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      Top 8 Ways for New Moms to Bond with Baby   Across the animal kingdom, there’s no bond quite like that between a mother and her baby. Whether it’s a mama cat saving her kitten from a burning house, a mother bird instinctively knowing how to feed her chicks, or a woman feeling her child’s pain as if it were her own, moms are connected to their kids in ways that exceed understanding. But bonding isn’t fixed or instant; bonding is a process that strengthens over time as moms and children learn more about each other and build loving, trusting relationships.    So what can mamas do to strengthen the bond with their new babies?    1. Bond over books     It doesn’t matter that your baby doesn’t understand the characters or plot twists in the you books you read. The sound of your voice will provide them with comfort and security while stimulating their growing minds. Immersing your child in a world of words will help them gain communication skills, boost their language development, and make them feel closer to you.      2. Sooth with songs     You don’t need to sing like Adele for your voice to work magic: research has shown that a mother’s singing can reduce her baby’s stress, increase healthy weight gain, and even shorten NICU stays for babies who require hospitalization. Make it a routine to sing to your baby as you rock them to sleep after bath. Over time, your daily ritual will be something your baby looks forward to and will build sweet memories for both of you.      3. Crank up your “cuddle chemical”     The more skin-to-skin contact you have with your baby, the more your body will produce a hormone called oxytocin, which is also known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical.” Oxytocin increases feelings of calm, pleasure, and closeness toward your baby. Practice “kangaroo care” by frequently keeping your naked or partially dressed baby close to your skin throughout the day. The scent and touch of one another will fill you both with joy.     Concerned that the bond with your baby isn’t developing the way it should be? Click below for a free 15 minute consultation with one of our Specialists      


   
     
      
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      4. Feed with love     Mealtime is one of the best opportunities for bonding with your baby. Nourishing your baby builds your confidence as a mom and teaches your baby that they can rely on you for their needs. Whether your baby is fed by breast or bottle, caressing their face, making eye contact, and holding them close to the rhythm of your heartbeat will strengthen your connection.      5. Respond to cues      It’s important to respond to your baby’s cries in the first months of life; you’re not spoiling them by doing so – you’re making them feel safe and teaching them how to manage difficult feelings. It’s never too early to show your baby healthy ways to calm their body down     by practicing deep breathing, rhythmically rocking them, humming, and using calm words.    Is your baby’s emotional development on track?    Click here    to find out     6. Bond through movement     Moms of ancient civilizations didn’t get to enjoy many of our modern conveniences: drive-thru coffee shops, diaper genies, or mommy-and-me-yoga classes. While baby-centric exercise may seem like a luxury, research supports that it increases bonding and makes new parents more comfortable with holding their vulnerable babies. There are also plenty of free ways to bond through movement including:      Giving your baby a loving massage to relax their muscle and increase circulation    Moving their legs in a bicycle motion during diaper changes    Laying on your stomach to face them during their tummy time – this prompts them to lift their head to see you, strengthening their neck and core muscles    Praising your baby as they learn to bounce on supportive surfaces such as your lap     Doing “baby sit ups” as your baby becomes able to support their own neck and head. Hold your baby’s forearms and gently pull them up and down on a soft surface, giving them a smile or kiss each time they come up      Click here    to learn about the benefits of active play as your child grows       7. Don’t be hard on yourself     Bonding is an individual process that grows over time, so don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t happen instantaneously for you. It can be tough to feel connected to a baby when you’ve just met them and are adjusting to the many changes of motherhood. Be patient with yourself and trust that in time, the bond between you and your baby will be unbreakable.       8. Get support     There are a number of issues that can present challenges for mothers and babies to bond such as:      Unplanned pregnancy    Postpartum depression    Lack of support    Health issues    Attachment disorders    Autism spectrum disorder    Adoptive or step parenting    Whatever your family’s situation, our specialists can help you build a loving bond between you and your baby.      Dr. Amy E. Weir, Psy.D.,  is an expert in infant and toddler neurodevelopment. If you’re concerned that your baby is having trouble connecting with you or other family members, Dr. Weir can provide diagnostic testing to assess for neurodevelopmental issues.      


