Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Two yoga poses any parent can do to get better sleep.

By Sahar Pazirandeh, certified yoga instructor

You’ve successfully put your children to sleep, finished a chore-or-two around the house and you are ready to curl up in bed for a good night’s rest. Somehow, the more tired you are, the harder it is to fall asleep.

Your  restless mind snaps you back to reality as soon as your body begins to melt into the mattress.

Your body follows your monkey mind and cannot seem to find a comfortable position.

We’ve all had these nights, and what keeps us up the most is the thought of, “I really need to get some sleep.”

The next time you’re feeling restless try a few of these tips to get your mind and body to relax.

1. write: Jot down (on paper or using your smartphone) the random to-do’s running around your head.

2. music: If you can, put on relaxing music like the yoga or meditation station on Pandora

3. breathe: Lay there and breathe in any comfortable position.

Inhale deeply into your belly, feel our ribs expand, and your chest rise. Start your exhales in the same order, emptying your belly, feeling your ribs contract and your chest fall.

If you are pregnant please do not hold your breath.

Otherwise, for 3 rounds, inhale deeply, holding your breath at the top for 3-5 seconds, and then exhale slowly, open mouth, feeling your body melt into the mattress.

Once you feel the weight of your body get heaview, begin to put your body to sleep head-to-toe like this:

soften the space between my eyes
my jaw is unclenched
my cheeks are heavy
my tongue has fallen from the roof of my mouth

Put each body part to sleep and feel it get more relaxed and heavy. You will at least feel more rested if you don’t fall asleep by the time you reach your toes!

4. restorative yoga poses:


Traditionally this pose has your legs up a wall, but we want you to fall asleep and wake up with no kinks. Laying in your bed slide pillows under your knees until you feel a complete release in your lower back, much like when you are floating in the pool.

Let your arms lay any place they are comfortable, the best would be not touching or resting on your torso.

Child’s Pose

Kneel while in bed with big toes touching and knees spread apart as much is comfortable for you.

Lower your torso between knees, bringing forehead to rest on your bed or pillow and extend arms overhead, also resting on bed or pillow.  Breathe deeply into your stomach until you feel your lower back expand, holding for up to 1 minute or even longer.

Find us on Twitter @CyHopeThe Center and let us know if any of these tips work for you.

Sweet dreams,

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Benefits of Marriage Counseling

By:Sarah Henry, Graduate Student Intern

Most people hear marriage counseling and quickly come to the conclusion that whoever is attending must be struggling in their relationship. Although that may be true for some, not everyone uses marriage counseling as a last resort to save their marriage. Some couples see it as a way to continue to grow and nurture their marriage. In an effort to debunk the myth that marriage counseling is only for those who have no other options left, let me give you a few notes on how it can be beneficial, even for those in a happy marriage.

First, marriage counseling can simply act as a check up for you and your spouse. People don’t just see the doctor when they are sick. Most go for a yearly check up to make sure everything is still working properly. While most checkups show that everything is normal, every now and then something unexpected can pop up. In the same way, attending a brief session marriage counseling can help you and your spouse officially check in with each other. It can help identify some problem areas that may be rising up or just serve as reassurance that you guys are doing well.

Marriage counseling can also help fine-tune those issues that may cause strife in a happy marriage. Finances may be a struggle and adding a third party to help mediate the disagreement could lead to better financial planning. Deciding whether to start or expand the family, go back to school, switch jobs, or learning how to parent together may also be some areas of focus during marriage counseling.

Finally, after years of marriage, some couples need help reconnecting with each other. It doesn’t mean they no longer love each other; it means life got in the way. With work, school, children, and pets, everything is begging for our attention. We focus on everything running smoothly and at the end of the day, we are lucky to get a goodnight kiss. Busy schedules make it easy to forget why you fell in love with your spouse. Attending marriage counseling can bring back those romantic feelings and reignite the flame that once burned bright as day.

It’s important to remember that asking for a counselor to help is not a sign that your marriage is crumbling. Recognizing that you and your spouse cannot do it alone is a strength that many couples lack. Reaching out to a professional is nothing to be ashamed about. Working hard to maintain a healthy marriage is something to brag about, not hide because of a false stigma.

