Journal Writing

journal writing

I often encourage my clients to keep a journal. I find them to be a great way to explore feelings outside of the session and it often generates thoughts they may want to bring up in their next appointment.

What is Journal Writing:

Most simply, journal writing is keeping written or typed form of your thoughts. These thoughts can be structured by answering questions or following a journal prompt, or they can be free style. You could even say a diary is a journal.

Why journal?

Journal writing is a wonderful tool for increasing self-awareness and expressing your self.  It is a way to explore your inner thoughts, feelings, and desires. Some people even use journals to record important memories or dreams.

When and how?

Anywhere and anytime! Many people journal before bed, and others may journal when they feel the need to get their thoughts onto paper. All you need is a journal book, notebook, and even a laptop. Journaling can be in written form or typed. If you have a hard time starting a journal, I suggest using some journal prompts.

I created a journal prompt, which you can download and print for free by clicking on Journaling Writing Prompts. Here are the prompts in the print out:

1. Finish the sentence…

Today I feel…

I’m so happy I have…

I fear…

I feel challenged by…

A wonderful thing that happened today…

If I had the courage, I would…

Often times I wonder…

My mother …

I showed a lot of strength when…

Sometimes I imagine…

I’m embarrassed that…

My greatest achievement in life is…

2. Write about a difficultly time in your life when you showed strength.

3. People often have scripts, or sayings, that they repeat over and over again in their mind. Identify 2-3 common scripts you find yourself saying.

4. Describe how you want your life to look in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years.

5. List your top three…

Worries.

Wisest people in your life.

People you trust.

Achievements.

Strengths.

Joyful memories.

Songs that make you happy.

Lifelong challenges.

Current challenges.

This is only a fraction of the ideas you can journal from. If you have any experiences with journaling, or if you have a good resource for more prompts, please share!

For more information on my clinical practice, please visit www.kimscounseling.com!

Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy

Self-Care During An Unlikely Time

One of my colleagues started working closer to home this year. While a shorter drive is always a good thing, she said that being 5 minutes from home, instead of 20 minutes, didn’t give her enough time to rest and change her mindset after a long day of work before getting home to four young kids. This got me to thinking more about my own 15 minute drive work to home. This is a time of my day when I don’t have kids in the car or a reason to be on the phone. I often put on music that is quiet so I can wind down from the day’s events. I use this time to think about my sessions and clear my mind of anything that may interrupt my focus on my husband and kids.

How To Use Your Drive Time for Self-Care Time

What do you do with your time in the car? Here are a few ideas that come to mind!

PS: These are best during your individual time if you have any and not with kids in tote! 🙂 Also, if you rarely to never spend time driving, replace with walking, riding, boating… whatever works for your life!

Process Your Recent Day. Think about the people you interacted with, emotions you may have felt, and thoughts you may have had. When our minds are busy, this can take away from being in the moment with our loved ones, so if you have an opportunity to process the day’s events before getting home, take advantage of that time.

Plan Your Upcoming Day. Whether you are early or late in your day, consider things you want to accomplish, calls you need to make, and goals for the upcoming day.

Practice Deep Breathing. This is one of the best ways to relax, especially if you had a challenging day, or find yourself feeling anxious.

Notice Your Surroundings. Do you have a beautiful view? What interesting things do you notice? What sounds do you hear? Try using this time to practice being in the moment, even for this part of your day. I bet you will notice something around you that you’re glad you took a moment to find.

Listen to Good Music. My music varies depending on the time of day and my mood. You may choose upbeat, happy music to get you motivated in the morning, and relaxing, inspirational music at the end of the day.

Identify What Your Thankful For. Often times, we spend the car ride focusing on problems or thinking about what needs to be done, but this is a prime opportunity to think about what areas in our life are positive. List these areas in your mind and your will find yourself feeling joy from the positive thinking.

Listen to an Audiobook. I have always been a fan of book on audio, ever since I was little and listened to a Bengi cassette tape over and over. If you think about how much time you spend in the car over a year, it’s likely an incredible amount of time you could be spending getting through a good book! You may choose a good fiction novel (I loved the Hunger Games series), or a self-help book (my most recent was John Gottman’s book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work).