   
     
      
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      Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D.,  is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout life. If you’re struggling with baby blues or post-partum depression, Dr. Davis can help you work through challenges and strengthen the bond between you and your baby.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
       Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D.,  is an expert in Child and Educational psychology. If you’re worried about your baby’s development, Dr. Shinn can recommend interventions in speech, language, and behavioral support before they reach preschool or kindergarten.      


   
     
      
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment  with one of our specialists.   More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).  See our     Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a call and we will guide you..  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References:   Blakemore, C.J. & Ramirez, B.W. (2006).  Baby Read Aloud Basics . New York, Harper Collins.   Blumenfeld, H., & Eisenfeld, L. (2006). Does a Mother Singing to her Premature Baby Affect Feeding in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?  Clinical Pediatrics ,  45 (1), 65–70. https://doi.org/10.1177/000992280604500110  Bonding an Attachment: Newborns. (2019).  Raisingchildren.net.au . Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/connecting-communicating/bonding/bonding-newborns  Moburg, K.U., Prime, D.K. (2013). Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding.  Infant  9,(6). Retrieved from http://www.infantjournal.co.uk/pdf/inf_054_ers.pdf  Parker, D.G. (2000).  Yoga Baby: Exercises to Help You Bond with Your Baby Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually.  New York, Broadway Books.   Passell, L. (2019). 12 Ways to Bond with Your Baby.  Parenting Magazine.  Retrieved from https://www.parenting.com/article/12-ways-to-bond-with-your-baby  Reece, T. (2018). 4 Exercises to Help Baby Get Stronger.  Parents . Retrieved from https://www.parents.com/baby/development/physical/your-babys-hand-control/  Shinn. M.M. (2018). Am I an Emotionally Intelligent Parent? 6 Tips for Moms and Dads to Boost Their EQ.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/am-i-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent-6-tips-for-moms-dads-to-boost-their-eq   Shinn, M.M. (2019). Get Moving! 10 Reasons to Engage Your Kids in Active Play.  Psychologically Speaking . [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/get-moving-10-reasons-to-engage-your-kids-in-active-play   Shinn. M.M. (2019). Is My Baby’s Emotional Intelligence on Track?  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/is-my-babys-emotional-intelligence-on-track   Vaglio S. (2009). Chemical communication and mother-infant recognition.  Communicative & integrative biology ,  2 (3), 279–281.  Wusthoff, C.J. (2019) Movement Milestones: Birth to 3 Months.  Healthychildren.org . Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Movement-Birth-to-Three-Months.aspx    How to Cite This Blog Article:    Shinn. M.M. (2019). The Magical Bond of Mothers: 8 Ways to Connect with Your New Baby.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/top-8-ways-for-new-moms-to-bond-with-baby

