By: Kealia Reynolds
Mindfulness helps improve concentration, reduces ruminative thinking that contributes to high levels of stress, helps us understand our emotions in healthy ways, and even bolsters our immune systems. By creating a mindful space in the home, we can keep stress and anxiety levels down and live an overall healthier life. Here are eight tips to help you create a mindful space in the home.
1. Set an intention
Before creating a mindful space, one of the first things you should do is set an intention. If you make mindfulness a goal instead of an intention, you create a rift between what you’re experiencing in the current moment and what you would like to happen. With an intention, there’s no required result and no pressure to achieve a goal. Intending to practice awareness or focusing on your breathing are two intentions that you can set for yourself.
2. Go big (or small) with your space
You don’t need to dedicate an entire room to mindfulness—maybe you choose a sunny corner in your living room or a small table in your kitchen. “You could devote an entire room to meditation or just a corner of a room,” says Joy Rains, author of Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind. Rains offers the following examples as ways to achieve mindfulness in your existing space:
3. Declutter and organize
According to researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CLEF), cluttered environments are tied to higher levels of stress. Annie Draddy, co-founder of Henry & Higby, a professional organization company, has seen first-hand the positive impact that the process of decluttering and organizing spaces has had on her clients. “Finding ‘homes’ for things so that they are no longer cluttering up surfaces helps to create a clean and clear space which in turn makes the home more tranquil.”
Declutter your space by organizing your stuff into three piles: one for keeping, one for donating, and one for throwing away. Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year and store small items like notepads and pencils in bins or boxes to reduce the look of clutter.
4. Eliminate distractions
If you live in a noisy area, add a white noise machine to your space to block out unwanted sounds or consider soundproofing your apartment with a plush rug or draft blocker. “While we should all be able to meditate with ambient noise, for newbies, the less noise the better,” says Sage. Pare down on technology, especially items like laptops, tablets, and cell phones that can ruin energy flow and bring work and stress into your space. According to Kita Williams, CEO and lead designer at KMW Interiors, a California-based home staging and interior design company, TV should be limited to one place in the home, like the family or living room.
Image by: Autumn Studio
By: Dr. Liz Matheis
The beginning-of-the-school-year-honeymoon-period is now over, and your child is settling into the school year. Perhaps you’re noticing that your child is struggling with word problems, identifying letters, remembering the sounds letters make, or writing. Perhaps your child’s teacher is pointing out to you that he is struggling to sit in his seat, finish work in class, interact with his peers. So now what? What do you do with this information?
If you’re making these realizations now, you may want more information about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and possibly gain a support plan in school. In essence, you may be ready to seek an evaluation. The next question is what kind? Who can provide an evaluation for my child? What information do I want to gain from this evaluation? So, where do you begin?
Seeking a Psychological Evaluation for Your Child:
Step One: Speak to your child’s teacher and gain feedback regarding your child’s performance academically, socially, emotionally and behaviorally? What are academic strengths and weaknesses?
Step Two: Decide if you would like for your school’s Child Study Team to perform the psychological evaluation vs. seeking an independent evaluation.
Before you make that decision, you need to answer the question: what’s the difference between the evaluation and report you would gain from your Child Study Team vs. one gained from an outside professional? Well, there are several and here is a summary to help you when you make this decision.
The Psychological Evaluation through your Child Study TeamThe Psychological evaluation completed by your school should consist of a standardized test, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scales, an observation, and a student interview.
In the end, you will gain a report that provides an IQ of your child’s cognitive/intellectual performance, a summary of a classroom observation, and information about your child’s interests, preferences, and reported academic strengths and weaknesses. Please note that the School Psychologist is not permitted to provide any diagnoses, if relevant, within this report.
This information will be used to compare to the results of the Educational Evaluation that is completed by the Child Study Team Learning Specialist in order to determine if there is a learning disability that is negatively impacting your child’s ability to perform academically.
The School Based via the Private/Independent Psychological Evaluation:
If you are seeking an independent psychological evaluation, that means that you are working with a Clinical Psychologist, privately, to provide you with an evaluation and report. The Clinical Psychologist has the ability to administer additional tests in order to answer questions you may have as a parent, or to gain more specific information about your child’s intellectual and academic skills.
Being a School and Clinical Psychologist, when I perform a private psychological evaluation, I also administer an achievement test and executive functioning testing, as well as look at anxiety, attention, learning, and memory. All of this information creates a learning profile that indicates your child’s learning style, strengths and weaknesses.
This report is comprehensive and offers information about learning style that the School Psychologist’s report does not contain. That is, is your child a visual spatial learner; an auditory learner? A hands on learner? With this information in mind, the recommendations in the report can then be geared towards the best way to teach new information to the student that is in line with the way he naturally takes it in.
