Helping Kids Overcome Trauma

According to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, half of the children in America have faced at least one type of traumatic event in their young lives. In lieu of the recent violence (from humans and weather), that statistic has probably, sadly, increased. The good news is that early acknowledgment and treatment has shown to help youngsters successfully recover from various types of trauma.

What is Trauma?

The clinical definition of trauma includes a personal experience of injury, threat of death or injury, or witness of the same. A child’s response generally involves helplessness, intense fear, and horror. Additionally, children may experience trauma from seeing or hearing about events that did not happen to them personally. Even an event that occurred far away can trigger feelings of danger and extreme worry.

Signs of Trauma in Youngsters

Unfortunately, childhood trauma can result from many different events. The most common are: physical or sexual abuse, the death of a loved one, bullying, violence or substance abuse in the home, war, terrorism, and natural disasters. Keeping an eye out for particular signs may help you recognize if your child may be affected by trauma.

For children under six, some of the symptoms of trauma may be: extreme clinging to a caregiver, excessive crying, screaming or whimpering, moving aimlessly or becoming immobile.

For children between six and 11, you may notice: nightmares, complaints of physical problems, loss of interest in friends and fun activities, depression, development of unfounded fears.

For adolescents age 12 to 18, they may reveal signs such as: having flashbacks or nightmares, abusing alcohol or drugs, being disruptive or destructive, feeling isolated or depressed, having suicidal thoughts.

The Importance of Expedient Intervention and Help

The need for early intervention and treatment for children who’ve experienced trauma is tremendous, especially if it’s been more than one event. The stress of the event(s) can interrupt brain development. Physical health, the ability to learn, and proper socialization are all at risk. Emotional issues, if not confronted in a timely space, can create negative challenges for many years to come. As adults, without treatment during childhood, the ramifications of trauma can effect successful employment and increase risk of psychiatric disorders.

Treatments for Psychological Trauma

Any type of appropriate, caring intervention from an adult will reap benefits to a child. Specifically, however, many experts suggest trauma-based cognitive therapy if the youngster’s state doesn’t improve after several weeks. In the meanwhile, here are a few tips for helping your kids at home.

  • Listen to your child’s fears. Even if they seem absurd or unfounded to you, remove judgment and comfort your child. Do not feed into their fears, but don’t discard them either.
  • Reassure your child is safe. Create routines to keep stress levels low. Keep your own stress in check—that will help you both.
  • Make positive future plans. Help your child focus on something optimistic. Distract his/her thoughts from the negative past or dark thoughts.
  • Take away any blame your child might be placing on him/herself. Remind the child you love him/her and you have his/her back.
  • If you don’t know the answers to questions, don’t make them up. It’s OK to admit to your child that you don’t know.
  • Encourage a healthy diet and good rest.

Children can be pretty resilient, so any help that can be offered will have value.

Recently, the Sesame Workshop launched a new program. It’s aimed at helping kids deal with fear resulting from the increase in natural disasters and mass shootings. Their program offers videos, books, and digital activities created to help provide coping strategies.

Sesame’s initiative is similar to what cognitive-behavior therapists would suggest as an effective treatment. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and other adults can learn how to better empathize with the child (by trying to see the child’s perspective.) The child is offered suggestions on how to recognize thinking and behavior patterns and replace them with other, more positive ones. Puppets, art, music, talk, etc. are all tools that can be used to help the child feel safe and learn how to self-soothe and heal.

Check out GetThrive! for other informative articles to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.







The Stress After the Storm: Will There Be Relief?

The aftermath of natural disasters, such as the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, can be devastating. Injury, illness, loss of property, and sadly, loss of lives are part of the storm’s destructive path. What many health experts, however, are also hoping to bring to awareness are the mental ramifications in which flood victims may suffer—and how they may get help.

