How Your Families Mood Could Affect The Flu Shot

On most families to-do lists this time of year is to get an appointment made for the flu shot. Some worry till it is done, others resist it as long as possible, because the thought of a shot just makes them shutter. Making sure to be as positive as you can be can almost feel like a daunting task in an exam room, not many really like having to be at a doctors office. Though your mood could very well give a boost to the flu vaccine. New studies, published just last month, gave some insight on how the connection between our thinking and our bodies does have an effect on how the body reacts to the vaccine.

Can walking into the doctor’s office in a less stressed and worried mood really make a difference? To some degree, yes, according to researchers in the UK.  A greater positive mood during the vaccine, and even after receiving it, did contribute to “greater antibody responses to influenza vaccination”. It was mentioned that it did make a difference in the small study, causing more awareness to the fact that psychological or behavioral factors could definitely contribute to physical health. Getting a shot may not be the number one thing to be happy about, but if you want to fight off the nasty flu best you can this year, being positive could definitely help! (Now this does not mean being in a good mood will guarantee no flu, there are different strains of the virus and many other factors that contribute as well. The study has proven the better the mood the better the antibodies react.)

“Patient behaviors and psychological well-being can influence immune responses to vaccination. Physical activity, nutrition, sleep, stress, and mood have all been identified as ‘immune modulators’ sufficient to impact on vaccination responses.”

Encouragement of better understanding and mindfulness really could play a role in the overall health of mom, dad, and kids. But, when the kids hear the word “shots”, anxiety is all they are feeling!  There are alternatives other than the doctor’s office that could help eliminate the scary factor, many pharmacies (Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart) do provide vaccine services. These may be more convenient for your family and provide a less intimidating environment. And instead of just wishful thinking, in turning around such an experience, here are some cool helpful professional tips to try for your child’s next vaccination visit:

  • Talk about and focus on a treat for after the Dr.s visit, doing this helps refocus your child’s attention to the event after, instead of just focusing on the visit.
  • As a parent, calm yourself to eliminate anxiety. Per research tips in reducing pain, a parents reaction could increase a child’s pain.
  • For little ones, be mindful to hold your child more like a hug, to eliminate them feeling like they are being restrained.
  • For kindergarten to middle school-aged children, it has been suggested to try the “cough trick”. Coughing once before and during the vaccination can help minimize pain reaction.
  • A most popular one is a distraction, immediately after finding an activity to distract like a toy, stuffed animal or handheld electronic device can also help!

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Photo via: allthatisinteresting.com
For my teenage step-daughter, it made a world of a difference having wonderful nurses that not only made her laugh but feel comfortable. A simple hug and a few laughs, made her last shot a little less of a traumatic experience for her! And with these new research findings, may very well have benefited her body’s reaction to the vaccine. Something stressful and even scary at times can be made into a more positive experience for not just our children, but for us parents as well. I personally find these new health discoveries fascinating and such a great factor into the importance of incorporating healthy thinking habits within the family. The benefits are worth the hard work. What are your families techniques in lessening the anxiety of a doctors visit?

 

Cover Photo via Bon Secours Good Health Blog

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5 Resources To Mindfully Recharge And Find The Positive In Your Life

Life does not make it easy to be a positive person, living is full of raw heartfelt feeling- from the most elated and exciting experiences to the deepest and darkest pain. I use to hold pain as if it was a weight hidden behind my rib cage, always aching and slowly suffocating. I have found a freedom beyond that hurt and it is the very thing I wish to focus on, for we all go through many difficulties in life and deserve to finally grab hold of the fresh air and beautiful light still existent in our lives!