Follow us on Twitter @CyHopeTheCenter

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is it really fall again? Back to School? Schedules and more? Stress?

by Amy Rollo, Clinical Director
Is it really the fall again? With the fall comes many excitements including going back to school, college football, and best yet pumpkin spice lattes are back in season… Okay, maybe I am the only one that becomes excited over the latter. The fall brings many good things, but also some jitters. Children begin to think about class schedules, parents prepare themselves for their new routine of pick-ups, drop offs, and after school activities, and a whole new hectic routine begins again.

We can set our children up for success this school year. First day of school jitters begin not only because of seeing new classmates, but also the abrupt change in their schedule. Help your child to adapt by beginning their new routine early. Keep bedtimes and bedtime routines as much as possible. Keep the same expectations of limited screen and television time during the remainder of the summer months. If you expect your child to play videogames only an hour a day during the school months, help set this expectation by monitoring their use now. Most importantly, add in a family night once a week. Before the schedules become over run by after school activities, homework, and science projects, have a designated night that the family spends together. This can set the tone for the rest of the school year and demonstrates the importance placed on family.

Back to school anxiety also comes from performance anxiety. It will be important to emphasize effort and not grade. If a child’s best work is a B, then that should be the goal. Never place an arbitrary expectation on your child, as each child has different strengths and weaknesses. Allow your child to understand that love and support comes no matter the grade made or performance at a sporting event. To decrease performance anxiety, practice positive affirmations before big tests where you discuss why the child is confident in his or her abilities. Have them visualize tackling the assignment or scoring the winning goal while keeping their body relaxed.

Lastly, having a visual chart that shows the family’s weekly schedule can decrease the child’s stress during the chaotic schedule change. Having a checklist or flow chart that is kept on the family refrigerator or door can help the child be prepared for transitions and ease anxiety with rushing out the door. It would benefit the family to review the week’s schedule every Sunday to mark off big homework assignments or projects and schedule when the child will work on each project. Keeping organized is also difficult when the school year progresses, so check on your child’s backpack and binder during this time to ensure they are keeping up with their organization.

The Center For Children & Families is happy to help during these stressful times, whether it is parent consultation, play therapy, AD/HD coaching, evaluations, or counseling. Good luck with the fall and new school year, and don’t forget to enjoy those pumpkin spice lattes; the time they are around really does go by too fast...

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"STOP!" Yes, Stop. "Stop, What?"

by Amy Rollo, Clinical Director

As I sat down to write the blog for the summer only one word came to mind, “STOP!” Yes, stop.  “Stop what?” you might ask, and I want to respond with “everything.” Stop trying to make everything perfect, stop trying to be everywhere at once, stop trying to make your children live up to the neighbor’s expectations, stop trying to be the perfect parent and just be. Take some time for your family to be in the moment. I don’t know about you, but that gives me a big sigh of relief.

I came across a Huffington Post article not too long ago titled “I’m Done Making My Child’s Childhood Magical.” I instantly related to the article as a mom and counselor. The premise of the article was the pressure mothers put on themselves with the evolution of Pinterest and other social media sites that allows us to constantly compare ourselves to others. “Childhood is inherently magical even though it is not perfect” it states, yet we struggle with guilt of aspiring to be a supermom or superdad all of the time.

I reflect on my childhood and my favorite memories were the spontaneous ones. Going for a bicycle ride with a parent or snuggling during a movie. Sure, the family vacations were fun, but those do not necessarily come to mind first. Disney World was lived out every day with my imagination outside. In today’s world we have every hour accounted for with a structured activity for a child. Meals are spent in the backseat of a car out of a paper bag. Yes, it is the reality of today’s world, but we must schedule some unstructured time to just be.

Allow the family some unplugged time to be around each other. Whether that is a dinner together once a week, a family walk with the dog or just time at the house. Put down the phones, step away from the tablets, and just be present.

Be in the moment. I read recently that we now spend more time on our phones each day than with our partners. I catch myself grabbing my phone to video or take a photo when my child does something cute rather than actually enjoying the moment. I recently went to the park and witnessed three moms sitting next to each other. They were all seemingly friends, but all in their own world on their phones, as their children were shouting “Hey mom watch this!” I immediately put my phone in my back pocket, fearing that was probably me a week ago at the park.

