It’s not all about me… but can’t it SOMETIMES be?

Lately it seems as if everybody close to me has some kind of something happening, good or bad, that trumps what is happening with me or how I’m feeling. Maybe it’s always this way and I haven’t noticed it before, but I’m starting to feel somewhat defeated. I don’t want to share or say how I’m feeling, hoping for some comfort, because the responses I get are the opposite of comfort. I understand that it’s not anyone’s responsibility but my own to make myself feel better, but don’t we all deserve just a little coddling once in awhile?

Well yes, of course we do! There are millions of lists out there compiled of the ideas of people from all walks of life with how you can provide self-care. Those lists are absolutely amazing to have around at all times. Self care is an extremely important piece in leading a healthy lifestyle. What I’m getting at here though is, I think only self-care might not be enough.

I need coping strategies for little kids with anxiety please!

I work with pre-k / K age children who have been diagnosed with autism, many of which have high anxiety at times. I’m looking to expand my list of coping strategies for these children as wide as possible. I’m asking you to please comment with any and all coping strategies you’ve used or known to have been used with young children, and also please share this post so I can collect as many ideas as possible. I very much appreciate you taking your time to help me help these amazing children!

Topple , A Game of Balance

 

I have been exercising regularly for a good 10 years or so now, and I tend to go in spurts of doing hard, vigorous workouts 5-6 days a week for a few months, sticking yoga and running in there to mix it up, and then slowing down and doing mostly yoga or walking and running 4-5 times a week. Sometimes my slowing down is due to some sort of ailment, and sometimes it’s just due to my energy levels.

I am always conscious of how I’m feeling physically and mentally, and if I’m going through a period of feeling sad, anxious a lot, or just bad about myself, I typically can identify the reason or reasons why, and figure out what’s missing, in order to get back to feeling good again. For me, in order to be my best, I picture the game Topple, the game where the game board sits atop a pillar and everyone takes turns putting their chips on, in hopes of not making the game board topple over and spill all the chips. The board has to be balanced in order to stay up. There can be some extra chips in one corner versus another, but not too many, or else it crashes down.

Everyone’s game of topple has different colors of chips, but no matter what colors they are, if the board isn’t balanced, it’s in danger of crashing. On my board, I have family, work, self-care, exercise, friends, food, medicines and vitamins, and probably more things I can’t think of at this moment.

We all know that exercise, in all forms, is great for everybody. Early this past fall, I injured my hand by pulling weeds in my yard, which put a huge damper on my exercising. I still got up in the mornings and did different types of exercises that I was capable of doing without irritating or further injuring my hand, but I was limited. Finally, around Thanksgiving time, my hand was feeling much better, and I was able to begin doing more with my workouts again. It feels great to be able to do more strength training, and workouts that make me sweat. When I begin to see some results, such as my clothes fitting better, I become more motivated to keep it up. Everyone’s body adapts to the level of exertion you’re putting on it, which is why you may see results quicker in the beginning, and then it seems to become a slower process.

For me, exercise seems to become an addiction, or maybe an obsession. Regardless of the term, I recently find myself thinking constantly about exercising. I go to bed thinking about what kind of exercise I’m going to do in the morning, and often I wake up before my alarm goes off thinking about how much time I’m going to have, and what all I can squeeze in to that time. If I don’t exercise in the morning, I am thinking all day long about how and when I can get a workout in sometime in the evening, regardless of how tired I am. There are times I find myself thinking about how, where, and when I could sneak in 10 extra pushups, or an extra wall sit, plank, or set of squats. Sometimes I will choose to do yoga in the morning, and even though it feels amazing, later in the day I’m feeling bad about myself because I’m thinking that I should have and could have done something harder, something to really exert myself.

I love exercise, in all different forms, because it makes me feel so good, but I catch myself constantly over-thinking it, and I don’t want it to turn in to a bad thing. Life is stressful enough as it is, nobody needs to be stressing about something that is supposed to help you de-stress. As I am thinking about this, in this moment, while typing, it goes right back to Topple. If I put too much time and energy in to the exercise section of my game board, it will still topple over.

Thank goodness for the writing section of my game board to help me sort out my thoughts, and keep my board in balance!

Why do I feel this way?

It’s not been long, maybe a couple days, but I’m feeling blue. Low energy, wanting to cry, higher anxiety than normal, just not good. I hate feeling this way because it frustrates me. I have things I’ve been wanting to get done and although I keep thinking about them, I also keep putting them off. It’s pretty simple stuff I’d say, going through a few bins of toys and dropping off things at Goodwill, stuff like that. I wear my emotions on my sleeve most of the time because I’m horrible at faking it, but because I know this I’ve been worrying if co-workers and families I work with are noticing that maybe I’m quieter or less energetic. Then I worry that they might think I’m going to do a bad job with their child. I have a pretty great reputation for how well I work with my clients and their families because I do love what I do, but then I start to worry that that will get ruined.

It’s also frustrating to me because I’m constantly trying to analyze what’s going on, why I’m feeling this way, and what am I lacking or have I been slacking on. I’m lucky enough to have been given this personal education about mental health/illness, but sometimes it’s even more frustrating because all of this knowledge is stirring around in my head.

