Three ways you can start practicing mindfulness today

There is no universally recognized definition of mindfulness; however, there are some consistent key concepts. Mindfulness is focusing one’s attention on our present condition. It is gaining awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations we experience in the here-and-now, rather than on past adversity or future anxieties. According to therapists at the Youth Crisis Center, mindfulness is having an awareness of our physical, mental, and emotional condition without assigning judgment on ourselves.

YCC therapists believe someone can begin their mindfulness journey by utilizing grounding strategies from three categories: mental, physical, and soothing.

 

Mental 

Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center recommend that you try describing what’s around you. It is advised to spend a few minutes taking in your surroundings and noting what you see. Therapists encourage using all five senses during their exercise.

Experts at the Youth Crisis Center also suggest that you do something that brings you joy or makes you laugh. You can do this by watching your favorite TV show, movie or even scrolling through clips on social media.

 

Physical 

It is recommended to try to pick up or touch things near you. YCC wants you to ask yourself questions about the item, such as whether it is soft or hard or cool to touch. Therapists want you to focus on the texture and the color of each item. They also challenge you to tap into your creativity by naming specific colors like crimson or lavender instead of red and purple.

Therapists also want you to focus on your breathing. If that is something you find difficult to start, they suggest slowly inhaling and then exhaling. Saying or thinking “in” and “out” with each breath could also be beneficial. YCC encourages you to feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.

 

Soothing

When it comes to soothing, it is recommended you practice self-kindness during your mindfulness practice. You can use self-affirmations that make you feel good and powerful.

You can also visualize your favorite place. It’s recommended that you use your senses during this exercise. Close your eyes and visualize one of your favorite places to be. Think or say out loud the colors you see, the sounds you hear, or the smells coming to mind.

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

Taking care of your mental health at work, avoiding burnout

It can be easy for one to get caught up in work. Someone could find themselves so wrapped up in their work that they probably miss lunch, stay late, or even bring their work home. Sometimes it happens to the best of us, but it could lead to workplace burnout when it happens consistently.

What is workplace burnout?

 

According to Mayo Clinic, “job burnout is a special type of work-related stress.”  Experts at the Youth Crisis Center believe racing thoughts, an inability to focus, headaches, or even agitation could be stress indicators. The Mayo Clinic even suggests you asking yourself several questions:

 

  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers, or clients?
  • Do you have a hard time concentrating?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?

 

Similar to your physical health at work, there are ways you can take care of your mental health while at your office. Some people enjoy standing up at their desks or taking frequent walks to keep their body for their physical health. For your mental health, taking small breaks that do not fully distract you from your work and stepping away from your desk to take a quick walk could be beneficial. Experts at the Youth Crisis Center believe this is just one of the many ways you can take care of yourself and avoid burnout while on the job.

 

Prioritize

Experts at the Youth Crisis Center believe prioritizing can be beneficial. Human Resources Manager Kristen Wendle recommends communicating with your supervisor about setting realistic deadlines. She also suggests setting a to-do list to keep organized where you can map out what needs to get accomplished when it’s due and how you plan to achieve the task. If you’re able to prioritize your tasks, it could make it easier for you so you’re not stressing over many different projects all due at one time.

 

Personal Time 

If you have some PTO saved up, it is recommended that you use it when you need it. Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center encourage workers to take days off even when they’re not sick or have an appointment. Taking mental health days is just as important as staying home from work because you’re sick. Human Resources Manager Kristen Wendle says, “if everyone is going 100 mph, people aren’t putting enough focus on themselves to take a breath, relax, and address anything that is going on internally.” Taking time off from work could not only help someone bring down stress, but it could also help them in the long run at work by being able to spend time away from it to recharge.

 

Leave Work at Work

This tip goes well with the previous ones. You don’t want to bring work home unless you have to. If you’re constantly bringing work home, it could blur the lines between the office and your personal space. During the work-from-home orders, therapists recommended having a set space at your home dedicated to work. It would be best if you didn’t focus on work when you’re outside of that space or focus on home while you’re there. Having boundaries can be very helpful in this case, so focus on work while doing work things free of distractions and interruptions. However, if you don’t have boundaries and cannot create a space for work at your home, you may find it constantly on your mind or worrying tasks that can wait until the next time you’re working. This could put a strain on mental health, but it could also impact relationships because it may keep you away from your loved ones.

