On Your Mind: Swimsuit season impact on self-image

on your mindSwimsuit season is really making me feel bad about my body, and I find myself intentionally skipping meals to try to lose weight. My bikini-310157_640 (2)older sister struggled with an eating disorder, and I definitely don’t want to put myself in that situation. But I also can’t afford a personal trainer and cutting out meals seems like the quickest way to lose the pounds. It’s not anorexia if I eat some of the time, right?

In my experience counseling young women and teens, I have yet to run into one who is not affected during swimsuit season. Your struggle is not uncommon in today’s society. It’s also really important that you’re recognizing your struggle and asking questions.

Given your family history, I understand your concern about developing an eating disorder. While skipping meals does not necessarily mean you have one, I would urge you to be very careful with the choices you’re making. There are many different ways a person can develop an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are a struggle for many young people, especially girls. Anorexia, in particular, is often described as an intense fear of gaining weight. Most people who struggle with an eating disorder have a distorted view of their body. Eating disorders can have irreversible mental and psychical consequences. An important way to avoid eating disorders is to develop a healthy self image.

“Self image” is the way each person views themselves. You can take charge and help sculpt your own self image or you can allow society to do it for you. Some helpful ways to build a positive and healthy self image are:

  1. Take time to care for your body
  2. Eat healthy
  3. Exercise
  4. Take time to do things you find fun
  5. Try to learn something new
  6. Give yourself compliments
  7. Make realistic goals
  8. Don’t compare yourself to other people
  9. Recognize your negative thoughts and change them

Start taking notice of your thoughts. Controlling your negative thoughts is the best way to make yourself feel happy. Negative thoughts directly affect our self esteem and self image.

Take note of the things you say to yourself each day. We want to eliminate the negative thoughts. The first step in the elimination process is recognizing when you do it. Then you can gradually start replacing the negative with more positive and true thoughts.

Try not to let society dictate to you what you believe. Develop your own values. The pressure you feel during swim suit season sounds like a value from society. How important is it to you to abide by society’s values?

If there are things you don’t like about your appearance, you have to realistically make small changes. It’s a gradual process and does not happen overnight. It’s unrealistic to think you can lose rapid weight and still give your body what it needs to function appropriately.

You do not need a physical trainer to start being healthier. Also, examine the relationship you have with food and how you came to feel the way you do. Remember that being healthy and making good food choices can be exhausting and overwhelming. It might be helpful to pair the hard work with lots of relaxation and time for yourself.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

One-On-One: Speech language therapist answers question about 2-year-old not talking

Guest post by Kristy Brown, Northwest Arkansas speech language pathologist, Arkansas Regional Therapy Services

ARTS boysAs I travel to see children for speech and language services, mothers or teachers will often question me regarding typical speech and language development for children. 

One very common question I have received this summer is:

“My two year old is not talking, but my pediatrician does not seem concerned.  I was told that we can re-visit this concern at their three year check up and decide then whether a speech-language evaluation is warranted”. 

As a Speech Language Pathologist, I see Early Intervention as an important key to communication success! Often, in classrooms, I see frustration (sometimes in the form of biting or tantrums) due to delays in receptive and or expressive language and delayed social skills.

In response to the concern quoted above, I think there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Parent Concern. As a parent, if something doesn’t feel right, do not feel bad about getting a second opinion.  You may not have the Arkansas Regional Therapy Servicessame training or knowledge as a speech pathologist, but you have the advantage of knowing your own child better than anyone else on earth, and therefore your views and insights are extremely important.   EARLY INTERVENTION is the key here.  The earlier a delay is caught the better!  Speech and Language evaluations are painless. :) Actually children often find them very fun. They want to come back and ‘play’ and are very heartbroken when the evaluation is over.
  • Age.Once a child is 2, you will not have another well child check up until they are 3.  So, in my opinion, waiting an entire year is a long time when there might be possible developmental delays.  Our state has a wonderful Early Intervention program that allows you to obtain a speech_-language evaluation at no charge!
  • Family history.This is very important if an older sibling has a history of speech/language delay or a diagnosis such as Autism.  It is wise to stay in the loop of typical development for your other children as well.  Your child may also have an existing genetic diagnosis that could have possible effects on speech and language, which you would want to keep documented for evaluation purposes.

What areas might a Speech Language Pathologist evaluate?

