Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About

Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About

Did you know that May is #MentalHealthMonth?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. #MentalHealthMonth was created to increase public awareness of mental health conditions and to break down the stigma associated with mental illnesses. 

Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are afraid to, talk about them. However, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Everyone experiences the ups and downs of mental health and there is nothing wrong with seeking help to manage it. 

My Fears

As a mom of three and someone who has battled mental health challenges most of her life, my greatest concern upon having children was that my children would struggle with their mental health in the same ways that I did. However, I believe that my own struggles actually made me a better parent. I was more aware and attuned to the needs of my children and never once did I hesitate to seek help when I thought they needed it. 

So, what can we do, as parents, to help improve the overall mental well-being of our children?

1. COMMUNICATE

Communication is the key. Good communication with children involves listening well and talking in ways that encourage your child to listen to you. Communicate the super uncomfortable and challenging things, too. Being open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear, and anxiety will help you and your child to navigate potentially tricky situations in the future. 

2. RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR HELP

This may seem silly or even stupid to some reading this. As a parent who has struggled with this most of her life, I just don’t get why seeking aid in this way for your child or children is still a “last resort”, or for some, not even an option.

My oldest is very emotional. Last year, he was caught teasing and talking under his breath during class to a few of his classmates about how they looked. When I confronted my son and talked to him about why he was doing what he was doing, in all honesty, he told me that he wasn’t that sorry for some of it. I knew right then and there  was something bigger going on. Not in regards to the relationship with these other children, but within himself.  My son needed someone else to talk to and it was my job to find someone else who could give him perspective and insight beyond that of my husband and myself. 

3. SEEK HELP

That summer, I arranged for my son to see a counselor. We called his sessions “his class with Michael”. During that time, a few parents and family members questioned my decision to seek outside help for my son. They often said, “Why are you doing that? He’s fine”. But, I knew he wasn’t. I saw a young boy struggling to process how he felt. I saw myself in him.

Seeking help was the best thing I could have ever done for my son as his mom. It gave us a place to communicate with our son and it gave my son a place to communicate openly without judgment. Michael played a HUGE role in my son’s confidence, understanding, and processing of emotions. Most importantly, Michael was a huge game-changer for my son and his future.  He now has insight and coping strategies that will serve him his entire life. An insight I wish I would have had at his age. If I would have, then, maybe, my story would have been a bit different.

4. DON’T JUDGE

For many parents, at the first sign that their child appears to be sick, there is no concern or questioning on getting them medicine to help them feel better. So why aren’t we looking at our children’s mental health, their mental well-being, in the same light as their physical well-being?

I urge you all, parent or not, to put all your personal issues aside and see your kids as they are. To attend to them in the best possible way that has nothing to do with you. Seeking help is not a bad thing. Would you ever look down on someone for seeking treatment for a medical ailment? More than likely, no. So, I urge you to do the same for you and your child’s well-being, especially when it comes to their mental health and wellness.

So, I ask you, during #MentalHealthMonth–what does your child need? As someone who has struggled most of her life with mental health and wellness concerns, I can tell you that having a therapist has been one of the best things I have done for myself and it made all the difference for my son, too.

If you are interested in learning more, check out these great resources on Amazon.

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

Safe and Healthy Communication: It’s Never Too Late To Build These Skills

If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship

It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.

Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills. 

Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:

  • Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
  • Effective communication
  • How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
  • Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
  • It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
  • There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.

 

Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.

We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.

That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift. 

Vienna Pharaon Quote - Hope Zvara Blog Post

We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions. 

If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.  

My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.🍃 This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.

Doing so requires you to do two simple things: 

  1. STOP and step back (literally, step back).
  2. Inhale and exhale.

Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others. 

And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.

Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.

A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.

Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me. 

My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.

👉I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.

One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.

May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Environment Instantly

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Environment Instantly

In today’s technology-centered world, there seems to be an app for almost every situation. If something is wrong or needs improvement, we can pull out our smartphones and search for the right app. However, when it comes to improving our physical well-being, that tends to be a little more challenging. 

Taking Care of Your Body

I think anyone reading this can agree that a big part of the quality of one’s overall health comes from movement–or lack thereof. Various illnesses can be linked back to how we live in our physical bodies. Much like house maintenance, the longer you neglect your body, the more damaged the structure becomes. Then, those once small issues become much larger and harder to fix. 

It’s a pretty straightforward concept: the more active you are, the healthier you will be. However, most people spend most of their day at work or in a work environment. So, yes, while incorporating exercise into your daily routine is important, it isn’t going to magically fix your “house.” 

What Can You Do?