Pros & Cons
So, what are some of the major pros and cons of a Child Study Team (CST) generated psychological evaluation vs. a private/independent one?
Image by: Shield Healthcare
By: Eva Benoit
While society may emphasize the importance of socialization and being productive every minute of every day, these are actions that help extroverts thrive. Introverts, on the other hand, are easily depleted by social gatherings and working with others. If you’re an introvert and feel like you live in an extrovert’s world, don’t let that discourage you from practicing self-care on a regular basis. Here are some simple ideas for working self-care into your daily routine:
Schedule appointments with yourself.
Chances are you’re a busy person, and time to yourself isn’t going to just happen. That’s why you have to make time for yourself like you would any other important activity in your life.
With that in mind, The Cut suggests scheduling time to spend in solitude each day. Once in the morning and once at night is ideal, even if it’s just for 10 minutes at a crack. However, once a day is better than nothing. This time can be used for anything that helps you to de-stress and recharge, whether that’s journaling, meditating, reading, or anything else.
Regular physical activity is one of the most beneficial things anyone can do for their overall health and well-being. But if you prefer to exercise alone, it’s important to ensure that you are safe. If you are injured while running, cycling, swimming, or even brisk walking, it can help to have a smartwatch.
For instance, some models like the Apple Watch Series 4 come with features to help keep you safe, like emergency SOS and fall detection. These features can help you get in touch with someone in the event of an accident. Also, they can track your health and help you to accomplish your fitness goals. If you’re looking for a more affordable model, the Fitbit Charge 3 has heart monitoring, long battery life, and sleep tracking.
These days, we are subject to non-stop stimulation in everyday life, from loud public places to rush hour traffic to social media. Taking a break from all the stimulation can do wonders for your mind and soul. Obviously, you can’t avoid every source of stimulation, but Huffington Post suggests unplugging from social media, television, and other kinds of digital media for a few days every now and then.
Being among nature is one of the most calming things a person can do, not to mention all the health benefits that come with exposure to sunlight. And it doesn’t cost any money to spend time outside. Do something active (running, hiking, yoga, etc.), or simply relax by reading a book or lying on a blanket in the park. Don’t overthink it, just enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and greenery around you.
Learn to say no.
Finally, don’t feel bad about saying no to people. It may not be pleasant to disappoint someone, but overcommitting will only leave you stressed out and underperforming. For example, if you need to recharge, opt to stay in for the weekend instead of going out with friends or working overtime. Making fewer commitments in your everyday life will leave you with more time to rest and more energy to do the things you do well.
Self-care is paramount for living a healthy, happy life—especially if you’re an introvert. Remember to make time for yourself, and add exercise to your routine. Take a break from social media, TV, and other sources of stimulation. Lastly, spend some time outdoors, and learn how to say no without feeling guilty. You’ll be happier and healthier as a result.
Image by: Pexels
By: Andrew Wan
Study abroad programs have a lot to offer. You’ll have the opportunity to meet new friends, make new connections and broaden your horizons by immersing yourself in a completely different culture.
If you have a physical disability, you shouldn’t let that stand in the way of all the great things a study abroad program has to offer. With the right precautions and preparation, you’ll be able to make the most of your experience.
Here is our guide on how you can set yourself up for success if you have a physical disability and are considering a study abroad program:
Choose Your Destination Wisely
Different countries vary in the resources and accommodations available to those traveling with a disability. While the US has regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act that require businesses to provide certain accommodations such as wheelchair ramps and elevators, other countries may not have as robust of a system in place.
To minimize the chances of complications, choose a study abroad program in a country that’s particularly known for accessibility, like these 9 very wheelchair accessible locations overseas:
You can also consult with your university’s study abroad program office to get an idea of how wheelchair-friendly a country will be. They can fill you in on what to expect and what you’ll need to keep in mind to be fully prepared.
A few additional considerations they may speak with you about:
Image by: smolaw/Shutterstock
Blog provided by: The Recovery Village Palm Beach
Though addiction can occur at any age, many adults with a substance use disorder began using drugs or alcohol before the age of 18. Because substance use and experimentation are prevalent among American teens, it’s important to understand the risks of drugs and alcohol at an early age. Though the use of certain substances is decreasing, a 2018 survey of high school students shows that many still misuse drugs and alcohol. For example, 30.2% of 12th-graders reported using alcohol within the previous month, and 5.8% reported using marijuana daily.
Regardless of which substances teens use, it begs the question of why they seek drugs in the first place. In today’s world, the answer lies in a mixture of teenage brain behavior, genetics and external factors like peer pressure, social media and stress arising from current social and cultural events.