As a busy mom, wife and growing as a step-mother, daily living can become very stressful. School days end with frustrated kids and a toddler finding their way to the terrible two’s is exhausting! Throw in several bad work days for daddy on top of it and the environment feels more tense than we all would like it to be. Being positive is not the first thing to focus on nor is it the easiest to accomplish. With many years of knowing what it feels like to allow things to weigh you down almost to nothing and wanting better than that for my own child and step-kids, I have personally learned to grab hold of mindfulness in times of distress. So much of what builds strength, character and coping skills comes from inside each of us, it has now become the most important thing to work on modeling coping skills and healthy thinking habits for my family!

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Some may assume that being positive alludes you from feeling all other emotions that help you to appreciate happiness. But, being realistically positive does not mean you do not or cannot feel sadness, anger, grief or frustration. We all are human and we all will feel the effect of pain no matter how hard we try not to. Taking a step back, meditating or re-evaluating, and focusing on the good can create a positive attitude towards a negative circumstance! Here are five resources to share and what I personally do to build positive thinking within my family:

1. Gratefulness

Looking at something in a more grateful way (appreciating the good and the opportunities that are realistically there) opens the door into taking a look at the bigger picture instead of the one negative thing we are focused on.

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Via pastortyrus.com

I am always trying to remind myself and the family of the things we still have in our lives that are good and meaningful, shifting a disappointment towards being grateful.

“people who feel gratitude are less likely to be depressed and worried, and more likely to feel satisfied with their lives.”

2. Thinking and Thoughts

The greatest thing I have observed, in all the psychology and professional research into my writing, is how our personal thinking projects itself into our own reality. We can make ourselves believe the worst or prove to our self the ability to see past a negative experience.  It truly makes a difference for me to redirect personal thoughts and focus on bettering my mood for the family. I try my very best to give an alternate perspective when someone in the family is stuck on very negative feelings and thoughts, in time hoping to motivate everyone’s ability to focus more positively and clearly while making their environment feel less tense and stressful by doing so.

3. Refraining from Negative Remarks 

Lasting change comes from what we choose to think, say and do from day to day. We can use these abilities to break each other down or build each other up. Nothing unnerves me more than to hear anyone in the family speak negatively about someone else (friend or family) or use unkind language causally without thinking. We all bear enough unkindness out in the world and carry our own flaws and mistakes, so I am continually encouraging more kindness towards one another in the home and towards others.

“not to shine such a spotlight on a difficult situation that everything good fades out.”

4. Spiritual or Mindful Routine

This is what pulls everything together to build a more positive mindset. We are a christian family, incorporating bible reading and meditating into our daily lives truly brings better thoughts, words and actions into the home. Having my own personal study time also refreshes my mindset and encourages more effort on my part to be the best example I can be for my family. For those less into the spiritual aspect, mindfulness can be a great alternative to incorporate more balance in daily life.

5. Learn Not to Take Things So Serious

I am a sucker for taking things seriously at times and getting overly anxious in some situations. But one thing I have managed to recognize is to take it easy from day to day knowing each day has its own anxiety. When the toddler won’t nap or the house is still a mess because of it, I have to take it as it is and not fret. I encourage the same for everyone else in the family. Seeing how stressed they are at times, helps me to keep working on my stress levels in order for everyone to not take things so seriously sometimes.

Those are just a few of the weekly and daily habits I am working on and trying to encourage. Taking a bad stressful day and learning to turn it around I feel is such a great asset for anyone looking to improve themselves and their family. imageIt isn’t easy, far from simple and can feel overwhelming to turn a negative mindset around, the key has been perseverance! Build up those around you by picking out the advantage to a disadvantage, speak up-building things to feel less hurt by that rude person, notice your strengths in a difficult situation, shrug off the insignificant little things to feel less worried, be grateful for what you still have in your life despite a loss. All those thought adjustments can make a huge difference in daily life!  If I can experience a difference in myself and my environment from how I choose to think and look at things, I will always continue sharing that knowledge. I hope everyone finds the little pieces of happiness and life’s goodness in their own life! What adjustments can you make to better your personal life? As a fellow blogger simply stated:

“you have to take control and make life into what you want it to be.”