Think about the environment that you put yourself in day after day. Should you consider a change in that environment to prevent your “house” from becoming damaged? The best way to increase our well-being is to evaluate the environment around us– especially our work environment. But, is merely making the change to standing all day instead of sitting enough? The simple answer is no.

The Pixar movie Wall-E is more than another cute, animated film. It tells us that if we don’t change the way we live, we will turn into unhealthy humans who, by continuing to treat the environment as disposable, will also destroy the world. In her book Don’t Just Sit There, Katy Bowman talks about how to avoid the Wall-E syndrome so that you can be a much healthier, happier, functional version of yourself.

Try to make these simple changes to the environment around you to ensure your “house” continues to serve the purpose for which it was created. 

1. Promote Fluid Movement, Natural Living and Reduce Stress

1. Increase Natural Light

Consider how much natural light you are receiving into your work environment or home. Increasing natural lighting can boost serotonin, which can increase our alertness and better our mood in our work environment and at home. 

2. Decrease Clutter

Work to decrease clutter in your work environment and home. Physical clutter is easily transferable to both the feeling and experience of mental clutter. Having more fluidness in your work environment will easily affect work output.

2. Promote Natural Fluidity & Movement

Evaluate if your work environment or overall environment promotes a lifestyle that encourages movement, or if it entices a sedentary lifestyle.

I have dramatically reduced eye strain and the feeling of tiredness by not having the lights on in my office and by keeping the shades open during office hours.

By taking the time to let go of possessions that no longer serve me, I have physically and energetically made room for the newness I am working toward in my life.

3. Make Change at Home, Too

Finally, I have begun re-evaluating my work environment and home life and investing in my family’s health on the front end. This has included creating standing workspaces, using functional chairs (like the Move), breaking stereotypes at the dinner table by enlisting our family in picnic-style dinners on the floor, and by adding walking lunches. All these creative and healthy choices have helped me to promote movement and a more fluid lifestyle for each of my family members.

Some of these changes cost my family and me very little, and others a bit more, but what I have essentially done is flipped where I spend my money. I am no longer dumping my hard-earned cash into constant visits to the chiropractor or massage therapists. My overall total daily movement has dramatically increased, which has also reduced my stiffness and back and neck pain. As a bonus, I mentally feel better.

Upgrade Your Seating Options

If you are considering making a real investment in your work environment, work experience, and home environment, check out the Move by Varier® and get ready to transform your work environment into one that truly gets you moving!

Are you interested in upgrading your home or office seating? Join me in the “Move” ment with the Move by Varier. CLICK HERE to learn more!

Little changes can make a huge impact. I challenge you to evaluate your environment–home and work–and make changes where you can!

3 Easy Poses to Instantly Banish Stress

3 Easy Poses to Instantly Banish Stress

Stress can be overwhelming and even debilitating. It can cause headaches, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. Obviously, we all know that stress isn’t good for us physically or mentally. So, how do we banish stress in our every day lives?

As a yoga teacher, I encourage others to live a life where they can stay grounded, focused, balanced, and content. Yoga has helped me a great deal with handling stress and the side effects of stress. It helps to relieve tension by keeping me focused on my breath rather than all the thoughts racing through my heads.

Whether you are at home, work, or somewhere in between, yoga is a great way to find stress relief. So, to help you on your journey of finding ways to banish stress, here are three of my favorite yoga poses.

3 Poses to Banish Stress Instantly

Devotional Pose 

Devotional Pose

Devotional Pose

This pose is such a surrender for me. When I go here, I instantly let go. As I work to widen my knees slowly, I feel relief to feel such space (even if it doesn’t look like it). The freedom of my body letting go into the safety of the floor for a few minutes is all I need to feel a bit more like myself.

Legs Up With Support Pose

Legs Up With Support Pose

Legs Up With Support Pose

This pose is a go-to to help relieve the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of stress. The feeling of my sacrum flat to the hard floor and my spine realigning without the burden of gravity is genuinely liberating. This pose allows me to let go. I totally give in to the fact that, at that moment, I am only human and not superwoman. What often starts as just a minute on my mat quickly ends up as ten, and trust me, you won’t be complaining.

Seated Forward Bend Pose

Seated Forward Bend Pose

Seated Forward Bend Pose

This pose is often used in yoga therapy to help manage depression. It is also known to soothe headache and anxiety and reduce fatigue. The feeling of bending forward eases the mind. My warm breath against my thighs brings me full circle to the simplicity that I am okay the way I am.

Be gentle to yourself so that life can be gentle back to you. Never force yourself into a forward bend, especially when sitting on the floor. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly, with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. If you are new to this pose, it helps to hold a strap around the feel. If you are incredibly tight, place a rolled-up blanket under your knees for added support. The more you relax in this pose, the more naturally your body will open up. 