Top 8 Ways for New Moms to Bond with Baby

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms out there! There’s no bond quite like that between a mother and her baby. Check out our Mother’s Day blog on 8 ways for moms to bond with their new babies.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom   There’s no doubt that our country has benefitted from women becoming more involved in the workforce since the 1940’s. However, this cultural shift has created some difficult challenges for families on the home front. There are several factors that make having a parent at home the right choice for many families. But because many of today’s women pursue career endeavors before becoming mothers, they may feel a deep sense of loss and loneliness when they leave the workforce to focus on motherhood.   The grass is always greener   For new moms, one of their hardest days may be that first day back to work after their maternity leave. Leaving home and dreading the next 8 hours away from their fragile little peanut is tough, and although they’ve worked hard to achieve their career, the grass starts to look a lot greener for stay at home moms.   Just another mundane Monday   When a mom leaves the workforce to be at home, there is usually some excitement about not having to wake up as early, miss meetings for sick kids, or having to use a breast pump in the janitor’s closet. However, once she’s been at home for a while, the excitement may start to wear thin when she realizes how much she misses the intellectual stimulation of adult interaction. She begins to feel lonely and that she’s missing out on the outside world. As much as all moms love their kids, there are only so many episodes of Paw Patrol a grown woman can take.   I love my kids, but…   A study by behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman showed that when women were asked to rate activities that gave them pleasure, child care was very low on the list. Of course, mothers adore their children, but childcare does not offer the same level of stimulation as many academic or career pursuits. Working moms have a ton of stress as well, (heads up to all you working supermoms, your blog is coming soon!); but employment often provides breaks from childcare, adult interaction, and intellectual stimulation. This helps to alleviate the feelings of tension and isolation that can arise from around-the-clock childcare.     BAE just doesn’t get it   One of the toughest issues for stay at home moms is that their significant others often just don’t get it. They don’t understand that the house is actually messier when you don’t work. They don’t get how running your kids around to school and activities leaves almost no time for grocery shopping. They can’t comprehend why you feel so bored and depressed when in their mind, you “could do anything you want all day.”   The world doesn’t get it!   Society tends to look at stay at home moms as being privileged, assuming they don’t need to work or don’t have a job because they lack work ethic. This makes stay at home moms feel like they can’t complain about their struggles, as they don’t want to be perceived as entitled or inadequate. Society doesn’t give these moms the credit they deserve for the sacrifices they make to stay at home, nor does it acknowledge the immense level of work it takes to tend to a family’s needs 24 hours a day.   I wish I got paid for this   Another element of SAHM life that is hard to come to terms with is the lack of an income. Society teaches us that income is a large indication of our personal value. It’s tough to know how to place value on your daily work when you’re used to assigning a dollar amount to measure your progress. There have been several estimates at what the income value would be if moms got paid for all that they do, and they usually are in the 6-figure range; after all, being a housekeeper, chef, chauffer, teacher, and life manager for several people goes way beyond a traditional 9 to 5!   I can’t have “me-time,” who will make dinner?!   Stay at home moms are often viewed as being solely responsible for the needs of their children. This attitude not only trivializes the immense amount of work it takes to manage the needs of a family and household, but also guilts women from prioritizing their own intellectual and recreational activities. They fear that in focusing on their needs, they are compromising the needs of their children or spouse.   Why it’s a problem   Being a stay at home mom is challenging, and as they strive to be the perfect mother, the guilt and pressure that many moms feel can end up straining their relationships. Stressed or depressed moms may be more prone to reacting to their emotions, causing them to be frustrated and less affectionate toward loved ones.   What’s a mama to do?   With the right perspective, life as a stay at home mom can be incredibly rewarding. Here are a few tips for finding contentment and fulfillment at home:   1. Energize your endorphins   For a mom with young kids, it can feel like an act of congress to leave the house, discouraging many moms from joining a gym. Luckily, there are tons of at-home exercise options, such as running with a jogging stroller or streaming workout videos. Exercise increases endorphins, reducing depression and anxiety. Plus, you can model healthy fitness for your kids – taking care of yourself and modeling good habits – it’s a win-win!   2. Master mindfulness   Practicing mindfulness can help you improve your mood and model healthy coping skills to your kids. Mindfulness refers to being aware and accepting of your thoughts and emotions without judging yourself for them. Research shows that mothers that practice mindfulness have reduced stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as improved relationships with family members.   Follow these tips to become a more mindful mama:     Take a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness by finding a quiet place to sit and focus on your breath    Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts come to mind; accept that feelings aren’t facts and whatever you are thinking is normal and temporary    Have compassion for yourself    Take a “Mommy-Time-Out” - When you feel like blowing up, that would be the perfect time to step away and meditate on regulating your reactions    Keep your thinking in the present moment; don’t dwell on yesterday’s mistakes or worry about the future, focus on the good in the here and now     3. Connect with other SAHMs   #SAHMlife! There is a whole community of women experiencing life as stay at home moms, and there’s no reason for you to go through this alone. No one will better understand the struggles and blessings that you’re experiencing like other women who are going through the exact same thing. Finding a mom’s group can help you connect with like-minded women and increase your adult interactions.   4. Have them iron their own underwear   Don’t be afraid to ask your significant other for help with the kids or household duties. As women, we sometimes feel like we need to be everything to everyone, but let’s save that for Wonder Woman (and by the way, when have you seen Wonder Woman doing laundry or balancing a budget? Twenty bucks says her apartment is a mess too). If you need a break to window shop or get a manicure, leave the guilt at home and allow yourself to do it.   Dr. Daniella Davis, specialist in Women’s Issues at Variations Psychology , recommends at least 15-20 minutes of “me-time” per day to keep your mind rejuvenated and emotions regulated – doctor’s orders!     
 
