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More Publications

More Publications

Madrigrano, G.D. (2016). 10 Foolproof Fathering Tips for Raising Confident and Successful Children. See: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/10-foolproof-fathering-tips-for-raising-confident-and-successful-children-kcon/

Madrigrano, G.D. (2016). 10 Ways to Guard Your Daughter Against Toxic Relationships. See: http://goodmenproject.com/families/10-ways-to-guard-your-daughter-against-toxic-relationships-kcon/

Madrigrano, G.D. (2015) 5 Steps to Better Self Care for Moms. See: http://ezinearticles.com/?5-Steps-to-Better-Self-Care-for-Moms&id=9043039.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2015) 8 Steps to a Struggle Free Bedtime Routine. See: http://ezinearticles.com/?8-Steps-to-a-Struggle-Free-Bedtime-Routine&id=9026443.

Madrigrano, G.D. and Ian Barsetti (2012) Les habiletés sociales et la gestion des émotions. In Monique Tardif, Martine Jacob, Robert Quenneville & Jean Proulx (Eds.) La Délinquance Sexuelle des Mineurs: Approches Cliniques (pp. 339-376). Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2010). Traits Perpetuating Anxiety and How to Change Them. See: http://ezinearticles.com/?Traits-Perpetuating-Anxiety-and-How-to-Change-Them&id=5019498.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2010). Natural Anxiety Treatment: Relieve Your Symptoms. See: http://ezinearticles.com/?Natural-Anxiety-Treatment—Relieve-Your-Symptoms&id=4887102.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2006). L’évaluation du risque des adolescents ayant commis des crimes sexuels: Théorie et outils pratiques. RIMAS: 20-22 septembre 2006. 10e anniversaire.

Bourgon, G., Morton-Bourgon, K.E., & Madrigrano, G.D. (2005) Multi-Site Investigation of Treatment for Sexually Abusive Juveniles. In Barbara K. Schwartz (Ed.) The Sex Offender Vol 5: Issues in assessment, treatment, and supervision of adults and juvenile populations (pp. 15.1-15.17).New Jersey: Civic Research Institute Inc.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2005). Juvenile sex offenders: A comparison with older sex offenders and other delinquents. Crisis Workers’ Society of Ontario 21stAnniversary Conference. June 2, 2005

Renaud, P., Proulx, J., Rouleau, J., Bouchard, S., Madrigrano, G. D., Bradford, & J., Fedoroff, P.(2005). The recording of gazing responses in virtual immersion: A new clinical tool to assess sexual preferences in paraphilias. Cybertherapy, Bâle, Suisse, Juin 2005.

Renaud, P., Proulx, J., Rouleau, J., Granger, L., Bradford, J., Fedoroff, P., Madrigrano, G. & Bouchard, S.(2005). L’évaluation des préférences sexuelles à l’aide de la vidéo-oculographie utilisée en immersion virtuelle. CIFAS, Gatineau, Québec, Octobre 2005.

Madrigrano, G.D. (October 2004). Sexual Arousal of Juvenile Sex Offenders: How do they compare to adult sex offenders? Forensic Teaching Kardex: Royal Ottawa Hospital.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2004) Symposium Chair : Evaluating Deviant Sexual Interests Among Adolescent Sexual Abusers: Influential Factors and Empirical Considerations. Presentation: Sexual arousal throughout the lifespan: A cross-sectional longitudinal study. The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, 23rd Annual Research and Treatment Conference: Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 27.

Ahmed, A., Stewart, W., & Madrigrano, G.D. (2003). Symposia: Prelude to violence- Assessment and treatment of dysfunctional anger. Presentation: Madrigrano, G.D. Educational and Research activities at the anger disorders clinic. Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds. Royal Ottawa Hospital, February 4, 2003.

Bradford, J.M., Curry, S.D. & Madrigrano, G.D. (2003) Psychopathological Profiles of Child Molesters. 24th Annual Research Day, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa Academic and Research Day, November 21, 2003.

Fedoroff,J.P., Jacques,T., Curry,S., Madrigrano,G., Stewart,W., Ahmed,A.G., & Bradford,J. (2003). Sex roles in a sample of self-identified BDSM practitioners. Presented at the International Academy of Sex Research 29th Annual Meeting, 33-34. Kinsey Institute and University of Indiana: Bloomington, Indiana.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2003). The Juvenile Sex Offender: Best Practices I and II. 3rd annual Canadian Conference on Specialized Services for Sexually Abusive Youth, Toronto, Canada, May 7-9, 2003.