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC. Throughout the past 45 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

 

One of the several programs, YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

3 things you can do now to help free yourself from negative thoughts

Nobody wants to think about unhappy or negative things, but for some people, it’s all they seem to think about. It can be frustrating to be boggled down with these types of thoughts and some may even feel betrayed by their mind playing tricks on them. These thoughts do not have to haunt your everyday life. Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center say there are three things you can do now to start your journey on feeling better about yourself.

  1. Recognize the negative thoughts you are having.

Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center say the first step could be recognizing that you are having negative thoughts in the first place. It could be the type of situation where may not even be aware that they are having negative thoughts. These types of thoughts can stem from worrying about an upcoming event, something that happened in the past, or anticipating something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Acknowledging you’re having negative thoughts, could help build the foundation for finding the strength to move away from it. Therapists claim this step is important because it allows someone to come to terms with the fact they are having negative thoughts. Coming to terms with said thought, could then help someone realize they have control over their thoughts at the end of the day.

  1. Making a choice

 

Once you’re fully able to recognize you’re having a negative, the next step one could take is to make a choice to either replace the thought in question. Therapists say you can either replace the negative thought with a positive one or let it fester. However, no matter the choice you choose the thought is coming to come out one way or another.

 

If you choose to replace the thought with a positive one, it is suggested you get try to get out whatever situation is allowing you to have these kinds of thoughts. You can do this by changing your environment or the people you surround yourself with.

 

  1. Think about it

 

Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center suggest that you think about how some of your negative thoughts impact you. From there, they want you to focus on how this particular thought impacts your life, behavior, and emotions because all of that comes into play. Once you’re able to acknowledge your negative thought – you can then evaluate how it impacts your life. Therapists claim after those two steps, you are then able to make the decision on whether or not you want to change something about your negative thoughts.

 

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC. Throughout the past 45 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

 

One of the several programs, YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

4 categories to focus on when practicing self-care

 You can’t pour from an empty cup is a phrase often said when giving advice. It can be hard to help someone when you are running on empty yourself. Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center believe you must practice self-care regularly to take care of yourself properly. They suggest there are four categories to focus on to take the appropriate steps to self-care.

 

Your work life

Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center say work/life balance is a must. Working is a big part of a lot of people’s life. For some, it can be their time away from home, their passion, or the job they need to do to provide for themselves and their family. It is essential, though, to leave work at work. Bringing work home when you do not need to can strain your mental health and home life. Staff should use their PTO, vacation, or sick days when necessary. You shouldn’t feel bad for taking some days off every now and then.

 

Taking care of your mind

While it may sound easy, it could be a lot harder than you may think for some. Taking care of your mind is a full-time job that you must do on a regular basis. Therapists say there are plenty of ways to take care of your mind. You can journal your thoughts or keep a gratitude journal. These activities can also help you be more present. Finding a positive outlet can also help you take care of your mind, such as exercise, art, music, or any other type of hobby. Therapists recommend finding an outlet to help keep negative feelings away by focusing on something positive. Talking to someone can also help with this. This can be a friend or a family member you trust and feel comfortable sharing details with or just having a conversation. You can also speak with a therapist or counselor if you feel necessary.  

 

Taking care of your physical body

This may sound like another no-brainer, but it’s a big part of self-care. We only have one body and it is our job to take care of it for the rest of our lives. YCC recommends staying on top of a morning or night routine, which includes taking a shower or bath, washing your hair, making sure you’re eating your meals and taking your vitamins, as well as brushing your teeth. These could be things you already do multiple times a day, but therapists suggest you stick with this routine regardless of how you’re feeling to make sure you are meeting your basic needs.

 

Setting boundaries 

Setting boundaries can mean a lot of different things to different people. It can mean only hanging out with a particular group of friends when you’re feeling a certain way or skipping over a family dinner for the sake of your mental health. Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center say guidelines should be viewed as guidelines, rules, or limits that a person can create to teach them acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Click here to learn more about setting healthy boundaries.