Learn a New Language. I’m sure Rosetta Stone has an audio series that works for traveling. If you spend enough time in a car, I think it would be awesome to use that time to learn something new!

Pray. You definitely want to keep your eyes open on the road, but talk to God on your way to your destination. You may want to express thankfulness or request help for a problem from a higher power. No matter your reason, prayer can bring a sense of peace and joy to your day, whether it is beginning or ending.

How do you spending your car time? I would love to hear your thoughts!

For more information on my clinical practice, please visit www.kimscounseling.com. 🙂

Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy

Adventures Within Relaxation CD

Adventures Within Relaxation and Guided Imagery CD

I bought this CD many months ago and have finally taken the time to start listening. I love Adventures Within so much, I wanted to share it with you all!

Kids Relaxation (www.kidsrelaxation.com) is one  of my favorite blogs. It’s filled with wonderful ideas for teaching kids (and adults) relaxation techniques using quite a bit of guided imagery.

Here is what I love so far:

  • The CD was a purchase I made to use with kids in session, but I have actually found it to be useful for myself, and for adults too.
  • The female voice narrating is both calming, as well as kid-friendly. In other words, it is relaxing, but will still keep kids engaged.
  • The CD starts out by teaching HOW to relax through imagination, deep breathing (she calls it balloon breathing), and positive self talk.
  • There are numerous guided imagery scenaries on the CD.
  • I am still working my way through the entire CD, but so far my favorite is Finding Strength in the Storm. And Finding Strength in the Storm mp3 Downloadguess what? You can purchase each one separately on mp3. I linked you to my favorite, but certainly suggest listening to more than one.

If you have a relaxation or guided imagery CD or mp3 you enjoy, please share!

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For more information on my clinical practice, please visit www.kimscounseling.com. 🙂

Kingwood Counseling and Play Therapy

Friday Wrap Up: Must Reads and Best Online Finds From the Week!

MY FAVORITE ARTICLES, QUOTES, AND OTHER FINDS FROM THE WEEK!

It’s Finally The Weekend!!

Every week I come across so many informative articles, funny and inspiring quotes, and cool websites. It’s impossible to post them all on my facebook page, so here’s what I came across this week.

Have a great weekend!

Helping Children Cope with the Aurora Tragedy by Momaroo

A senior Psychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Denver gives some great advice on helping children cope with the tragedy. It’s a good read and here are a few clips that stood out to me.

“First, parents have to compose themselves,” Dolgan said, stressing that parents should think carefully about what they want to say to their children before they begin what will likely be a difficult conversation.

Second, Dolgan recommended that parents actually let their children lead the way. “Kids are all over the place with where they are developmentally,” he said. In order to deal with these differences, creating an atmosphere in which your children feel comfortable approaching you with questions would be optimal. Dr. Richard Marafiote, another psychologist who has worked in Aurora for many years, stressed how important it is for parents to “tune in” to their children in moments like these.
“By and large I think about the importance of parents allowing their children to speak about how they feel rather than having those parents put on their children what they believe their child may think or feel,” he said. Finally, Dolgan suggested parents should try to “normalize” the situation as much as possible, while limiting media exposure. “What we’ve found with many studies is the more kids and parents see the same kind of visuals, the more traumatizing it is,” Dolgan said.

10 Affirmations to Help Parents Accept Themselves and Their Children by KidsDiscuss.com

The author reminds us that it’s important for children to have parents who are accepting of themselves, as well as the children.

5 Affirmations for Helping Parents Accept Their Child

1. I accept my child is different.

2. I accept my child is quiet.

3. I accept my child can be stubborn.

4. I accept my child takes time to warm up to things or people.

5. I accept my child gets upset quickly.

5 Self-Accepting Affirmations for Parents

1. I accept I am a human being before I am a parent.

2. I accept I have limitations and many shortcomings, and this is okay.

3. I accept I don’t always know the right way.

4. I accept I can be selfish and unthinking in my dealings with my child.

5. I accept I don’t always know how to respond to my child.

8 Bucket List Questions to Ask Yourself, by Alice Boyes, Ph.D. on Psychology Today

Have you thought of jotting down a bucket list, or do you already have a bucket list? This is a good guide for us to use to help stimulate some ideas!