	 Click here to learn more about Dr. Daniella Davis 
       5. Rev up your routine   We often think of children needing routines to feel secure, but adults benefit from them as well. While many women love the idea of the flexible schedule of a SAHM, employment provides daily predictability, focused tasks, and a set schedule. When you don’t have a routine in place, you may find yourself procrastinating and having a hard time getting your day going. Defining your routine can improve your mood and sense of accomplishment as you tackle each task you set before yourself. Take time to write down your plans for the following day. Put your most active goals first – bodies in motion stay in motion, and when you get yourself moving early, the rest of the day will fall into place.   6. Ignite your intellect   Employment is not the only means of intellectual fulfillment. Think of guys like Aristotle and Socrates; they spent a large part of their adult lives just sitting around contemplating life, and look how we remember them! Keep yourself intellectually stimulated by reading about topics you find interesting, take up a creative hobby, or get your kids involved in family-friendly volunteer work for a cause that you feel passionate about.      7. Keep an aerial view   When you’re in the thick of all of the time-outs, laundry-folding, and butt-wiping that motherhood has to offer, it can be hard to keep a positive perspective on how rewarding your efforts will be. It’s completely normal not to love every moment of motherhood; it can be tough, maddening, and even painful at times – but the meaningful moments make it worth the difficulty. When you feel yourself losing your mind, remind yourself to take an aerial view of your role as a mother. In just a few short years, all of the poopy diapers and scattered Legos won’t stress you out anymore, and you’ll look back on your title as “mom” as the most rewarding and meaningful role in your life.   Visit Dr. Davis    Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D ., is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. As a former stay at home mom, Dr. Davis knows the struggle of maintaining your identity, keeping your sanity, and working toward your goals while tending to the needs of your family. Whether it be adjusting to life as a stay at home mom, welcoming a new baby, climbing the corporate ladder, life after divorce, or struggling through menopause, Dr. Davis provides women with tools to overcome challenges and lead healthy, empowered lives.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.    More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References :  Blanchard, S. (2017).  Flex Mom: The Secrets of Happy Stay-at-Home Moms.    Mendes, E. Saad, L., McGeeney, K. (2012). Stay-at-Home Moms Report More Depression, Sadness, Anger.  Gallup . Retrieved online: https://news.gallup.com/poll/154685/stay-home-moms-report-depression-sadness-anger.aspx  Wisner, W. (2017). Why Didn’t Anyone Warn Me About Stay-At-Home-Mom Depression?  Mom.me  Retrieved online: https://mom.me/kids/39578-sahm-depression-real-and-no-one-warns-you-about-it/   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom.   Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/the-unexpected-loneliness-of-a-stay-at-home-mom

