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Mindfulness for Kids (and Parents)

The topic and practice of mindfulness has made its way into all healthy living circles, including kids and parents. And frankly, it makes me happy. I first learned about it as a therapist trainee and thought it was best thing since sliced bread (I lie, I thought it was the best thing since grilled cheese, I’m a big fan of grilled cheese).  There are many definitions of mindfulness. I like Jon Kabat-Zinn’s the best. The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Model creator says, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” Engaging in mindfulness exercises has a host of benefits, such as improving coping, emotion regulation, anger management, and reduction in mental health symptoms.

Are you wondering how simply paying attention to the present moment, can help parents and kids? Don’t worry, I was a skeptic too. Studies show that the consistent practice of intentionally paying attention non-judgmentally (simply replacing judgment with facts or removing labels such as bad/good) helps us with the way we perceive things, allows us to accept reality in the present moment, increase emotion regulation and most importantly, differentiate ourselves between our thoughts, feelings and our actual being. In short, we are not our thoughts. We are not our feelings. They’re simply an experience we’re having in the present moment. Everyone can relate to this regardless of age.

So how do we teach kids to be mindful? First of all, babies are the experts of being mindful. They have what’s called “beginner’s mind” where they actually use their observe skills more than anyone. They use their senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) to navigate and learn about the world. In mindfulness, we’re striving to use those skills from that beginner’s mind. Through the years, language, judgment and distractibility, we’ve seemed to have strayed away from, but can learn to bring back and use them to cope with daily challenges.

Here are 5 different ways in which mindfulness can help and tips on how to practice them for ourselves and the kiddos. (Some links might be amazon affiliate links where I earn a commission for purchases made. Read my full disclaimer at the bottom of this post.)

  1. Mindfulness of emotion can help with observing, identifying and managing difficult emotions. I just recently came across this awesome book, “I can handle it” by MS Laurie Wright that focuses on a boy who experiences lots of disappointment and other challenging emotions. He labels his emotions and comes up with different ways to tolerate and cope with the feelings. Being able to observe ones emotions is key in mindfulness and any healing practice. We can’t understand and emotion if we don’t know which one it is! I like this book because it teaches kids that it’s ok to have feelings, it’s how we manage it that matters. This book has lot of great and silly examples that my almost 4 year old loved. When my daughter shares an emotion with me, I’ve started to ask her, “where do you feel it in your body?” We’ve turned it into a game with curious nature about these “funny body sensations” we all have.2. Mindfulness of Breathing is another common practice in mindfulness as it helps the person anchor on a physical sensation. Since we’re always breathing, that’s perfect to chime in to and when we drift our attention to other this (super common, by the way), we always have our breathing to anchor us back into the practice of focusing on one thing in the present moment. Our breathing can tell us a lot about what’s going on in the moment. The more we can focus on our breathing, slowing it down and into our belly, the more we will notice the intensity of the emotion changing. I love this video of students of Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. It’s a great visual of the practice of mindful breathing to cope with emotions. One can’t help but breathe when watching these kiddos. I love how they talk about emotions and their triggers too. It’s a great way to validate their emotions.

I created this coloring book focused on breathing and mindfulness. Read more about this coping guide here.

3. Belly (Deep) Breathing is another wonderful skill that helps with mindfulness and relaxation. My favorite way to teach kids how to take deep breaths is by engaging them blowing bubbles. First, I have them blow bubbles regularly. You know they are breathing into their chest when it’s hard for them to form bubbles. Many times, I have to teach them to slow down. Then I have them breathing into their belly so they can make a big bubble. The bigger the bubble, the more they have to slow down and engage their diaphragm (which is linked to slowing down heart rate). Sesame Street has a great video where Elmo, Common and Colbie Caillat sing about using belly breathing to manage anger. It’s another video I have on my mindfulness playlist for kids. 

4. Compassion practice is essential to manage judgments toward self and others.  A lot of challenging thoughts and feelings are related to unworthiness, unlovability, excessive guilt and judgments. Kids experience these thoughts and feelings too. I love the Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime series by Dharmachari Nagaraja because it has stories that focus on compassion, kindness and using their internal wisdom. Stories also help with concentration, paying attention to details, and a great way to help calm down before bedtime.

I wish you more by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld is a great book on wishing loved one  “more” positive than challenging moments. A lot of times, we don’t know how to help others when they’re struggling and unintentionally resort to withdrawing from loved ones when they need us to just be compassionate. This is a great way to introduce well wishes for kids who might have people in their lives going through tough times and even for us adults to remind us that although we can’t change or fix the problems in our loved ones’ lives, we can definitely use compassion-based thoughts and wishes.

 

5. Gratitude practice is a great way to focus on the positive that’s happening in the present moment. Whether it’s food, shelter, or togetherness, are all strengths that we can acknowledge and be thankful for. In no way is this meant to trivialize or invalidate ongoing struggles, it’s a practice that can help focus on the silver linings in our lives. Modeling is the best way for kids to learn gratitude practice, so simply sharing with your kiddo what you’re grateful for can open up the space for them to do it too. Doing it before bedtime can help with calming anxieties and promoting sleep.

6. Practicing being in the present moment with anything!  Mindfulness is like a muscle we’re building. The more we exercise it, the stronger the muscle will be. Mindfulness is about using full awareness using our sense: sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste in the present moment. You can do it by simply observing flavors, smelling scents, focusing on the different colors around you, counting, drawing just to draw, and as you notice distractions or judgments, just notice them and come back to the task or present moment. Having kids describe what they see in nature, while on the road, or even what they see in the sky can be help them stay present in the moment with what’s around them.

Sitting Still Like a Frog is one of my favorite mindfulness resources. It comes with a CD (yes, I still use CDs). I use many of the creative exercises in the book, but mainly the guided mindfulness exercises on the CD. Even my adult clients love the exercises I play for them before starting session. It’s a wonderful way to start or end the day, task or moment. In one of my therapy consultation teams, we start with a different mindfulness exercise and I really helps provide clarity, and set the tone of intentional attention for the meeting. I encourage you all to do the same.

7. Videos. Youtube Playlist. You can make a youtube playlist of your favorite guided videos to encourage guided visual mindfulness practice. Here are some of my favorite videos on my mindfulness playlist (these are actually from my daughter’s “Bedtime” playlist).

8. Apps. Maureen Healy wrote a wonderful article on Psychology Today about 5 different apps you can use to encourage mindfulness in kids.