1. Who would you like to meet?

2. Where would you like to travel? If you could only do 3 things when you got there, what would you pick?

3. What challenges (if successfully achieved) would give you the biggest confidence boost?

4. What bucket list goals have you thought about but not pursued because you’d feel embarrassed if anyone knew you had that goal?

5. What do you like consuming that you might like to have a go at producing?

e.g., writing or acting for TV, writing a song, making a film, writing a novel, cooking foods you like to eat, writing comedy.

6. When you imagine yourself as really, really relaxed and happy, what are you doing?

7. When you imagine yourself as awestruck or giddy with excitement, what are you doing?

8. What was unique about you as a little kid? What were you passionate about as a little kid that you stopped exploring as you got older?

Advice From A Tree- I love this!

Miniature Building From Around the World from toysofthetrade.com. These would be great to use for sand tray therapy.

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Psychological Traits of Olympic Champions

Let the Games Begin!

Like most of you, I have been looking forward to watching the Olympics this year. The excitment from all the countries, the anticipation of watching your favorite athletes and games, and the overall spirit surrounding the festivities just draws you in!

I’m always so impressed and intrigued by the athletes and their strong commitment to their sport. They are certainly among the few individuals who show such strength of heart and mind to be able to accomplish what they do.

Research on Psychological Traits of Our Champs

A recent study on the psychological characteristics of U.S. Olympic champions was conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina and they found a number of common characteristics among these athletes.

  • High Motivation and Commitment

These athletes were competitive and looked forward to and really enjoyed competing. Their competitive drive was fueled by an internal desire or intrinsic motivation to accomplish their goals, as opposed to external rewards. The 10 Olympians were goal oriented. They not only set goals, but they were also good at deriving multiple plans or pathways for achieving their goals. Finally, their dedication to their goals was extremely impressive.

  • Optimistic and Positive

This allowed them to remain positive when faced with difficulties and rebound more quickly when failures were experienced.

  • Positive Perfectionists

Adaptive perfectionists set high standards and like to be organized, but they are low on concern over mistakes, doubts about actions and concern over parental criticism (when young).

  • Ability to Focus

The Olympians had the ability to concentrate or focus on key performance-related factors while effectively blocking out distractions. They were described as having “the ability to dial in” and “the ability to intensely focus and quiet the mind.”

  • Ability to Handle Stress and Cope with Adversity

Having the ability to handle stress and cope with adversity allowed these athletes the capacity to deal with the routine setbacks and anxiety associated with training and competing in developmental and elite levels of competition.

  • Mentally Tough

some of the more common components of mental toughness focused on resilience, perseverance and the ability to successfully deal with adversity.

  • Sport Intelligence

 It consisted of such themes as the ability to analyze performance, being innovative relative to one’s sport technique, being a student of the sport, making good sport-related decisions, understanding the nature of elite sport and being a quick learner.

What We Can Learn

So, other than knowing what makes these individuals totally awesome, what else have we learned?

1. Other successful people possess these traits. I haven’t done the google search on this yet, but I imagine that these are also the traits of other people who have been successful in their field. Consider Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and U.S. Presidents. To be on the top in your field (get there and stay there) takes a lot of commitment, innovation, sacrifice, and mental toughness.

2. You are probably already surrounded by “Olympians.” Now, also consider the successful people in your family, your community, and your career field. I bet you can pick out a number of these traits and find that those who are successful exhibit a number of these characteristics. Learn from these individuals. Talk to them about what makes them successful, what motivates them, and how they balance their work and success with family and a personal life.

3. You can be an “Olympian” in your own life. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little old to take up a sport and achieve Olympic Champion status, but that doesn’t mean I can’t strive for success in my own life. Being an Olympic Champion is about become the best at what you do. What do you want to strive to be the best at? It’s your life and you get to choose!

4. You can pass these traits along to your kids.If we want our kids to possess the traits that make one successful in life, we have to teach, model, encourage, cheer, and guide them along the way. Encourage your kids to find interests, remain focused, and show passion for what they love, and you will have done them an enormous favor for a life of success!

