Help Your Child Soak Away Anxiety And Stress

Reducing anxiety and chronic stress can be as easy as drawing a bath.  The antidote: magnesium in the form of Epsom Salt. 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.   Once an abundant nutrient found in our soil, magnesium has rapidly declined in our environment leaving many doctors and scientists to believe that all people should be supplementing this essential mineral. Magnesium is necessary for proper cognitive function. In other words, if you want your brain to work as it should you must ensure your diet includes magnesium.

What depletes the body of magnesium? 

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Heavy sweating
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Carbonated beverages including soda
  • Some prescription medications
  • Fluoride
  • Diets high in refined sugar

What does deficiency look like in the body?

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent headaches/migraines
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of appetite
  • PMS
  • Increased anxiety
  • Symptoms of depression

Before you supplement with magnesium you should consult your family doctor.  As for a bath for children ages 6 and up, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Epsom Salt to warm water and soak for a minimum of 15 minutes.  For adults, add 1 cup to 2 cups to warm water. Do not soak for more than once or twice a week as you can overdo magnesium in the body.

The physical and mental relaxation from an Epsom Salt bath will be felt immediately.  Epsom salt is excellent in relaxing muscles once tense from a day’s worth of stress/anxiety.  It’s best to enjoy before bed as you will be sure to get a good night’s rest.  If insomnia is something you or your child struggle with: follow up with a nice cup of chamomile tea.   Sweet dreams my friends!

I don’t love baths.  How can I eat my magnesium?

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder and cocoa nibs
  • broccoli, turnip greens
  • spinach, swiss chard, bok choy
  • collard greens
  • kale
  • pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews
  • raspberries, strawberries, watermelon
  • avocado
  • coriander, chives, cumin seed, parsley, mustard seeds, fennel, basil and cloves.
  • wild caught salmon

How A Hug Promotes Calmness

Hug it out.  No really. Hug it out.  There is a simple reason why we crave human contact and affection – it calms us.  A hug from a safe, caring adult sets off a cascade of biology that recalibrates our child’s body.  The same works for teens and adults alike.  Humans are wired for real-life social connectivity something we have less of in the era of social media.

We physically need healthy touch and this is why:

  • It reduces stress.
  • It lowers blood pressure.
  • It bonds us to each other.
  • It can ease depression.
  • It can support your immune system to reduce illness and infections.
  • It can help the body fight feelings of lethargy.

How does this happen?

Physical touch (hugging, a pat on the back, a friendly handshake) helps the body increase levels of oxytocin.  Oxytocin promotes feelings of love and relaxation.  We actually have a biochemical response to hugging.  Isn’t it amazing how the human body works?

Now how does this apply to our children and teens who may be struggling emotionally? 

We hug it out! If a small child is having a tantrum – emotionally check yourself first before you respond and then go in for a hug.  A hug will allow your child to let go of all of his/her big, scary feelings.  As a result, the floodgates may open but that is what you want.  Tears also reduce stress!!! Two-for-one here, people!

According to research, hugs also increase the release of dopamine and serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and elevated mood.  Just when we think human behavior is complicated and impossible, science lets us know we need to simplify and get back to basics.  No tricky parenting techniques needed.  Just a good old-fashioned hug.

The Moms Of Moods And Foods 4 Kids

Tell me a little bit about your background and family?
My husband and I have three little boys (7, 6, and 3) and live just outside of Chicago. I am a former middle school/high school teacher who eventually went into educational publishing and software development. I recently left my full time job and took on a freelance role so that I can be at home more and have a little more involvement in the day to day happenings at our house and in the kids’ school! We are a very active family! My husband and I are both runners and he played hockey through college. As one might expect, our kids now play hockey several days a week, and my husband and I do our best to stay in shape with regular workouts. We are out and about in the town we live in as well as in the city.  And we enjoy traveling immensely…even with the kids, believe it or not! We believe strongly in teaching by example and living a healthy lifestyle so that we can continue to explore and adventure for many, many years to come!

Why do you choose a whole food diet for your family?
I’ve been a runner for some years now and have been pretty selective about my diet since I started long distance races. Having kids, including one with asthma and a number of other food and environmental allergies, reinforced the need for smart, healthy food choices. We started going organic, natural, and non-GMO and focusing on fruits and vegetables, but it wasn’t always absolute. About a year ago, my husband was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma, which is a non-Hodgkins diagnosis. It was a somewhat puzzling diagnosis for his healthcare providers because of his age, health, and lifestyle.

In my own research, we realized that a high percentage of patients with this diagnosis were farmers or others exposed to chemicals on a regular basis. My husband was at ground zero on 9-11 and we both think there’s a strong possibility that breathing in the aftermath of the towers falling could be responsible for his diagnosis. (That is just our suspicion; it hasn’t been confirmed.) At any rate, he is doing really well, and it’s been a very convincing wake up call to really examine all our lifestyle choices. We do our best to ensure we’ve removed as many chemicals as possible from our home and that we are only putting nourishing whole foods into our bodies.

What is your go-to real food snack?
We’re pretty simple around here. My kids love hummus, so we always have that on hand with vegetables. We also enjoy fresh and dried fruits or granola.

