Are Kids Like an Ancient Torture Device?

Are Kids Like an Ancient Torture Device?

The answer is yes. Or no. Or it depends on the day?

Okay, so this one might get me into big trouble. Let me start out by saying that kids are awesome and I love my two little munchkins more than anything.

Now that that’s out of the way… are kids like Chinese water torture?

If that question horrified you, I apologize. It’s just a comparison that popped into my head one morning as my un-caffeinated brain was trying to keep our girls occupied when they had woken up way before the sun.

5 Easy Self-Care Tips for Busy Moms

5 Easy Self-Care Tips for Busy Moms

Everybody knows that moms are stressed and busy. Whether it’s staying at home and juggling watching the kids while keeping the house functioning.

Or if it’s trying to spend quality time with the kids while also maintaining a job. There’s nothing easy about parenting, and we all end up carrying way more stress than we’d like.

When silly psychologists like me suggest adding in self-care, it’s easy to laugh us in the face because “ain’t nobody got time for that”.

That’s why I decided to put together 5 easy self-care activities a busy mom can fit into her schedule.

  1. Visit the beach

  2. Visualization

  3. Use a gratitude journal

  4. Exercise

  5. Mindful drive

Why I Help Moms

Why I Help Moms

When I tell people that I specialize in helping moms, I’ve occasionally been asked why. I think the fact that I’m a guy makes it seem a little strange.

It’s true. I can’t hide the fact that I’m a dude. A father. Distinctly NOT a mother.

I mean, I have a mother, and my wife is a mother. But that’s not really the reason why I focus on helping overwhelmed moms overcome stress, anxiety, or depression.

Of course I’ve always had tremendous respect for mothers.

You are expected to do the job of 7 people while keeping a smile on your face and looking pretty to boot.

It’s impossible.

This is Us - Lessons from William Hill

This is Us - Lessons from William Hill

My wife and I are a little late to the game in discovering the NBC show This is Us (we rarely get to watch TV due to having a couple little ones), but we finally started watching. As with the rest of America, we’ve been captivated by the family dynamics, and the obvious affection the characters have for each other. In particular, I fell in love with William. The biological father that Randall finally just met at 36 years of age, and at a time when William is already in the end stages of cancer.

How Do I Not Burden My Family?

How Do I Not Burden My Family?

Millions of people are coping with mental health issues at this very moment. It could be anxiety, depression, ADHD, or chronic stress. It’s pretty common to walk through life shouldering these burdens by ourselves.

Nobody wants to burden family, friends, or acquaintances with their problems.

Unfortunately, this means that the majority of people with mental health concerns end up not receiving appropriate treatment or support. Only one-third of those with a diagnosable anxiety disorder reach out for help!

Find the Best Therapist for You

Find the Best Therapist for You

You’ve struggled for long enough with the stress and constant worry and decided it’s time to work with a therapist. But what’s the next step?

It’s not like you’ve done this 100 times before like meeting with your family physician. How do you know who’s good? How can you trust someone you don’t even know?

Searching for a therapist can be just as scary as the thought of going on with the issues that have you thinking of getting help in the first place!

Here are some tips that will hopefully make the process a little less stressful for you, and help you to find the therapist that fits with your personality and needs

How to stop those pesky negative thoughts

How to stop those pesky negative thoughts

You had a good day. Got the kids to bed without too much fuss and they didn’t kill each other. Enjoyed dinner with the family and it felt like things were going well.

Then it happens. Out of nowhere, the little dark angel in your head reminds you of how yesterday wasn’t so hot. In fact, it says that yesterday you were a failure as a parent.

It starts off quiet, but before you know it, all you can think about is the many mistakes you’ve made. You focus on how everybody else is a better parent than you. You know your kids are going to be messed up as adults because of your screw ups!!

Why is Parenting So Hard?

Why is Parenting So Hard?

There is no denying it. Parenting. Is. Hard. My wife and I have split working and caregiving duties at various times, so we both gained a healthy respect for the challenges and blessings of both sides.

Working is difficult because you miss the kids, but you often get socialization and adult conversations throughout the day. Staying home is rewarding for the closeness that develops between parent and child, but there is very little rest and you start to wonder whether your conversational ability is going to be stuck at a 3 year old level forever. It’s so difficult to get that perfect balance of family, work, social, and personal life that lead to feeling fulfilled and happy.

But people have been raising kids successfully for thousands of years, why is it so hard for me?

5 Tips to Improve Your Child's Behavior

5 Tips to Improve Your Child's Behavior

We love our kids, but that doesn’t mean we always like them. Children are programmed to test boundaries, which means breaking rules that we know they already understand. As soon as it seems like things are going smoothly, one child or another enters a phase of defiance. It can be so frustrating to continually be trying out different systems of discipline and feeling like they are ineffective. It’s overwhelming to check out Amazon.com’s parenting section (there were over 200,000 results for “parenting books”). Which book actually works? How do you know who to trust? What if I waste my time and money reading and it doesn’t work with my kids? Friend A says to try this method, but Friend B says that didn’t work for them. There are a million things that race through your head when trying to decide what to do next. I understand the frustration because we all know that every child is different, so you may even need several styles of discipline in your own home! While there are many methods out there, it seems there are several universals when it comes to discipline, which I will share here. Here are my top five tips for effective discipline.