Summer-Remix4Production of Speech-  Production is the ability to mechanically produce speech sounds and is also known as articulation.  You might ask:  Has he developed the necessary control of the muscles of his tongue and lips? Does he still need to learn how to produce certain speech sounds? Which ones? Is he understood by others?

Comprehension- Your child’s comprehension of speech is their ability to understand language.  You might ask:  Can he respond to verbal directions?  Does he understand new words readily?  Does he respond to questions appropriately?

Expression- Expressive language is the ability to express your thoughts/language.  You might ask:  How well does he convey his ideas to others? Does he use any grammatical rules (like rules of word order)?  Does he relay his messages clearly?

Social-  Social language is how our child functions socially and is also known as Pragmatics or Social Skills.  You might ask:  Does he get along with peers?  Does he play with peers and toys appropriately?  Does he demonstrate appropriate social languages skills such as responding to his name, saying hi/bye, eye contact, and following classroom rules with the group?  Does he pick up on social cues such as tone of voice or facial expressions?  Does he understand jokes?

Feeding/ Swallowing- Feeding and swallowing can encompass skills such as lip closure, appropriate chewing, drooling, sensory issues, and other developmental feeding needs such as cup drinking, drinking from a straw, etc.  Your Speech Pathologist is usually part of a team to address these issues.

Kristy BrownIf you do have a concern about your child’s speech-language development, feel free to call a local speech pathologist and speak with them about your concerns.  They are often able to take a short list of your concerns, along with some other pertinent details, and give you an idea of whether or not you should request an evaluation.  They can also give you strategies to use in the mean time to help encourage your child’s speech and language development at home. Contact Kristy Brown at 479-283-4637 or visit the Arkansas Regional Therapy Services website by clicking here.

On Your Mind: Feeling like you’re not good enough

on your mind

I am so tired of feeling like I’m NOT enough. Not doing enough, not organized enough, not pretty enough, not in shape enough, not a good enough mom, not a good enough wife, etc. The list goes on and on. It’s really starting to make me feel down and depressed more often than not. I feel like there’s no way to live up to expectations. Is there anything I can do to break this way of thinking so that I don’t end up with a serious case of depression?

In the days of social media where everyone else’s lives appear so perfect, it’s difficult not to start comparing them to our own. We’re often bombarded with photos or comments about the perfect meals, the amazing workouts, elaborate children’s parties and photographs that are edited beyond recognition.

The first step, as you’ve already done, is to recognize what you’re doing — comparing yourself to these very high, often unrealistic expectations. It’s also helpful to identify where these expectations are coming from. Are they coming from what you see on social media or entertainment news stories; is there a certain person in your life who’s pushing these high expectations; was there some past experience that made you believe you were never good enough? These are things to consider when helping you decide whether this is something you can work on by yourself or you may need to seek out additional support, like therapy.

Here are some ideas on things to think about when you start feeling like you’re not enough.

Remember these types of “perfect” expectations truly are, unrealistic. No one posts photos of the giant mess that actually exists in their living room with toys on the floor and stained carpets. Not many people are willing to share photos when they just wake up in the morning with no make-up and hair sticking up everywhere.

It’s human nature to sometimes compare our lives with others, but it’s important to see everyone, yourself included, for who they really are, beautifully imperfect human beings. When you can start showing compassion to others, rather than frustration or jealousy, it becomes easier to show compassion to yourself as well.

Remember that your mind can be very convincing, though not always accurate. Everything you think may not be true. Take the time to examine the thoughts or messages you’re telling yourself, one at a time.

For example, “my house is a disaster; I have to get more organized.” Stop and think: Is your house really that bad? Do you see bugs crawling everywhere and the walls caving in or are there just toys on the floor from the kids having a good time? I’ve seen a quote that shows a good way to reframe this type excuse messof situation: “Sorry about the mess; we’re just making memories.”

Take the time to think about all the things you’ve done to get yourself to this point. Be proud of yourself for a little while. Make yourself a “Feel Good” file. Keep a folder or notebook and write down any time someone does and says something that makes you feel good about yourself.  Include drawings from your children or special notes from family members that help you remember what a great person you really are. You could also keep a “thankful journal” where you write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day.

Comparing yourself to others can be a big temptation, but when you remember that each one of us is unique with all of our strengths and weaknesses and you have lots of people who love and care about you for exactly who you are right now, you can change those negative messages. If you find yourself continuing to struggle with feeling depressed more days than not or avoiding activities you used to enjoy, please don’t be afraid to seek professional help and support.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.

