Tag Archives: resilience

4 Tips for raising happy, emotionally healthy children

 

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4 Tips for raising happy, emotionally healthy children

It can be tough raising happy, emotionally healthy children in a world that is so full of emotionally unhealthy people. Children spend at least twelve years in an educational system that is sadly, ill-prepared for teaching our children how to manage their emotions effectively and how to deal with stress. In a world so sorely lacking in good advice and positive role models for children, the onus falls on parents more than ever to equip their children with effective mental skills and strategies to encourage resilience and staying power when the going gets tough.

Here are a few tips on how to better equip your children to navigate through their emotional world and cultivate mental and emotional strength.

Encourage emotional expression

Helping children to identify their emotions without judging the emotion as good or bad is a healthy way to teach children to own their feelings and be self aware. Emotion is a normal part of life and allowing children to express them helps children to accept and deal with their emotions rather than suppressing them. When children are taught to suppress emotions (eg. boys don’t cry, be a big girl now…) this suppression can lead to anxiety, depression and possible panic attacks. A panic attack occurs when a child denies their emotions – the emotion gets pushed down and the body is forced to ‘push it out’ on a physical level – that energy has to be released some how. Identify and label emotions.

Exhibit pro-social modelling

Be a positive role model and let your children see how you deal with your emotions. Children learn by observation and they will watch how you deal with your own anger, frustration and sadness. Some parents try to hide their emotions from their children but this is a bad idea as you are depriving your children of the chance to see what you do with your emotions. Let them see you sad or angry and show them how to deal with these emotions appropriately. Talk it over with someone, get some fresh air or exercise – whatever you do, make sure your children sometimes see how you deal with your emotional landscape – this is very valuable learning for them.

Teach psychological flexibility

It’s not so much what happens to us but rather how we perceive what happens to us that can make or break us. Bad things happen, yes and there is no way to make something bad seem good but the story we tell ourself can lessen the distress we feel. For example, if we fail at something, we could start an internal dialogue that goes something like this, “Nothing ever goes right for me. This just shows what a loser I am. What’s the point of even trying? I just fail at everything”. OR we could tell ourselves this story instead, “I failed and it sucks but that doesn’t mean I am a failure – it’s just that what I tried didn’t work.” The second self-talk dialogue will lead to a lot less stress than the first one. This is the beauty of psychological flexibility. There is ALWAYS more than one way to look at a situation. Thoughts lead to feelings and then behaviour. Ensure you teach your children to manage their thinking process and not catastrophise.

Preserve self esteem

Never tell your children that they are stupid. Always separate the behaviour from the child. What they did may not be ideal but never label the child as “bad, stupid, fat or lazy”. Love your children unconditionally. Your love for them should never depend upon achievement of any kind. Teach them that they are fundamentally valuable just as they are. Never compare them to others – each child has their own individual strengths. Learn to love your children just as they are. If you feel disappointment on any level – question whether it is your issue rather than your child’s issue. For instance, if your child doesn’t seem to have many friends, do not make an issue of it if they seem happy enough. If you imply that they should have more friends, you may inadvertently leave them feeling inadequate. Always check whether the issue is your own before addressing it with your child.

Parenting unfortunately does not come with an instruction manual and no parent gets through without making mistakes. Being informed is a great way though to try avoid some of the more common mistakes.

Mandy X

 

 

 

Things resilient people don’t do

 

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Things resilient people don’t do

  1. They don’t do everything themselves – they know how to delegate.
  2. They don’t spend inordinate amounts of time researching before making a decision. Example: reading a lot of documentation on a topic; asking for the same information from a number of people; and shopping for a very long time before choosing a present for someone.
  3. Resilient people don’t keep questioning a decision they have made due to uncertainty that they have made the right choice.
  4. Look for reassurance – resilient people are comfortable with making decisions and take personal responsibility for themselves. They know they won’t always get it right but use these errors to learn.
  5. The don’t see failure as a negative thing – they see it as a necessary part of the process.
  6. They don’t see themselves as a victim. They realise life is tough at times but instead of blaming others and/or circumstance, they move forward and look for solutions.
  7. They don’t talk negatively to themselves. Instead, they talk to themselves as they would a best friend.
  8. They live in the moment as much as possible, spending time enjoying the present instead of worrying about the past or the future.