The Unexpected Loneliness of a Stay at Home Mom

There’s no doubt that our country has benefitted from women becoming more involved in the workforce since the 1940’s. However, this cultural shift has created some difficult challenges for families on the home front. There are several factors that make having a parent at home the right choice for many families. But because many of today’s women pursue career endeavors before becoming mothers, they may feel a deep sense of loss and loneliness when they leave the workforce to focus on motherhood.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      How to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks    Excuse me sir, your amygdala’s going haywire   Our brains are naturally wired to respond to threats with worry. When we encounter something troubling, a part of our brain called the amygdala sends out red flags to our bodies to be on high alert. Whether you are facing a dangerous situation like confronting a robber or something positive but nerve-wracking like taking your SAT’s, your amygdala will trigger your body to have symptoms of anxiety. Some people have more sensitive circuitry than others, causing them to experience anxiety symptoms more often.   Symptoms can include:     Increased heart rate    Shortness of breath    Feeling like your chest is caving in    Muscle tension    Intense, debilitating fear     But son, California doesn’t get tornadoes!   The threat response circuitry for a person with anxiety disorders is highly sensitive and may become triggered for reasons that seem completely irrational to others. Reasonable or not, just about anything can become a trigger for someone with anxiety issues, and their brain responds to that trigger the same way it would if they were standing face to face with a known serial killer. Without learning how to cope with their symptoms, this pervasive worrying can impact a person’s relationships, school or work performance, and mental health.     The equal opportunity offender   Anxiety impacts people through all walks of life and affects children, teens, and adults alike. Anxiety can take many forms. Some common forms of anxiety disorders include:    Social anxiety – Feeling anxious when having to interact in social situations    Panic disorder – Experiencing sudden attacks of fear, often with no obvious trigger    Generalized anxiety disorder – Excessive worry about several aspects of life    Agoraphobia – Intense fear of places where an escape route isn’t obvious    Specific phobias – Intense irrational fear of a specific trigger such as elevators, spiders, earthquakes, cars, etc.     When it’s a Problem    We all experience anxiety at one time or another. Whether it’s starting a new job, going on a blind date, or trying out a new rollercoaster, there are many life experiences that induce anxiety. Most people can move past it as it comes and carry on with their lives, but if you feel that your symptoms are a frequent problem that holds you back in any area of life, give these tips a try:   Get your amygdala out of the gutter   Anyone with anxiety knows how annoying it is for well-meaning friends and family to suggest that they “just cheer up,” or, “stop thinking that way,” as they know it is simply not that easy. However, by practicing a set of habits called STOP skills, you can learn to put the brakes on your brain’s reactions. STOP skills were developed by   Dr. Marta M. Shinn  , one of Variations Psychology’s specialists, and can benefit both adults and children. Stop stands for:     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      1. Surprise your brain   Anxiety makes us feel like we have no control over our minds, but we can influence our thoughts with practice. When you have a worrisome thought, identify it as a destructive idea that needs to be removed. Of course, it’s impossible to immediately remove a thought from your brain; if someone tells you not to think about hippos you’ll have hippos dancing through your head all day!   But you can identify the thought as a nuisance and work on replacing it.    One technique is to wear a rubber band on your wrist. Whenever a troublesome thought pops in your brain, snap it on your wrist, tell the thought to “stop!” and then picture yourself throwing the thought away to make room for a better one!   2. Talk to your brain    Positive self-talk is important to replacing your worrisome thoughts. Keep your problems in perspective – in the big picture, is your situation as threatening as it feels? Repeat positive affirmations to yourself, even if you don’t believe them at first.   