Get tickets to Walk a Mile shoe shopping event!

walk a mile graphicIf you haven’t already grabbed a ticket to attend THE best shoe shopping event of the year, now is the time because the Walk a Mile in My Shoes “preview party” is coming up on May 15th at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center in Springdale. (The public sale is that next day on Saturday, May 16th.)

polka dot shoeBut if you’re interested in the best selection, you’ll definitely want to get a ticket to the preview party (and don’t wait too long because there are only a limited number of tickets that will be sold.) The event starts on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. and goes until 7:30 p.m.. There will be fine chocolates, wine and cheese for all the hungry shoe shoppers. And did we mention that shoes and handbags at this event start at $10 and go up to only $20? If you’re a fan of getting an amazing deal, this sale will make you happy.

Keep in mind, too, that ticket sales for the preview party as well as sale proceeds help support Ozark Guidance Center, a local non-profit organization with offices throughout Northwest Arkansas. We love it when shopping and supporting a great cause go hand-in-hand. Click HERE for info on how to get a ticket to the preview party.

If you can’t make it to the preview party, the public sale event starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at the same location and ends at 1 p.m.

i love shoesHOW TO DONATE SHOES AND BAGS: Let’s admit it. We all have at least one pair of shoes in our closet that we fell in love with at the store and then wore them one time and realized that they don’t really fit comfortably (even though they’re still super cute.) Those shoes might fit someone else’s foot perfectly so donate them to this sale! Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers or relatives to round up a few of their gently used shoes and/or handbags, too, and then drop them off at one of these donation sites:

  • Local radio stations Magic 107.9, Kix 104, 933 The Eagle, HotMix 101.9): 2049 E. Joyce Blvd., Suite 101, in Fayetteville
  • Everett Chevrolet: 1159 N. 45th St. in Springdale
  • Everett Dodge: 3709 S. Thompson in Springdale
  • Dress for Success: Frisco Station Mall, 100 N. Dixieland (Suite B8) in Rogers

Note: All donations are tax-deductible.

ANOTHER WAY TO HELP: Please help spread the word about this fun event to your fellow shoe and handbag-lovers. Post it on Facebook, Instagram or Tweet about it today. See you at the big sale! (We’ll be the ones stocking up on strappy sandals for summer!)

On Your Mind: Single mom fighting against urge to cut

on your mindNOTE: The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor at Ozark Guidance — in a completely anonymous way. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

I am a single mother with two children and I currently live with my mother. Over the past two weeks, my mother has begun to overly criticize me and has even begun to aim negative comments about me in front of my children. These comments are very hurtful and they are intended to be hurtful. I suffer from depression and even though I’m on medication, I feel myself slipping further and further with each negative and intentionally hurtful remark. I used to self-mutilate and have been recovered for almost two years, yet due to sad depressionthe constant comments I feel myself slipping back towards cutting. I can’t financially leave the environment and I’m afraid I will end up hurting myself. I am at my wit’s end and I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t take very much more.

Thank you for reaching out to ask for help as you deal with a very difficult situation. It takes a lot of strength to admit that you need help.

Let me start by saying that it’s NOT okay for your mother to talk to you like that. No amount of medication could make that hurt any less.

There are other ways to help in this situation; we like to call them coping skills. Coping skills are strategies we can use to help us deal with stressful situations.  In this instance, setting boundaries with your mother could help. When she makes a hurtful comment toward you, it’s appropriate for you to say “I don’t like it when you say things like this, please stop” or “It’s not ok to talk to me like that” or “Please don’t say things like that to me in front of my kids.”

She may or may not respond positively when you assert yourself, but continue to let her know that you do not find these comments acceptable. Try to remain calm and respectful during this time. You’re not attempting to insult her, but instead, you’re working toward standing up for yourself. If the situation does not improve, and you don’t feel that you can keep yourself safe, you may want to consider moving into a temporary living situation at a shelter.

You mentioned in your question that these hurtful comments are increasing your desire for cutting. You also said that you do NOT want to cut again, and I can feel your determination. Congratulations on two years without cutting. That’s huge!

Here’s my question for you: What did you do in the past to stop cutting? Is that something you could try again? Oftentimes people cut to release emotional pain. There are other ways to get the pain out: some people like to journal. Others find meditation helpful. You may find that what worked before isn’t helping anymore.

If that’s the case, please reach out. Ozark Guidance Center is here to help.  Please call us at 479-750-2020.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.