It’s That Time of Year Again…

The holiday season is upon us.  For some that’s a reason for celebration:

For others, this season of the year elicits a reaction more like this:

Or if you’re like me, the impending holidays have you doing this:

Whatever your reaction, the last quarter of the year likely brings up some “stuff” for you:

  • Happy memories
  • Regrets
  • Sadness over things, people and relationships you’ve lost
  • Frustration over things you cannot have
  • Gratitude for the people, things and relationships you do have
  • Sense of anxiety over the crowds, noise and busy-ness that can accompany this time of year
  • Feelings of loneliness over the lack of busy-ness this time of year
  • You get the idea

It can be helpful to talk about these things with a psychologist. Friends and family are great, but sometimes we need an impartial ear to listen. To make an appointment, call 303-828-3080 or email: stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com

 

Current Events Overload

I don’t care who you are, where you stand, what you believe or who you are voting for, the political news has been overwhelming. Last week I spoke to the folks over at Self Magazine for some ideas about how to cope with the hourly onslaught of news (and talking about news, and more talking about news) that we’ve all been trying to deal with. Here’s the entire article:

Here’s one of my tips:

There are a bunch of others, too. Including some helpful links on how to do progressive muscle relaxation, where to go to find a good laugh, and where to turn if you need to talk to a professional.

Thanks, SELF!

Power Your Lunchbox

It’s back to school (and tutoring and soccer and football and piano and lacrosse) time!

Even though my kids start school in mid-August, I don’t really take the school year seriously until September. Probably not great, but I just can’t get my mind around dealing with homework, bus schedules and tests when it’s 100 degrees. So now that we’re into September and the mornings are cool (at least here in Colorado!) I’m thinking about how to prepare healthy meals and snacks for my family. And (maybe more importantly) how to help them make healthy choices for themselves.

This year I’m partnering with Produce for Kids and taking their Power Your Lunchbox Promise. Check it all out here:

Basically, Produce for Kids provides lots of easy, yummy ideas for lunches (and snacks!), you make the promise, and they and their partners donate to Feeding America. It’s a win-win-win!

So as I made the promise this year, I again focused on snack foods rather than lunch foods. My kids all buy their lunch at school, so what we really need to focus on is a healthy, easy snack time. Here’s what we came up with this year:

Energy Bites

I don’t have a formal recipe, but I’ve been making these yummy snacks for years. I determine what goes in them based on what’s in my pantry. Here’s what I gathered today:

Sun-Maid Raisins, almonds, oat bran, oatmeal, a few mini chocolate chips I found in the way back, and peanut butter. In the past I’ve also added dried peaches, coconut, cereal and yogurt-covered raisins.  Anything goes as long as it’s small:

Once you’ve gathered all the odds and ends, simply dump everything (except the peanut butter) into a bowl:

Mix that all up, then slowly add the peanut butter:

Stir the mixture around until it is combined. Test the mixture to see if you can roll it into a ball that will stick together. Does it come apart? Add more peanut butter. Go overboard on the peanut butter? Add more dry ingredients. Here’s what mine looked like:

It’s ready to roll!

Grab a sheet pan and cover with foil. You will also need a scoop of some kind:

One down, about 100 more to go! The nice thing is, the kids can help:

I usually store these in the freezer, they stay nice and firm that way. And when the kids are ready, they can pack them up for a healthy, energy-filled snack on the go:

They’re easy to eat, and actually fill them up until dinner – which seems to be getting later and later as they get older!

Check out more recipe ideas and make the Promise:

 

 

Talking About Suicide

Suicide has been in the news recently. The recent deaths by suicide of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain has people grappling with questions why suicide happens – particularly when it involves people with seemingly happy lives.

I recently got to be part of an article about this very topic over at VICE. Author Ali Wunderman did an amazing job sharing her own mental health struggles. I am so impressed by her honesty and vulnerability in this article. Check it out:

Here’s a quick tip for talking to a friend who you suspect is depressed:

When it comes time to act on your offer, be honest with yourself and your friends about the level of support you can provide. “It can be intimidating to reach out to anyone we suspect is struggling whether it be with mental illness, physical pain or anything else,” Smith says. But even if it’s scary, it’s worth it to try. “The fact of the matter is, it’s not about saying the perfect thing, or fixing all your friend’s problems. It’s just about showing up and being a supportive presence in their life.”

Check out the entire article for more ideas about how to talk to a friend or family member who you suspect might be experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Kids, Appetite and Medication

I’m so excited to be joining up with Produce for Kids for our new series: Ask a Psychologist. Last month I wrote a piece about how to cope when your child’s appetite is affected by medication. Here’s the intro:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 6.1 million children in the United States had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the United States as of 2016. ADHD is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to maintain attention and concentration. Those diagnosed with ADHD can struggle to get work done in a timely fashion at home, work and school; social relationships can be tough to maintain as well.

Luckily, there are several, well-researched options for the treatment of ADHD. Behavioral therapy/counseling is typically recommended as a first option. This type of therapy involves a psychologist working with both the child and their family to implement strategies to increase desired behaviors (following directions, controlling impulses) and decrease those that are undesirable (disruptive behaviors). Accommodations at school are also an effective line of treatment. These might include: allowing for movement breaks throughout the course of the day, allowing extra time for tests, and strategically positioning the child in the classroom to reduce distraction.

Another option for the treatment of children diagnosed with ADHD is stimulant medication. Medication can be an important and effective tool for families, but a not-infrequent side effect is loss of appetite. If you notice your child’s appetite changing, or diminishing after starting a stimulant medication, it’s important that you contact the pediatrician or psychiatrist prescribing the medication immediately so that you can troubleshoot together. Some ideas your health care provider might suggest include:

New Podcast Coming!

An exciting new podcast is coming in June! Produce for Kids will be launching this new podcast and will showcase current bloggers, Advisory Board members and others.

“With more than 300 blog posts on produceforkids.com and a panel of 12 dedicated expert blog contributors, it only made sense to take this content and bring it to life in audio form,” Amanda Keefer, director of marketing communications at Produce for Kids, said in the release. 

“Our audience is evolving, and we intend to do the same, providing them with the information they need in the way they are choosing to receive it.”

and

Blog and future podcast contributors include registered dietitians Katie Serbinski, Holley Grainger and Jode Danen; psychologist Stephanie Smith; plant-based parenting expert Cory Warren; and meal prep planner Brenda Thompson.

Stay tuned!