Now, enjoy the 2012 Olympics!!

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Self-Identity After Kids

FreeDigitalPhotos.netNot everyone calls me mom. In fact, most people don’t call me mom, but it’s the role I allow to consume most of my time and energy. Why is that?

Mom Is My Most Important Role

The simple answer to that question is that I consider being a mother the most important role of my life. Since becoming Mom, I spend quite a bit of time reading about parenting and baby topics, shopping for baby items, and sharing pictures and stories of my kids with others. I now get excited if there is a family event in my neighborhood, like the annual “Snow Day with Santa,” instead of the hottest downtown event, and plan play dates insteads of shopping dates with my girlfriends. I even blog about topics related to child psychology and parenthood, even though I could easily write about relationships and work issues. I do all these things because I truly love being mom to my two beautiful babies and wouldn’t change it for anything. However…

I Have Other Roles and Interests

Even though I now have this new role, I haven’t lost the titles from my “previous life.” I am still a wife, daughter, friend, colleague, neighbor, and therapist. Despite my extensive deficit of time and energy these days, my relationships continue to be important to me and I want to nourish them as much as possible.

I also have other interests outside of my kids, such as exercise, scrapbooking (although now I scrapbook baby pictures instead of vacations), and various home projects. These interests are part of who I am. Even though I am now a mom, does that mean I have to give these up? I feels like it sometimes, but no.

Maintaining Your Self-Identity After Kids

Holding on to those relationships and interests can be difficult when our obligations and priorities change, but it’s possible.

  1. Foster your interests and hobbies. Even if you spend one hour a month (which is very little time) on your hobby, it can make a diffierence. Connect with others who are also involved in that hobby, whether it be at a coffee shop or online forums. If you have a magazine membership for your interest, continue to receive it and make time to at least flip through the articles.
  2. Take time for yourself. This can be part of fostering our intersts, but it also involves other activities. Get a bubble bath or sneak away to the rocking chair on your front porch for a few minutes. You can even run an errand alone if you just miss that kind of independence.
  3. Make time for your significant other. To me, this is one of the most important things we can do. I hope everyone reading this grasps the importance of having a healthy relationship with your husband or wife. Other than meeting your own needs for companionship and intamacy, think about what kind of relationship you want to model for your kids. What kind of marriage do you want your son or daughter to have when they are grown? Also, think about the fact that once the kids are grown and moved out, it will just be you and your spouse. You don’t want to look up in 18 years and wonder who that person is across from you at dinner. Make sure you are spending time on your relationship with one another away from being co-parents.
  4. Develop new interests and relationships. If you suddenly feel like you don’t have anything that is “yours,” go out and discover new things for yourself. Maybe you have discovered that you are really good at snapping photographs… go out and learn more about this. Do it for you!

The “New” Me

Now that I have written about maintaining our self-identity after kids, I’ll now point out that the bottom line is that we do change after having kids. You will never be the same person you were before kids. Priorities shift dramatically, and in some cases, so do values. There are many milestones in our lives that lead us to alter our identity is some way, such as marriage or a professional title, and becoming a parent is no different.

I’ve actually heard many parents say they are better people for having kids. There is so much responsibility with children that we strive to improve ourselves. We are forced to evaluate our beliefs, values and behaviors. I want my kids to grow up in a safe and loving world, so it’s important for me to surround myself and my family with others who support that dream.

Discovering and accepting our “post-children identity” is a process. You mean we didn’t complete self-discovery in high school? Definitely not. As long as your life continues to evolve and change, so will your self-concept and sense of identity. Consider your self-discover a journey. Continue to learn new things about yourself and accept those things you have not accepted in the past.

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Foods That Make You Happy (and My Favorite Recipes!)

I woke up this morning feeling great and having more energy than lately. This is surprising since I am still up every couple of hours with a newborn. So, I started thinking about possible reasons for this improved mood and increase in energy. The answer? My diet! During my third trimester of pregnancy, I “indulged” myself with sweets and fats and carbs. Now that I’m out of excuses for eating all that junk food, I am making an effort to eat better and feed my family more healthful foods.

What To Eat

I decided to do a little research into what specific foods improve mood and energy and here’s what I found.

TodayHealth.com has a great article describing foods that improve your mood and mention that foods with these nutrients are important to look for in your meal choices:

Three specific nutrients to incorporate

Omega-3 fats Significant work is being conducted in the area of omega-3 fatty acids on mental performance. omega-3 fatty acids are present in the brain at higher levels than any other part of the body, and although this area has not been thoroughly researched, several review papers fully support the omega-3 use in psychiatry. Of particular interest is the ability of omega-3 fats to be mood lifting and to help possibly alleviate depression. Certainly a nutrient worth considering, but always speak with your physician before starting with supplements.

Foods rich in omega-3 fats include: oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), ground flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs.

Folic acid and B12 Two B vitamins — folate and vitamin B12 — seem to be important for mood. Studies have shown that low blood levels of these vitamins are sometimes related to depression, although no one is exactly sure why. Some scientists believe that these vitamins are used by the body to create seratonin, one of the key neurotransmitters that help normalize mood.

If you suffer from a mood disorder, it is important to continue to follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations, but you may want to consider taking a multivitamin with appropriate amounts of folate and B12, in addition to your antidepressant medications. Of course, eating a diet rich in these nutrients is important for maintaining mood, even if you are not clinically depressed.

Foods rich in folate: fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, oatmeal, mustard greens, beets, broccoli, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and oranges.

Foods rich in vitamin B12: shellfish (clams, oysters, crab), wild salmon (fresh or canned), fortified whole-grain breakfast cereal, lean beef, cottage cheese, low-fat yogurt, milk (skim, skim plus, 1% reduced-fat) and eggs.

Vitamin D In the past few years, research has suggested that vitamin D might help relieve mood disorders because it seems to increase the amounts of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for mood. In particular, vitamin D seems to help the type of depression called “seasonal affective disorder (SAD),” or the winter blues.

Foods rich in vitamin D: fish with bones, fat free and low-fat milk, fortified soy milk and egg yolks. Because vitamin D-rich foods are so limited, it’s often beneficial to take a daily multivitamin which provides 400 IU.

WebMD also turned out to be a good resource, using a slideshow to present foods that boost energy levels. Foods mentioned in this slideshow include apples, whole grains and brown rice, almonds, lean meats, leafy greens, salmon, fiber, water, and fresh fruits!

Recent Recipes I Loved

I love seafood and last night I tried two new recipes that turned out to be wonderfully tasty. I had 3 servings!! But they are so healthful that it was guilt-free!

Shrimp and Spinach Salad from CookingLight.com

**Good source of Omega 3, B12, and Iron

The dressing for this salad was what really made it so wonderful. The salad was a bit skimpy for my taste, so I added raw sliced almonds and bits of turkey bacon. So delicious!

.

Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing ,

also by CookingLight.com

Also an absolutely delicious recipe! I didn’t have the red bell pepper, but it still turned out really tasty.

.

 Black Beans by Melissa d’Arabian

I used these black beans for a healthy taco salad dinner. You can get creative with your taco salads and even make it with healthier ingredients than I did, but this is what I had on hand. I included lean ground beef cooked with chopped onion and garlic, plain greek yogurt (sour cream substitute), chopped tomato, black olives, fresh jalapenos slices, lettuce, green onion, shredded cheese, and multigrain chips.

Oatmeal and Fresh Fruit

I didn’t have to follow a recipe for this one, but we have been eating this for breakfast lately. I cook the oatmeal with milk and serve with some kind of fruit. The most popular is blueberries, but I love adding strawberries to my oatmeal. Try to keep away from too much sugar or butter though. The fruit should add plenty of sweetness and flavor!

I’ve never posted recipes on this blog before, but there is a first time for everything, and I am a stong believer that diet, exercise, and sleep play a role in our psychological health! If you have a recipe or related link to share, please do!

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Rest, Wishing I Had More!

Getting sleep and feeling well rested is not a luxury I will be experiencing in the next couple months, being that I now have a newborn. Already, just a week later, I have noticed the irritability and slowness in my general functioning. Some of this can be the pospartum changes, but a lack of sleep does take its toll on a person.