What if it’s not my brain that’s the problem?   The same goes for parenting a child with anxiety as well – be the confidence that they don’t have. If they keep asking, “What if a tornado comes - you can’t know for sure that one won’t happen here.” Just say, “You’re right, it could happen, but I think we’ll be ok.” This is a great time to model how to manage worrisome thoughts.   3. Open your breathing   Next time you’re overcome with anxiety, pay attention to what your body is doing. Your muscles clench up, your chest tightens, and your breathing gets shorter. Focus on regaining control over your body, loosening your muscles and taking slow, controlled breaths. Once your breathing is under control, your other “high alert” symptoms will start to subside.   4. Practice a new behavior    Find your time out spot. We’re not referring to the corner your mom used to banish you to when you’d smack your brother. We mean to find a hobby, place, mental vision that allows you to take a break from whatever is triggering your anxiety. It could be listening to calming music, going for a drive, or watching cheesy movies with your best friend. Think about things that make you feel relaxed and calm; whatever that looks like for you, make it a priority when you feel anxious.   Other Helpful Tips:    Lay off the vodka red bulls    While you may have a few friends who strongly believe in the notion that “wine is cheaper than therapy,” an anxious person should limit their alcohol and caffeine consumption. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety is dangerous because it can lead to dependence on alcohol to cope with your symptoms. Alcohol also changes your serotonin levels, which can increase anxiety symptoms once your buzz wears off. Caffeine can also worsen your symptoms because it is a stimulant that can give you the same jittery effects that trigger your “fight or flight” response during anxiety attacks.   Try a yoga class   …Or just YouTube yoga videos at home if your anxiety revolves around bending your body in unnatural positions in a room full of strangers. Whether you’re into high impact workouts like CrossFit or are more into the slow and controlled movements of Pilates, regular exercise of any kind will help your brain release endorphins and reduce your stress.   Namaste in bed   Yes, we want you to exercise regularly, but it’s equally important that you get adequate rest. Anxiety can be exacerbated by lack of sleep. For adults, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Doctor’s orders! Children require much more sleep depending on their age, with teens requiring 8-10 hours of sleep, 6-12 year old’s requiring 9-12 hours, 3-5 year old’s requiring 10-13 hours, 1-2 year old’s requiring 11-14 hours, and infants requiring 12-16 hours.   Power up with protein    Remember that anxiety is an issue with your brain’s health – you can address it with your thoughts and coping skills, but you can also support your brain health by feeding your body with proper nutrition. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and make sure to keep high protein snacks on hand to keep your energy up throughout the day.   Talk to a specialist   Variations Psychology has experts with a wide range of specializations to help you overcome problems with anxiety and help you get back to living your best life.    Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D ., is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. Whether it be adjusting to a new baby, managing the demands of college, work related stress, climbing the corporate ladder, life after divorce, or struggling through menopause, Dr. Davis supports women in leading healthy, empowered lives.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Davis 
       Dr. Christopher J. Sample, Psy.D . specializes in supporting men through life’s transitions. Men face a variety of unique challenges throughout their lives, and Dr. Sample is experienced in helping men cope with issues such as marriage, relationship, and dating problems, work stress and career advancement, addiction, veteran’s issues, anger, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Dr. Sample provides a comfortable place for men to overcome obstacles and gain the tools for leading successful and fulfilling lives.     
 