You Are Worth It

Making things drawn out and complicated only stresses us out more. Don’t overthink it. Sometimes you don’t have the time or the mental discipline to hop onto your mat, and that is okay. I get it. However, what I have discovered is that if you do make the time for yourself, you will see how yoga can help you physically, mentally, and emotionally. You are worth it and you owe it to yourself to make time for you.

And if you want to get professional, inspiring, functionally-safe classes all in the comfort and privacy of your own home. You must check out my online studio. No travel, no hassle, no sitters, and no fuss. This is not your typical yoga or fitness studio–it’s a fresh approach that I know you will enjoy. 

Hope Zvara Mindful Movement Online Studio

 

If you are experiencing stress right now, here are some other helpful resources:

Meditations for Stress Relief

Mindful Ways to Reduce Stress

Navigating Stress In Life

 

Girl, Wash Your Hands: Tips to Stay Healthy During COVID-19

Girl, Wash Your Hands: Tips to Stay Healthy During COVID-19

We understand that during this time there are a lot of unknowns. What exactly COVID-19 will do and how things will play out is still a big unknown!

And we deeply appreciate each and every one of you. Everyone is being affected by the current state of our country and world. From family life, to work life and it’s times like these that we often throw self-care practices out the window.

It may seem silly but, during this time, I want to suggest we stop and reflect on how we can be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.

Together let’s be a part of the solution!

With the outbreak of COVID-19 impacting our state and local community, we are focusing on doing things we need to do to keep you, our community, our staff, and our facility as safe and as healthy as possible.

For many yoga studios, they are facing challenges with running classes and keep things clean and hoping those who are sick do not come to class. To all those who attend group activities please use common sense when engaging in public activities.

So let’s take this time to make sure we are practicing good hygiene and supporting others to stay healthy!

Here are the current guidelines and announcements from federal, state and local agencies, including the CDC and other health organizations: HERE

Consider the following when out on the road, in the efforts to stay healthy and help others do the same:

1> If you are feeling healthy, keep moving. Keep walking, keep exercising. A healthy body and mind can reduce stress and boost your immune system.

2> Support each other in cultivating a gratitude practice. Dr. Joe Dispenza conducted a study that found: Practicing gratitude for 9-10 minutes, 3 times per day, for 4 consecutive days increases the function of your immune system.

3> Get some quality sleep. Check out our guided meditations to help you get some much-needed shut-eye! Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Research has shown that T-cell production increases with consistent good rest and sleep. Naps are GREAT!

4> Consider how you can support the health and comfort of your neighbors and friends. Check up on anyone you know that may have compromised health. Stay connected via phone, text, and email.

5> Be mindful of the source of information. Be thoughtful before sharing or posting. Question information that might be untrue or cause concern.

6> If you have a compromised respiratory system, immune system, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and/or diabetes, stay safe and stay home.

7> If you show any signs of illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath), Contact your health care provider and use common sense. It may not seem like a “big deal” but others may not have as strong of immunity as you do. Consider others and their health as well as your own during this time. It is difficult to discern the difference between Coronavirus, Influenza, the common cold, and allergies.

8> Minimize exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) by following the hand hygiene guidelines – washing your hands with soap and water while you sing the ABCs and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor.

COVID-19 Stay Safe Blog Hope Zvara

DIY Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer: Fight COVID-19:

>>1 Tablespoon aloe vera spray or gel

>1 Tablespoon alcohol-free wich hazel (you can find this at the dollar store, Walmart, CVS)

>1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E Oil (if you can’t find it, don’t stress, you can go without)

>10-20 drops essential oil blends like Young Living Thieves or Doterra On Guard, or DIY your own blend using: cinnamon, myrtle, tea tree, lavender, rosemary. Use what you can find!

It’s important to choose essential oils that are anti-bacterial like the ones listed above. The use of alcohol continuously on your skin can really dry out your skin. By combining aloe vera gel or spray into your mixtures you can nourish your skin as well.  I prefer the spray as it’s not so clumpy and easier to mix.

 

Practice good social etiquette: wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your arm, and use paper towels when opening doors. Or at a minimum just we aware that the germs we spread not everyone’s immune system can withstand.

I am reminded during this time how we get what we give. So during this time give patience. Give kindness. And give good hygiene. You may never get COVID-19, but let’s make sure you don’t make it more difficult for others.

No matter what your personal stands is on our countries current state. One thing is clear, we must show kindness, and remember that although we may be healthy and never get sick or test positive for the Corona Virus, that doesn’t mean we won’t negatively impact another with our choices.

