What’s your word for 2019?

Several years ago, I gave up making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions always seem like a great idea on December 31st, but by January 15th they’re ancient history.

The idea of setting annual goals can help us create healthier, happier lives, but only if we take steps to reach them. When we set goals that we can’t reach, we set ourselves up for negative emotions such as guilt, grief, sadness, and disappointment. We set ourselves up for failure.  With New Year’s resolutions, if we set ourselves up for failure at the start of every year, is this really healthy goal setting?

Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of selecting a word to guide, inspire and motivate me through the entire year and beyond.  Choosing an annual word isn’t a resolution that you forget about after 15 days, but if you do, then there’s no guilt or grief because you can pick up where you left off. I like to think of my word as a thread that weaves through the fabric of my life, sometimes disappearing behind another thread, and sometimes being front and center. But it’s always there.

For 2019, my word is GROW. On a very simple level, GROW reflects my desire to start a vegetable garden this year.  On a more philosophical level, GROW reflects my goal of expanding my mind to new knowledge. Your word can be anything that motivates, inspires or guides you through the coming year. Be gentle with yourself as you engage in this exercise; there aren’t any rules and you don’t “win” or “fail” at selecting an annual word.

The first word I ever selected was BREATHE. At the time, it was a gentle reminder that when I was stressed, worried, or overwhelmed I needed to take a deep breath. Over the course of the year, my word became so much more. My word became a mantra and it popped up everywhere. It popped up in yoga when we were talking about the physical benefits of breathing during a pose. It popped up in research about the mental health benefits of meditation. And to this day, when I feel stuck, the first thing I do is take a deep breath for my physical and mental health.

So what’s your word for 2019?

What you might not know about Vitamin D.

As summer draws to a close and autumn is just around the corner, you might expect to see information about the importance of Vitamin D to prevent seasonal affective disorder, but did you know that Vitamin D does so much more?

With the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders increasing, you might be interested to know that Vitamin D supplementation in kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder has shown benefits in improving interpersonal relationships, regulating emotional response, listening, and adapting to change (Khaled Saad et al., 2018). One reason that researchers think this happens is because Vitamin D mimics antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications like fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine and others (Sabir et al., 2018).

Taking Vitamin D is generally safe for kids, however medical providers recommend that before starting a Vitamin D supplement in kids, a serum (blood) Vitamin D level is checked, called 25-OHD, or 25-hydroxy vitamin D.

If you think your child might benefit from Vitamin D supplementation to reduce symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, contact Wildflower Holistic Psychiatry to make an appointment today. Contact us as 234.208.5772,  WildflowerHolistic.com, or WildflowerHolistic@gmail.com


Read the research here:

Khaled Saad et al. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jcpp.12652

Sabir et al. https://genesandnutrition.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12263-018-0605-7


Yoga for Mental Health

These days there’s a yoga studio on every corner; hot yoga, power yoga, restorative yoga… the list goes on and on. You may already know that yoga has many health benefits, but did you know that yoga is more than just physical exercise?

You might think that yoga is all about postures that turn your body into a pretzel, but the poses, or asanas are just one part of practicing yoga. Remember, they call it practicing yoga for a reason, no one is perfect at yoga, but you will get better with practice. And NO you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, you can do yoga sitting in a chair!

Yoga is actually a very holistic exercise, there are benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. Asanas, the yoga poses, are just one of the 8 components of yoga. The other 7 components are yama, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi – but don’t be scared of these Sanskrit words, there’s no test at the end!

So how can you use yoga to improve your mental health? Let’s focus on 3 of the 8 yoga components; Asansas (poses), pranayma (breathing) and dhyana (meditation).   Every time you do a yoga pose, you are actually combining the pose with breathing and meditation, all at once!

When you get into a yoga pose your body moves certain muscles, organs, tendons, ligaments, fascia, veins, arteries… let’s just say lots of body parts, and this exercise is good for your physical body. You also breathe during the yoga pose, moving oxygen into your body and carbon dioxide out of your body, which is important for your muscles, organs, tendons, brain… you get the idea.

So you can see the benefits for your body, but what about your mind? In yoga, you use your mind for meditation, which is just a fancy way of saying that you make your mind quiet and calm – doesn’t that sound nice! When you first start practicing yoga your mind is usually busy remembering how to get into the posture, stay balanced, and keep breathing, but eventually, you can make your mind quiet and calm even when you’re balancing on one foot!

Research shows that the combination of poses, breathing, and meditation in yoga have benefits for kids who have anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, trauma, and depression. The even better news is that with proper instruction, yoga is a very safe treatment that improves concentration, decreases stress, increases self esteem, improves social interaction, improves academics, helps with emotional control, improves memory, is calming, increases circulation, improves neurotransmitter function and regulates hormones. Whew! That’s incredible!

The good news doesn’t stop there, kids of all ages and abilities can get involved with yoga. You can do yoga if you’re 2 or 102,  if you’re tall or short, if you’re skinny or overweight, and all shapes, sizes, and ages in between.  You can do yoga in a chair, in a hospital bed, in a classroom, or on a soccer field, the possibilities are nearly limitless.