 

While this list doesn’t include every single thing you need to do to practice self-care, it’s a good starting point if you’re unsure what to do. You may already do plenty of other things that work for you, while some items on this list may not. Self-care is different for everybody, but everybody should be mindful of it so they can take care of themselves.  

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Throughout the past 46 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

One of the several programs YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

Getting through the holidays while feeling lonely

The holiday season can mean a lot of things to different people. Some may think about joy, time with the family, and just happiness in general. Others may not have such a positive experience with the holidays. Both feelings are valid and are okay for someone to have. If someone has a positive experience with the holidays and tends to feel great during this time of the year, then they may not have a hard of a time as others who tend to feel lonely during these days.

On top of the general feeling of being lonely, our country is still pushing through a pandemic. The pandemic could be preventing families from gathering like they used to. There are video calls, zooms, and other alternatives it still may not be enough for those who cannot physically be with their loved ones.

Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center believe there are ways to get through the last hump of this holiday season even if you’re feeling lonely.

Stay Busy

Carl Keller, a Family Link Therapist says it’s best to stay busy during this time. This necessarily doesn’t mean to keep yourself busy by adding more work to your plate. You can pick up a new hobby, exercise, or do something else that keeps you busy and makes you happy. Keeping yourself busy could help you with keeping your mind off of negative thoughts. These activities could also serve as healthy coping skills when times get tough. It’s recommended to find things that are healthy for you that you can focus on in lieu of engaging in negative behaviors or habits.

Get Out

If it’s safe to do so for you, Keller recommends getting out of the house. It doesn’t matter if it’s the holidays or not, staying inside all day may not completely beneficial to your mental health. Staying cooped up inside could play a role in why you may be feeling lonely. Some people tend to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out), add a pandemic all year round including the holidays that feeling could skyrocket. If it’s safe to do so, you can go for a walk or even a run. Keller suggests visiting friends, going to church, or even spending some time volunteering. He says it could be helpful to surround yourself with others who may have the same feelings as you so you can help each other not feel as lonely.

Get Help

The Youth Crisis Center has staff standing by and trained to take your call if you or someone else is dealing with a crisis. There is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to seeking help for your mental health. Whether it’s a family friend or a therapist, it could be beneficial to talk to someone during this difficult time for you.

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Throughout the past 46 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

One of the several programs, YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

Surviving a family crisis

A family crisis can occur when the family has to change. According to research, a threat to the family’s organization, structure, or culture can cause a crisis.  There are several types of family crisis: Death of a family member, loss of a job, natural disaster etc. Not all crises are necessarily negative, even a good change may become a crisis, such as the birth of a baby, retirement, children leaving the home, having a new brother or sister, or adoption.  

What deems a crisis is the perception of the family and/or family member to the event, change, or circumstances that are occurring.  According to research, families that are often immobilized by stress often have more arguments, may lack cohesiveness and openness among members, lack family activities or quality time together and lack positive communication/conflict management skills. Children will tend to become more stressed and they may show this by displaying more emotional and behavioral problems such as getting into more trouble at home and or at school, experience more sleep disturbances, have trouble paying attention, become more quiet and withdrawn, and often show more signs of worry and anxiety.

Family therapy can be a wonderful tool for families to engage in work on the family dynamic interaction and system as a whole. Families who engage in therapy can help to strengthen their relationship by learning conflict resolution skills, supportive communication, and gain an understanding of one another’s temperaments and perspectives. Parents can also be given psychoeducation regarding positive child behavioral management techniques as well.

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

 

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Throughout the past 46 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

 

One of the several programs, YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

 

 

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

You don’t have to run away, talk to someone

For some youth, running away may seem like the only option and the best case scenario when things start to go south at home. Therapists at the Youth Crisis Center want all youth or anyone who might be running away from home or their problems to know that it’s not worth it. There are so many other options that could help you. At the Youth Crisis Center, we have staff ready for your calls and a wide range of therapists willing to help you work through some of the curveballs life throws at us sometimes.

 

It’s not worth it

 

Family Link Therapist Quandalyn Prince, MSW says her first advice she would give to a child who is running away is “don’t do it.”