Make sure everyone gets enough sleep. Yes, even you parents! Because children do not have to wake for school, we are tempted to allow for extended bedtimes. This leads to chronic exhaustion, not to mention crankiness. Limit television time before bed and keep a consistent bedtime routine that includes 15 minutes of calming activities, such as reading, light music or quiet talking.

Lastly, allow yourself the permission to not be perfect. You will mess up, your kids will be mad at you, and your day might not be a Pinterest perfect day from time to time. It is okay. Tell your children you love them, be a role model, and give them that extra hug before bed even though it is “so embarrassing!” They secretly can’t wait to get mad at all those hugs!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's All About LOVE!

“This was love at first sight, love everlasting; a feeling unknown, unhoped for, unexpected—in so far as it could be a matter of conscious awareness; it took entire possession of him, and he understood, with joyous amazement, that this was for life”
-Thomas Mann

            Hollywood spins fantastical tales of romance, true love, and love and first sight; of immortal legacies of couples that will go down in history as people and stories will we always idolize and never forget. But is it real? Is it attainable? What should we be searching for after all? While we are familiar with the love stories in our favorite novels and movies, can we attest to what everlasting love looks like in real life? Sadly, many of us are surrounded by love stories that are no longer described as eternal, but as complicated, short-lived, or futile.
So what are the characteristics of real life love stories? The marriages that transcend the many challenges and complications of life and turn into true depictions of everlasting love. We know these marriages are not perfect, that the feelings of love often oscillate over time, that they face the same challenges that often put an end to other relationships. So what makes these relationships last? What should we actually be aspiring to?
The Top 3 Essentials to Making Love Last
Healthy and Effective Communication. Healthy and effective communication is the first essential to making love last and is characterized by the following:
·      Validation: making sure that your partner’s feelings are heard and respected. Validation can often look like a reflection of what your partner is saying, “I hear you saying that I disappointed you today.” You can also express validation in a statement of understanding, “I could certainly understand why you would feel that way. I would feel the same way.”  An important key to remember about validation is that you do not have to agree or understand why your partner feels a certain way. If you do not agree or understand why, use a reflection statement to let your partner know that you hear them.
·      Acknowledgement: letting your partner know that you appreciate their thoughts as well as their actions. In our busy lives it is easy to communicate only with needs or demands. Remember to acknowledge your partner’s good qualities as well as thank them, or show appreciation towards them, for the things they do for you or your family. Show acknowledgement towards their ideas and goals. Let them know that you value their opinion and willingness to share with you.
·      Use I-Statements: When communicating during an argument or disagreement, use statements that speak to your own feelings or experiences. Instead of saying, “You are always so rude and hurtful!” try saying, “I am really hurt by what was just said.” You statements often feel like accusations and can elicit defensiveness, while an I statement allows your partner to hear your feelings without feeling the need to protect him/her-self from what you’re saying.
·      Be specific. When sharing your feelings with your partner, whether they are positive affirmations, or hurt feelings, be specific with what you need or want. Use your communication as an avenue to grow your partner’s understanding of you and your relationship.
·      Know when to take a timeout. It is always better to pause a conversation and revisit it later than to allow hurtful words to be spoken that you can never take back. Take the time to talk to your partner about how to establish a timeout during an argument. Make plans during times of calm communication so that you both know what to expect during an argument. Make sure to revisit important conversations when you are both in a good place to talk.
·      Be assertive. Let your needs and feelings be known to your partner. Try to identify any assumptions you might have about what your partner should “just know already,” and instead, help your partner learn about what makes you happy and feel loved.
Make Time for Your Relationship.  Making time for your relationship is the second essential to making love last. Through the course of your relationship your role will change from girlfriend/boyfriend, to fiancé, to husband/wife, to mom and dad. Do not let your role changes stop and stick on mom and dad. Maintain a constant balance between Mom/Wife, Husband/Dad. Easier said that done right? Make sure to take time for your relationship:
-Go out on date nights   -Plan a couple’s exclusive vacation
-Spend alone time together without the T.V. or other distractions
-Have conversations about your relationship and your feeling for each other
-Write love notes      -Send sweet texts    -Buy cards and flowers   
-Prioritize and communicate about intimacy
-Find what works for you, it does not have to be complicated or consuming.
This is an essential to making love last because without it, couples can lose sight of their connection and lose their identity as partners. Have a conversation about how to connect, reconnect, or rekindle previous relationship stages and keep them alive!
Let Your Partner In. Letting your partner know who you are, and being true to who you are, is the third and final essential to making love last. With movies and novels filled with heroic and romantic Romeos and beautiful and flawless Juliets, it can be hard to measure up what you think your partner might expect of you. Remind yourself that while you know you are no Romeo, your partner also knows they are not a perfect Juliet.
·      Establish a friendship with them that is deep and honest. The establishment of a deep friendship takes time and a slow development of trust. Embrace that this process begins with, or before, dating and continues throughout a lifetime. Nurture your friendship with acceptance and respect. Allow your partner to make mistakes and always approach disagreements with the goal of forgiveness.
·      Don’t be afraid to laugh and joke as well as cry and need comfort. An honest expression of needs and emotions will allow your partner to feel close to you. Keeping your feelings to yourself leaves your partner in the dark about how to comfort you.
·      Remember that disappointments are inevitable. From infertility, to financial crisis, to health scares, or the loss of loved ones, disappointments or devastations are unavoidable across the span of a lifetime. Whether there is a crisis in your family, or a crisis within your couple relationship, allow yourself to be the person your partner can come to. Recognize when a crisis is causing you to turn away from your partner instead of bringing you together and address it. Know when to get help. Seeking counseling or outside advice is not a sign of marital failure, but a sign of strength and commitment to persevere and overcome.
·      Allow your partner to know the real you. Don’t hold back the parts of yourself that you are afraid cannot be accepted. Allow your partner to completely accept you for who you are, not just the parts that you allow them to see. Real life true love acknowledges flaws and embraces truth. Remember that your partner is not perfect either.
Make sure that you have made your partner feel comfortable coming to you with good news and bad. Create a place within your relationship for honesty and trust with the above mentioned essentials.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning unquenchable”- Bruce Lee
            The state of real life everlasting love changes over time, fluctuating between a deep burning and an eternal glow.  The flame that prevails and does not falter is not in itself perfect, but is nurtured, tended, and constantly fed.
Kristin O’Connor, M.S., LMFT-A
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate

