Free Workshops (next workshop February 10th at MPL)

Free Workshop on Managing Stress and Improving Your Relationships

Hosted by New Leaf Psychology Centre

February 10, 2015
6:15pm – 8:30pm

Milton Public Library
1010 Main Street East
Milton, Ontario

6:15  –    Welcome and Refreshments

6:30  –    Stress Management

Presented by Dr. Alena Strauss

You will learn what stress is and how if effects you. Emphasis will be given to stress management strategies.

7:10  –    Living Mindfully

Presented by Beheshta Jaghori

You will learn what mindful living is and how you can integrate it into your daily life in order to reduce stress and

improve your quality of life.

7:50  –    Improving Communication with Loved Ones

Presented by Dr. Sherry Van Blyderveen

You will better understand why couples have difficulties communicating with one another despite the fact that

they can communicate well with everyone else in their lives. Strategies to improve communication in

relationships with loved ones will be discussed. 

To register call Milton Public Library at 905-875-2665 ext 3263 or email information@mpl.on.ca

Caregiver Burnout

Caring for a Family Member with Physical or Mental Health Difficulties

20% of Canadians are struggling with mental health difficulties, for a total of 1.5 million children and
4.5 million adults. 13% of Canadian’s (3.8 million) are struggling with physical disabilities,
and among those over the age of 75 the rate is 43%.

The role of caregiver, whether it is of an aging parent, a family member with a physical disability or a child with mental health difficulties, can at times be overwhelming. The time, energy and finances required to care for a loved one, and the emotions associated with being a caregiver, sometimes lead to caregiver burnout, a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. Exhausted caregivers describe feeling stressed, anxious and depressed, and they report symptoms similar to those seen with depression. For example, they report irritability, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, social withdrawal, poor appetite, sleep difficulties, and feelings of hopelessness. In a state of burnout, a previously positive and loving caregiver may become negative and uncaring. Caregivers also often experience guilt, anger and self-doubt. Strategies to address the feelings associated with caregiver burnout are detailed below.

Guilt

We all want the best for our loved ones, and this can result in caregivers setting high standards for the care of their family members. In setting high standards for the care of their loved one, caregivers may set unrealistic expectations of themselves and may assume exclusive responsibility for the care of their loved one. When caregivers do not meet the high standards they set for themselves, it is not surprising that they then become self-critical. For example, a parent of a suicidal teen might tell herself “I should have checked on my daughter more often throughout the night”. A child of an ailing parent might tell himself “I cannot put my mom in a nursing home, I should be able to make it work at home”. Not being able to live up to self-imposed unrealistic expectations, and the resulting belief that they are not doing a good enough job of caregiving, results in feelings of guilt and shame.

In order to reduce feelings of guilt it is important to set realistic goals for yourself, accept your own limitations, and allow others to assume some responsibility for the care of your loved one. When you start to feel guilty, ask yourself whether you are being realistic or idealistic.

Anger

Many caregivers become frustrated by a lack of money, resources, and skills to effectively plan, manage, and organize their loved one’s care. They also can become angry that their loved one is suffering. Anger can be directed at their loved one, themselves, other family members, healthcare professionals, and/or a higher power. It is important to understand that anger is a normal human emotion that we experience in response to feeling a lack of control with our situation.

In order to reduce feelings of anger it is important to accept what you cannot change about the current situation, and use the energy associated with anger to change the things you can. Remember that even when you do not have control over the situation or outcomes, you are in control of your own behavior and can choose how you will cope.

Self-Doubt

Caregivers commonly question whether they are doing the right thing for their loved one, and they may become confused when they are given differing opinions from a variety of sources. Self-doubt can become exacerbated when caregivers judge their caregiving approach based on the response of their loved one, whose symptoms may vary or progressively worsen.

In order to reduce self-doubt, it is important for caregivers to educate themselves about their loved one’s illness and the treatments or care available. Remember that your loved one’s response to your care is based on a multitude of factors, including the illness your loved one is struggling with. Be realistic about your loved ones illness, their symptoms are not a reflection of your caregiving.

Self-Care Strategies

The primary strategy to prevent or treat caregiver burnout is self-care. Finding the time for self-care is often a challenge, and even when time is taken, caregivers often feel guilty for not using that time to help their loved one. However, it is important to remember that self-care is necessary to be the best caregiver you are capable of being. Self-care requires making time for breaks, and using that time for fun, socializing and rest. This may require another family member, caregiver or organization providing you with some respite (e.g. in home care, short stays in nursing homes or group homes). Self-care includes eating well, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and taking care of one’s own medical needs. Seeking support from others is also necessary for self-care. Sharing your feelings with those within your support network (e.g. friends, family, religious community), a counsellor, or another caregiver in a similar situation (e.g. support group) can be a great way to release stress and get helpful advice.