I could go on and on about this topic as it’s very near and dear to my heart. This is not an exhaustive list and I hope to keep writing about it. Just remember, as long as you’re can practice intentionally bringing your attention back you’ve succeeded! Keep building that muscle and it will get easier with time. What are your and your kiddos’ favorite mindfulness practices?

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

“I’m not bad…”

15 Statements to Convince Yourself to Self-Care: A love letter to all parents

A Mental Health Gift Guide to Inspire Healing

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. You should also know that I stand by my recommendations as I read or use everything I recommend. The fees earned from Amazon.com go toward purchasing more books and materials used in my practice. 

When a Parent or Loved One Goes to Jail

How do I tell the children their parent or loved one went to jail? Book Review: The Night Dad Went to Jail by Melissa Higgins Dad went to jail The Night Dad Went to Jail is a children’s book has been on my radar to check out for a long time since I come across several children and teens whose parent went to jail. Having a parent or loved one go to jail can be extremely traumatic and jarring for most children. It’s a big transition that can come with confusion, shame, fear, worry and sadness. This book does a really nice job of normalizing the feelings that children have when faced with this difficult situation. I like that it also folds in statistics about parents in jail/prison and recommendations for the person reading the book to the child. Another positive aspect of the book is that it incorporates interactions with police, social workers, therapists, and a caregiver — all supporting the child. Additionally, the book is written in the first person, the eyes of this young bunny. It very much reads like a narrative that is often used in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TFCBT) — an exposure based trauma treatment where children and teens draw or write out the details of their trauma and work with their therapist to modify negative thoughts or beliefs about the event, themselves or their future. As a certified TFCBT therapist, it was heartwarming to read this book which provides great information, recommendations, and above all, providing normalization for kiddos’ and their parents’ reactions in the face of such a challenging situation. What to say: Depending on the child’s age and their level of understanding, you will have to craft out an explanation in their own language or phrasing. Most children know about cause and effect, so keeping it as simple without too many details of the actual crime could suffice in the beginning. A sample explanation can be: “Your mom or dad (or the name of the loved one) may have broken the law (or rules) and the police are asking him/her questions. Sometimes these things take a while — maybe some days, maybe months. If mom/dad/loved one broke a rule/law, we might not see them for a while. Depending on the developmental stage the child is in, sometimes they believe that they are at fault or to blame. Make sure to reassure the child that adults are responsible for their own behavior. You can also distinguish the behavior from the character of the person if necessary. Such as, “Mom/dad/loved one is not a bad person, he/she broke a rule/law. He/she loves you very much and misses you too.” Encourage them to talk with you about their fears, concerns, or any thoughts and feelings they might be having. Above all, be willing and open to listening to them and validate their feelings (even if their thoughts might be distorted). Employ the “yes, and” communication rule in your vocabulary to help them see the validity of their emotions, and how sometimes they can be clouded by negative thoughts. An example can be, “I know that you’re sad and feeling guilty about this being your fault, and mom/dad/loved one is an adult and all adults are responsible for their own behavior.” Therapist tip: Sometimes children have a hard time opening up about a certain situation, feelings, or distressing topic. It can help to have a story read, told to them, or even watching a movie about another person going through the same or similar situation. It can get the very difficult conversation started. Amazon Prime tip: If you have Amazon Prime, currently this book is listed as an unlimited free read and download on the Kindle app. That’s how I read it. But since I liked it so much, I’m going to buy it and keep it in my arsenal of books in the office. If you believe that you or your child is struggling with a transition such as this one, feel free to contact me and we can set up a consultation session to discuss the specifics of your situation and how to tailor interventions. To purchase or download the book for free, click on the image below: *Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. You should also know that I stand by my recommendations as I read or use everything I recommend. The fees earned from Amazon.com go toward purchasing more books and materials used in my practice. 
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Uncertainty, Fear and Regulation

Right now with the COVID-19 Health Crisis, the weight of uncertainty and fear is understandably taking a toll on the world’s mental health. For many of us, we’re dealing with the first pandemic in our lives and nation. It’s scary to look to leaders who don’t have concrete answers. It’s scary for children to look to parents and teachers with no concrete answers. Not having answers is downright scary.

As a therapist, parent, empath, and someone who vacillates from reasonable and emotion mind pretty quickly, I’ve sat and contemplated on how to approach this with myself (first), my clients, my child, parent and community. For now, this is what I’ve settled on:

  1. Validation of your emotions – whichever emotion you are feeling, take time to sit, feel it (them if more than one – which is totally normal), honor it and know that a rush of emotions is completely normal for a crisis of this magnitude. Anxiety is a normal emotion. We need it. It alerts us to danger and threat.
  2. Accept the present moment exactly how it is. How? You state the facts about the present moment. “We are indeed experiencing a health crisis for a new virus we don’t know a whole lot about.”
  3. Accept the uncertainty of the situation, knowing that we might have a lot more questions than answers right now and we are all making it up as we go.
  4. Focus on regulating your nervous system. We can’t problem solve, our organs don’t function properly, and critical thinking goes out the window with an overactive nervous system. You might be finding yourself catastrophizing situations, or feeling nervous energy in your body. For me, my thoughts were calm, but I noticed that I was talking and moving very fast, and agitation throughout my body. My brain is definitely trying to hold it together for my child, clients, staff and family, but my body feels it and and it’s reacting. The more steps and exercises we can engage in to calm and regulate the nervous system, the clearer our answers and problem solving will be. To help with this, I’ve come up with a Coloring Book titled “Coloring with Uncertainty, Fear & Regulation.” It’s a free pdf download that you can access here. No strings attached. More details about it below.
  5. Problem solve anything that’s solvable or workable. Right now we’re all trying to problem solve the big inconveniences in our lives, how to work and maintain connection via social distancing, and adapt to this moment. Once our nervous system is regulated, we can make better decisions. We can logically think of all the things we might need, make a list and execute (and even creatively replace and modify as needed). For example, all the people who bought toilet paper instead of food? Or generators instead of basic food supplies. Or cases of water bottles instead of Brita water filters. When we are in panic mode, our answers or solutions don’t make sense. Regulate your nervous system before reacting.
  6. Lastly, repeat steps 1-5 as needed or when starting to feel anxious.

I strongly encourage each of you to come up with a list of things that help regulate your nervous system. Keep that list at eye level where you can see it when you’re feeling nervous, anxious or that agitated energy in your body.

