Helping with the Meltdowns

We all know what it feels like when we are overwhelmed. There are some days where our emotions get the best of us and our rational brain doesn’t have much room in our decision making.

Imagine then, what it feels like for children; when their already emotional space gets flooded, their every frustration building with the crescendo of a crashing wave. Here are 5 tips to help with the meltdowns;

  • Be the calm. Matching their emotions with a bigger version will only increase the stimulation. Managing your own emotions while holding space for your child’s helps to validate, diffuse and comfort.
  • Re-direct. As adults, we have learned to be comfortable with the discomfort by using distraction. The same thing can work with our children; when we suggest an alternative, it often helps in creating a sense of control for the child.
  • Listen. Get down to their eye level; let them tell you what is wrong. Label and agree with their feelings. We can both validate and maintain boundaries which allows for teaching moments about behaviours.
  • Problem solve. When the meltdown is over, and calm has returned, that is when we can look at solving the problem – whether that is immediate or for ‘next time.’
  • Guide, not control. Sometimes our own fears about being the perfect parent will get in the way of what is happening in the moment which can lead us to needing to control. We can temper this by seeing ourselves instead as a guide, helping our littles navigate the emotional road.

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A Thought About Healing from the Inside Out

Dr. Will Cole is an American functional-medicine expert who specializes in the underlying factors that cause chronic disease, autoimmune conditions, and the like. In a podcast episode I was listening to, he made two very enlightening comments about our intention to heal. He noted that:

“You can’t heal a body you hate.”

“You can’t shame your way to wellness.”

Isn’t it so true that when we think about our bodies or our appearance, we often focus on the things we don’t like? We walk past a mirror, and we immediately focus in on the part we wished looked somehow different, thinner, better? By doing so, we immediately shame ourselves – reinforcing what we have perceived to not be ideal or perfect for us.

We can begin to recognize that, in order to heal, we must do so from the inside out. That may include the foods we put into our body and the movement we increase to optimize our body’s ability to function well – but it can also include how we speak to ourselves. We can add to our gratitude list that we are thankful for the beating of our heart, the ability our bodies have to eliminate toxins, the miraculous system that is our physical self. We can also stop by that mirror and admire the things we love about our appearance; we can thank our body for serving us well, we can reinforce our commitment to it – that we will endeavor to heal ourselves from the inside out. 🙂

To visit Dr. Will Cole’s website:

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What Does Bad Timing Have to Do with Anything?

The short answer? A lot. One of the biggest communication traps we can get ourselves into is that of bad timing.

Communicating how we feel or what we need isn’t always easy. There are a lot of variables to consider: recognizing what our need or feeling is, deciding whether or not we want to bring it to someone’s attention, how we are going to bring it up, who is on the receiving end of that conversation and whether or not it is going to be understood. We also need to consider when to have that conversation. The variable of timing is often overlooked and it can make the difference as to how the communication plays out. Let us consider some grounds rules for timing:

  • If you are feeling angry, that isn’t the time to bring something up. We are much better served to take some space from the emotion and let our rational brain chime in as to how we want to respond.
  • If you are feeling easily overwhelmed or on the verge of a meltdown, you may be too emotional to be able to communicate effectively. We are wise at this point to ‘sleep on it,’ or instill the 24 hour rule to see how we feel about it the next day.
  • If you are exhausted, get some sleep first. Nothing makes us more vulnerable than a bleary-eyed state.
  • Wanting to talk about something when getting into bed or when someone is trying to get out the door is most likely not going to go well as it creates the feeling of being blind-sided. A better option is to find an opportunity when both of you are relaxed and have the time.
  • Choose a private space. Saying something in front of your in-laws, children or friends is going to add insult to injury.

Timing is an important part of communicating well. When we attempt to create a time and space for telling someone how we feel we are contributing to the health of the relationship as we are moving from the position of “I am important and so are you.”

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A Little Poem About Importance

Sometimes we forget that we can be important to others in subtle ways. I resonated with this little poem:

You might think that you don’t matter in this world, but because of you,

someone has a favourite mug to drink their tea out of that you bought them. 

Someone hears a song on the radio and it reminds them of you. 

Someone has read a book you recommended to them and gotten lost in its pages. Someone’s remembered 

a joke you told them and smiled to themselves on the bus. Never think you don’t have an impact.

Your fingerprints can’t be wiped away from the little marks of kindness that you’ve left behind.


The kindnesses we afford others are remembered along the way. Some days, we need to read this little poem as a nice reminder of our worth.

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Working to Change our Anger Habits

Yesterday we explored the phases of anger; if our goal becomes to be able to use anger to our advantage, and stay “above the line,” the first step is in acknowledging that our anger habits are in fact habits. We learn about anger and how to process it from our experiences growing up and we often inherit learned behaviour from our caregivers. If for example, you had a parent who had a “0 to 60” temper, you might also have developed the same tendency.

It is important to note here that the following steps in processing anger are meant for alleviating the first two phases; aggression and hostility/resentment. Chronic anger and rage need deeper exploration and typically require professional help.

When you begin to feel anger rising, if you naturally move to aggression you will have an action urge; if your tendency is to suppress, you will feel that tendency to push it away (or down, hence the build up.) In either case, following these steps can help:

  1. Take some deep breaths. Research shows that deep breathing inhibits anger, anxiety and impulsivity.
  2. If you need to, remove yourself from the situation for 15 minutes. During that 15 minutes, continue to maintain some deep breathing and ask yourself the following question:
  3. “What am I really feeling? What is the emotion that I am skipping over? (remember that anger is our safe emotion so it becomes a default position for us).
  4. Before returning to the situation, ask yourself “How do I want to handle this? What can I do differently to avoid falling into my usual anger habit?” Tip: the 3 M’s help!
  5. Returning, keep in mind that the new behaviours you are choosing are the only ones you have control over. Rewarding the effort, not the outcome helps to reinforce your overall goal of moving towards healthier ways of coping anger.