When I was in undergrad, I was fascinated with the connection between a person’s emotional and physical health and spent a lot of time learning more about the mind-body connection. No matter what the health topic may be- cancer, heart disease, or stress- the body and psyche will likely be working hand-in-hand.

I recently read an article from Science Daily titled Nap Deprived Tots May Be Missing Out On More Than Sleep.

The study shows toddlers between 2 and a half and 3 years old who miss only a single daily nap show more anxiety, less joy and interest and a poorer understanding of how to solve problems, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Monique LeBourgeois, who led the study.

When my son was 14 months old, we went through some transitions and his schedule only allowed for one nap a day instead of two. This was a very difficult transition for him because he loves his sleep and was not getting as much as he wanted, or needed. When he missed that extra nap during the day, he was more irritable, easily frustrated, and his engagement with us was mostly to nestle his face in our lap out of fatigue, rather than his usual playful interaction.

Lack of Sleep Hurts

I previously posted an article on the importance of exercise and mental health, “Reasons to Get Moving!,” but sleep can be considered equally important. In fact, sleeping patterns and changes is something I discuss with clients in counseling. If someone is not getting adequate sleep  there will be effects on their memory and learning, mood, concentration, reaction times, and even relationships. 

Who Is Missing Out?

In my experience, teens and parents are the two major groups who report lacking sleep the most. Teenagers are almost always at a high risk of sleep deprivation. They stay up late, texting and talking on the phone, only to get up early for school. They often complain of fatigue and boredome during the day and parents report they are highly irritable and difficult to get along with, not to mention the grades suffer as well. I really believe a part of those complaints is due to lack of sleep.

Parents also report not getting enough sleep. In my own personal experience, as a mother of a toddler, I really don’t think I have  truly felt rested in over two years. As a parent, your mind is never completely free from worry or things to get done. This fatigue can have a negative effect on a couple’s relationship, as well as our relationships with friends and co-workers.

So What Can You Do?

Most of these suggestions are common sense, so they are really just my way of bringing the issue to your attention and maybe give you that extra nudge to make some small changes in your life that can help.

  • TRY to find more time in your schedule to sleep. I can hear many of you laughing at me already, but take a few moments to think about what you may be able to cut out of your morning or evening time to allow for more sleep. For example, maybe twice a week you and your spouse can alternate who wakes up with the kids to let the other sleep in, or who will do the dishes after dinner.
  • Maintain a regular pre-sleep routine. Whether you take a bath or read a book, it’s important to give your body signals that it’s time to shut down for the day. Same goes for your kids and teens.
  • Be aware of the effects of fatigue. You may not be able to add much more sleep into your schedule, so being aware of the effects that your lack of sleep can have on you will be important. If you feel grouchy and know you need more rest, be careful how you respond to others, especially your family. It’s easy to take it out on other people!

Here are some more articles you may find interesting. After you read these, get some rest!

Web MD What Lack of Sleep Does To Your Mind

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research article titled Sleep and Early Brain Development and Plasticity.

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Which Feelings Will You Choose To Surf This Week?

Feelings are much like waves. We can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which one to surf.
Author Unknown

I came across this quote on Pinterest this week. Not only is it a great quote, but so appropriate for summer! It got me to thinking about how many feelings, and variations of feelings, we have in a given day. Just today, I have felt excited, nervous, frustrated, thankful,  busy, bored, optimistic, and worried. These are just a few that I can recall at the moment. You may be wondering how someone could have all these feelings in one day!! It surprises me too when I see it written down. Take a moment yourself and think of all the feelings you have had from the start of your day to the end of your day. You may be surprised how many emotions you experience.

Emotions really are like waves! They come and go and there is not much we can do to control them. However, like the quote says, we can choose which ones we will surf. We can decide which emotions we are going to allow to stay with us for a period time.

And just like the sport of surfing, this kind of self-control takes practice. Learning to be self-aware and seek control over our thoughts and emotions can be work, but does get easier. If you find yourself surfing a wave of emotions that are bringing you down, bring this visual image of waves to your mind. Think about your feelings as waves and decide which ones you want to surf and which ones you don’t. If you don’t see any good feelings flowing in, try some visual imagery of the waves and name some of them “happy,” “content,” “relaxed,” and so on. Claim some of those positive waves for yourself and imagine yourself surfing the wave of contentment or joy or peace… you choose!