Madrigrano, G.D. (2003).The juvenile sex offender: Best practices. Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds. Royal Ottawa Hospital, February 7, 2003. (For Maintenance of Certification).

Madrigrano, G.D. (2002). L’évaluation psychologique des adolescents (Psychological assessment of adolescents). Université du Québec en Outaouais. November 12.

Rouleau, J.L. & Madrigrano, G.D. (2000). The assessment of adult and adolescent sex offenders in North America and it’s impact concerning targets of treatment. 5th Congress of European Federation of Sexology, Berlin, Germany, June 29 to July 02-2000.

Rouleau, J.L.. & Madrigrano, G.D. (2000) Toward a validated assessment procedure of adolescent sex offenders: Interview and questionnaires.International Academy of Sex Research, 26th Annual Meeting, Paris (France), July 2000.

Madrigrano, G.D. (1999) Vers la validation d’un protocole d’évaluation pour les adolescents ayant commis des crimes sexuels : entrevue et questionnaires. Thèse présentée à la Faculté des Études supérieures en vue de l’obtention du grade de Philosophia Doctor (Ph. D.)en psychologie. Montréal (Québec), Novembre 1999: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk2/ftp02/NQ52174.pdf

Madrigrano, G.D. & Rouleau, J.L. (1999). Comparaison entre les profils cliniques d’adolescents ayant commis des crimes sexuels versus ceux d’un groupe témoin: Données provenant d’entrevues cliniques normalisées et de questionnaires validés. Congrès Mondial Enfants victimes: Prévenir et Réparer, Bruxelles, Belgique, 20-22 Novembre 1999.

Rouleau, J.L.. & Madrigrano, G.D. (1999) Preliminary results of an assessment protocol for juvenile sex offenders. International Academy of Sex Research, 25th Annual Meeting, Turino (Italy), July 1999.

Madrigrano, G.D. (1998). Les adolescents agresseurs sexuels: évaluation du risque et du changement. Regroupement des intervenants en matière d’agression sexuelle (RIMAS), 24 Septembre 1998.

Madrigrano, G.D., Rouleau, J.L. & Robinson, M.C. (1997). Caractéristiques cliniques et sociodémographiques d’adolescents ayant commis des crimes sexuelsRevue Québécoise de Psychologie18 (3), pp. 91-110.

Robinson, M.C., Rouleau, J.L. & Madrigrano, G.D. (1997). Validation de la pléthysmographie pénienne comme mesure psychophysiologique des intérêts sexuels des agresseurs adolescents.Revue Québécoise de Psychologie, 18 (3), pp. 111-124.

Natural Anxiety Treatment – Relieve Your Symptoms

Natural Anxiety Treatment – Relieve Your Symptoms

A great number of people of all ages suffer from anxiety . There are natural remedies to relieve symptoms of anxiety, which have been proven effective in studies which included control groups. If you are not willing to take prescriptions drugs and prefer to try the natural route, you may benefit from these natural and safe alternatives.

Research has shown that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy,  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy  and some natural herbs have been quite effective at treating various anxiety disorders for children, teens, and adults alike.  Many of the strategies used by therapist can easily be learned by individuals.

There are cognitive and behavioural aspects to anxiety disorders and both need to be addressed in otder to best treat anxiety. Let’s start with the easier components which are the behavioural components. There are several strategies that can be used such as mindfulness, meditation, visualization, deep breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing) and progressive muscle relaxation.

For the cognitive aspect of anxiety disorders, peole need to look at the source of their anxiety. It can be  a place, an object, an animal, a situation. etc. Whatever it is, there are a few cognitive techniques to address these fears: progressive exposure, exposure and response prevention, flooding. These techiniques can be done in imagination or in vivo. The ultimate goal is to become skilled to do the exposure in vivo.  The main key, whatever the approach chosen, is to remember to resist the urge to avoid or escape the feared stimulus. Doing so will only reinforce your fear and solidify it.  In the past, a common therapeutic strategy was to teach thought stopping as another cognitive strategy to reduce irrational thoughts related to the anxiety provoking stimulus. However, this strategy can be difficult and it does not always work. A more useful strategy can be to simply detach and stop identifying with our thoughts. Notice them without judgment, and then let them go. In the same way that we notice cars and let them drive by. It requires less effort than attempting to “stop thinking” about something. Try to not think of a pink elephant. Too late. The image is already in your head.

To master the art of allowing, accepting and simply being in the present moment it takes practice. Not disidentify with our thoughts is an easier task when we practice mindfulness and meditation. Our mind then develops the ability to quickly detach from thoughts and let them go.