I’ve added tips, mantras and different simple exercises you can do quickly (and for free) to help with regulating your nervous system. Download the “Coloring with Uncertainty, Fear & Regulation” for you and/or your loved ones. See below for sample pages. Now, it’s available in Spanish here.

May you and your loved ones all be well, safe and without harm.

New Year Resolutions for the Soul

New Year Resolutions have a complex history and connotation with me as person who is always looking to self-improve and also as a therapist. While it’s definitely a good thing to work towards self-improvement and self-actualization, now more than ever, I’m in the mindset of being great exactly as we are in this moment, while at the same time also working towards feeling better (note that I didn’t say, ‘being better!’). While one might think that this is contradictory, it falls under what Marsha Linehan (developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy) two opposing truths existing in the same space. Seeing things and ourselves in this dialectical way helps us move beyond rigid rules of behavior, inflexible thinking patterns and all-or-nothing stances toward ourselves and others. Therefore, for people who have complicated relationships with New Year Resolutions due to not feeling good enough, or that something is wrong with them, I propose these 22 New Year Resolutions that are good for the soul, based off of compassion and self-care, and can help us improve the way we feel internally. As an added bonus, it helps us see improvement from a decolonized mindset since they encourage listening to your body, slowing down, resting, and setting necessary boundaries.

They are:

1. Rest. You are worthy of rest and slowing down. Listen to your body. 

2. Say to yourself a lot more, “I am worthy.” We are worthy simply because we are human. That is all. We are worthy of medical treatment, rights, justice, human dignity, simply because we are alive and breathing. Absolutely nothing makes us unworthy. Even if you did something wrong, you are worthy of self-forgiveness (since it’s the only forgiveness you can control). 

3. Delegate. The more we take on and do on our own, the more others will expect that from you. Plus, when you’re able to count on others to help you, it can increase your gratitude and sense of community triple fold.

4. Tell others “I won’t be able to ______, ” I need you to _______.” It’s a mix of boundaries, limit setting, and delegating. To add to #3, it’s a way for you to communicate what you can’t do and what you need help with. We need to give others the opportunity to step up and have our backs. This is essential in collectivistic cultures. 

5. Acknowledge your struggle. This one is rooted in self-compassion and acceptance work. We must first acknowledge our struggle or pain to be able to sit with it, listen to it, have empathy for ourselves. It helps us acknowledge our common humanity as a person who is suffering.

6. Declutter negative thoughts. Every time you notice yourself having a negative thought, try turning your mind to a more compassionate stance. You can do this by going back to #5 and acknowledging the struggle or suffering. This can help you stay in the present and prevent your brain from taking over into the negative. 

7. Accept help. This goes well with #3, except, every self-respecting “got it” person knows that it’s super hard to ask for help, and even receive it. So with this resolution, when someone genuinely offers to help, simply accept it. Let them carry something in for you, or even bring a dish to the celebration. 

8. Accept a compliment. How many times has someone complimented you and you made a “this old thing,” “it’s because I finally combed my hair” or put a compliment down because it was too hard to accept that someone said something nice to you? I can think of many times I was self-deprecating as a way to soften the compliment blow. Simply say thank you.

9. Try something new. Sometimes we’re feeling stuck in a routine or the things that used to excite us, no longer do. Perhaps the things we’re doing have an association with pain or they’re simply not helping us anymore. Experiencing new things can help your brain feel excited in a new way and the more you do this new thing, you are building mastery and getting better at it, which also makes us feel good. A dear friend of mine Violeta Huerta, LCSW (Instagram: @whimsicalhealinglcsw) felt like she wanted to try something new. One day she made the decision to make bread from scratch. She researched and got all the ingredients. She would soon find out that it would become a new passion for her and she exercised a lot of creative energy and felt an immense amount of joy and pride (not to mention how delicious it was). 

10. Try something old. Sometimes when we’re depressed, or simply due to new life circumstance we let go of doing something that used to bring us joy. Do that! I absolutely love to crochet, but since I have a small child, I’m not able to do it as often. But I miss it when I don’t. I miss the soothing rhythm and warm yarn. I also like challenging myself with new patterns and feeling a sense of accomplishment with each finished product. Try something that you used to love to do. 

11. Thank kindness. Anytime someone is kind to you, whether it’s opening a door for you, showing you compassion, bringing your favorite snack, offering you water, or letting you know you dropped your glasses, understanding your limit or decision, genuinely thank them. Going back to #3, #7, and #8, small acts of kindness can restore our sense of goodness in the world. 

12. Give yourself TLC. This is part two of #5. After you acknowledge your struggle or suffering, be good to yourself. Go easy on yourself. Rest. Make yourself a delicious meal. Drink tea or something that is essentially good for you. This is how you show yourself tender love and care. 

13. Breathe through pain & stress. Breathing is an understated skill that we all need. Breathing into our bellies before reacting to pain or stress can help us react with wanted reactions, rather an unwanted. Think of breathing as you taking over the steering wheel, versus your emotions streering. It can be a big situation saver. 

14. Show your body love. This one is clearly tied to #12, except that we can expand it to add going to doctor appointments, exercising so that you feel less physical pain, stretching or getting a massage to help the emotional and physical pain to relieve. It can even mean eating the foods that help your stomach feel good (they’re different for everyone). It can mean drinking water instead of that 3rd caffeinated drink. Or it can mean making sure you have your coffee with plant-based milk (because dairy hurts your stomach) in silence before walking in to work. Maybe it’s a nap, or maybe it’s going for a walk. Get to know your body and be good to it. 

15. Let go for one minute at a time. This one is about acceptance of reality in the present moment. It can mean accepting that you’re struggling. It does not mean liking or approving of it, it simply means acknowledging that it’s happening. Like, “It’s raining today” versus “I hate the rain. It shouldn’t be raining. It wasn’t in the forecast. I wasn’t prepared for the rain.” When we accept and “let go” of expectations or ‘shoulds’ we suffer a lot less. (See below for a reflection journal focused on acceptance and letting go). Try this for one minute at a time. It’s a muscle that has to be worked on and nurtured. 

16. Challenge yourself. If you practiced letting go for one minute, practice for one more minute. Same goes for going on walks or holding a plank. Maybe it means challenging yourself to take the next level class, or a difficult recipe. If you put a boundary with one person, try challenging yourself and setting another boundary with someone else. We can find mastery and sense of personal achievement in new skills. 