Written by Dr. Sherry Van Blyderveen
Clinical & Counselling Psychologist
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References:
Spencer Scott, P. (2014). The seven deadly emotions of caregiving. http://www.caring.com/articles/7-deadly-emotions-of-caregiving
WebMD (2014). Heart disease and caregiver burnout. http://webmd.com/heart-disease/heart-disease-recognizing-caregiver-burnout
Canadian Mental Health Association (2012). http://alberta.cmha.ca/mental_health/statistics/#.U-5nN_IdWn8

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Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding

After giving birth, experts say that a well-balanced diet and proper nutrition is even more important than during your pregnancy. The food choices you make will greatly influence the quality of your breast milk, and how quickly your body will rebound from the pregnancy.

You will want to include a high amount of complex carbohydrates, including:

– Whole Grains, such as brown rice, and rye or whole wheat bread,
Fruits, such as apples, berries, peaches, and melons, and
Vegetables, such as broccoli, squash, and bell peppers.

You should also ensure that you are obtaining the proper levels of calcium, protein, iron, and fat. Aim for three to five servings of fat per day and calcium-rich food.

Here are some additional nutrition tips:

– Increase your fluid intake by drinking at least one glass of water before you breastfeed, and aim for 3 Litres of fluids daily
– When choosing seafood options, opt for items that are higher in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, herring, trout, and pollock, and avoid items high in mercury such as shark, white tuna, and swordfish.
Avoid alcohol, as it takes 2-3 hours to completely exit the breast milk stream.

Eating a wide variety of foods will also change the flavor of your breast milk. This will help introduce your baby to different tastes, which can help develop their palette at an early age.

 Written by Ingrid Toombs
Registered Dietitian

 

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The Helicopter Parent

What is a helicopter parent?

This pop culture term refers to the ‘hovering’ or over-involved parent (Gabriel, 2010). Helicopter parents are anxious about their child’s well-being and/or success, and attempt to protect their child from hardship and disappointment. Helicopter parents provide their children with more guidance and direction than other parents, and are more involved with their day-today activities. Essentially, helicopter parents ‘micromanage’ their children’s lives.

Too much of a good thing?

Helicopter parents are concerned about their child’s physical and emotional well-being and provide high levels of warmth and support. However, although the helicopter parent may be relieved when they protect their child from hardship or disappointment, their child pays a price. Specifically the strategies used by helicopter parents prevent children from developing the experience and skills necessary to act on their own. As a result, they are more likely to be shy, socially inhibited, anxious, and have peer difficulties. The children of helicopter parents can also be more prone to anger and take more risks.

Tips to avoid helicopter parenting:

Evaluate whether the situation warrants such high levels of direction and affection from a parent. If not, foster your child’s autonomy as described below;

1.  Free-Play: Permit free-play opportunities for your child and their peer without your involvement.
2. Social Skills: Teach social skills (e.g., turn-taking, handling conflict) that your child can perform semi-independently rather than you performing the skills for them.
3. Assertiveness: Foster your child’s ability to be assertive (e.g., teach them to make requests of peers and adults).
4. Dealing with Consequence: Teach your child that once they make a choice they have to live with the consequences (e.g., after leaving their bike outside overnight and it gets stolen, they have to save up for a new bike).
5. Self-Reliance: Given that emerging adulthood is a time to become self-reliant, adolescents should begin to solve their own problems and make their own decisions.

If you are a helicopter parent, you may benefit from discussing your anxieties about your child’s well-being and success with a child and family therapist. Family therapy can also help if your child becomes angry and resentful towards you.

Written by Dr. Kim Saliba
Clinical & School Psychologist
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

References:
Padilla-Walker, L. M. & Nelson, L. J. (2012). Black hawk down? : Establishing helicopter parenting as a distinct construct form other forms of parental control during emerging adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1177-1190.
Landy, S. (2009). Pathways to Competence. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brookes. Siegel, D. J. & Byrson, T. P. (2011). The whole-brain child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
Website: www.loveandlogic.com (Love & Logic series of tapes, books, DVDs).

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Why Children Push Parents Away

What can you do when your teen pushes you away?

During the teenage years children tend to try to separate themselves from their parents’ influence in an attempt to assert their autonomy. In doing so you may feel your teen is pushing you away or withholding information about their lives (e.g. friends, what they are doing, where they are). As a result you may feel that you do not know your child as well as you would like and that you do not have much influence on their choices. Below is a list of common reasons why teens decide not to share things with their parents.

 

In summary, the parenting strategies that teens describe as effective in encouraging them to open up and share with their parents include listening attentively, showing emotional support, expressing an understanding of their feelings and experiences, honouring their secrets, showing appreciation for who they are becoming, and taking time to have fun with them.

Try to keep in mind that your child’s attempt to reduce your influence is an important stage in the development of their identity and the establishment of a health self-esteem. Rest assured that studies find that in early adulthood youth’s values and behaviours end up more like their parents then the friends they had as teenagers.

Written by Dr. Kim Saliba
Clinical & School Psychologist
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

References:
Tokic, A & Pecnik. (2010). Parental behaviours related to adolescents’ self-disclosure: Adolescent’s views. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28 (2), 201-222.

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