Once more, these techniques have been proven quite effective and there are many resources out there that describe them in detail. They can be found in workbooks available on Amazon or other book stores, web sites and You Tube videos that give very good descriptions of these techniques.

Lastly, in lieu of prescription medication, it is worth consulting an alternative health professional  (e.g. homeopath, naturopathic doctor, master herbalists) for their advise on the best natural remedies to calm symptoms of  anxiety and its related problems, such as insomnia. Valerian Root, Melatonin are two example of natural sleep aids. St-John’s Wort has been shown to help with mild to moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Always remember to consult with a registered and licenced professional before using any natural remedies, especially if you are also taking prescription drugs; drug interactions are possible and can be dangerous.

Finally, it is important to have a healthy balanced diet. Eating whole foods is always best, organic if at all possible, avoid processed foods, and artificial sweeteners, among other things. Basically, eat real food! Furthermore, the excessive use of stimulants (e.g. cigarettes, cafeine, sugar, soft drinks)  can imitate physiological symptoms of anxiety which in turn can be misinterpreted as anxiety or even misinterpreted as a panic attack.

In conclusion, anxiety is a disorder that is treatable and with high success rates with the natural techniques mentioned above. However, if you find you get no relief,  it may be helpful to consult a mental health professional. It may be difficult to go at this alone, especially if you have been suffering from anxiety for many years.

As Featured On EzineArticles

(c) 2010 Dr. Gina Madrigrano, All Rights Reserved.

Traits Perpetuating Anxiety and How to Change Them

Traits Perpetuating Anxiety and How to Change Them

If you are on a quest to finding a natural anxiety treatment, you first need to be aware of what contributes to your anxiety and what perpetuates it. Individuals who suffer from anxiety often share common character traits, some are positive and some are less desirable. Some of these traits are appreciated by family and friends while others can be annoying. While some traits are probably genetic, others are more likely the result of childhood experiences. These traits often perpetuate the problem with those who suffer from anxiety disorders. Four main traits that perpetuate anxiety have been identified. They are: perfectionism, the excessive need for approval, the tendency to ignore physical and psychological signs of stress and an excessive need for control. Do you recognize yourself?

There are various ways you can overcome perfectionism. You need to let go of the idea that your worth is determined by your achievements and accomplishments. You need to first recognize and then overcome perfectionistic thinking patterns (e.g., avoid the use of should must, can’t, always, never).  Human error happens, you must work at stopping to magnify the importance of small errors. Stop focussing on the negatives (there will always be negatives) and start to focus on the positives. Perfectionists often set unrealistic goals; work on goals that are more realistic. Of course you need to work, but you need a good balance in life. Get involved in more pleasure and recreation. Finally, play to play, not just to win, so work on the process of things rather than on the final outcome (i.e., having a process orientation as opposed to an outcome orientation).

Anxious people often feel an excessive need for approval, they must be liked by everyone and they work really hard at it. This places a lot of pressure on the person and he/she would benefit best from developing a realistic view of other people’s approval. There is no need to take everything so personnally or to make rapid conclusions about another person’s comment on you. Be realistic. Not everyone will like you and that’s okay. Do you like everyone? Dealing with criticism in an objective manner may be more beneficial, it may become a positive learning experience. A constant need for approval is often linked to co-dependency. Recognizing co-dependent behaviour and then letting go of it is also key. Stop placing other people’s need before your own and it is a first step to breaking away from co-dependent behaviour.

Another difficulty often encountered with anxious individual is their tendency to ignore physical and psychological signs of stress. This can lead to long term health problems and mental health issues. Individuals who do not suffer from anxiety disorders tend to be more in touch with their bodies. When people are unaware of the toll stress takes on their minds and their bodies, they are at higher risk of illness and burnout. These physical and psychological signs are warning signs that you should slow down. It is important that you become more aware of your own personal signs of stress. For example, signs of stress, but not limited to these, are headaches, backaches, teeth grinding, stomach ulcers, colds, depression, anxiety, mood swings, nightmares, relationship problems, etc. There exists various coping strategies for stress which involve the following: physical and lifestyle strategies; cognitive strategies, emotional strategies, and philosophical/spiritual strategies.