“It’s not worth it. There are other alternatives besides running away and leaving a home that you are safe in versus going out into the real world and experiencing things you may not be used to.”

Prince wants to warn youth that there are people out there who go out of their way to take advantage of and prey on children. She also warns about sex trafficking, access to drugs, and other things that could lead to a negative impact on your life.

 

Talk to someone

Prince believes running away, especially as a youth, could lead to consequences you may not have thought about. Instead, she strongly encourages you to go talk to someone whether that is a parent, a friend, an adult you trust, or even a counselor.

 

“Urge them to hear what you have to say about running away because there are options out there.”

 

Prince says there could be a positive outcome from talking to a therapist. By speaking with someone, you could uncover a deeper reason why you want to run away. Therapy can also help you figure out coping skills and techniques so you’re able to tackle some of the speed bumps of life that come your way.

 

“Because once you run away, you’re no longer the same. You can experience so many things that can impact your future.”

 

About YCC’s Residential Crisis Care Program 

Referred by family members, community resources, schools, law enforcement, and YCC outreach, these youth have either run away or are at risk of running away, been locked out of their homes, are habitually truant from school, or have exhibited ungovernable behavior. Our program is here to provide a safety net to young people and their families when they need it most.

 

 Our residential therapists work with youth and their families to address the immediate crisis and help provide long-term solutions to handle future concerns once the child or teen returns home. Our goal is to reunite families by providing assistance and support with a clear plan for continued stabilization.

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

Mindfulness for beginners: what is it and how to practice

Let’s start by defining ‘mindfulness,’ according to Headspace, mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we are doing at the moment. Amanda Marker, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the Lead Outpatient Therapist at the Youth Crisis Center says mindfulness has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. Marker explains there are two key elements of mindfulness: focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment.

 

Practicing Mindfulness

According to Marker, mindfulness starts with being aware of our bodies. She goes on to say that very act can be calming.

“You don’t need to buy anything. You can practice anywhere – all you need is a little time and space.”

Marker understands that it can be incredibly challenging to quiet the mind, but she acknowledges that is not the goal during this practice. She says when it comes to practicing mindfulness, all you’re trying to do is pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Marker says your mind will wander during this practice. You might start to think about your to-do list, the laundry you forgot in the dryer, or even a conversation you had with someone yesterday. Marker explains that is normal and part of human nature. She says when practicing mindfulness, try to not judge yourself for whatever thoughts pop up. Instead, she wants you to focus on your breathing and return your attention to the present moment.

“Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.”

Basic Mindfulness Meditation 

The first thing Marker suggests when it comes to your practice is to take a seat. She wants you to find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you. She recommends setting a time limit, especially if you’re new to the practice. Once you’re sitting down, it will be time to focus on your breathing. Marker wants you to use this time to allow your thoughts to come and go without judgment. She also wants you to focus on your breath or even a mantra you may have set at the beginning of the day or your practice.

Marker encourages using your senses during your practice. She wants clients to focus on what they see, smell, taste, or even feel. In fact, she recommends you saying them aloud before letting those thoughts and senses go. She also invites clients to allow their emotions to be present during this practice. Similar to the senses, you can describe aloud what you are feeling.

 

The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

In an article published by Harvard Medical School, mindfulness can bring improvements in well-being. Amanda Marker, LMHC believes being mindful makes it easier to enjoy the positive movements in life as they happen and can help you become fully engaged in activities. Another benefit is being less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past. Mindfulness can also help with improving your mental health and relieve stress.

Introducing Your Child to Mindfulness 

Marker wants parents to talk with their kids about mindfulness.

“When the opportunity presents itself, talk about how you used mindfulness during your day.”

She says children learn by seeing what the adults in their lives do, so she encourages being open about how you practice mindfulness. Marker suggests introducing exercises when things are calm and your child is in a good space. She explains during this time would be ideal to try mindfulness activities as a family, as it could be a great way to connect one another. Marker does warn to keep the time short, especially if your child is on the younger side. She also wants you to let the child set the pace. If they’re done, don’t push it.