Being There

You may have just experienced (or experienced in the past) a natural disaster event. If you have, you already understand the feelings of pain, grief, and loss that accompany and follow the event. If you have been fortunate enough to stay safe from a catastrophic event (such as an earthquake, flood, or fire), it may help to understand what others have gone through in order to assist.

Stormy Consequences

Needless to say, the flooding in and of itself creates disastrous results. But there are other elements that can accompany the negative effects of the rising water. Some of them are:

  • Displacement of creatures. Reptiles, such as snakes and alligators can be found in flood waters. Pictures of swarms of floating red ants surfaced from the recent hurricane in Texas.
  • Unseen objects in the water. There can be debris like glass or other materials that can cut or injure you.
  • Electric currents may still be live. Electric lines can be under the water carrying dangerous voltage.
  • Human and animal waste. Feces can become combined in flood waters causing stomach illness, diarrhea, and E.coli infections.
  • Viruses and bacteria spread. Open wounds invite infection from tainted water. Insect populations rise, some carrying disease. Hygienic resources are sparse in populated shelters; humans can get each other sick.
  • Chemicals in the water. Pesticides, gasoline, and oil can linger in the water causing rashes, fungal infections, and in some cases, fires.
  • After the water dries. Once the flooding recedes, there is often damage from mold. Many flood victims wind up with respiratory illness from breathing in mold fumes.

Relief Is On The Way

The American Red Cross, FEMA, and other volunteers and contributors (both corporate and personal) have stepped up to assist the victims. Medical care has been made accessible to as many who can be reached. Temporary shelter is also being provided. Larger drug stores have helped with getting medication to those in need.

The mental trauma, however, may be more than many people can handle. Stress, anxiety, and depression can increase—especially for those with pre-existing mental health issues. Clinical social workers have been talking to victims in the larger shelters—listening, guiding, and offering solace and hope.

Signs in centers showing the symptoms of PTSD have been posted for the victims. Everyone is encouraged to seek help if they are struggling with unmanageable feelings. Many tears and lack of sleep are normal after experiencing a natural disaster.

One doctor (who also lost her home in Hurricane Harvey) said she and her children have been helping others in the shelter. She explained that it took their minds of their own woes by helping others. She also added that the community recovery effort is crucial.

-The American Red Cross is calling on mental health professionals to volunteer to help storm survivors.

-The National Alliance on Mental Illness is providing hotlines for people affected by the storm.

-Those who have strong bonds with friends, family members, and/or coworkers tend to mentally recover more quickly from the support and strength with others.

-The Health and Human Services Department offers a Disaster Distress Helpline to help those struggling with mental health problems resulting from the storm. That toll-free number, staffed by mental health professionals, is 1-800-985-5990.

You can help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS, or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Read up on other articles about achieving best physical and mental health, even in the most stressful of times. www,




Avoid Injury, Lose Weight: Mindful Exercise Practices

Do you feel as if every time you embark on a workout mission you wind up injured? Have you been trying to lose weight but no matter how much you exercise, you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Perhaps it’s time to place some mindfulness into practice. A couple of minor adjustments and you could be on your way to meeting goals in a more productive and enjoyable way…

Meeting of the Mindful

Mindfulness has become a buzzword in our American culture as of late. The truth, however, is that being aware and focusing on the present is actually an ancient practice. Much of what comprises a worthy meditation practice is what’s involved in a mindful approach—to anything.

Author Jon Kabat Zinn in his book Mindfulness for Beginners, describes the state of being mindful as, “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

A mindful technique is one that focuses on your feelings, sensations, and thoughts without you judging them. It’s about being conscious of sensations and all the stimuli around you. Being mindful means removing yourself from auto pilot and engaging in moment-to-moment awareness.

Exercise Minus the Pain

“No pain, no gain” is an outdated expression, not to mention unsafe. Yes, it’s good to push yourself now and then—by increments. It’s foolish to overwork your muscles or attempt a new workout without stretching, preparation, or having built up stamina and strength.

Yes, soreness may happen; but pain can be a sign of injury. Exercising with mindfulness can help prevent hurting your body. Injuries keep you from exercising regularly and can also cause long-term damage to muscles, bones, and joints.

Here are some mindful practice tips for a workout:

  • focus on your breathing
  • be aware of your heart rate
  • take deliberate physical actions, paying attention at all times
  • keep your mind from wandering
  • integrate your mind into what you are doing with your body

Perks of the Practice

When you start taking notice of how you are moving your body, lifting the weight, or throwing the ball, you are less apt to hurt yourself. You will feel the heaviness or the awkwardness. Don’t just go through the motions. Be the motions.

Have you ever taken an aerobic-type class and felt like a robot? Or does the teacher seem like a robot, playing the same music (not feeling it), and doing the same moves every time? It’s not fun. And, it’s not productive.

When you are present and move your body with deliberate motions, you can build strength, improve balance, and get quicker results from your efforts. In addition, you’ll find that you will have more fun. A workout can actually be enjoyable and feel rewarding.

Mental Methods for Exercise

Everyone’s mind wanders. But when it comes to exercise, especially if you have a goal in mind, it’s important to maintain focus. Mindful exercise coaches suggest redirecting your thoughts to the actual exercise task. Within time, you will build a habit of attending to your actions.

Elinor Fish is a former editor of Trail Runner Magazine. She now conducts mindful running retreats, helping women learn how to avoid injury and regain their love of running and exercise. Fish describes mindful running like: “Synching movement with breath, focusing your mind on a single point like the trail ahead… These are just some of the ways running creates the coherence in the body that supports present-moment awareness and flow,”

Getting it Done

If you want to exercise to be safe and second nature—and you want to lose weight—you must make a plan on what you want to accomplish each session. Whether you are running, lifting, swimming, biking, etc. decide in advance a reasonable amount of time and/or distance you’ll be participating.

If, for example, you chose a high-intensity compilation of movements for 20 minutes, stick to it. Don’t let your mind wander. Don’t answer calls, check texts, or stop to jot down something you just thought of to make for dinner. Act with intention and awareness, and try not to veer from that path.

Be prepared before you start. Have on the correct shoes, get your water, and have your timer nearby. Create the proper lighting and make sure you have air. Forget about everything else for these few minutes.

You owe it to yourself to keep your body safe and healthy. Aside from losing weight, improving balance, and gaining strength, mindful exercise can also help you reduce stress. That, in and of itself, is a gift to your mental and physical health.

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Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Mindfulness for Beginners. 2012.





Treadmill Safety

Treadmills have been around for years. In fact, it’s a very popular way to exercise. They are relatively easy to use and they are also very healthy. However, recently we have a seen an increase in the number of injuries at home and at gyms from the use of treadmills. And why?

While it may seem silly, treadmill injuries can be severe and even life threatening. Recently the CEO from Survey Money died from a treadmill injury.

Why the Increase in Treadmill Injuries?

The increase in treadmill injuries may be linked to walking and using a Smart phone or device. Similar to texting and driving, when we are walking and using a treadmill while simultaneously using our phones, we are distracted—ultimately causing accidents and injuries.

Don’t Turn Your Health Upside Down…

Exercise is great for us. In fact, using a treadmill promotes cardiovascular and pulmonary health. But let’s not turn something healthy upside down by adding the risk of accidents and injuries to it. We automatically increase our risks for treadmill accidents and injuries while using a cell phone.

Gyms are full of heavy machinery. Therefore, it is important to focus 100 percent on using that machinery rather than shifting our attention and concentration to our cell phones.

The Bottom Line: Redefined

The bottom line redefined here: Concentrate on your own health and safety while using a treadmill, and avoid using one if you are going to be distracted. Yes, do use your cell phone to count calories and listen to music, but avoid accidents and injuries, which do the exact opposite of keeping you healthy.

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