Finally, another character trait we encounter in individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders, is the excessive need for control. Somehow, they believe that if they can control a situation, a person, an outcome, that they will experience less anxiety. The problem with this perception is twofold. First, the only person we can control is ourselves. The minute we try to control other people or situations, the more we increase the odds of failing or encountering relationship difficulties. The fact is that the idea that we can control other things but ourselves is an illusion. The best way to address this need for control is to first accept that we have no control. Second, we need to cultivate patience, which means that at times you will need to tolerate an uncomfortable situation. Another important aspect is to come to the realization that most problems eventually do work out or get solved. Clients who have overcome anxiety have also found that developing a spriritual approach to life has helped them greatly, in addition also to mindfulness.

It is important to realize that these traits have become a way of life and will take time to change and will require your commitment. The first step to successful change is to become aware of these traits. In the end, this shift may bring about a domino effect, where you will not only change these traits but also end up changing certain values and beliefs you hold true and you may even change your lifestyle. Priorities may change also. The ultimate goal is to be freed from the anxiety and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

If you liked this article you can find more details on how to cope with anxety  by purchasing the book from which this article was insipred: The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne.

ea featured 4 Traits Perpetuating Anxiety and How to Change Them

(c) 2010, Dr. Gina Madrigrano. All rights reserved.

8 Steps to a Struggle Free Bedtime Routine

8 Steps to a Struggle Free Bedtime Routine

Are you struggling with the bedtime routine? Fighting to get the kids in bed, tired of repeating the same instructions daily? Losing your patience, screaming even? Dreading that step at the end of your day? Has it become a very negative experience for you AND your child? Here is a time tested simple way to go about it.

Decide on the time you want your child to be in bed. The routine should start one hour before that. Important warning: do NOT rush this routine, or push your child to hurry up. This is stressful for your child, thus activating his stress response, which defies the purpose of the routine, which is to calm your child down. Furthermore, it makes for an unpleasant interaction between the two of you. The goal is to make this time of the day a pleasurable experience so that your child will look forward to it, or at the least, not fight it.

Fact: The brain is programmed to naturally produce melatonin as the body unwinds and lights start to dim. It is this hormone that helps us to start feeling sleepy and then fall asleep. This is why it’s important to shut off all screens at least an hour before bedtime, or else you delay melatonin production and your child will have a hard time falling asleep. Turn off all electronics, including yours (at least for this moment, drop your cell, your iPad, etc.) The light and the stimulating effect of screens actually disrupts the sleep cycle. ( read more about melatonin here)

Here is a quote from a scientific article regarding the impact of screens on melatonin production :

Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone produced in the brain. As it grows dark melatonin levels rise and help facilitate sleep. Researchers have recently reported that when children aged 6-12 were deprived of their TV sets, computers and video games, their melatonin production increased by an average 30%. Exposure to a screen media was associated with lower urinary melatonin levels, particularly affecting younger children at a stage of pubertal development when important changes in melatonin’s role take place. The lead author speculated that girls are reaching puberty much earlier than in the 1950s. One reason is due to their average increase in weight; but another may be due to reduced levels of melatonin. Animal studies have shown that low melatonin levels have an important role in promoting an early onset of puberty. (Salti et al, 2006)

Another study published in the American Medical Association journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine found an association between daily screen time (ST) (i.e. television/DVD/video and computer use) in mid-adolescence and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Analysing blood samples in adolescent boys revealed that those boys with ST of 2 or more hours per day on weekdays have twice the risk of abnormal levels of insulin and HOMA-Insulin Resistance compared with boys with ST of less than 2 hours per day on weekdays indicating a greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. (Hardy et al 2010)

Develop a routine, that will be the same every night. This will program the brain to know that it’s preparing for sleep. It will not only help in the natural production of melatonin, but your child will naturally calm down and unwind, and gradually will start to feel sleepy.

This is also an excellent opportunity for parents to slow down from a busy day, and bond with your child. Part of the bedtime routine with small children involves the participation of parents. Drop everything, and focus 100% on your child.

Remember the goal of this routine, which is not only to prepare your child for sleep and the restorative benefits of rest and dreams, but it is also a precious moment where the two of you will bond and connect, and be truly present in this moment.

It is not a waste of time or a meaningless activity for your child. It actually crowns the day beautifully, brings safety and security as an added benefit, and it is the perfect opportunity to show your child how much you love him.

It is in these ordinary moments, that your relationship develops. This is where connection truly happens, daily. There is richness and hidden gifts in the simplicity and routine of daily life.

More and more children and adolescents are experiencing sleep problems and these are due to the amount of time spent in front of screens, as this article states:

An increasing number of studies have found that children are getting less sleep than previous generations and are experiencing more sleeping difficulties. New research has found a significant relationship between exposure to television and sleeping difficulties in different age groups ranging from infants to adults.