For activities, you can start with a walk or breathing exercises with your child. Once you have completed that activity, you can shift your focus to the senses. Marker suggests activities like listening mindfully, eating a treat mindfully, or taking another walk using all of your senses. For example, have your child hold a raisin. Marker instructs having your child notice the color, texture, shape, size, smell, weight, and taste of it for one minute.

 

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Throughout the past 46 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships. 

One of the several programs, YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

What is Mental Health and does everybody have it?

Mental health is the well-being of an individual’s mental, emotional, and/or physical functioning. Mental health is something that all individuals have whether they are aware of it or not. When something has an impact on our mental health we may refer to it as mental illness. Although there are myths about mental health/illnesses and how it impacts individuals it is very similar to any other illness and should be treated as such. For example, imagine having migraines that interfere with how you can interact with your friends/ family, perform job responsibilities at work, or even do things you love like going for a run. Most of us will seek a doctor to learn the cause of the migraine and how we can at least decrease or eliminate migraines due to its impact on our lives. Having migraines doesn’t mean something is wrong, but further warrants attention by a professional. In the same concept, mental health warrants us to take a look into what is impacting us mentally, emotionally, or physically, and what we can do to make it better.

Sometimes mental health and mental illness are used interchangeably. This should not be the case. According to the CDC, mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior. Those conditions have a handful of different names like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. The CDC says such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.

The CDC says while the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same things. For example, a young woman can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. However, a teen boy could be diagnosed with a mental illness and experience a period of physical, mental, and social well-being.

How can someone take care of their mental health? What does care look like?

Lead Family Link Therapist at the Youth Crisis Center, Jazmin Jerome says ensuring mental health can look different for many people. Self- Care and implementing healthy coping mechanisms can provide individuals with a source of strengthening their mental health and overcoming challenges faced in.

  • Healthy eating
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Medication
  • Talking with a mental health professional
  • Doing puzzles
  • Exercising 
  • Spending time with family/friends

 When someone struggles with mental health or does not know where to start when it comes to taking care of it, what should they do?

For someone unaware of where to start when it comes to taking care of their mental health it would first be beneficial to think about/recognize any changes in behaviors, moods, and interests. Jerome, who is also a Registered Clinical Social Work Intern suggests talking to someone about these concerns is the first step to getting help from a professional. Although you may not want to talk to a mental health professional at first, being able to talk to a trusted individual and expressing your concerns will allow others to help you as well. 

Easy Mental Health Tips:

Some of Jerome’s favorite mental health tips include:

  • Spending time with loved ones, surrounding yourself with good company and people who have your best interest 
  • Journaling, even if not physically writing in a journal but at least having a trusted individual that can act as your “human journal” who you can talk to and truly express yourself with
  • Finding a new hobby or continuing with a current hobby, being able to identify things that make you, you that brings you peace is very important when it comes to ensuring positive mental health.

About the Youth Crisis Center

Founded in 1974 as Florida’s first runaway program, the Youth Crisis Center emphasis on care is for those who have been exposed to traumatic situations such as divorce, homelessness, relocation, bullying, loss of life, and abuse. This past year, the Youth Crisis Center served a total of 2,467 children, teens, young adults, and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington DC.  YCC provides a variety of services such as short-term residential crisis care, outpatient therapy, skills-based groups for children and their parents, and transitional living programming for young adults.

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships at a time during social distancing

Time has changed. Some restaurants require us to wear a mask before we sit down to eat and even wear a mask before we walk into the door. Some students have to sit in front of a computer at their own house for their first day of school due to distance learning. Greetings such as handshakes or hugs can sometimes be met with a confused look or are strongly discouraged. Our major parades have been canceled or modified, the concerts we have been saving up for have been delayed, and some grocery stores have lines with them as workers try to limit the number of people inside.

