mental health counselor

Fun ideas for quality time with your child

I just wrapped up my series on Anxiety Disorders. In the month of August, I'll be writing about ways to strengthen the parent-child bond. 

So it's summer time, and after a few weeks of summer break, you probably have no clue what to do with your kids. The kids are at home watching countless hours of TV. But to make things worse, sometimes the heat is so bad that you just don't want to step outside. Or maybe you've completely run out of ideas. Well, you're in luck today. The great thing is that you don't have to be a professional to have fun with your kids. Here are some simple, but fun ideas for quality time with your kids this summer.

1) Board games: I know we are in the technology era and most kids would rather be glued to their cell phones than have face to face contact with a human. But trust me, after a few tries, your kids will forget that technology ever existed (okay maybe I'm exaggerating a bit). Luckily in the Murrieta and Temecula area there are lots of options. Go to your local Target, Walmart, Toys R Us or even the Dollar Tree and grab as many board games as you can. I love Monopoly, The Game of Life and a good old fashioned Uno. You can play for hours and hours. There'll be lots of laughs, your kids will learn friendly competition and you can even have a hearty conversation while playing together. 

2) Water play: Okay so I know California is always in a drought and we aren't encouraged to waste water. So go to the store, grab a kiddie pool and fill it up with water. You can also get water balloons, water guns and some swim gear. Channel your inner child and watch your child's face light up. Your child will be more than happy to see you running around the yard-or the street-dodging his water balloons. It's also great cardio.

3) Imaginary Play: Depending on your child's age, it's important to continuously feed his imagination. It's great for brain health and it's also a great way to get to know your child better. You see as a parent, you want to develop a strong bond with your child over time. That's one of the things that keeps your child out of a gang, reduces his risk for drug use and raises his or her self esteem. Quality time gives him or her a feeling of importance and safety in the home. So while you're chopping up vegetables or cleaning the house, imagine that you're a huge dinosaur raiding the city. Start off the story and encourage your child to continue it. You'll learn how truly fascinating a child's mind is.

And if your child is a bit older, play truth or dare. Ask your child questions like "If I could meet anyone in the world, I'd meet...." or "If I could travel anywhere in the world, I'll travel to..." Get creative. 

 4) Good old fashioned car conversations: When you're shuttling your child out and about to camp, recitals and appointments, use the time in the car to get to know him. Ask him what he likes about himself, how his school year was, what he doesn't like about school and how he genuinely feels about living in your home. These are deep conversations that help you better understand the inner workings of your child's mind. Because you're not face to face with him, it's a lot easier for him to answer the questions truthfully. Just be careful about your reaction if he tells you something shocking.

The more quality time you spend with your child, the more you send the message that he or she matters to you. I know you can't spend every waking hour with your kids, so make the time you have with them count. Quality time together as well as quality conversations strengthen the bond you have and ensures that your child can run to you when things go wrong.

Here are some other related posts- How to build a better relationship with your child and How to discipline your child appropriately

I run an 8-week parenting skills class in Murrieta. It covers the developmental stages of children, teaches parents how to take care of themselves even though they're busy, talks about how to spend quality time with your kids, ways to teach your child useful information and the greatest part is you get the support of other group members. If you're interested in enrolling in this parenting class in Murrieta, give me a call at 951-905-3181. It's never too late to strengthen your relationship with your child.

Are you a scaredy cat or do you have phobias?

"You're such a scaredy cat," they say. But what they don't know is that when you go to the beach, your heart races uncontrollably, your palms become sweaty, you become nauseous and all you want to do is get the heck out of there.

What they also don't know is that when you were 3 years old you almost drowned. After that you could no longer go to the beach, go on a cruise or be around large bodies of water. But no one has ever asked you why you're so scared, they just assume that you are being irrational.

Well, you my dear, might have a phobia. To the outside world the person with the phobia makes no sense. After all, all your friends go surfing and swimming at the beach, so they see no harm in large bodies of water. On the contrary, the beach is their happy place. But they don't understand that their happy place causes you terror. You have to summon up the courage to even drive past a beach.

People can have a phobic reaction to just about anything- thunder, lightning, elevators, white t-shirts, the park, the dentist, birds, snakes, strawberries and even good ol' pizza. It also does not matter where you're from, your gender, race or socioeconomic background. Phobias are equal opportunity bandits. They steal your joy, comfort and sometimes, it feels like they steal your sanity.

Simply put, a phobia is an unreasonable fear (which obviously seems very reasonable to you) which causes a person extreme fear and anxiety. You become so petrified that you instantly feel the need to run, hide or even cry. Even if you know that the object you fear is 'harmless,' it still does not reduce the amount of fear you feel around it. Sometimes a phobia will affect your social life or career. When you know your company is going on their annual beach trip, you call in sick and miss the opportunity to network with other professionals. Or you miss out on having fun with friends who want to lay around in the summer time.

So how are phobias treated? Well there are many different ways, but one of the most common is through a treatment called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. Your counselor or therapist will ask you a list of questions, to get to know your background and even your health history. He or she will sometimes also refer you to your primary care physician so that he or she can determine if your phobia is caused by a physical health condition or by some medications you're taking.

Do you have any phobias? Are you ready to stop feeling afraid? Reach out to a therapist or counselor today. It's important to ask them if they have experience treating phobias as well as how they actually go about the treatment. Help is out there. You don't have to suffer alone.