What do you find most difficult about feeding your kids a non-processed diet?
Well there certainly aren’t as many short cuts when you’re pressed for time and looking for something quick at the grocery store! I’d love to say that I spend hours cooking, but that’s not me either; so for us, it’s all about planning. If I can get a weekly menu together before I go to the grocery store Sunday mornings, we’re in good shape. If not, we have pretty boring meals until the next week. Fortunately, my family is kind enough not to complain all that often.

What are your concerns as a parent when it comes to childhood mental health?
Honestly, I don’t worry that much right now as my kids are young. They have some fears and some moments of being overwhelmed – fire safety prevention week at school was a slew of new fears at home! But, generally speaking, sitting down to talk to them will calm their anxiety. What absolutely terrifies me is the pressures and stress they’ll face when they get a little older, specifically those that can be brought on by social media and peer pressure. Right now, I’m really working on building a solid relationship with each of my kids so that when they get older, they’ll know we’re always a safe place to discuss feelings and anything that may be weighing on them, and that they’ll have some tools to help combat any assaults on their confidence or moral choices.

What I love about your story is your action and your willingness to be open.  Your family faced  your husband’s difficult diagnosis and you found a way to double down and actively make changes.  By sharing your story, you have inspired others who are possibly facing illness or who are looking to prevent illness in their lives.  Thanks for sharing, Katie! You are making a difference.  


3 Ways Your Teen’s Mental Health Impacts Their Sexual Health For Life

Not many topics can make parents possibly more uncomfortable than those of sexual health and mental health.  But I am about to tell you why you should adjust your comfort meter and snuggle in for a chat.
First of all, we don’t want any confusion.  Blank stares and stuttering over the subject of sexual health will not leave your child completely confident in your ability to fill them in with accurate and trustworthy details.  The last thing we want to do is direct them to Snapchat as a resource. So here we go.  It will be okay I promise.  I’m a therapist.  Just breathe your way through it.

Keep on reading>

Try This Free Antidepressant With Your Kids

When children and adults are living with depression it can be difficult to motivate yourself and family to move.  But move you must. Exercise is proven to be as effective if not more effective than medication in the treatment of depression.  Absolute fact.  NCBI illustrates the following in several peer-reviewed studies: “Following 16 weeks of treatment, groups did not differ in their level of depressive symptoms, suggesting that exercise and standard antidepressant treatments were equally effective. Interestingly, a follow-up examination of these participants conducted 10 months after the completion of the treatment period showed that participants in the exercise group showed lower rates of depression relapse in comparison with both the sertraline and combined groups. Moreover, participants who reported engaging in regular exercise during the follow-up period were more than 50% less likely to be depressed at their 10-month assessment compared to non-exercisers.”   Why is that?

Keep on reading>

A Conversation About Childhood Depression With Grace Lester, LMFT

Grace, will you tell me a little about your education and background?

I received a sociology degree from Hanover College and went on to earn my MSSW at the University of Louisville.  I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT ) and I have worked in the field of child and family therapy for 13 years.  Currently, I work as a supervisor and school-based clinician in a community mental health organization.

What do you think is most important for parents to understand about childhood/adolescent depression?
Keep on reading>

5 Reasons Why It Is Easier To Feed Your Kids Real Food

We can make up all kinds of reasons as to why it is easier to feed our kids processed food.  But I am here to tell you we have been sold a bill of goods by real fine advertisers and the general population at large.  Please humor me for 3 minutes of your precious Friday and read further as to why I think they are just plain ole’ wrong.  When you buy real food from a farm and not a factory there is so much you don’t have to worry about.

Keep on reading>

3 Reasons Living In Wichita Improves Your Child’s Mental Health

Looking for reasons to feel good about living in Wichita?  Well, stop right here.  Really, don’t move your mouse or swipe your finger.  If you are visiting this site and, in particular, my post then it’s safe to bet you have children.  And if you have children then you are well aware they have their own set of feelings, thoughts and behavior.  The delicate balance of these three little components makes up your child’s emotional well-being.  I am sure you keep up on the news, even a little…usually hiding in a closet on your smartphone or cuddled up in your pajamas in bed with one eye barely open, nonetheless, you are current.  So you don’t really need this child therapist to tell you our small people are reaching a pandemic level of illness.  Anxiety and depression have increased by 30% in American teens.  Suicide is now the second cause of death among adolescents aged 15-24 and that rate has doubled in the last 10 years.  I could continue but I will get to the positive side of my story because there is, in fact, a positive side.

Keep on reading>

Tricks To Reduce Testing Anxiety For Students And Teachers

Testing anxiety is what the psychology world likes to call performance anxiety.  Similar to feelings of fear one may experience before heading out on stage, testing anxiety can leave the sufferer drenched in sweat, heart pounding with a thought of…”How the heck do I get out of this situation?”  The student or the teacher is equally susceptible to anxiety’s grip.  Lucky for all those white-knuckling it through exam time there are a few tricks up my therapy sleeve.  We really can save you from those pesky intrusive thoughts that keep you zeroed in on failure rather than success.  You ready?  Here we go.

Keep on reading>