Social Distancing, Social Isolation, and Self-Isolation

“Social-Distance” is something that we as a nation have heard from our government for months now. Having to socially-distance could be a big reason why some parents choose to have their kids learn from home rather than the school halls; it’s the reason for the stickers on the floor at your favorite store to make sure you don’t stand too close; and, it’s the reason some restaurants have limited seating inside to make sure their customers are socially-distanced from others

During a time like this, social-distance at a time like this can often be confused with social-isolation. Now, social-isolation and self-isolation should also not be interchanged.  An article in Psychology Today, says, “social distancing is important in controlling an outbreak.” The article encourages the reader to think about whether it’s smart to go to crowded restaurants. It also wants the reader to think twice about how many kids they allow their child to have play-dates with if any. It also touches on romantic relationships and to decide if it’s best to go on dates and meet up with friends. The answer is yes, those are still good ideas and important to your overall mental health, to where it applies. However, if you are sick or in a very high-risk group, you may not want to participate in those activities.

Being socially distant does not mean socially isolating yourself from your loved ones, friends, or activities you like to do. Choosing to social distance is to just maintain your space from others, not in your group, and to be mindful of how close you are to others. According to the CDC, it also means wearing a mask when you can’t social distance, frequently washing your hands, and avoiding touching your face with your unwashed hands. You can still do the things you love and social distance at the same time.

Having to self-isolate is a result of different reasons. The CDC says isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

 

Maintaining Healthy Relationships 

Danielle Masters, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Outpatient Therapist at the Youth Crisis Center say social distancing can make ongoing or developing friendships even more challenging. As parents and caregivers, we can help to create resilience and support our child’s needs while also maintaining safety through communication, encouraging an open dialogue for them to be able to talk with us about their feelings as well as fostering their social connections. We can make time for our children to be able to socialize through phone calls or video chat dates. For younger children, coming up with some creative ways that they can make the most of their time with their friend, like drawing a picture together, making up stories and then taking turns sharing, building things and then showing the other, as well as just allowing them time to “just chat”.  

Masters also suggest virtual clubs or classes for teens. They can also take walks, ride bikes, and do things outdoors with a friend if able to safely social distance. They can also connect through age-appropriate gaming (if allowed in your home and with parental discretion/monitoring.) It is important to have a conversation with your children regarding safety and differing viewpoints about social distancing. By helping them to understand and respect that every family has their values and opinions on how to keep their family safe we are encouraging empathy and can continue to find creative ways to cultivate social connections.

Talking to your kids about healthy relationships

Masters believes as parents or caregivers, it’s never too early to begin talking with our children about what a healthy relationship is. Helping children to define and understand that all good relationships are built on communication, understanding, trust, loyalty, respect, and boundaries. Most of us do this with our children automatically, when we teach them the importance of sharing and taking turns, when we show empathy for them if they fall or hurt themselves or are sad about something and we ask, what happened? Or how can I help you? She goes on to say that we also show this by teaching children about the importance of consent, by asking before taking things that do not belong to them and helping children to understand how their words or actions may influence other people. Helping children understand that no means no and “to listen and stop”.

Masters encourages parents to discuss with kids their boundaries, what makes them comfortable or not comfortable, and helping them to understand that their boundaries, as well as others’ boundaries, need to be respected. Another influential way to teach our children about healthy relationships is by being a good role model within our relationships. Our actions, attitude, and behaviors towards our significant others, family, and friends can have a big influence on our children.

Define what an unhealthy relationship is. Talking with children about peer pressure is especially important. When teens begin developing romantic relationships, helping them to understand that one partner should not try to control the other by intimidation, isolation, emotional abuse, physical abuse, or even digital abuse. Lastly, being supportive and non- judgmental so that if the child ever feels that a relationship is becoming unhealthy they can talk with you or another trusted adult.   

Youth Crisis Center’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Program

The Youth Crisis Center was founded in 1974 as Florida’s first run-away program and has grown to be one of the largest and best-known providers of services for youth and families. Nationally recognized as setting a standard in youth services, YCC has been ranked as one of the top five programs in the United States by the Youth Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Throughout the past 46 years, YCC has helped thousands of youth and their families overcome adversity and build stronger relationships.

One of the several programs YCC offers is Outpatient Behavioral Health. This program provides comprehensive mental health and psychiatric care to kids as young as three and their families. Parents may also receive individual and family counseling regardless if their child is a client at YCC.

 

 

Download our FREE ebook!

5 Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Relationships