As someone who has an Uncle with cancer, a cousin who today is going in for heart surgery, and friends and family members with compromised immune systems prior to the Corona Virus. I ask you to do your part and ask yourself do I need to go out? Is telling the world I think this is silly on social media helping or hurting? And how can I support others?

Sometimes supporting others is by the following suit and washing your hands and reducing unnecessary trips to the store. And finding ways to support others in new ways. Think of all of this as a means to expand yourself in ways you otherwise wouldn’t.

Now make some DIY hand sanitizer and go wash your hands.

Girl Wash Your Hands Hope Zvara Blog Post COVID-19

Want to read more?

Check out Hope’s recent blogs: 

And we always appreciate it when you LIKE and SHARE our content. It helps us reach more people just like you. During this uncertain time, keep your mind focused and full of positivity, read from accurate sources, and be kind!

It’s people like you that make this world a better place! Keep being you. Keep being amazing. And keep sharing the gratitude and sweetness!

>>>>>An Attitude of Gratitude and Meditations to go with it!

>>>>>Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like a Mess 

And remember no matter what, “Girl, Wash Your Hands!”

In honor of washing your hands. Order one of our GIRL, WASH YOUR HANDS TEE’S and we will donate $1 to Project HOPE to aid those who are truly affected by COVID-19.

>>> ORDER YOUR TEE HERE <<<


Girl Wash Your hands tee shirt hope zvara

Developing Self-Awareness in an Effort to Change

Developing Self-Awareness in an Effort to Change

I truly believe that the more we know about ourselves, the closer we can get to becoming the best version of ourselves. 

Today’s world is chalked full of opinions. Good, bad, and ugly–everyone seems to have something to say about everything. It leads people to start to look outside of themselves for validation. However, I believe that real validation lies inside. It really does. People ask me all the time, “Hope, how did you recover from such a horrific eating disorder, the tragic loss of a baby, anxiety, and depression without any medications.” My answer: I focused on my self-awareness.

What is self-awareness?

Self-awareness means recognizing what you are thinking, feeling, and doing when you are doing it. It is a practice of mindfulness, which is the idea of being 100% present and engaged in whatever you’re doing–free from distraction or judgment.

“Self-awareness is one of the rarest of human commodities. I don’t mean self-consciousness where you’re limiting and evaluating yourself. I mean being aware of your own patterns.” -– Tony Robbins

Why is developing self-awareness so important?

So, why is developing self-awareness so important? Well, it’s pretty simple–you CAN’T control everything that happens in your life, but you CAN control how you react to it. Once you are more self-aware,  you want to make the changes needed to be the best version of you that you can be. 

For me, focusing on my self-awareness meant that I had to take a hard look at my emotions. The emotions that caused me to struggle with anxiety, depression and addiction. I had to learn how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way so that I could find clarity and peace. Yoga was my saving grace. After my first yoga class, something inside me flipped. And even though I wasn’t very good, I felt relief. Quiet. Stillness. No urges or anxiety of any kind. Just relief. Yoga helped me at a time when I needed it the most. Yoga helped me help myself.  Yoga forced me to deal with my emotions. Yoga helped me to become more self-aware. 

Here are some great ways that you can start to develop your own self-awareness.
KEEP A JOURNAL

That’s right, the good old journal. You know, the one that actually requires a pen or pencil to write in it? LOL–Well, all kidding aside, the best way to start to truly learn about yourself. Journaling gives you a place to think, write, and organize your thoughts and feelings and it is imperative to your developing self-awareness.

 

 

MEDITATE

Meditation will help you become more self-aware and will help to improve your overall health and well-being. Breath awareness, or mindfulness meditation, reduces stress, anxiety, and anger, and sharpens concentration and attention skills. Counting Breath for Stress Relief & Relaxation is a guided meditation that helps focus the mind and relax the body. This 5-minute meditation will allow you to de-stress and step back into the present moment; helping you to relax, breathe and dig into your breathing so you can step back into life ready and willing.

 

 

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

Simply stated–mindfulness is self-awareness. Self-awareness doesn’t always mean being mindful. Mindfulness means having an awareness of your thoughts and feelings. When you’re mindful, you are able to accept your thoughts and feelings without judging them. As you know, when I was a teenager, I suffered from an eating disorder. When I learned that when I felt an urge to purge, I turned to the yoga mat.  I recognized the thoughts and feelings that would arise at that moment and I was able to take a breath and not act on them. I was acting purposefully–or being mindful. 

 

When you become more self-aware, you will be able to see the greater good in yourself.  Self-awareness can help you get anywhere you want in life as long as you know how to use it to your advantage.

“Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes. It enables you to keep growing.”

— Lawrence Bossidy

 

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