine, whether it be meal time, setting aside an hour to assist them with homework or reading them a story at bedtime. The familiarity of routine and the quality time spent with you will bring your child comfort. It may also help to allow your child the opportunity to form a close relationship with another adult. If a relative or close friend lives nearby and has a bond with your child, share some of the childcare responsibilities with them. It will be nice to have someone you trust around to share carpooling duties if you are ever busy or unable. 

It is also imperative to stay in control of the rules you have previously set for your child. As the main source of authority and leadership in your child’s life, be clear in your expectations and firm in enforcing them. As the only parent in your child’s life, you want them to feel close and connected to you, but you also want them to know that you are in charge of their health, safety and discipline. If you are still on good terms with your child’s other parent, keep them involved but make sure you are on the same page with discipline. The last thing you want is for your child to receive mixed signals or have to choose sides.

One of the most essential ways for you to help your child and be a great parent, is to take care of yourself. It is important to build or maintain a close network of friends or co-workers that you can lean on for support and advice. Join a support group for single parents or a club that regularly participates in your favorite hobby or sport. Take time each week to do something just for you. It is nearly impossible to properly care for others if you do not first take care of yourself.

Healthy ways to grieve and deal with loss

on Wednesday, 05 April 2017.

Losing a loved one, whether expected or sudden, can be a painful, confusing and frustrating time. You may be left with regrets or unanswered questions. You may be left feeling alone. But death is a part of everyone’s life, and we all go through it at some point. It is common for people to try to put on a brave face or bury their emotions to avoid feeling pain, but the healthiest way to deal with loss is to face it head on. Be active in the grieving process. 

Everyone’s timeline for grief is different. Don’t rush the process and don’t put a cap on how long you can grieve. You may find initial comfort crying and talking with a friend or family member, and then continue to handle the grieving process very privately for months or even years after the loss. 

You may be uncomfortable talking about your feelings to a family member, friend or professional. There are alternative ways of expression that will allow you to sort through your feelings and come to terms with the loss. 

Engage in regular exercise to clear your head. Start a blog or journal to write out everything you feel and monitor your progress. Spend time outdoors. You may find comfort in prayer or talking to a religious figure. You may also find it effective to remember a person by reminiscing through old photos or clothing that will bring back positive memories of their life. 

Many people become attached to particular item of clothing or jewelry that was worn by the person often. Wear these items daily as a small token of remembrance. That way, the person is always with you and can become a source of strength when you are feeling down. Recognize that one day, you may not feel like it’s necessary to wear these items anymore. That is okay.

Many people find comfort and acceptance in talking to a professional. You may need professional help if your relationships are suffering or you’re experiencing symptoms of depression. Sometimes, you can’t understand where your feelings are coming from and a therapist can help you by asking questions to help you get to the answer.  

Dealing with Children’s Anger

on Thursday, 16 March 2017.

Dealing with Children’s Anger

Mild temper tantrums in young children are a normal part of growing up. They can include screaming, crying, kicking, hitting and whining, and are a way for children to communicate that they are frustrated, scared or upset. As a toddler develops further into childhood, uncontrollable outbursts of anger may become a problem. It is crucial to learn what goes beyond typical frustration and into the realm of anger-management issues. 

 

The most helpful thing for a child is for the adults in his or her life to realize that feelings of anger are not bad. It is important for children to know that their feelings are valid and should be expressed. It is okay to punish actions of anger, such as hitting or kicking, but recognize where the child is coming from and what might be making them act this way. 

 

Common reasons for angry outbursts include attempting to avoid feelings of pain or sadness, low self-esteem, situational anxiety or fear. Children with a history of verbal or physical abuse are more likely to lash out themselves. 

 

Young children have not yet learned how to express their anger in ways that are appropriate. It is up to the adult in their life to provide them with an outlet for expression. Often, physical outlets are a great way to relieve stress, anxiety and feelings of anger in children. Consider entering your child in sports or taking frequent visits to a park or gym. Sometimes, it also helps to ignore bad behavior and positively reinforce good behavior. When your child throws a temper tantrum at the grocery store, instead of simply giving them what they want, ignore the fit and wait for the child to calm down. On a day when the child is behaving at the store, offer to buy them their favorite snack. We want children to learn what type of behavior we expect from them, but don’t provide a reward every time they display good behavior, or they may throw a fit when not rewarded. 

 

Showing children love and affection is a simple way to control an outburst. A hug can calm the child down and allow them a moment to be still and contained. It can be frustrating and at times embarrassing when dealing with a child who has frequents bouts of screaming or kicking, but understand that most children are able to properly express their feelings over time. 

When anxiety is preventing you from living your best life

on Thursday, 02 March 2017.

When anxiety is preventing you from living your best life

 

With more than 3 million cases per year, anxiety disorder is one of the most common in the United States. It is normal to feel anxious about something you're uncomfortable with or not used to, but when your anxiety starts preventing you from completing everyday activities, it may be something more severe. Generally, anxiety disorders produce feelings of nervousness or unease and can be accompanied by panic attacks or trouble breathing, sleeping or concentrating.

Everyone’s anxiety is caused by something different. Common sources of anxiety include heavy social pressures, travel, decision making, school and work.

The first step in managing your anxiety is to learn what triggers it. Try to notice when you feel the most anxious or stressed. Attempting to alter your routine in order to avoid what makes you anxious will only reinforce the feelings of dread you associate with the task.

Facing your fears is the best way to overcome them, and a positive experience doing something that usually overwhelms you is an effective way to lower your level of anxiety when faced with the obstacle again.

More than likely, you will not be able to avoid what makes you anxious, so recognizing the sources of your stress will allow you to learn ways to manage it. Some methods include deep breathing, meditation, counting to 10, practicing yoga or exercising regularly. Some people also find it beneficial to keep a journal or vocalize their feelings with a professional or someone they trust.

Sitting with an uncomfortable thought allows it to linger and develop further. Talking with a professional about how we feel could be the first step in allowing us to work through our issues and see these things more clearly.

 

Preventing Child Abuse

on Wednesday, 04 January 2017.

Millions of children annually are victims of some form of child abuse, and the most staggering part of that statistic is that a great many of these incidents can be prevented. Obviously the vast majority of cases are family related and fall into the following categories: physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect.

The first step is to look at what is happening in the family. Are there issues related to parents, guardians or older siblings that need to be addressed? More often than not, the answer to that question is yes.

Among the many issues that can lead to child abuse are poverty, lack of education, marital problems, family violence, loneliness and social isolation, unemployment, unusually high expectations for the child, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, low self-esteem, pressure at work, having been abused as a child, weak parenting skills and more.

It is a cycle that is extremely hardy to break. Some studies show that as many as 80 percent of family child abusers were abused themselves.

So what’s the first step to stop this tragic cycle? As is the case with most other issues, the abuser needs to recognize that they need help. It’s rare that happens on its own. Generally other family members or outside sources need to step in to break the cycle. Helping others to question their behavior opens the door to change.

That’s where professional help comes in. For the vast majority of cases, there are underlying issues that need to be examined so the abuser can change behaviors. It’s not easy but it is possible. If you believe someone you know is abusing a child, take the necessary steps to help them begin the process of change.

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