Resilience means you believe you have the resources to get you through the challenges of life. We all suffer negative consequences but resilient people see the bigger picture….

Mandy X

Protect your self belief

 

self belief

Protect your self belief

  • No negative self talk
  • Remember no one is perfect
  • Don’t put others on a pedestal, no one is better than you
  • Your opinions and ideas count – express them
  • Be assertive, not passive or aggressive. Being assertive means honouring yourself
  • Never put yourself down especially in front of others
  • Maintain clear boundaries and don’t let anyone treat you with disrespect
  • Everyone deserves a second chance but after two wrongs – they’re out.
  • Play to your strengths and don’t be shy to talk about what you’re good at. Self confidence doesn’t mean you think you are better than others, it just means you are proud of yourself
  • Limit time with toxic people. Find time for those that inspire you

Mandy X

 

Tips for mental wellness

mental wellness

image: healthliving.today

Tips for mental wellness

There are things that you can do to improve your general levels of contentment and mental wellness. It may take some practice but it is worth it in the end. The more we learn to manage how we process information and become adept at what we do with that info, the more of a difference we can make to our experience of life.

  1. Work towards psychological flexibility

Psychological flexibility refers to the ability to look at events and experiences in many different ways. It means living life flexibly and being able to adapt when plans change. The more rigid we are about how life should be, and the more rules we have for living (eg. I must keep a clean house at all times, I must attend every social function I am invited to, I should be the strong one all the times..) the more quickly they are broken. When we cannot keep our rules for living in tact, it creates anxiety so it pays to learn to use different language – instead of “must” and “should” use the words “could” or “prefer”. Learn to adapt and be open to many variations and you will inevitably be less stressed. Identify what your rules for living are – they often take the format of: “If this….then that”. For example: If I show others the real me, they will reject me.

When something in life doesn’t go your way, try to find other ways to look at it. We can all find the negatives and feel downtrodden or we can look for an explanation that allows us to feel less stressed. For example: A client of mine recently lost money in a business deal that went awry. He could focus on what went wrong and blame himself and become miserable and stressed or he can choose to look at the situation as a way to learn and also separate what has happened from himself – he isn’t the failure, it’s just that what he tried didn’t work. He could tell himself life is a series of trial and error or he could internalise the mistake and be hard on himself which is unhelpful and doesn’t solve anything.

2. Try mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness means you are in the present moment -taking in your surroundings. You aren’t living ‘in your head’ worrying about the past or the future. Mindfulness takes practice but it offers a great release from the anxiety and stress we create in our minds. Practise mindfulness anywhere – become aware of your toes in your shoes – wiggle them about and focus on the sensation. Work your way up through your knees, if you are sitting down, feel your bum in the chair – does it feel heavy? Is the chair comfortable? Can you hear anything? Can you see or taste anything wherever you are? Focus on your immediate surroundings – the more you engage your five senses, the less time your brain has to worry unnecessarily. Mindfulness can also help to counteract anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stresses, spend 5 minutes focusing on your toes, surroundings etc and ask yourself whether, in that moment – are you safe? More often than not you will not be in any immediate danger. Mindfulness breaks the emotional connection and associated fear responses from certain parts of the brain and helps us to ‘reset’.

3. Connect with others

Social anxiety is on the rise and I see many clients who withdraw and isolate themselves from others. When they make the effort and push themselves out of their comfort zones and see others, they find their happiness levels rise – this is due to the release of the long acting hormone oxytocin. Being around other people is ‘where its at’ – much research supports this.

4. Learn to like and accept yourself

Learn to be happy in your own skin. Be your number one fan. Focus on your positive attributes and make sure you give yourself credit for every small triumph (and every large one of course – they all count!). The kinder you are to yourself and the more your treat yourself with, like you would a best friend, the better the energy you give off. Your body language will be different and others will respond to your differently. Really – starting with yourself is key and will have an impact on every area in your life in a positive way.