17. Do a hard thing. This is similar to #16 except that I wanted to use the language of “do a hard thing” because it’s something we’ve all mouthed at 5 years old and above. Things just seem too hard sometimes. This might mean leaving a toxic relationship, or tolerating the urge to feel a hard emotion like loneliness, pain or boredom. Sometimes being able to tolerate something that seems hard can get us over the avoidance hump and into mastery in no time.

18. Forgive yourself. We might engaged in real or perceived wrongs, mistakes, toxicity, etc. Start by forgiving yourself. Then move toward acceptance, compassion and TLC. You only have control over your own forgiveness, and just like acceptance is a muscle we have to practice and continuously nurture, so is self-forgiveness. 

19. Be around ‘safe’ others. Try to spend your time around people that are good to you, people that celebrate your accomplishments and see your inherent worth and dignity as a person. 

20. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. When you feel the urge to chastise or scold yourself, give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Trace your steps to see if you’re operating from a place of hurt, fatigue, burnout or illness. 

21. Nurture the relationship with yourself. Sometimes loneliness or boredom can be a blessing in disguise if we start to nurture the relationship with ourselves. Get to know yourself in this age, stage, body. We’re constantly changing and evolving. Take sometime to be your own companion. New passions and sense of purpose can emerge.

22. If it’s worth it, try again. If you find that you tried something a long time ago, or recently that perhaps you didn’t master or it didn’t pass muster and you think it’s worth it to try to master or learn it, go for it! I consider myself a pretty good cook and was incredibly disappointed at the 6 different times I tried to make pupusas and they were not like my Tia’s! But it’s worth it to me to keep trying because the pupusa is a tradition dish of El Salvador, my mother’s homeland and it’s a way for me to feel close to the culture and my roots. Plus, I have a large bag of masa that I have to use, so here we go. Perhaps one day I’ll write a post on mastery when I’ve mastered the pupusa! 

 

You can download the free New Year Resolutions for the Soul 8.5 x 11 Pdf where you can pick and choose which you’re attempting and on the reflection page write how it went for you. You might realize that it’s harder than you first imagined, especially if you’re used to the ‘hustle and grind’ or being so busy that you don’t know how to relax or even know what you like anymore. Self-kindness can be really hard if you’re not used it to, so know that it might take some time to develop this skill. 

If you’re interested in journaling gratitude or similar reflections for well-being, I have a few journals and guides on Amazon that can help you build this muscle. (Disclaimer: These are affiliate links and I will earn a small percentage for any item purchased through these links). 

 

 

I also have two 8×10 Vision Board Undated Monthly Planners that can help you visualize your goals for your well-being. The interiors are exactly the same, just the covers are different. What I love about them is that they’ll help you brainstorm values and goals for the year, visualize them by drawing or using images in blank pages, and planning behaviors to get people closer to the life they want to live. These are great planners for the year as it’ll get you thinking about what’s important to you, short and long term goals, and focus on the next steps you can take to reach them. There are 12 undated monthly calendars for you to fill in. In the pages after, there is are blank vision board pages with a habit tracker for each month to keep you focused and reminded.  

 

Know that you are worthy and exactly where you’re supposed to be right now in this moment. You are worthy in this year and the next. 

Please let me know how you like this New Year Resolutions for your Soul Reflection Page and feel free to share with others. 

Disclaimer: This post is for ideas only. It does not replace a relationship with a medical or therapy provider. 

DACA Mental Health Coping Guide

Dear DACA recipients,

I want you to know that you’re not alone. There’s an entire group of community and people who are behind you, advocating for you, praying for you and fighting to change the laws that keep you in fear of your future. As a mental health professional, my heart is with you. I was a part of a movement with www.latinxtherapy.com as a therapist who volunteered time for non-clinical coping sessions with DACA recipients who were in need of a coping session. I created this Mental Health Coping Guide as a larger effort on my part, to disseminate the skills I discussed in those sessions with folks. Feel free to download the full size DACA Mental Health Coping Guide PDF 8.5×11 and print for you to have or to give out to others who might need it. Please feel free to share it on social media to destigmatize mental health and shed light on all the support that’s needed for this cause.

The skills referenced were pulled heavily from Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Trauma informed interventions.

Please note that this post is strictly for ideas and  does not replace medical and professional help. I strongly encourage that you engage in therapy or speak with their medical professional about any of these ideas. If you find yourself in a medical emergency where you or a loved one is a danger to themselves or others, you are strongly urged to call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room. The National Suicide Hotline number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In Los Angeles County, you can also call the Department of Mental Health’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team – Access Hotline at 1-800-854-7771.

Mental Health Gift Guide to Inspire Healing 2019

It’s officially the holidays and with that can come with gift giving, stress and trauma triggers for many. Since the holidays can trigger painful memories and emotions for many, I always recommend finding things to soothe with during this difficult time. While it’s hard to be going through the difficult time, it’s also hard on the loved one who is concerned and doesn’t know how to help.

Aside from recommending professional help for yourself or a loved one (this is always my #1 recommendation), I’ve put together a mental health gift guide. Many of these items are great tools for healing and inspiring awareness, self-care, and self-compassion when we need it the most. I’ve also included links (note: many of these links are amazon affiliate links. That means that I earn a small commission on items purchased from this list. Proceeds go to supporting this page. See disclosure statement below) to my favorite books that have aided in the healing process of many individuals I’ve come across, including myself. You can buy these gifts for others, but also for yourself!

1. Planners/Gratitude Journals. Studies show that expressing gratitude significantly aids in recovering from depressive episodes. This journal is my favorite as it’s prompts are thought provoking and easy to fill in. The “You are Capable” Reflection Journal, Planner and Habit Tracker helps people identify their inner wisdom, strengths and resources, along with tools to help them plan to put those into action. The Bilingual Coping Journal is a great introduction to journaling, coping plans, affirmations and gratitude for little ones.

2. Mindfulness Practices. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, noticing and observing your internal process with a non-judgmental stance. Mindfulness can help us with our awareness and clarity about the chatter in the head. These are my favorite mindfulness resources.
          

  

3. To inspire career/employment ideas. People struggle with knowing what they like, how to make passions into careers, or even how to get in to certain professions. These resources can help people explore all these facets. I love the children’s book below, because it explains entrepreneurship and start ups in such a simple way, that it encourages us all to turn ideas into reality.

4. Adult coloring books. Coloring can be soothing for a lot of people. I often have clients experiment with coloring when we talk about ways to incorporate daily pleasant activities and self-care. Adult coloring books are always at the top of the list. There are so many of them with inspiring, funny and calming themes.