	 Click here to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sample 
       Cynthia Johnson, LMFT,  is a specialist in Parenting and Child Therapy at Variations Psychology. She has years of experience in supporting families and strengthening relationships between parents, teens, and children.   Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.      More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress  National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/panic-disorder-when-fear-overwhelms/index.shtml   How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). How to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks.   Psychologically Speaking .   [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/how-to-stop-anxiety-in-its-tracks

How to STOP Anxiety in its Tracks

Excuse me sir, your amygdala’s going haywire

Our brains are naturally wired to respond to threats with worry. When we encounter something troubling, a part of our brain called the amygdala sends out red flags to our bodies to be on high alert. Whether you are facing a dangerous situation like confronting a robber or something positive but nerve-wracking like taking your SAT’s, your amygdala will trigger your body to have symptoms of anxiety. Some people have more sensitive circuitry than others, causing them to experience anxiety symptoms more often.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


        Menopause and Depression: How to Feel Yourself Again     Middle age isn’t what it was 50 years ago. Women like Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, and Halle Berry are all a testament that “50 is the new 20,” and that when it comes to living a full, vivacious life, age is just a number. For many women, their 40’s and 50’s are some of their most enjoyable years. They may have established careers, a strong sense of identity, and as their kids become more independent, they become freed up to take full advantage of life’s experiences. However, these joys are often dampened by a little thing called menopause and the rather unpleasant symptoms that come with it, such as depression.    Will menopause slow me down?   As with other forms of depression, depression related to menopause can affect your relationships, career, and quality of life; it can suck the joy out of fun experiences, cause terrible anxiety, and slow you down with fatigue - and who needs that?! The good news is, menopause is a normal life experience and by taking a few simple steps, you can overcome depression and get back to living your best life.    Doctor, am I going crazy!    Symptoms related to menopause can be similar to PMS – if you regularly find yourself blowing up at your family and then feeling like the worst person on earth 2 minutes later, there’s a clue. But if you feel like your symptoms are going beyond the periodic hot flash and meltdown because your kid threw his underwear in the sink, you may be experiencing menopausal depression. Symptoms include:    Lost interest in fun or pleasurable activities    Insomnia    Irritability    Anxiety    Fatigue    Suicidal thoughts    Feelings of guilt or worthlessness    Difficulty concentrating    Memory lapses     What is this, a second puberty?!   Before we delve into what you can do for relief, let’s talk about why these symptoms arise in the first place. Menopause is a natural occurrence that happens due to declining hormones as a woman approaches mid-life. A woman is considered to have experienced menopause after not having her period for one year. Depression often starts during the “perimenopausal period,” or the transitional time women go through before the actual onset of menopause. Perimenopause can begin in women  as young as 30  and can last for many years before a woman’s final period.    This was easier when I was 13…   Life events that are common during middle age can also exacerbate the effects of these hormone changes and impact a woman’s mental well-being. Experiencing a divorce, becoming empty-nesters, or struggling through the death of a parent all present enough challenges on their own; throwing a wrench in the gears of a woman’s endocrine system makes those events significantly harder to manage.    Ain't nobody got time for that!   While you can’t avoid menopause running its course, you don’t have to take depression laying down (unless of course, you’re taking an extra nap, which we do recommend). If you believe that you are experiencing depression, the best thing you can do is consult with a specialist in women’s issues who can provide you with a customized treatment plan.     Click here to learn more about Dr. Daniella A. Davis - Specialist in Women's Issues      Other helpful lifestyle changes that you can immediately start implementing include:        The laundry can wait – start putting sleep first     Insomnia is a cardinal symptom of menopause. Whenever you feel tired, make sleep a priority. You might feel guilty prioritizing sleep during the day, but think about it - you wouldn’t look down on a pregnant woman for sleeping in while her hormones were going haywire. What you are experiencing is no different.         Talk to your doctor      Anxiety can intensify memory loss, making it hard to manage work and family life. Talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety medication or hormone level assessments to help you get back to feeling yourself.         Nutrition is key     A healthy and balanced diet has a significant impact on psychological well-being. Your healthcare professional can help you establish a customized eating plan. As a start, try increasing water consumption, reducing sugar intake, and avoid skipping meals.        Check out the vitamin aisle      Depression has been linked to a shortage of certain vitamins and minerals in the body. Adding a multi-vitamin or other supplements can boost your body’s ability to fight depressive symptoms. Look for vitamins and supplements that include:    Vitamins B6    Vitamin B12    Vitamin D    Folic acid    Calcium    Iron    Magnesium    Selenium    Zinc    Omega-3 acids.            Self-care     Since the dawn of time, this has been a tough one for the ladies. Women tend to put unrealistic expectations on themselves and often feel inadequate. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra help with housekeeping or errands during this stage of life. This can be difficult for middle age women who feel their responsibilities are doubled while caring for both aging parents and children. Understand that you can only give your family your best self when your well-being is cared for first.        Physical activity     Some studies have shown that women with low physical activity are at a heightened risk for depression related to menopause. While many experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, a brisk 10 minute walk a few times a week can get your endorphins flowing and help relieve your symptoms.        Take it in stride     The great news about menopause is that it happens to all of us women, and talking about it to your girlfriends, laughing about your hot flashes, and sharing “I almost cut my husband’s head-off” stories can be a great way to take the edge off this normal life occurrence.       Variations Psychology: We’re in this together     While menopause is something that all women can bond over, sometimes venting to your hairdresser just doesn’t cut it. If you’ve been struggling with depression, Variations Psychology can help.     Dr. Daniella A. Davis, Psy.D.  , is an expert in dealing with the unique challenges that women face throughout each stage of life. Whether it be adjusting to a new baby, managing the demands of college, work related stress, climbing the corporate ladder, life after divorce, or struggling through menopause, Dr. Davis supports women in leading healthy, empowered lives.     
 
	 Schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis 
       Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:      

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
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                 More about Variations Psychology     Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.      
  
       References   http://www.estrogel.com/what-is-menopause/natural-menopause  University of Michigan Depression Center – Depression During Menopause - http://www.depressiontoolkit.org/women/menopause.asp    National Center for Biotechnology Information -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901893/    How to Cite This Blog Article:   Shinn, M.M. (2018). Menopause and Depression: How to Feel Yourself Again.  Psychologically Speaking .  [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from  https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/menopause-and-depression

Menopause and Depression: How to Feel Yourself Again

Middle age isn’t what it was 50 years ago. Women like Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, and Halle Berry are all a testament that “50 is the new 20,” and that when it comes to living a full, vivacious life, age is just a number. For many women, their 40’s and 50’s are some of their most enjoyable years.