5. Meaning and Purpose – Goals

We all need meaning and purpose in life. It helps us to feel we are making a difference and that our existence on this planet is for a good reason. When we plod with no goals, purpose or meaning we tend to get stuck and chase unhealthy behaviours. Knows your strengths and weaknesses and make a list of your values. Learn to live in line with your values and create goals in line with these. Be true to yourself and create short and long terms goals to loosely offer structure and purpose to your life. This is important for mental wellness.

The above 5 tips are a great start to improving your life and increasing your resilience and mental wellness. I have found these 5 tips to be extremely useful in my own life and hope you will find this too :)

Mandy X

 

The secret to resilience

 

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The secret to resilience

Self-doubt is an ever lurking presence for many of us. It’s easy to see why we all doubt ourselves in question our motives and at times even our own value and worth as a human being. I have found it quite intriguing as to how many of my clients as well as personal friends and family, who have admitted that one of the underlying fears is that they are not good enough. This is probably one of the most common thoughts we all share.

In a world full of people trying to make their mark, prove themselves and with so many of us and so many varying opinions, it’s no wonder we get caught up in self-criticism and self-analysis. There is always someone there who is ready to judge, criticise or have an opinion on something that we do. So the question is, what can we do to build resilience and a stronger foundation within ourselves in order to withstand the constant onslaught from others and the world around us?

The answer to this is simple-self belief. When we have self belief, this faith in ourselves carries us forward when no one else seems to support us. We all need validation and support but there will be times in our lives when this will be scarce and this is when we need to draw on our inner strength to move forward. Here are a few ways to foster inner strength and resilience to help us keep strong in the face of opposition and adversity:

Learn to trust yourself. Listen to your gut instincts more often.

Stop assuming that others always know better than you do or are more knowledgeable than you are. They may just be better at talking the talk rather than really backing it up with solid wisdom and/or talent.

Get comfortable with making your own decisions. You don’t always need reassurance before making a decision. Get out of that habit.

Take responsibility for your own life. Do not play the blame game or stay in victim mode

Question the source of criticism and judgement always. Do you respect the source of the criticism? Do they matter in your world?

Regularly remind yourself of how far you have come. Often we focus on how far we still have to go. Do yourself a favour and always give yourself credit for the journey so far.

Regularly remind yourself of the strengths and achievements.

Big yourself up talk to yourself as if you are your number one fan. It’s so healthy to like yourself!

Have a healthy relationship with failure-see failure as part of the process of self-improvement and a way to learn. You are never a failure..separate what you try to do/your behaviour- which may fail at times and you-the person.

Inner resilience needs work, it rarely just exists. Carefully craft your inner dialogue and trust in yourself more. Even if things do go wrong – you will soon learn that outcomes are rarely as catastrophic as you may have believed them to be and you will most likely cope, learn and move through the difficult times.

Mandy X

 

 

Learn how to bounce back

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Learn how to bounce back

How resilient aren’t you? Stress, loss, trauma and failure all part of life. It’s not what happens to us but rather how we deal with and respond to events that has a big impact upon our emotional well-being. We can’t choose what happens to us but we can choose how we respond. We can choose our attitude. Life will always be a series of ups and downs so it is essential to cultivate resilience. Life is uncertain and we do not have control over many things that come our way.

Resilience teaches us how to deal with change more effectively and how to recover more quickly from setbacks. Research has shown resilience is influenced by three things:

what we observe and learn during childhood; relationships with others and having a strong inner core (this can come from a religious faith, spirituality or highly effective self belief). There is a term, “post traumatic growth” and this involves the idea that challenges and hardships help us to become stronger. We gain a sense of mastery over past adversities. Each time we succeed we gain more confidence in our abilities.

Resilience has a lot to do with our perceptions. When we are able to see events in a reasonable way whilst maintaining perspective we are better able to cope and manage. If we catastrophise and start to panic we will be a lot less efficient. This does not mean that you have to deny what is happening rather it is about learning to be a realistic optimists. Realistic optimists search for solutions but they do not delude themselves by thinking they are invincible.

After the initial shock/trauma of a difficult event, learn to pause and pull back from the situation. See every challenge as an opportunity to learn and to problem solve. Believe that you can find a way forward and begin to explore the ways…

Have a sense of purpose/goals in your life. See yourself as a working progress-we are all learning new things every day and no one has all the answers. You are just as capable as anyone else being resilient and making it through the tough times. It’s very rarely as basd as you think it is.