     

5. Improving Sleep. Poor sleep contributes to a host of mental health symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, emotional lability, sadness, and can be a trigger for more serious episodes.

Recent research shows promising outcomes in the use of weighted blankets to aid in improving sleep for some individuals with sensory, anxiety, and insomnia (read a 2015 study here). Be sure to do your own research or consult your (or your loved one’s) physician to discuss benefits, weight and age recommendations.

White noise machines or calming nature sounds can help with creating a soothing ambiance for sleep sufferers

6. Hope/Cope/Memory Box. A box or container of sorts can be useful in storing positive messages or items that help the individual feel connected, loved, sense of purpose, meaning, and reminders to cope. Some people call it their “emergency tool kit” or ICEE (in case of emotional emergency) Box. Fill it with your loved ones favorite self-soothing items. Memory boxes for deceased loved ones can also be a great vessel for holding memories.

  
7. Worry Dolls. A hallmark of anxiety is the rumination of worry that occurs and impacts important aspects of someone’s functioning. Worry dolls allow kids and adults, alike to express their worry and hand it over to this object to help with carrying the heavy burden of the worry. It might be the first step in having faith in turning over worry to a higher power, a therapist, a spiritual guide, etc. You can even try making your own instead of buying. Be creative!

8. Self-Soothing. When we can soothe by engaging our 5 senses (smell, touch, taste, hear, see), it allows us to be in the present moment while self-caring. Essential oil diffusers, hand warmers, scented candles, warm blankets, lotion all have calming qualities that help with self-soothing. Some of these items can promote sleep, which essential to mental wellness.
      

9. Books about Healing. These books help to become aware and start understanding vulnerability, grief, coping ideas, and can assist in inspiring healing, along with going to therapy. You can also go to my  Book Recommendations page for different issues.

                                   

10. Experience Gifts. Most loved ones want to be connected to the important people in their lives. For your chronic self-neglecters, gifts that emphasize self-care and relaxation can be super helpful. Bonus points if you give an experience that you can engage in together. Keep in mind that for people suffering from depression or anxiety, they might be feeling fatigued and not up to it. Be patient with them and yourself. Don’t take it personal and assure your loved one that you will be there for them when they’re ready. Sometimes that’s all they need to hear from you.
Here are some ideas for experience gifts: Museum memberships, donation on their behalf to their favorite charity, massages/facials (Sacred Skincareapy is my go-to for facials), art/sip/wine classes, a short trip, movie tickets, restaurant gift card, spa entrance (Glen Ivy is my favorite for a Mental Health Day), homemade gift card/coupon with low cost ideas such as hiking, exercising at the beach, yoga classes, attending an outdoor craft fair. My favorite website to find out about events and experiences for the kiddos in Long Beach/Los Angeles is Long Beach Littles.

There you have it. Ten ideas that assist in soothing, self-care, healing, and mental wellness. Do you have some favorite gifts or items that you think I should add to my list? Feel free to share in the comments.

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*Disclosure statement: Please be advised that some of these links are affiliate links where I earn a commission when they’re purchased.  Others are simply my favorite in Los Angeles County. Please note that this guide is strictly for ideas and  does not replace medical and professional help. I strongly encourage that you or your loved one to engage in therapy or speak with their medical professional about any of these items. If you find yourself in a medical emergency where you or a loved one is a danger to themselves or others, you are strongly urged to call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room. The National Suicide Hotline number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In Los Angeles County, you can also call the Department of Mental Health’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team – Access Hotline at 1-800-854-7771.

10 Important Parenting Tips to Help Children Comply

Parenting is both hard and rewarding at the same time. The hardest parts are when our children aren’t complying, we don’t know why and nothing we’ve tried works. In my last article, I identified different reasons children might not comply. As promised, I put together this list of the top 10 important parenting survival tips that I reference all the time and share with my clients. They’ve truly helped my clients and I navigate parenthood.

  1. Connection. I decided to put connection at the top of the list because it’s the most important in nurturing the relationship with our children and preventing behavior problems. We humans evolved because of our social bonds in our clans, tribes, and households. A strong connection can be considered the foundation of well-built home, designed to weather the toughest of storms and natural disasters. Children need to a good foundation mixed with equal part of of warmth, hugs, love, laughter, safety, structure, and discipline. This means, plenty of hugs, play, conversations, understanding, and giving our children our undivided attention. In PCIT, parents are instructed to spend 5 full minutes a day (more if available) engaging in Special Play Time where the focus is on engaging in child directed play. This means you following their lead even if it means them calling a blue truck a pink dinosaur. No criticism, no teaching, no correcting. This helps children feel special and loved. Connection earns us money in the bank, making it easier for them to comply down the road, while also rewarding us parents with the much needed bonding we need from them too.
  2. Ask yourself, “what are they trying to tell me?” I read a parenting article the other day that encouraged parents to ask their children, “What are you trying to tell me right now?” during a tantrum. Children are determined to get their caregiver’s attention in positive or negative ways. It’ll all depend on which type of behavior has been reinforced. My 3 year old both noticed that I was more receptive to giving her attention during cooking if she shouted, “Ouchie, I fell!” than “Mommy, come play with me.” When she doesn’t comply with playtime clean up, she’s telling me that she doesn’t want special play time to end. Some children have sensory issues with certain clothing textures, water, tastes (like the ones who genetically, taste soap when they eat cilantro!).
  3. Addressing vulnerabilities is crucial to help regulate emotions for everyone, regardless of age. Mood is a big contributor to non-compliance in children, and stress level for the parent. When we’re hungry, tired, sleep deprived, and sick we’ll be irritable at best, and suffering at worse. One of my favorite Emotion Regulation Skills has the PLEASE acronym. They are both basic and live saving in parenting (and life in general). It stands for:
    • Physical illness – treat physical illness for both child and parent. When we feel better, we act better. Take prescribed medications. Get medical check ups for yourself and your child. You might be seeing that irritability and/or non-compliance can be related to a medical issue (i.e. hearing issues, developmental delays, ear infections, low energy).
    • Lead with healthy behaviors (P and L were originally under physical illnessness). Modeling to children healthy behaviors is also important. They will take deep breaths when they’re upset if they see you do it. Likewise, seeing you follow rules and respond in a calm way, will show them what you expect of them.
    • Eating – balanced meals is important for you as well as your children. Poor eating habits can bring on tummy-aches and general unhappiness. Hangry is the very real combo of being hungry and angry. Snickers displays this concept where once the monster has it’s snack, they turn back into a human. When we don’t eat well, we may not have the energy to engage or even comply. Full disclosure: I’ve apologized several times for my behavior when hangry too.
    • Avoid mood altering substances – in children this might be sugar, certain foods, electronic devices, anything that might overstimulate the child. This reminds me of an episode on Orange is the New Black when there is a flashback to Pensatucky when she is given soda before a behavioral assessment. Studies have also shown the impact of too much screen time close to bedtime, impacting sleep cycles.
    • Sleep is of major contributor to challenges with mood for children and adults, alike. Think back to your or your child’s most sleep deprived moments and what the behavior was like. My daughter goes from goofy, to delirious, to combative as the evening progresses. On a day when I’ve gotten enough sleep and a good meal, I might have the reserve to deal with it. When I’m tired too, it sounds like World War III in my house.
    • Exercise helps produce the feel-good chemicals in our brain. It also helps to tire us out so that we sleep better. For children with a surplus of energy, exercise will be crucial. Bonus: engage them in a team sport and there are so many benefits such as, following rules, sportsmanship, and structure.
  4. Specific Praise. Catch them while they’re complying throughout the day and praise the specific positive behavior. It lets them know that you’re paying attention, it helps you describe the specific positive behavior you like and want to continue seeing in them. Examples include, “thank you for listening right away”; “Thank you for helping me. You’re such a good helper.”; “Thank you for using gentle hands”; “I really like how you get in your carseat right away”; “Nice job eating all your fruit. You’re so healthy!”; “Great job sharing your toys. You’re such a good friend.” Labeled praise is a win-win skill. The parent feels good about praising the good and the child’s self esteem goes up knowing that they did something well.
  5. Label and Validate Emotions.  The best way for children to understand what they’re feeling is for those around them to help them label their emotions. Otherwise, they grow up not knowing what they’re feeling and why. Help your children label their emotions by stating the obvious (to us), “You’re really mad that playtime is over,” “You’re really angry that you can’t have candy at 8pm,” or “You’re sad that mommy has to leave for work.” This shows your child that 1) you are paying attention, 2) you understand their emotion, 3) their emotion makes sense given the situation. Sometimes this is all that’s needed for them to feel heard and paradoxically, can calm them down since they won’t need to keep crying or engaging in the behavior to show you. Secret: This works for adults too!  If you notice that your child might be responding to a flashback or bad memory, you can validate and say, “you’re having memories of the [insert scary event] and you’re feeling scared. You’re safe right now.” (This also works for adults)
  6. Give specific instructions. Here it’s important to break tasks down for children and tell them exactly what you want to see them do. These are statements, not questions. For example, instead of “can you go get ready?” say, “please go put your shoes on.” You’re probably shaking your head because your first instruction is very calm, but when you get to the 7th time repeating it you’re reached the edge of your patience. Oh wait, is that just me? See the next strategy for this.
  7. Use When/Then Statements. This skill helps children know what you will hold them to. Catch here is that you need to be consistent so they can learn to know what to expect from you each time you say it. Examples can be: “When you finish the food on your plate, then you can have dessert;” “When you get all 4 stickers on your chart, then you can use the iPad for 10 minutes;” “When you get in the carseat, then I can put your favorite song on (Moana’s “You’re Welcome” – if you must know what ours is);” “When you get in the shower, then I can bring you the bath toys;” “When you finish your chores, then I’ll give you the wifi password (a favorite for the teens).
  8. Pick your battles/Ignore – ignore what’s ignorable such as whining, making silly voices, sighs, annoying behaviors that aren’t too serious or involve safety issues.
  9. “Own your stuff.” Here we have an opportunity to reflect and ask ourselves, “What am I doing that contributes to my child’s behavior?” I’ll raise my hand and share first. Sometimes I respond to a text or two (or 5) during dinner time and my attention drifts away from my daughter. Dinner time is our first reunion from being at work all day. To get my attention, she does something she’s not supposed to at the dinner table. I get it. She’s looking for ways of getting my attention: connection. That’s my bad. When I remember, I put my phone face down and turn the ringer off. I’ve started adding a bath time alarm too so that it doesn’t get too late and it keeps me on track, in terms of schedule.
  10. Self-care is incredibly important for parents. When we take care of ourselves, it allows us to be there for others like our children. It’s the idea taken from the pre-flight safety tips where they tell you to “put your own oxygen mask on, before helping others.” We need to be ok if we want our kids to be ok. If you’re wondering how a bubble bath is going to solve your child’s behavior problem, it won’t. However, it will give you moments of relaxation so that you can develop clarity and reflection so that you can reduce your own vulnerabilities. Self- care here can mean, 1) a long bathroom break, 2) having your A.M. coffee still warm and in silence, 3) saying NO to overcommitting, 4) staying an extra few minutes in bed, 5) cashing in on all those folks who offered to babysit for you, 6) getting with your “tribe” or “your people” who get it and will let you vent (bonus, if they will also babysit for you). Stay tuned for a future post on Self-Care.

Lastly, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can in this moment. This is another favorite ism of mine that I tell all my clients. Parenting is a lot of work. Some days, moments, children, situations are harder than others. Reflect on this moment so that you can do better in the next. Like Oprah says, “when you know better, you do better.” Reflection helps us do better. So go and do anything that helps you reflect. I absolutely love working with parents. I offer parenting consultations on an as needed basis.

Resources:

If you feel triggered by this article and are in need of some immediate resources, I urge you to contact:

  • 911 or go to your nearest ER if you feel you a danger to yourself or others
  • 211 – in LA County it’s the social service directory for grief groups, therapy resources, housing, and more. It’s also online, google, “211”
  • LA County Access hotline for a psychiatric evaluation wherever you are located. The ACCESS/HOTLINE Phone number is : 1-800-854-7771. ACCESS operates 24 hours/day, 7 days/week as the entry point for mental health services in Los Angeles County.
  • Email me at info@sofiamendozalcsw.com if you’d like to inquire about an appointment with me in the Long Beach area. I can also help connect you to other therapists if you live elsewhere.
  • If you would like to access your insurance mental health benefits, there should be a Member Phone number on the back of your insurance card. Ask them for their list of approved therapists. They can also email it to you, making it easy to cross reference the list on www.psychologytoday.com where you can check their profiles out.

Thank you for reading. Follow me on Instagram under @mendingrootstherapy to get updates about new articles, quotes and other musings on mental health.

Therapy Models referenced:

DBT – Dialectical Behavior Therapy

PCIT – Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

TFCBT – Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Teaching Kids Empathy

On the heels of two mass shootings this weekend in the U.S., a slew of traumatizing immigration reform acts, and a lifetime of community violence in inner city neighborhoods, I’m left thinking, “where do we begin?” My friend and owner of Long Beach Littles reached out to me for information on how to teach kids empathy. Yes, empathy. That’s where we start. Below is an Instagram graphic I came up with on simple steps you an take to start today. I will also be linking all the books (click on affiliate link to purchase on amazon.com. Read disclosure statement at the bottom of page) that you can use with your kiddos to start talking and teaching about empathy. Be sure to keep visiting this page. As I read more, I’ll keep adding to this list.

Book Recommendations

Empathy and Compassion

“I am Human” – this gem has helped me teach mainly adults about empathy for themselves mainly. It’s great and I couldn’t recommend it more. I have copies at home, and both of my clinical offices. I usually have people pick what they need to hear for themselves the most or what they could say to someone in their life who is currently struggling

Feeling Identification

Special Needs Books

On Speech Impediment

Immigration

Racism & Discrimination

Homelessness and Poverty

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate. That means that if you purchase from the links above, I earn a small percentage. I use this compensation to invest in my ever growing library of books focused on healing and mental health awareness.

Intergenerational Trauma, PostPartum Anxiety and their after effects

It’s Maternal Mental Health Week and I’m feeling the call to be vulnerable and brave to talk about Intergeneration Trauma, PostPartum Anxiety (PPA) and their after effects. 

This is a bit of a vulnerable post for me since I’ll be self-disclosing more than usual, perhaps more than other traditional therapists are used to. At the same time, I’m making a choice to discuss this very important topic because it’s super important for me to destigmatize mental health and bring light to the importance of intergeneration trauma especially as it pertains to maternal mental health. 

I’m literally typing this at the airport, about to depart for a wonderful vacation to celebrate my best friend’s wedding. The reason this is important is because I almost had a panic attack last night as I was trying to get some sleep, ready to leave early in the a.m. today. You see, the apple of my eye, my 5 year old daughter had just fallen asleep and she was breathing heavily. I wondered if I should have given her Benadryl since she had a small hive on her cheek at bath time. “It might have cleared her sinuses too” I told myself. We still co-sleep (another ball wax I’m not going to get into right now), so I laid down next to her and she moved a little, now sleeping on her stomach. About 5 minutes passed and I realized I couldn’t hear her breathe anymore. “How is that possible, I just heard her have somewhat of a stuffy nose?” “Is she breathing?” My mind jumped right back to her being a newborn, when I suffered from Post Partum Anxiety and would check her breathing constantly. I put my hand on her back to feel her breathe, feel it go up and down, but nothing. I couldn’t tell if she was breathing. I started to panic. I immediately shook her to wake her up. She let out a very annoyed, “whaaaaaat, mommy? No. Let me sleep.” Never have I been so grateful for her little annoyed tone and words. She was certainly breathing and alive, and thankfully, went right back to sleep.

So am I an overprotective, anxious mom? Yes. Absolutely.

While that’s true. I also want to interject and share a little about the intergenerational trauma I was exposed to and why these intrusive thoughts about my daughter’s breathing is so important. My mother is from El Salvador, one of the smallest Central American Third World countries. When she had her first child in the 1970’s, the infant mortality rate was extremely high (thankfully since then it has decreased significantly). Her first baby girl died as an infant. That was super traumatic for her, since for much of my mom’s life up to that point was also plagued by extreme poverty, her father’s alcoholism, losing her own mother at 12 years old, as well as experiencing the death of her youngest twin siblings. The male twin died during infancy. The female twin died at 6 years old. She too was the light of my mother’s eye and she watched her get very sick and die. A few months later, her own mother would also die a painful cancer death. 

This is my mother’s trauma. And although I didn’t experience these things directly. I experienced being parented by a single mother with so much grief, trauma, sense of helplessness and vacillating fears that robbed her from experiencing complete joy, bonding, trust, and positivity.

When I gave birth to my baby girl, I was incredibly happy to hold this perfect little person, whose cries were immediately comforted by my voice (she recognized it right away). Eventually though, after leaving the hospital, I started to have these intrusive thoughts that I too would lose my first child; my first baby girl. I had the fear that I would be destined to suffer the exact same grief my mother did. So I developed different ways to check for my baby’s breathing. I’d watch her back or belly go up and down (of course, every 15 minutes or so). I wasn’t sleeping at all. Even when family members or my husband would send me to sleep, I couldn’t. That was when the intrusive thoughts were loudest and the pounding of my heart was unbearable. I was a wreck. I didn’t trust anyone with her. I was relieved when I was alone with her because I knew that I could give her my undivided attention. This isolation came at an expense though. Once I peed on myself because I didn’t want to put her down when she was crying.

At the time, I had been a child therapist for about 5 years. And I was pretty certain I knew the signs of post partum depression, post partum psychosis, and even post partum OCD. I had neither of those. I knew I had suffered from PTSD since childhood — some episodes more intense than others, but I chalked what I was going through to normal anxiety, especially when you’re certain that you know the outcome. I had this intense tunnel vision focused on the destiny I was set to have. “I mean, doesn’t everyone worry that their child is going die and stop breathing? What do I do if she stops breathing?” “You call 9-1-1” the nurse calmly told me. I couldn’t figure out why everyone was so calm about it. It was because I had post partum anxiety (complicated by PTSD and intergeneration trauma) and they didn’t. I mean, I’m assuming.

In getting to know intergeneration trauma, I want to quote Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations, edited by M. Gerard Fromm (2012) as they define it as “what human beings cannot contain of their experience—what has been traumatically overwhelming, unbearable, unthinkable—falls out of social discourse, but very often on to and into the next generation as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency.” That means that I saw how my mother reacted (cried, obsessed over, expressed fears/paranoia, etc) to her trauma and it was transmitted to me, causing me to react anxiously to it as well. And it’s true. I’ve always been an empath, being super sensitive to the energies around me. I’d developed this strong intuition about people’s suffering (us therapists become therapists for a reason) because I’d been doing it since childhood for various reasons. And when I gave birth, not only was I dealing with this delusional destiny, but I also had some health complications as a result of my pregnancy. It was all compounded.