Here is an encouraging video by Dr. Becker-Phelps Ph.D/therapist on how we can benefit from thought adjustments in our life and towards our self.  From the Psychology Today article The Good Life: Pause, Observe and Absorb Positives .

*Cover Photo: Via leeaspland.com

The Benefits Of Growing As A Person Through Motherhood And Family Challenges

Family is a huge part of our personal social life, from the most intimate to the absolute strongest bonds. Keeping that life healthy and happy becomes one of the most important things to strive for. Like most parents, I’m always wondering how to manage daily situations differently. What can a parent take into consideration to have a peaceful household? To engage in more family bonding and feel like you are not doing everything wrong. Have you ever felt that way as a mother?

Being lost in motherhood as a new mom, or within blended families, the pressure to be perfect can develop anxiety, worry and stress, leaving family relationships strained. I personally have been there and wanted to get my family into a better place. To have more healthy and happier bonds, as well as grow into the best mother I can be for my own daughter, was a great motivator into discovering change. With effort put into bettering myself and in building understanding, family life has become more cohesive as a mom to a toddler and stepmom to teens. Even my husband and I have grown in our relationship. There has been one greatest discovery I cherish, that imperfections can be beautiful within the family, a safe haven for natural human flaws and the place to learn empathy in a hardened world. 

“Life with children is far from glamorous, but it is so utterly beautiful.” –Rusted Van Photography

So what exactly did I discover?

Take Care of You

First and foremost, the need to take care of myself, be happy with who I am and who I am becoming as a new mother is the main foundation to everything else I have learned. How Taking Care of Yourself Makes you a Better Mom by Kelly Ross, MD, FAAP advises:

“It is so easy to stop caring for yourself or to get overwhelmed. But, when you stop caring for yourself, your ability to care for your child is impacted and your ability to enjoy motherhood is impacted.”

Especially in the first year of new mommy hood, the anxiety and stress to keep up with your growing child, on top of other responsibilities, can become intensely overwhelming at times. Mindfully recognizing how important it is to take care of yourself postpartum and allow rest is vital. It wasn’t till I took daily walks out in the fresh air and allowed myself to just relax or sleep from time to time that I could work on more positive thinking for myself and my family. Opinions and criticism can also be debilitating, only if you allow them. Knowing personal strengths and true heartfelt intentions despite bad days and wrong assumptions, can build up a mother’s self esteem in what she feels is best for her children and family. Gaining better confidence can bring the best out of you as a parent and even benefits brain function for women. Confidence Boosts Women’s Spatial Skills like parking a car, any boost like that for a busy mom is a plus! After believing more in myself, I delved into growing as a person, learning different ways to react to challenges and encouraged more positive thinking.*

Be a Better Person

Another important change was accepting humility to apologize for mistakes and take responsibility. Sometimes we overlook the simple and kind act of apologizing because we are so use to one another within the immediate family, but it can be the very thing needed to alleviate tension and help bad days flow into better ones. Following through in correcting yourself as a parent can be even more important, this has been especially necessary within a step-family, where bonds are not automatically natural. ‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Heal Children’s Hurt but It Mends Relations via Science Daily comments on a study regarding apologizing and making amends:

“Restitution — some sort of active effort to make repairs after a transgression — can make the victim feel better because it may undo some of the harm, and it can repair the relationship by showing the transgressor’s commitment to it,”

I have apologized many times for being imperfect, but most importantly I have strived to learn different ways to approach difficulties and continue to grow and become more mindful as a parent. It is far from easy working on your reactions and showing more understanding when you feel you have to live up to a certain image. It can be accomplished and make a difference, I have experienced it and you can too. Self care plays a key role- as a mother or step-mother, accepting that we can grow from mistakes while continuously trying and giving our best, is proof enough in being a good mom! By doing so, we also provide a model for our young ones to take responsibility for words and actions as they mature, and most importantly, to never give up!