That odd feeling could be a panic attack

You think to yourself: "Something is seriously wrong with me." You step into your office and you feel like the walls are caving in. You try to take a few extra deep breaths, but you fear that you will choke. No matter how hard you try, you still can't catch your breath. You begin to sweat, and then suddenly, a wave of embarrassment washes over you. You don't want anyone to notice that you're struggling over here.

You rush to the bathroom as fast as you can to try to get control of yourself and it feels like you might throw up all over yourself. You hope you don't faint. Your body feels hot and you're lightheaded. After what feels like an eternity, you're able to get it together. You stay in the bathroom for a few extra minutes, but after that incident, you spend a lot of time worrying that it'll happen again.

Now it's all you can think about. Anytime you go to the store, you think "Will this happen to me again?" You leave your house and wonder, "Will today be the day?" After a while, your worry actually brings on another episode and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

 If this has ever happened to you, it’s possible that you might have experienced a panic attack. First of all, it’s important to get checked by your physician to ensure that you’re not suffering from a physical health condition. Your doctor would also want to check that it isn’t being caused by a substance or medication.

Panic attacks often create very high anxiety. You try to keep it all under control, then you spend a lot of time worrying that they will happen again, which could then trigger another attack. If you experience panic attacks you might also experience dizziness, a choking sensation, trembling, shaking, hot flashes, nausea, difficulty catching your breath, pounding heart and even fear that you may be dying.

But you know what? Panic attacks are treatable by mental health counselors. Please don't be ashamed. Pick up the phone and reach out for help. The sooner you reach out, the sooner you can begin your journey of recovery. 

So if you’re in the Murrieta or Temecula area and you’ve been struggling with panic attacks or anxiety, don’t stay silent. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with me so we can decide how we can work together to help you find your calm. You can also all me on 951-905-3181. Sometimes all you need is some therapy or counseling. You deserve all the joy in the world.

If you're not close to the Murrieta area, but you reside in California, I also provide online sessions. Reach out for help today.

Faith and anxiety

You go to church every single week. You pray every day and you have a strong faith that God can take away whatever pain you've been carrying. You consider yourself to be a good Christian. But you ask yourself, "If I'm a good Christian, why do I still have anxiety? Why does worry seem to follow me wherever I go?"

Well, as a Christian therapist, I understand that sometimes although we are following God and doing all the right things to feed our souls, anxiety still creeps in. We still worry about our future, we worry about our friends, we worry about our families and we worry about ourselves. We wonder if our prayers will get answered, if our sickness will be healed, if our kids will grow up right and if our spouses will stay forever faithful. You might still have old wounds from the way you were raised or you might have hurts from things that have happened to you in the past. No one ever said that a Christian will not have worries-you definitely will.

As a therapist in Murrieta who understands this, I give my Christian clients the space to include prayer and scriptures into the work that we do. I understand that faith cannot be separated from the heart of a Christian. I also understand that Christians are also humans who have real hurts and real troubles. Counseling and faith can work hand in hand. God can use counseling to heal past hurts while you continue to pray. We can work together to help you to use your faith as a balm to soothe your anxiety.

So can a Christian go to therapy? Absolutely. Look at it this way- if your arm was broken, would you still go to a doctor to get it fixed? Yup. But would you also pray after the doctor has treated your arm? Absolutely. I believe God can use counselors and therapists to heal broken hearts, the same way he can use doctors to heal broken bodies. 

When last have you used your faith to soothe your anxiety? If you'd like to reach out to me for a free 15 minute phone consultation so we can talk about how we can merge faith and counseling together in order to reduce the worrisome thoughts in your head, click here to email me or call me at 951-905-3181. You don't have to put your Christian faith aside when you go to therapy or counseling.

How do you know when you're drowning in overwhelm?

So often I hear people say, "I'm overwhelmed." In the moment it might feel like a quick avalanche that just sneaked up on you. But in reality, overwhelm is more like slow moving lava. It inches closer and closer and closer until you are knee deep in hot, fiery flames and you have nowhere to run. You get stuck and you have no clue how this happened.

 To avoid the hot trap, it's important to realize the warning signs that point to the fact that you are indeed overwhelmed. Take a closer look at your life. How does your appearance change when it starts to creep in? Maybe you stop wearing lipstick or mascara. Maybe you start to pull your hair in a bun instead of combing it out.

How does overwhelm creep in at work? Does your desk get messy? Do you stop socializing with coworkers? Do you yawn more or do you slack off? Or maybe you cram in every single task possible without taking lunch breaks.

How does overwhelm show up in your relationships? Do you pick fights with your partner or do you isolate yourself? Are you snapping at your kids for pouring milk on the floor or chewing too loudly?

 Are your relationships changing? Are you isolating yourself? Are you yelling more or are you becoming more cranky? Do you not feel like going to dinners? Ask your spouse or partner what he notices when things are getting difficult for you.

It's important to notice how overwhelm sneaks in-the gentle warning signs. Once you notice your hair going up in a bun, its time to start letting go of the things that might lead you to overwhelm. Take a break, do some yoga, talk to a friend- or a therapist. Pause so you can take a detour before the lava sucks you in. If you don't slow down, the lava it will sneakily creep its way into your life until you're burned into ashes. 

How will you stop overwhelm in its tracks today? To schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with me, call 951-905-3181. During this consultation, we will talk about what's going on with you, what my therapy style is and how I may be able to help you find your calm and avoid the lava.