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Modeling Screen Time for Kids (Even Babies!)

kids Oct 30, 2018

By Marti Erickson, PhD

Did your parents used to tell you, “Do as I say, not as I do”?

That wasn’t a very effective strategy then, and it still isn’t. Like it or not, kids are far more likely to do as we do.

So, if you bemoan how kids seem to have a phone or other device as one of their appendages, look in the mirror before threatening dire consequences if they don’t “put that thing down right now!”

Disclaimer: I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m pointing a finger at you. Truth is, when I point at you, my other fingers point back at me! I’m a grandma of five kids, ages 10 – 14, with whom I spend a lot of time. I also have a pretty close relationship with my electronic devices. I’ve had to work at this technology balance too!

There are two important questions to ask yourself while looking in the mirror:

  • What is the appropriate place of these devices in my child’s life and my own?
  • What lessons am I teaching (and...
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Give Yourself the Gift of Connection

awaken joy Oct 25, 2018

By Sandra Kacher, LICSW Emeritus

As we enter the season of great festivities, I realize once more that this is the time of year when my therapy clients begin to talk about loneliness, isolation, and grief. My first Christmas disappointment was getting a generic “Lovely Linda” doll instead of a Tiny Tears. The heartache (for a child)! I can clearly remember the sinking in my stomach when I realized I wasn’t getting the real thing. For too many people, that sinking feeling lasts from October through New Year’s Eve.

The image of your perfect holiday may have to do with childhood memories of special foods, tree decorating rituals, and beautifully wrapped presents under that tree (and Tiny Tears in one of those packages!). Glossy holiday images also tempt us in sentimental movies, TV commercials, and a barrage of magazine recipes for this year’s version of the new best food for the holidays.  

Despite the focus on food and presents, the perfect holiday...

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A Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder: Definition, Treatment, & Prevention

joy Oct 18, 2018

By Henry Emmons, MD

Our annual journey around the sun has crossed the threshold that creates a mild sense of dread in many people—winter is coming. The days are now shorter than the nights, and if you live north of a line going through Atlanta, you are probably noticing a change in your biology. Your body wants you to hibernate. Most of us don’t actually hibernate, and probably wouldn’t feel good if we did, but living out of sync with nature’s rhythms comes at a cost.

You may just feel a little sluggish, want to sleep more, crave comfort foods, or have a harder time getting to a gym. Or, you may feel something more—a specific form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (known by the apt acronym SAD).

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder refers to a form of depression that occurs at a specific time of year. For most people, that means the winter, though there are subsets that occur in the spring or summer. Look for...

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SAD Light Therapy

joy Oct 17, 2018

By Tim Culbert, MD

Has the weather got you down? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A significant amount of folks (about 10 to 20%) experience seasonal symptoms of low mood or decreased energy. When symptoms are more severe, it’s often called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Winter is the most common time for SAD, but some individuals may have similar shifts during other seasons. For this article we'll focus on fall and winter.

Common Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD symptoms can include:

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy, feeling sluggish
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling sad, irritable, or agitated
  • Difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep

It's important to meet with a health professional if you are experiencing these symptoms. Along with their guidance, you may find it helpful to try light therapy. 

What Does Light Have to do With SAD?

Research suggests that a big part...

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Outdoor Therapy and Grounding Techniques for Mental Health

calm focus foundations joy Sep 28, 2018

 

By Tim Culbert, MD

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

-John Muir

Where do I go when I feel burned out? I head to the mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and desert landscapes for rejuvenation and a sense of calm. That simple step of heading outside almost magically shifts my internal landscape. I think of this immersion in a wild environment as “swimming with the senses.”

As a physician, I’ve sought out the scientific support for how these healing effects of nature take place. It's a free activity, there are no side effects, but is it just good for me or is something my patients should do too?

Well-known authors, poets, political leaders, and healers from all over the world have understood this connection between health in mind, body, and spirit, and the natural world. I love Seth Adam Smith’s...

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How To Meditate Properly [For You]

awaken calm focus joy meditation Sep 21, 2018

By Tim Culbert, MD

You've likely been told that you HAVE to meditate. Perhaps even in a particular seated position, in a particular outfit, in a particularly-decorated room.

Have you tried that strict meditation technique only to discover that you're more stressed out when you finish than before you began it? 

Don’t worry! That meditation technique is just one mind-body practice and there are many others to explore that can offer the same benefits. Finding a better fit is worth your time as many mind-body practices will work to enhance your ability to deal with symptoms related to depression, anxiety, or focus. This ability is often called “emotional regulation” or “self-regulation.” At Natural Mental Health, we also refer to this ability as resilience.

Additionally, as you find practices that fit you better, you'll be more likely to practice consistently and for longer durations at a time. This is key because the time you practice and the positive...

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Stay & Wait for the Sun

awaken Sep 13, 2018

It's National Suicide Prevention Week (and month). Let's make space for ourselves and those around us who may be suffering. May we help each other stay. 

From Jennifer Michael Hecht's book Stay:

"None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay. Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find...

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Understand and Balance the Chemicals of Your Mood

calm joy Sep 06, 2018

 

By Henry Emmons, MD

Let me start by saying that the field of psychiatry has greatly oversimplified brain chemistry, and I’m guilty of doing that again here. Nonetheless, a more simple way of understanding and talking about this very complex subject is necessary. A bit of understanding of brain chemistry can help you create a healthy, well-functioning brain and a good, sustainable mood.

Brain Chemistry 101

I have come to view the brain as functioning mostly through communication from one part to another. There are a series of discrete centers, or nuclei in the brain, each with a unique job to do. All of these areas need to communicate effectively with one another for the brain to work well. That is done through the flow of energy between these centers, and it is accomplished largely via the neurons. In a way, they are like electrical wires transferring energy from one place to another. Neurons are separated from one another by a small space called a...

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The Benefits of Family Meals & Five Tips to Make Them Happen

digest kids nourish Aug 29, 2018

By Erin Erickson, DNP, MPH, MA

Erin is a nurse practitioner dual certified in family practice and women’s health and currently sees patients at Minnesota Personalized Medicine. She is also Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Mom Enough®, an evidence-based parenting blog. 

Dear busy families with kids:

  1. Do you ever wonder if it’s really worth the effort to have a regular family meal?
  2. After your hard work in the kitchen, are your children done eating within 5 minutes of the food hitting the table and begging to leave?

If you can relate, know that you're not alone. Also know that in spite of what might feel like a futile effort, the time spent on meals is well worth it.

Before I dive into the strategies of making family meals happen, I’d like to invite you to join my family for dinner. The five of us sit on little stools, squished around a too-small table in a too-small kitchen not made for “eating in.”

My oldest son stands over his food, adding...

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Single Task Challenge

calm focus joy Aug 21, 2018

In this month's newsletter (sign up here), we took on the challenge of... doing nothing for 90 minutes. A simple idea, but tough in practice. 

One way to warm up toward doing nothing is to do just one thing (doing less is the practice!). This is particularly helpful as multitasking can be a default answer to those times when you feel overwhelmingly busy. Multitasking pumps that busy energy up, but doesn't offer a return of productivity. You're actually more productive when you do just one thing at a time vs. all the things at a time.

Give this single task challenge a try and then go for the big non-doing challenge in the newsletter when you're ready. 

 

 


Find stillness or no-tasking to help ground you, support calm, and reconnect you to the present moment. Read Henry's reflection on stillness here.>>>

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