The Influence of the Teenage Brain
Perhaps the most significant factor in teen drug use is the teenager’s brain itself, which is still developing throughout adolescence. The prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making, emotions and impulses, isn’t fully developed until a person reaches their mid-20s. However, the reward centers that can lead to drug addiction are among the first parts of the brain to complete development. When you take a brain that has inherently higher risk-taking behaviors and combine it with the pleasurable effects of substances, it can easily lead to drug misuse and addiction.
Other brain-related factors include a teen’s genetics and the presence of mental health issues. A parent can pass down traits such as risk-taking behaviors and poor impulse control to their child. Children can also inherit a parent’s mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Mental health disorders play a large role in addiction: In 2014, there were 20.2 million U.S. adults with a substance use disorder, and 7.9 million adults also had a co-occurring mental health disorder.
External Factors That Cause Teen Substance Use
In addition to these internal factors, external forces can make teens more likely to use drugs or alcohol. Teens can be influenced by what they see at home, such as a family member who uses substances. Peer pressure is prevalent in schools, and teens may feel obligated to experiment with substances in order to fit in with certain groups of peers. Teens are also discovering their own self-identity, and many struggle with low self-esteem. This is worsened by the prevalence of social media, which is linked to lower self-esteem and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
On top of the self-discovery aspect of a teen’s identity, many young people struggle to cope with recent and recurring events in American society. Teens and young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 are experiencing higher levels of stress. In fact, 91% have experienced negative physical or emotional symptoms due to stress, and 27% report having fair or poor mental health. Many respondents attributed these effects to the nation’s political climate and the constant barrage of news reports on mass shootings, immigrant deportation and sexual assaults.
How to Help
Teens today are dealing with a perfect storm of factors that predispose them to drug use and addiction. As mental health issues contribute greatly to the likelihood of substance use, it’s important that recovery and prevention programs address both substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders.
The Recovery Village approaches healing from addiction from all angles, helping clients find a lifelong path to sobriety as well as diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. If you or your teen is living with a substance use disorder or co-occurring problem, contact The Recovery Village to learn more about treatment programs that can help provide tools and resources for lasting recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-
Based Guide.” January 2018. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Pantic, Igor. “Online Social Networking and Mental Health.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior
and Social Networking, October 1, 2014. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Bethune, Sophie. “Gen Z more likely to report mental health concerns.” American
Psychological Association, January 2019. Accessed September 16, 2019.
National Institute of Mental Health. “Substance Use and Mental Health.” May 2016.
Accessed September 16, 2019.
Get Smart About Drugs. “Risk Factors.” June 26, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future Survey: High School and Youth
Trends.” December 2018. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Image by: Pexels
By: Kyra Heenan
Social media plays a powerful role in creating a more globalized society. We have the ability to communicate with people on the opposite side of the globe, and we can connect with others in seconds. While maintaining friendships with people who don’t live in close proximity was a challenge before, it has become much easier to stay in each other’s lives thanks to Facebook, Instagram, and the likes.
With social media, the world seems smaller and more connected—but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant downsides to be noted. Social media does deserve a lot of praise, but—depending on how we engage with it—it also plays a huge role in elevating our stress levels.
The Addictive Potential of Social Media
With constant access to social media through smartphones and other portable devices, it is easy to become addicted to scrolling through social media.
In a review of 444 participants’ Facebook habits, researchers found that people had an increased likelihood to become addicted to technology.
Researchers found that participants would switch between different activities on the platform (such as scrolling through the news feed, posting updates, or chatting with friends) as each activity became stressful.
This habit could lead to technology addiction, as users would switch to different stress-inducing activities within the platform as a way to cope with stress—rather than log off and turn to something else. This means more time on the platforms that are causing stress in the first place.
The Comparison Effect
Since the emergence of social media, we have been hyper-connected to the people both physically near us and far away. We are constantly aware of the lives of others (or, at least, the curated lives they present), and are prone to entering a cycle of unfair comparisons and jealousy. This can lead to stress, particularly when we feel the social pressure to present a life online that is deemed as exciting or interesting as the lives of others on social media platforms.
A 2017 review found that passive use of social media can lead to this stress. When we mindlessly scroll through feeds, we can harbor feelings of jealousy and stress.
In these instances, we aren’t using social media as a tool to build connections. We are simply passively absorbing whatever shows up on our screen, isolating ourselves from others. On the other hand, when we actively use social media to engage with others, we can feel less lonely and more connected to others.
However, interestingly enough, researchers have argued that more time spent on social media engaging in these detrimental behaviors isn’t actually the major factor when it comes to social media and stress levels.
According to researchers at Pew Research Center, social media most dramatically affects stress when it comes to shared negative information.
Image by: Unsplash
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles