Thursday, December 29, 2011

Keeping Your New Year's Resolution with Mindfulness

By Brandon Cornejo M.D., Ph.D.
How many of you are trying to get yourselves back into a regular gym and exercise routine for your New Year's resolution? When it comes to exercise, one of the biggest challenges is staying motivated and consistent. I hope I can help you with this two-part blog post on "Mindfulness."
What is Mindfulness?
  • Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises is acknowledged and accepted.
Mindfulness as a Therapeutic Approach
  • Mindfulness based stress reduction means to focus your attention on the "now."
  • People practicing mindfulness work on not judging or evaluating the present moment but focus on simply “being” present.
  • People in a formal mindfulness class engage in daily meditation along with skill-building homework that ties them to the “here and now.” 
 How Does Mindfulness Work?
  • Mindfulness allows a person to pause calmly and reflectively before reacting to things.
  • Mindfulness may prevent relapse of clinical depression by allowing a person to have some “space” between who they are and their emotions.
  • Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a form of therapy that combines elements of mindfulness with cognitive based approaches to treatment, can be an effective approach for the treatment of anxiety or depressive disorders.
  • Mindfulness may enhance mood as well as help eliminate negative thoughts associated with depressive states.
So why is "mindfulness" important to keeping that New Year's resolution of daily exercise? Next week, I will post part two with my tips for staying in the present moment while exercising. Happy New Year's!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to "Bully-Proof" Kids

By Gariane Phillips Gunter, M.D. 

Do you think October's national anti-bullying campaign was successful in stopping bullies? The Washington Post recently blogged about our country having a hard time defining bullying among kids. So, what can we, as parents, do to protect our children and teens? Here are some tips for "bully-proofing" your kids:

Distinguish between events and feelings - It is important to teach your children the difference in their interpretations of life situations. This helps kids learn to understand and relate to the feelings of others. They will be able to determine if someone is treating them appropriately - or if they are, in fact, being bullied.

Develop a sense of self - Another great way to bully-proof your child is to help them develop a sense of self. Encourage them to learn about and understand who they "are" because children who struggle to identify self-awareness or constantly strive to be their "hero" are never going to be able to live up to those expectations. This can be detrimental for their self-esteem - making them a direct target for bullying. Kids with low self-esteem are less likely to stick up for who they are which makes them prime targets for those looking to pick on someone (bullies often bully due to their own low self-esteem).
Monitor their online lives - Parents or caregivers should have access to online accounts and cell phones to ensure their teens' safety over the Internet. Cyberbullying continues to be a nationwide epidemic.  

Positive activities - It is also important to encourage your kids to explore activities that make them feel good about themselves. Find something that they are really good at because it will help increase their overall self-esteem and feeling of self-worth. Encouraging courageous behavior is another great way to guide children. You can teach them to stand up for themselves and for their peers and other friends. When groups of kids or teens stand together to put an end to a bullying situation, the bully is more likely to back off and won't mess with your child again.

Following these tips when your kids are young is the best way to show them how to establish early on that they will not tolerate bullying.