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Photo via Skyword.com

Empathize

Burnout is a very real part of motherhood and can stem some tough and raw emotions at times. I found this article interesting, How to Give to Others Without Burning Out. As a parent it can be helpful to acknowledge and keep showing empathy despite our challenges. It can lessen the stress you carry, calm not just yourself, but an environment and show understanding towards loved ones. Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. states:

“When you truly connect with another person who is suffering, you can actually feel empowered and energized, because you are inspired to feel compassion and empathy for that individual. Your worries stop as you become immersed in the goal to be there for another.”

This personally has been a constant work in progress, especially in reprogramming an automatic response to stressors. Dr. Elaine Shpungin, Ph.D., featured on Psychology Today, offers a great method (The PEN Method) that encourages the use of not just mindfulness but empathy when disagreements arise. I have learned to take a step back and pause, to get that few moments breather to not escalate and then remember empathy. Accepting that the current negative feelings of another is only a surface response and that underneath it all there can be a common ground.

Working on empathy is great in accepting negative feelings instead of teaching to hide them or shove them down, our children need to learn ways of mindfulness to gain an ability to reason on the positive not just the negative in their life! Finding ways to benefit myself as a mother to become more self aware and practice more understanding brings a less stressed me and provides a positive example for the rest of the family.

Create a Positive Environment

Take a negative mindset that may be growing within the family and turn it around! I believe trudging through daily complaints with your own positive voice can build a model of resilience for the family. Redirecting negative talk and helping each other find the good in a bad situation can bring positive results. As parents, we have gone through many life experiences and if we have come out a more wise individual because of them, why not teach methods we have gained along the way? Changing how I think has benefited me personally and improved my emotional well being, I also have done my own research on how we can work to turn around our children’s negative self talk and help them build more confidence, it all starts with you as the parent! Self talk and criticisms, be it towards yourself or others, is the very inner voice our children learn. It has been my goal as a mother to keep working on any negativity that shows itself from time to time, and to help encourage more positive perspectives for my family. Now, certain negative feelings are still necessary for a healthy mindset and can help us process through life difficulties, I discuss this in more detail in a previous article post. The goal is to find positive solutions and build resilience towards everyday life.

Finding ways to encourage family time and more openness to communicate is another great way to improve the home environment. This scientific article on eating together as a family gave positive results for teens. What about a game night or movie night? It is a great opportunity for all in the family to feel involved.

“‘More frequent family dinners related to fewer emotional and behavioral problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviors towards others and higher life satisfaction,’ says Frank Elgar, an associate professor in the McGill University Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry.”

The weeks we have done more together as a step-family has made a difference in our family life, making conversations easier and the ability to discuss problems more calmly, creating better understanding. It is time well worth spending and encourages healthier habits for all in the family!

Family Playing A Board Game Together
Photo via Mabelslabels.com, check out this blog on Family Game nights and grab some ideas.

Parenthood has its challenges and rewards, the beautiful moments and the raw imperfect ones, with great effort we all try to make the best of family life. The lesson I have acknowledged as a parent is the need for personal growth and an ability to adapt healthier habits in the home. The greatest impact in our children’s lives does not only come from what others should or should not be doing, but in what we personally do. When difficulties arise we can model self care, responsibility, empathy and positivity to improve not only ourselves but our family relationships. Being a step-mother has been entirely humbling, and becoming a new mother a wonderful privilege, to continue growing in this adventurous life is a beautiful mindset I wish to share. Being wise is not just proving of what we know or have learned, it is truly accepting personal growth in changing any negative habits for a healthier well being. How much we can truly teach resiliency and capability to our children by doing so! What helps you as a parent? And what personal growth would benefit your own family?

 

*Finding support through postpartum can be a wonderful help for new mothers. Create a supportive network through family and friends or seek out professional therapy or support groups. Postpartum anxiety and depression is real and many mothers can get the support they need to be the best for their children and family.

Cover photo: Alec Mills Photography via WordPress.com