Friday, February 14, 2014

Shouldn't You.... Love Yourself More?

February is all about L-O-V-E!  For weeks leading up to the BIG day, February 14th, we are inundated with images of LOVE, from every store, the television, and radio. Commercials are displaying diamonds and flowers complete with a picture perfect couple, with a special kind of everlasting love. The hype and the expectation can lead up to sense of loss and dread if we somehow do not meet those standards of what love is. Pressure is placed on partners to make this day extra special, as if all other days don't seem to matter, as if we only express our deep, undying love, one day out of the year.

What about those that are single? February can be brutal, when bombarded with images of couples all the time. Comparisons between self and others can easily enter our thought process and bring on feelings of being unlovable or unworthy. Some worry they will never find someone who will simply love them. As February 14th approaches it can be a day filled with dread, sadness, and anxiety while some wonder, when will it be my turn?

Instead of having all these expectations of what others should do and how they should do it, Shouldn't YOU... Love Yourself More? Sounds easy, right?  Wrong!  Have you ever had the thought, "if he would just.... then I would feel loved," or "if they would just..... I would feel loved."  What happened to loving ourselves first? When we love ourselves it makes it easier for others to love us. It makes us more giving, more aware, more available. It is so easy to say but how do you do it?

Is loving yourself simply setting aside time to take a long bath, read a book, watch that movie you have been dying to see, sitting and talking to a friend, or giving yourself one day without negative self-talk?  It can be any of these things or anything important to you. Self love is at the core of your well-being, it is extremely important and impacts everything you do, you think, and how you act.

What would our world be like if we all started to just LOVE OURSELVES MORE?

What would YOUR world be like if YOU started to just LOVE YOURSELF MORE?