5 Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep

5 Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep is probably the most underappreciated aspect of health. The doc always tells us to eat less junk and more vegetables, and to move our bodies 150 minutes each week. We’re told that eating better and exercising improve our physical and mental health, which is true. So you work for one third of the day, and one third of the day you try and do healthy things like exercise, but what about that final third of the day. When we’re busy with deadlines, or our schedules are jam packed because of our kids’ sports, sleep is often the first thing we sacrifice. “I’ll make up for it when I’m dead,” is the common joke. Sadly, the joke has some truth to it since poor sleep can double your risk of death.

Ask Me Anything on Reddit Along with 24 Other Therapists!

Ask Me Anything on Reddit Along with 24 Other Therapists!

This post is a little different than my usual blogs. Last week I took part in a huge series of Ask Me Anything (AMA) threads on Reddit with many other online therapists. If you're unfamiliar with AMAs, it's an opportunity for random people on Reddit to ask questions of a celebrity, or an expert of some kind. As a group, we answered questions on an unbelievable range of issues, and I'd encourage you to look through the threads of topics that may apply to you. I've linked all the threads below. 

5 Tips to Better Play

5 Tips to Better Play

In earlier blogs I discussed the importance of getting on the floor and playing with your children Part 1 and Part 2. It’s not unusual for parents to come into therapy with their children and sheepishly comment on how they are not sure exactly how to play with their kids. And I can’t blame them! It’s not like there’s an instruction manual, or a course in school, and it just doesn’t come naturally to every parent. Here are five tips that I hope will make play time with your kids more enjoyable for both parent and child!

Tips to Beat Anxiety and Stress

In this blog, I’ll discuss a few methods to help cope with anxiety symptoms that can’t quite fit into their own separate blog. I’ve already discussed how to use deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, mindfulness meditation, and changing your perspective to help reduce anxiety or stress, but those aren’t the only tools available. Some other ideas that can be used together or in conjunction with a previously discussed strategy are: exercise, gratitude journal, social connection, and valued living. As I’m writing this, I realize some of these may actual turn into their own blog posts later, but enjoy the introduction for now!

The Upside of Stress

The Upside of Stress

If you’re reading this, chances are good that you have dealt with some stress in your life. I don’t know if there are many people who could honestly say that they haven’t. Stress is a pretty universal experience in life, especially for those with children. It’s hard enough keeping your own life in order, but to also have the responsibility for helping these little ones develop into well-adjusted adults, c’mon! When we’re feeling overwhelmed by the stress, it’s also pretty universal to wish we could make the stress would go away. To view the stress as bad, and something that we would like to avoid forever. That makes complete sense, especially when we know that high levels of stress can increase the likelihood of dying by 43%!! Wow!

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Chances are, you’ve heard the term mindfulness at some point over the last few years. The concept is thousands of years old, but it has only gained recognition as a stress coping tool in the west more recently. As John Kabat-Zinn, PhD developed what ultimately became known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the 1980s, he found a way to teach and implement the technique so that was accepted by those in our culture. Over the past decade there have been articles written on applying mindfulness to CEOs, musicians, child-rearing, as well as coping with stress and anxiety symptoms. I hope to address some of the misconceptions people often have about the practice of mindfulness, and also describe how you can begin to practice on your own.

Take a Relaxing Vacation Inside Your Own Home

Take a Relaxing Vacation Inside Your Own Home

When we feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, it’s certainly not uncommon for our mind to race. We may not even know where half the thoughts are coming from, but they seem to be hitting us left and right. We would do just about anything to quiet our minds and have some peace! So we try not to think about the stressful thoughts…. BOOM, they come back stronger than ever. Of course with the mind/body connection, those anxious thoughts lead our body to respond in all sorts of uncomfortable ways. The deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation techniques discussed in the last two blogs were focused on the body. The hope was that promoting relaxation in the body will also quiet the mind. Again, for some people that is the case, but for others it seems like their mind goes into overdrive when they try deep breathing. Visualization is one of the techniques we can use to both relax the body, but also engage the mind in a way that makes it difficult for those negative thoughts to race through.

Reduce Stress with Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is my second post in a series on relaxation techniques for coping with stress or anxiety. If you want to read my first post on deep breathing, you can find it HERE. In this post, I will go over how to practice progressive muscle relaxation. This technique can be especially helpful for those who carry their stress as tension in their muscles. It may not be quite as enjoyable as a Swedish massage, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and there’s no need to schedule an appointment! You’ll need about 10 free minutes and a quiet place that you can have some privacy. This one is not quite as easy to use in public like deep breathing.

Deep Breathing for Relaxation

When we get upset, the first reaction people have is to say “calm down!” or “relax!” Of course we all think the same thing when someone tells us that, “IF IT WAS THAT EASY, I WOULD HAVE DONE IT ALREADY.” So, yeah, when a friend of yours is upset, please do not just tell them to calm down or relax… it’s not helpful. So what is helpful? How do we actually calm down and relax? There are a few techniques I’ll cover in my next few posts that you can experiment with. They work for most people, but everybody is a little different in what their mind/body need to promote a sense of calm.