Mandy X

Photo by EladeManu

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

 

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 What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

It’s a common saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”,  that adds a touch of positivity and optimism to enduring hard times in life. To some extent it’s true – facing challenges in life does teach you skills and can help you to become more resilient. The problem with modern day life though is that for many of us, what “doesn’t kill us” never goes away. Instead of a challenge that comes along, stretches you to your maximum coping capacity and then disappears, modern day life leaves us in ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode indefinitely. Being in this anxious state consistently is unnatural and exhausting for the body’s defenses, eventually causing exhaustion and facilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression.

We are bombarded by information on a daily basis, information overload is never ending. We are ‘on call’ for longer than ever before – we can be reached at work and at home, day and night,  and through a variety of methods – emails, mobiles, the internet…Then there’s the reality of living in an imperfect world where we have to justify many injustices in order to cope with what goes on around us. Taxes, traffic jams and expectations from others and from ourselves. It’s no wonder that many of us seek drugs, alcohol and other forms of escapism to get a break.

Having the foresight and wisdom to know when to walk away is essential if you want to make yourself stronger and not weaken yourself to the point of no return. Facing stress for too long causes mental, physical and emotional fatigue – leading to indecisiveness, desensitisation and apathy. Powerlessness leads to “learned helplessness” – a state where you pretty much give up on yourself and accept “what is”.

The main message of this post is to evaluate your challenges. Know the difference between the challenges that will help you grow and empower you as a person and the challenges that will chip away at your resolve and your sense of self and happiness. An ongoing stressful situation will undoubtedly end up leaving you feeling so empty that you no longer have the strength to resolve the situation.

I see this often in unhappy marriages, miserable jobs that people hate but that they go to day after day and it many other scenarios where people have given up their power of choice and accepted their unhappy existence. Well, you know what? You don’t HAVE to accept anything. You can, step by step, change your situation and move towards a life that you feel happier with.

What doesn’t kill you doesn’t necessarily make you stronger, it can lead you to becoming disempowered and feeling helpless. The length of time is critical. Let something negative continue for longer than a year and you are asking for trouble. If you need help doing this, get in touch with a counsellor or therapist to help you create some goals and put a plan in place to get there.

Slowly does it as long as it’s in the right direction.

Mandy X

Photo by CJS*64 A man with a camera

Why you need to smile right now

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Why you need to smile right now

Right here right now, things must be okay because you are sitting down reading this blog. I don’t mean that you should automatically be happy when reading this blog…(well…..eheh), what I mean is – in this very moment there isn’t a major crisis going on.

It’s possible that you are sad or overwhelmed but the fact is that you can cope – even if it is moment by moment. When all those moments of coping get added together you will see that actually what you are doing IS coping! We underestimate our abilities and our resilience.

We can tell ourselves that we won’t cope and that life is awful but often, we find that we do cope and that each small moment is somehow bearable. This is living, this is life.

Smile because some one some where cares about you.

Smile because right now, your body is working for you – your lungs are giving you oxygen, your organs are doing their jobs and your brain is allowing you to engage with your surroundings.. and read this blog.

Smile because it is a new day. Whatever has gone before has taught you something and you are STILL here. Give yourself a pat on the back right now…or go give yourself a kiss in the mirror if you feel up to it.

Smile because, actually, you are quite marvellous. Yes – take a few minutes to think of things you have done in your life that have made you feel proud of yourself. There must be at least one thing you can think of.

Smile because even though life can be tough, you still have compassion in your heart and hope for the future. Even if at times you feel all hope is gone…it must be in there somewhere –  a little ember is burning brightly.

Smile because you have more choice in life than you realise. Look at your options and opportunities, think about the choices you do have in life and where you can have control over what you do. Choose to live in line with your priorities, not the priorities others try to shove on to you.

It’s okay – life supports you and it is unfolding as it is meant to. It may be a gray dreary day wherever you are but there are still reasons to smile. Sometimes we just have to focus that bit harder to find them.

Mandy X