Here are some ways to start loving yourself more (what would be on your list?:

1) Start with one day a week stopping any negative self-talk. Every time a negative thought pops into your head, tell yourself to stop, and replace it with a positive thought.  For example: Ugh, I that looks ugly on me!  Change to: Wow, my hair looks great today.  Cheesy, I know but you get the point. Negative thoughts have a way of creeping in and I would venture to bet we don't even realize how many times a day they are popping up. 

2) Spend some time alone.  Even if all you can find is 10 minutes, DO IT!  Turn off the electronics and simply BE!  Easier said than done but OH, once you start you will want this time every day. If you have more time, go for a walk, go to that favorite store, or better yet omewhere you have wanted to go and haven't.

3) Write yourself a love letter!  Who would have thought, try it, it can be challenging but so rewarding in the end. 

4) Go to bed early! What?!? Who has time for this?  You do! Come on, it's just one night. Do it, it will energize you. Everything will still be waiting for you the next day and it will be easier to accomplish. 

5) Change your focus! How many of us focus on our outer appearance? What if you focus on who you want to be on the inside? Beautiful things can come from this.

Overall, it is sometimes hard to love ourselves, but wouldn't it be worth it to give it a try just once?

by Amy Wine

Knowing how to love yourself is quite important. Self love is at the very core of wellbeing, joy, self-empowerment, and your ability to create and enjoy the kind of life you want. You cannot enjoy happiness if you are not at peace with yourself - See more at: http://www.wellbeingalignment.com/how-to-love-yourself.html#sthash.vjYGizJq.dpuf

Knowing how to love yourself is quite important. Self love is at the very core of wellbeing, joy, self-empowerment, and your ability to create and enjoy the kind of life you want. You cannot enjoy happiness if you are not at peace with yourself. - See more at: http://www.wellbeingalignment.com/how-to-love-yourself.html#sthash.vjYGizJq.dpuf
Knowing how to love yourself is quite important. Self love is at the very core of wellbeing, joy, self-empowerment, and your ability to create and enjoy the kind of life you want. You cannot enjoy happiness if you are not at peace with yourself. - See more at: http://www.wellbeingalignment.com/how-to-love-yourself.html#sthash.vjYGizJq.dpuf

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Coping with the After Holidays Letdown!

 For many people the time following the Christmas and New Year’s holidays brings feelings of feeling let down and somewhat sad.  The holidays are both joyful and stressful at once:  gifts to buy and return, people to visit or to have over, parties, special food to cook and eat, and being with relatives you don’t often see.  But then suddenly everything is over. 
 Returning to your usual routine can dampen your mood merely by the absence of exciting things to do and to look forward to.  Also if Christmas or New Year’s wasn’t quite as good as what you expected, you can feel disappointed by the lack of enjoyment.  Here are some ideas for dealing with feeling down after the holidays:
1.     Expect some letdown.  If you can reassure yourself that feeling a little down after the holidays is a normal feeling given the situation, you are giving yourself permission to feel these feelings and to know that they will pass once you have readjusted to your usual routine.

2.     Be kind to yourself.  As you are settling back into your normal routine, do not pressure yourself to immediately perform at the top of your game at work or at home.  At first consider doing only what is necessary and gradually work up to your usual pace.  Allowing yourself to get enough rest will also help.

3.     Do something you have been wanting to do.  During the holiday rush, you probably did not have the time to do something for yourself.  Pick something like reading a book you have wanted to read, watch a movie you have been wanting to see, or go for a walk.  Satisfying this need doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money, just do something that you will enjoy.

4.     Invite one or two close friends over for a casual lunch or meet somewhere quiet for coffee.  Spending quiet, personal time with a close friend or two can help ease you back into the flow of human relationships that is not focused on doing big things in a big way.  Instead, this type of getting together is just about people enjoying being with each other. 

5.     Exercise in a way you are comfortable with.  Even if you don’t want to exercise for health reasons, exercise is good at boosting your mood.  It also gets you moving again.  Pick whatever you like – running, walking, cycling, using or exercise dvds.

6.     Do something that gives you something to look forward to.   Some activities are:  taking a new class for a hobby or interest you have, planning to have dinner once a week with friends or anything else that helps you have something to enjoy in the near future.