I didn’t speak much of this to many people. A part of me (the overachieving, “I got this” part of me) was thinking that it was no big deal. Another part of me had this idea that this is what new motherhood was — a big worried mess. But perhaps the biggest part of me was influenced by “Marianismo” or what others refer to as the “Maria Complex” where Latina women/mothers are seen as martyrs. A Long Beach based maternal mental health colleague of mine, Susana Marquez, LMFT shares this about Latinas and Postpartum Anxiety: “Postpartum anxiety impacts Latinas culturally and religiously. It creates feelings of unworthiness and shame due to our culture having such strong ties with the Catholic religion and mothers being seen as martyrs or La Virgen Maria. They carry more shame if they have negative feelings about motherhood because we are not supposed to since our mothers and abuelas did it all and never complained. The feelings of isolation, judgement and criticism are perpetuated if a mother shares her thoughts. Creating more isolation and more sense of disconnect from culture religion and motherhood.” Damn, Susana, where you in April 2014 when I needed you? She hit the nail on the head.

So what did I do? I didn’t go to therapy right away. I had a bunch of friends who were therapists/mothers who I reached out and talked to (Angela, Victoria, Loan, Farah). Their stories of PPD (Postpartum Depression) and motherhood helped a lot. Momma friends also helped a ton. It helped tremendously that my sister gave birth three days after me, although she was in another state, the late night texts and conversations were my saving grace. Long Beach Littles founder Hazel Quimpo who had given birth to her baby boy Miles 6 weeks before me, would also become a hallmark support and great friend. It was because of Hazel that I’d leave the house for lunches, walks at El Dorado Park, free swimming lessons for the babies, and really just another person who understood the struggle of #teamnosleep.

I received a lot of support from my daughter’s pediatrician. She was always receptive to my questions, google knowledge (or lack thereof, lol), and assuaging a lot of my fears. She knew when to explicitly tell me “do not google this” and never made me feel like I was an idiot for bringing my daughter in or my list of questions.

My husband was a great partner, especially when I told him that I still needed more support, professional support. Eventually, I decided to seek therapy for the PPA (postpartum anxiety) and CT (complex trauma). It was there that I realized that we couldn’t tackle one without the other. The generational trauma experienced by my ancestors and mother would come to influence my DNA. The ghosts in the nursery were telling this story of poverty, death, trauma, but also resiliency. The treatment I received was heavily focused on asking/receiving help, acknowledging and validating the pain I held because of the traumas, separating and individuating, and self-care (“do you even know how to relax?” -yes, my therapist really asked me this).

I’ve also received great training in Maternal Mental Health by the organization Maternal Mental Health NOW. More than ever, I now know that the big ticket items is creating a strong support network and treatment.

Finally, I want to shout out to the heavens and to all you mamas who might be going through something similar, please get help. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to someone online. Talk to someone on the street, at the grocery store, someone! I promise you you’re not alone. You and your baby deserve relief, healing, and safety.

References / Resources

https://knoema.com/atlas/El-Salvador/topics/Demographics/Mortality/Infant-mortality-rate

How Trauma is carried through generations. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-me-in-we/201205/how-trauma-is-carried-across-generations https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-me-in-we/201205/how-trauma-is-carried-across-generations

Find Susana Marquez at: www.wellnessparalamama.com Instagram: www.instagram.com/wellnessparalamama or Facebook: Wellness para la mama

Maternal Mental Health NOW

Mom & Mind Podcast

LatinX Therapy and Podcast

Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

*Disclaimer: Please note that this post is strictly for education and  does not replace medical and professional help. I strongly encourage that you engage in therapy or speak with their medical professional about any of these ideas. If you find yourself in a medical emergency where you or a loved one is a danger to themselves or others, you are strongly urged to call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room. The National Suicide Hotline number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In Los Angeles County, you can also call the Department of Mental Health’s Psychiatric Mobile Response Team – Access Hotline at 1-800-854-7771.

Valued Living Starter Kit

I’m excite to share with you all my Valued Living Starter Kit. This Valued Living Kit was inspired by my love for vision boards and desire to stay focused on all that’s important in my life. When I developed my Vision Board Workshop, focusing on values first made so much sense to me. Focusing on values allows a person to reflect with intention about what’s important to them, how much of it is present or missing in their lives, and if they want to pursue those things.

I created this Values Starter Kit because I kept talking about this topic with my clients and I’d have them create makeshift to-do lists for themselves that involved their values. Since one of my values is wisdom and creating, I decided to create this kit for myself and my clients. My goal for you is to have you explore your values and match them up with meaningful and realistic actions (small steps) that will get you closer to your values and life goals.

I always tell my clients that I’ll never have them do something I’m not willing to do myself. So this project was also for me to get back to Value Based Living. I’ve found that when I was living my life in ways that were incompatible or far away from my real values (joy, family, health), I suffered more and had a feeling of being stuck. When I focused on setting small reminders for self-compassion or tolerating being good enough, or imposter syndrome, I found myself being much nicer to myself.

I invite you to dive in and use this kit as a tool to explore these areas of importance and tips on how to motivate toward actionable steps. I used a version of this Kit when engaging people in their Vision Boards and I saw that it not only helped me, but so many others identify their values, envision goals based on those values, and set small realistic goals for themselves to carry those out. People have told me that it helped them stay focused on their goals, and check them off yearly, monthly, weekly or daily!

The Kit includes the following 20 pages:

Pages 1-2 Introduction
Pages 3-4 Identifying Values
Page 5 Blank Values Pages
Page 6 Turning Values into Action
Page 7 Valuing Relationships
Page 8 Valuing Life
Page 9 Valuing Tolerating
Page 10 Valuing Myself
Page 11 Valued Living To Do List – Monthly
Page 12 Valued Living To Do List – Weekly
Page 13 Valued Living To Do List – Daily
Page 14 Valued Living To Do List – Yearly
Page 15 Valued Living Daily Reminders to tell myself
Page 16 Valued Living Reflections – Joy
Page 17 Valued Living Reflections – Barriers
Page 18 Valued Living Reflections – Visualizing
Page 19 Valued Living Reflections – Accountability
Page 20 Valued Living Reflections – Self-Compassion

***To purchase the 20 page Valued Living Starter Kit, please visit the MendingRootsShop page on Etsy. For the rest of March 2019 you can save 50% by using the code: MENDINGROOTS50

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