Giving yourself permission to understand and accept unhealthy behaviours is the first step to growth; the work in changing habits takes time and patience. Please be gentle with yourself as you practice, practice, practice.   🙂

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When We Cross the Line; The Truth About Anger

Anger can have a bad rap. One look at an angry face and it can elicit a whole mix of emotions; everything from fear to helplessness to defensiveness. But anger really is meant to be a useful emotion to us; one that can motivate us to bring about change, one that can help us feel relief, one that aids us in processing more complicated emotions. When anger is in our control, we can put it to good use; however as soon as we cross the line; anger no longer works for us in positive ways. Listed are common phases of anger:

Aggression: As soon as we move to yelling, sarcasm, swearing, name calling, or hitting, we no longer have full control over our anger. It is at this stage, that we move to wanting to be right or gain control and we lose the ability to see the situation in an objective light. There is no room for solution in the aggressive stage. 

Hostility/Resentment: This is anger built up. It is a suppression of anger; sitting heavy within. It is during this phase that I am often reminded of the saying, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the only one who gets burned.”

Chronic Anger: This is a phase in which someone lives in anger. Every emotion is now filtered through anger and it can lead to mistrust and paranoia at times. In reality, a very difficult way to live.

Rage: The phase of truly uncontrolled anger.

We may recognize ourselves in one of these phases; certainly the first two at different times in our lives. Tomorrow we will explore how to stay “above the line” so as to how to make our anger work for us in positive ways.

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Two Factors to Longevity in Relationships

When we think about the longevity and sustainability of relationships, two factors play a big role:

  1. Compatibility. Do you share the same type of values with your partner? Are you similar in how you like to spend your time? Enjoy a lot of the same activities? Are you in agreement as to how to discipline children? Do you share a semblance of work ethic and ambition? Although we can certainly appreciate the differences that two people bring to a relationship, and can work with an opposite-attracts type of union, compatibility tends to rank higher in the ability to maintain a strong emotional bond. For established relationships, working towards common goals and values can help to strengthen compatibility factors and for anyone in the dating world, keeping the goal of a well-matched union will often lead to a healthier choice with less potential conflict.
  2. Unity. Very often our values and goals line up to create a team-like approach to our relationship, giving each other the feeling that we are joined “as a whole” so to speak. This does not mean that we are not individuals within the relationship, but rather it is the inherent feeling of consistency and integration in our movement forward as a couple.

Compatibility and unity are factors, invariably, that lead to a greater strengthening of our attachment system. Just the sound of those words together brings about feelings of security, and the notion of a safe space to land in. 🙂

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What is Perceptual Narrowing and Why is it Important?

In psychology, we have a term called perceptual narrowing. Essentially, it is our tendency to narrow our intentional focus when we begin to feel worried or panicked about something. It is why we will often get stuck in a rumination or worry. As a result of perceptual narrowing, we will often miss information that may be useful to us in looking at the situation more objectively.

Perceptual narrowing tends to happen when we are stressed; we focus in on one thing as our heart rate increases and our breathing shallows. If for example, I am trying to get out the door and I feel rushed,  I focus on my fear of being late. My perception narrows, I have less access to my peripheral vision, and before you know it, I have dropped something, forgotten something and probably spilled something. It is usually at this point that I take a deep breath and remind myself to slow down.

It is important to recognize that perceptual narrowing is part of our system’s response to stress. I suppose when we lived on the plains, if a big storm was coming, we would have needed to focus all of our attention on securing our safety. In today’s world, many of our panicked thoughts are perceived ones and we end up going to worst case scenario thinking – our increased stress response induces perceptual narrowing, leaving us feeling scattered and sometimes frayed.

We can; however, begin to recognize when this is happening and remind ourselves to pause, slow down, focus on our breathing. We can use self-talk to “take it one moment at a time,” and to “look at the facts.” This will allow our rational voice to weigh in on what first appears to be a runaway worry.

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A Reminder that We Can Heal

I came across this quote from Dodinsky:


A memory visited my heart.

It mumbled the same story

as the previous days.

I usually dismiss it with tears.

But today is different.

Today I released it with a smile.

– Dodinsky

We come to a point in our healing when something within us changes. It can come from an aha moment or it can arrive without fanfare. It is a moment in time when we realize we have healed from a past hurt, when we have given ourselves permission to feel only the wake of its peace.

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Why Daily Self-Care?

I am a big believer in some form of daily self-care. That might be the way that you start your morning – 10 minutes of meditation, prayers, stretching or yoga – or it might be a reset at lunch with a 15 minute walk in the fresh air. Our bits of self-care can be scattered throughout the day when we consciously choose to listen to music when making dinner, soak in a lavender-scented tub, light a candle. It can be the space that we make to watch the birds landing on the feeder, walking around the yard admiring the flowers, or the moments we take to give some affection to the dog or cat. It can be the joy we feel when we send a loved one a text, or sit down for a catch-up chat. Sometimes, our self-care routine is one that we incorporate into our bedtime routine, such as writing in our gratitude journal or cozying in under our weighted blanket.

Our self-care strategies are tailored to what feeds our comfort system; they remind us that joy is our birthright. They create a space that reminds us that we are important; that our very nature is meant to feel light. Self-care also helps to soften the tension. When we incorporate small changes into our daily life, we are naturally reducing the stress that tends to build up because of  obligations we have. They also remind us that we can feel peace when experiencing grief, sadness or uncertainty.

Consider sprinkling some self-care into your every day routine. Your soul will thank you 🙂

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