I’m curious to know if any of you have for yourself one sure fire way, that always (or mostly always) works when you need to be pulled out of a slump. Unless it’s hugely obvious like I haven’t been exercising at all, or I need one or more of my meds refilled so I haven’t been taken them, (which I do not let that happen w my meds), or there’s been a significant life event, there is not one specific thing that works for me. Sometimes I know exactly what I need right away, sometimes it dawns on me like a lightbulb has been switched on, sometimes it’s a lot of trial and error, sometimes I see my Therapist to help me figure it out, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised that I just start to feel better.

As I sit here writing, I’m noticing that I’m not feeling as blue as earlier. Getting it all out of my head and in to writing must be the thing I needed today. It was a sneak attack!

A tool I’ve found helpful for myself is to have a list written down of all the things that work for me. This way, when I’m feeling low and it’s harder to think straight, or even at all, I can check it. Having it written down is key because it’s pretty likely that when you’re feeling low, it’ll be harder to recall that list. I also have a checklist of all the pieces of my own personal puzzle, as I like to call it, that I know I need regularly to stay healthy.

I love when people post things from their own personal list of coping mechanisms and self-care ideas. I think it’s so important to share with each other because you never know who may need and decide to try something new today. Something that you do all the time, that maybe doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, could actually be life saving to someone else. That being said, I’d like to share with you my 2 favorite YouTube channels for yoga!

Adriene

The first one I’d like to recommend is Yoga with Adriene. Adriene is an excellent instructor for everyone at every level. She has a different video for pretty much any mood you’re in, for strength, for weight loss, for PMS, for headaches, for just about everything. They go anywhere from 15 min to an hour so you can pick what fits your schedule too!

Sadie Nardini

Secondly, I love Sadie Nardini’s yoga videos just as much! Her videos are a little more intense and fast paced but she also has a wide variety of practices.

I don’t know about you, but I get bored easy with my workouts so I often mix them up. If you’re interested in trying something new, check these ladies out!

Spreading Awareness

I strongly feel the need to spread awareness about acceptance today. I experienced a situation this week at a local gymnastics center that made my blood BOIL inside.

We all know that this world is not perfect by any means, and everyone has a right to their opinions, but it is absolutely maddening to me when a child is pointed out and excluded simply because they have special needs.

One of the children I work with had been enrolled in a mommy-n-me type gymnastics class for 2-3 year olds. Before enrolling, the parents spoke with the manager of this gymnastics center to discuss their child’s needs, the specific skills they are working on, and making sure that it would be okay for their child’s behavioral therapist (me) to come along each week and join in class to support the family. The parents were reassured that all of this was completely acceptable, and were feeling positive and confident about enrolling in this class.

Unfortunately, come week 3, this manager comes over and sits down next to the mother to tell her that he had another parent text him saying that this particular class has too many people in the room, and the crying is distracting. He continues to talk saying, “I know she has her issues…” and “when she starts crying if you could just take her out of the room” and “I’m just trying to keep everybody happy here.”

First of all, the children are 2 and 3, they ALL cry at some point during each class. Second of all, NOBODY would be able to look around that room and say, oh that child has autism so that’s why she’s crying. Lastly, the only thing taking her out of the room will do is teach her that she can scream and cry to get out of something she doesn’t want to do, which is basically the opposite of what we are trying to teach.

Now yes, we could’ve decided to say to ourselves, we will show him, our child is going to be amazing! The thing is though, as a parent of any child, you want the best for them. As parents we all have to do things and have conversations that make us uncomfortable, but is it worth the anxiety of going back every week wondering which parent doesn’t want you there, and if the manager is going to kick you out, and if you’re being watched over constantly? I think not. The family decided to terminate their membership and seek out other options for both of their daughters.

I was at first trying to figure out if the manager of this place was ignorant, playing favorites with another family, or just being a dick. The more I thought about it though, the more I started thinking that whatever the reason, the comments still hurt. The reason doesn’t necessarily matter, and I cannot change what happened and what was said. I can though be proactive in trying to prevent these types of situations from happening in the future. The only thing I could think of to do that would actually be feasible, is to write about it and ask people to share it.

I want to remind people to stop and think before they speak to others. Everybody deserves the opportunity to do the things they love, and not be judged for doing them because of their age, race, gender, sexual preference or ability. I believe it all comes down to two simple words that are the root of many uncomfortable situations, and that many people forget.

BE KIND.

Be kind to yourself, to your friends and family, to acquaintances, and to strangers. Be mindful of the fact that someone’s behavior you may be witnessing right now is just this one moment in time. You may or may not know them, but there’s a pretty good chance that you don’t know what may have led up to what you are seeing. Nobody is perfect, everyone has challenges in their lives, whether you know what they are or not. The next time you start to make assumptions and judgement about someone else, stop and think before you speak.

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Reflecting Back, Acceptance

I used to hate that quote with the passion! “It is what it is” people would say, and I would be so irritated, not to say that sometimes it still doesn’t bug the hell out of me, but having an understanding of what it really means now gives me a different perspective.

Reflecting Back, Never Give Up

April must have been the month I was most inspired. Some of these posts I believe as I look back, were just as much for my own good as I intended them to be for others.

Reflecting Back, Love

Another April 2016 post, this time about love, significant others, and mood swings. I cannot even put in to words how grateful I am that I was given the opportunity to gain such an important education in order to get me to where I am today. These types of mood swings, that I talk about below, RARELY happen anymore to me.