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Fun and Easy To Make Relaxation Flip Books

Last month I came across these relaxation scripts online (link) that I found really fun and easy to use. This site was intended to offer techniques for anxious little ones to use when having to give blood. Kids had fun practicing these, and it was inexpensive to reproduce laminated flip books to send home with clients. Its also small enough for me to keep one on hand in my purse.

This was so easy to make.

  1. print the pictures in color from the website
  2. laminate the sheet
  3. cut out each picture individually
  4. punch a hold in the corner of each card
  5. slide each picture into a ring, such as a small key ring or notecard ring.

I have done this with boys, girls, older, younger, and even with families. After learning all the techniques, I have them choose their top 3 favorites to practice over the week when they feel angry, frustrated, or anxious. It’s a lot of fun and I have had great feedback from this simple, yet effective tool!

Here are the techniques. Each one is intended to target a certain part of the body, such as the jaw, shoulders, and arms. My 3 favorites are the Lemon, Turtle, and Cat! 🙂

Jaw: Chew That Carrot
Now, pretend that you are trying to eat a giant, hard carrot. It is very hard to chew. Bite down on it. As hard as you can. We want to turn that carrot into mush! Keep biting. (Hold for 10 seconds). Good. Now relax. You’ve eaten the carrot. Let yourself go as loose as you can.
Shoulders and Neck: Hide in Your Shell
Now pretend you are a turtle. Try to pull your head into your shell. Try to pull your shoulders up to your ears and push your head down into your shoulders. Hold it tight! (Hold for 10 seconds). Okay, you can come out now. Feel your shoulders relax.
Back: Swing Up High
Pretend you are on a swing at the park. Swing your upper body back and forth, back and forth. To get really high, use your arms to help you swing! Keep swinging! (Hold for 10 seconds). Great. You’re all done on the swing. Sit back and relax.
Hands and Arms: Squeeze a Lemon
Pretend you have a whole lemon in each hand. Now squeeze it hard. Try to squeeze all the juice out! Feel the tightness in your hand and arm as you squeeze. Squeeze hard! Don’t leave a single drop. (Hold for 10 seconds). Now relax and let the lemon drop from your hand. See how much better your hand and arm feel when they are relaxed.
Arms and Shoulders: Stretch Like a Cat
Pretend you are a furry, lazy cat and you just woke up from a nap. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Now raise them way up high over your head. Feel the pull in your shoulders. Stretch higher and try to touch the ceiling. (Hold for 10 seconds). Great! Let them drop very quickly and feel how good it is to be relaxed. It feels good and warm and lazy.
Face and Nose: Get That Fly Off Your Nose
Here comes a pesky old fly and he has landed on your nose! Try to get him off without using your hands. Wrinkle up your nose. Make as many wrinkles in your nose as you can. Scrunch up your nose real hard and hold it just as tight as you can. Notice that when you scrunch up your nose, your cheeks and your mouth and your forehead and your eyes all help you and they get tight, too. (Hold for 10 seconds). Good. You’ve chased him away. Now you can just relax and let your whole face go smooth.

Stomach: Squeeze Through a Fence
Now pretend that you want to squeeze through a narrow fence. You’ll have to make yourself very skinny if you’re going to make it through. Suck your stomach in, try to squeeze it against your back bone. Get it real small and tight. Hold it as tight as you can! (Hold for 10 seconds). Okay, you’ve made it! You got through the fence. Settle back and let your stomach come back out where it belongs.
Legs and Feet: Squish Your Toes in the Mud
Now pretend that you are standing barefoot in a big, fat mud puddle. Squish your toes down deep into the mud. Try to get your feet down to the bottom of the mud puddle. You’ll probably need your legs to help you push. Squish your toes down. Push your feet, hard! (Hold for 10 seconds). Okay, come back out now. Relax your feet, relax your legs, and relax your toes. It feels so good to be relaxed. No tenseness anywhere. You feel warm and tingly.