So now that you’re convinced, where do you start? You can try out yoga in the comfort of your own home by picking up a DVD from your local library or searching for videos online. There are even yoga classes on Hulu, Netflix and Prime. You can also contact local yoga studios to see if they offer classes for children or classes that welcome children.

If you’re looking for yoga to address a specific mental health condition you can schedule a one-on-one appointment with Wildflower Holistic Psychiatry, LLC. Laura J. Abels is trained as a instructor in Yoga and Mindfulness for Children by ChildLight Yoga and can tailor a yoga practice specifically for your child to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, or other mental heath concerns.  Call 234.208.5772 or e-mail WildflowerHolistic@gmail.com to schedule an appointment today.

What the heck does “HOLISTIC” mean?

Holistic is a word that we’re hearing more and more lately, and that’s a good thing! Holistic starts with the idea of something being “whole,” in fact, it might have made more sense for the word to have been “wholistic.”

When we talk about “holistic health” or “holistic mental health” it really means that the provider (the doctor, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, therapist etc.) is looking at the WHOLE person and the WHOLE picture.

One way that a holistic provider looks at the whole person is by looking at the BODY, MIND and SPIRIT.  This just means that even if you think you just have a problem with your body (physically), it can affect your mind (emotionally) and it can affect your spirit (what makes you, YOU and what gives your life meaning).  Having a problem with your mind can likewise cause problems with your body and/or your spirit.

For example, you might take your child to the provider for a headache. The headache could be caused by a physical complaint such as dehydration, or it could be caused by something emotional such as stress.

When you take your child to a holistic provider, the holistic provider will work to discover ALL of the possible reasons that your child might be having a problem and treating the underlying problem first.  For a headache your holistic provider might recommend increasing water intake and decreasing stress before they try prescribing a medicine for the headache.

Sometimes mental health problems like ADHD can be caused by a physical problem. Scientists have a theory that when a person has ADHD there is too little norepinephrine and/or dopamine (brain chemicals) in the brain and so sometimes providers will prescribe a medication for ADHD.

A holistic provider also knows that other problems can LOOK like ADHD and your child might not need that medication. Some of these problems can be because of physical problems such as not getting enough sleep or not getting enough vitamins or minerals, but they’ll also consider that ADHD problems can be because of emotions such as anxiety or executive skill dysfunction, both of which can be treated without medication.

If you would like to figure out ALL the reasons that your child might be having a problem with their mental health before you start a medication, it might be a great idea to meet with a holistic mental health provider.

Please give Wildflower Holistic Psychiatry a call at 234.208.5772 if you think your child might benefit from a holistic treatment approach!

What to do when “back to school” is a bummer!

Summer Picture

As a child, August holds the promise of magical nights catching lightning bugs in the back yard and toasting marshmallows over the the bonfire; days spent by the pool, living on ice cream and popsicles and soaking up sunshine in those last glorious days before school starts again.

But what if going back to school brought not just an end to those lazy hazy days of summer, but extreme anxiety? What if, as a child, those August days brought fear, low self esteem, sleepless nights worrying about grades, bus rides, bullying, and not fitting in?

For a child with anxiety, ADHD, depression, trauma or bullying, returning to school might be a tough and tumultuous time. The good new is: It doesn’t have to be.

One of the most important things that an adult can do for a child is to listen. Sometimes the message is clear. “Mom, I can’t sleep because I’m so nervous about going back to school.” Sometimes the message is hidden, “Dad, my tummy hurts when we talk about going back to school.” Sometimes the message is confused, “Grandma I hate those new crayons you gave me.” But no matter how your child communicates the message, it’s important to listen.

3 Tips for Better Listening:

  1. Silence is your best friend. Listen quietly and REALLY LISTEN. Don’t plan what you are going to say next, don’t be distracted by your phone or the TV and don’t butt in or cut your child off. Let your child finish his thought and then count to 3 to consider your response and to be sure he is really finished.
  1. Keep the conversation judgment free. Don’t blame your child or make her feel bad for anything she has said. Validate your child’t feelings, by helping her to understand that whatever she is feeling, it’s ok. You might say something like “I’m proud of you for telling me this,” or “It’s good to talk about how you’re feeling.”  Avoid minimizing emotions; don’t say things like “everybody feels that way,” “don’t worry about it,” or “I know just how you feel.”
  1. Ask open ended questions and don’t make assumptions. Avoid yes or no questions such as “Are you scared to go back to school?” These questions assume an emotion and might lead to a misunderstanding. Try an open ended question such as “When you think about going back to school, what things do you think about?” “When you’re laying in bed at night, what does your brain think about?” “When you think about riding the school bus, what things do you like about it” or “what things do you not like about it.”

If you feel like the level of stress, fear, anger or anxiety about returning to school is more than you can handle, remember, it’s OK to ask for help. Pediatric mental health professionals are trained to be detectives to help kids figure out what they are feeling, and to help them figure out healthy ways to deal with those emotions.

If you think your child would benefit from holistic mental health services, please give Wildflower Holistic Psychiatry a call today to schedule an appointment. 234.208.5772