     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      Welcome to  Psychologically Speaking , the blog forum of Variations Psychology. Variations is excited to launch this blog as a means for you to discover all-things-psychology and get to know our expert team and their specializations.    In each of our weekly posts, our team of experienced specialists will help you unveil some of the most prevalent psychological issues that impact your daily life.   If you’re like most people, odds are you’ve dealt with stress, anxiety, or confusion over your share of life events. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, life throws you another curve ball that you didn’t see coming, and you’re back at square one wondering how to overcome your situation.  Whether it’s going through a divorce, realizing your child has a learning disability, feeling overwhelmed with stress, adjusting to becoming an empty-nester, or just feeling depressed for no apparent reason, we’ve all dealt with circumstances that challenge our psychological health. What is sometimes even harder is seeing a loved one struggling and not understanding their situation or knowing how to help them.  When we don’t understand the causes and treatment for our psychological problems, we may find ourselves feeling frustrated and alone which only adds to the situation’s pain. Out of this frustration, we may act in ways that only worsen the problem, such as screaming at an enraged child or enabling an alcoholic spouse. Without understanding the psychology behind our life challenges, it’s hard to come up with effective solutions.   That’s where Variations Psychology comes in   Here at Variations Psychology, our team of experienced specialists are dedicated to helping you unravel life’s myriad of challenges. We offer a variety of therapy options in several specialized areas to empower you to overcome the obstacles you or your loved ones have been struggling with.    Psychologically Speaking  will provide you with the inside scoop on why you or your loved ones are feeling or behaving in a way that hurts, and provide step by step strategies to get you back on track toward health and happiness.        While all of us face psychological challenges in our lives, it can be scary and overwhelming to seek help and choose a professional to put your trust in.   Subscribing to  Psychologically Speaking  will give you a taste of the specializations and therapy options our experts offer, so you can decide if the Variations’ team might be the right fit for you and your family.   Based on their extensive experience providing therapy and counseling, our   specialists   will share their perspectives on topics related to stress, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, personality disorders, parenting, women’s issues, men’s issues, educational advocacy, and more.  Subscribe to our blog to stay in-the-know on topics that are relevant to individuals and families today, such as:    Parenting throughout all stages of life, from tantrum raged toddlers to grumpy teenagers and adult children “failing to launch”    Supporting children with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders    Coping with stress and anxiety    Overcoming depression    Marriage counseling    Divorce advice    Women’s Issues    Men’s Issues    Generational Issues: From Baby Boomers to Millennials and everything in between!    Recovering from sexual and physical abuse    Unplanned pregnancy    Post-traumatic stress disorder    Caring for an elderly parent    Stress in the workplace    Raising girls vs. raising boys    Father and daughter relationships    Post-partum depression    Menopause    Advocating for your special needs child    Talking to your children about sex and drugs    Overcoming domestic violence    Mental health tests for anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and other disorders    Mental health tests for depression and much more!      Psychologically Speaking ’s team brings a holistic psychological outlook on some of life’s most prevalent issues faced today.   In seeking advice on life’s challenges, it can be tough to know who to turn to. When it comes to updating your hairstyle, you should consult your hairdresser, when it comes to buying a new exhaust system, you should call up your mechanic. But when it comes to the mental and emotional health of you and your loved ones, there is no better source than an experienced team of psychology experts and who can give you perspective on your situation,  psychologically speaking.      
 
	 Schedule an appointment 
         Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life:     

 
   
     
      
        
     

     

       

        
          

            

          

            
               

                 
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              The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment with one of our   specialists.     More about Variations Psychology   Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.  Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism, Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams). See our   Specialists   page to select the specialist that best suits your need, or simply give us a   call   and we will guide you.  Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides counseling to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.

Variations is excited to launch this blog as a means for you to discover all-things-psychology and get to know our expert team and their specializations.

In each of our weekly posts, our team of experienced specialists will help you unveil some of the most prevalent psychological issues that impact your daily life.

If you’re like most people, odds are you’ve dealt with stress, anxiety, or confusion over your share of life events. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, life throws you another curve ball that you didn’t see coming, and you’re back at square one wondering how to overcome your situation.