A study of 2068 children found that television viewing among infants and toddlers was associated with irregular sleep patterns. The number of hours of television watched per day was independently associated with both irregular naptime schedule and irregular bedtime schedules. (Thompson and Christakis 2005) Another study of 5-6 year olds found that both active TV viewing and background ‘passive’ TV exposure was related to shorter sleep duration, sleeping disorders, and overall sleep disturbances. Moreover, passive exposure to TV of more than two hours per day was strongly related to sleep disturbances. TV viewing and particularly passive TV exposure “significantly increase the risk of sleeping difficulties … parents should control the quantity of TV viewing and … limit children’s exposure to passive TV.” (Paavonen et al, 2006).

A study at Columbia University found that young adolescents who watched three or more hours of television a day ended up at a significantly increased risk for frequent sleep problems as adults. Remember that this amount of screen time is actually less than the average. On the other hand, those adolescents who reduced their television viewing from one hour or longer to less than one hour per day experienced a significant reduction in risk for subsequent sleep problems (Johnson et al, 2004).

The 8 simple steps to a struggle free bedtime routine are as follows (adjust based on age):

1) The bedtime routine can start with helping your child to tidy up, so that when you get up in the morning, you are not greeted by clutter and chaos. In another blog post I will explain how clutter contributes to stress and anxiety. Help your child pick up their toys, choose their clothes for the next day, put together their school bag, and/or sports equipment. Have everything ready so that you are not rushed in the morning.

2) Follow by the bathroom routine. It should involve going to the bathroom, brush and floss teeth, and the night time bath or shower. The warm water will naturally relax your child. Adding lavender essential oil ( natural not synthetic, as it is toxic) to the bath water will further relax your child. Do not rush bath time. Remember, you have allotted time for this. If your child really loves bath time and you always feel rushed, just start the routine earlier. Clic here for my recipe on relaxing bath salts. If you involve your child in making this recipe, you’ll spark an interest in your child in wanting to use what he created!

3) After the bath, gift your child with a soothing massage as your rub a nice moisturizing cream or oil on his little body. Do not underestimate the wonderful power of a loving touch. It shows your child they matter, that you love them, that you care. They can then put their little pajama.

4) You can follow with a short routine of PM yoga as a way to prepare the body for sleep. You can do yoga, or just do a few relaxing stretches. Depending on the age of your little one, the bath, and the massage may have been sufficient to relax your child (Anita Goa has a variety of wonderful routines here is a short 10 minute one you can try, or you can make up your own)

5) You can then cuddle in bed with your child and read a beautiful bed time story. I have found that one story is enough and sometimes as a treat we may add another one. Don’t be surprised if your child always wants the same story. It takes a few times to take the whole story in. They are not bored as you might be by the repetition. Stories prepare them for a calm sleep and the world of dream land.

6) I like to end the day on a positive note and ask my daughter for three things she was grateful for today, and I tell her what I was grateful for as well.

7) Just before kissing my daughter goodnight, we have a special prayer for continued health and protection. My daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was a tiny 2.5 year old. A friend of mine who wasn’t supposed to survive her cancer shared this special prayer with us and we have said it every night since. You can end the night on a prayer, a poem, or a blessing if you like, whether you are religious or not, or spiritual.

8) Last but not least, shower your child my with kisses and hugs to escort him to dreamland.

As your young toddler gets older, you won’t need to assist every step of the way. The rhythm and repetition will establish the routine on its own and your child will follow it beautifully. My daughter is 6.5 and I still do this with her. These are precious moments that we share and I look forward to this downtime every night. It also allows me to switch gears, slow down my pace and then give myself the gift of my own relaxing bedtime routine.

The daily repetition of this routine sets in a rhythm. The consistency will reduce the incidence of struggles, but most of all, your child will experience this part of the day as positive, consequently, will look forward to it and not fight it.

ACTION STEP: Repetition, consistency, keeping the sequence, assisting your child, not rushing, infusing it with love and patience, and staying present in the moment are the essential ingredients to a successful bedtime routine. Remember to make the adjustments necessary based on your child’s  age, your values, etc.  Give it at least three months to have enduring effects. Tell me how it goes! Comment below and share your questions or experience.
Dr. Gina Madrigrano, EzineArticles Basic Author
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5 Steps to Better Self Care for Moms

5 Steps to Better Self Care for Moms

You might think: “What does self care have to do with parenting skills” ? Well it has everything to do with it. As I’ve mentioned probably several times by now, we teach our children mainly by what we do, more than by what we say. If you want your kids to take good care of themselves in your absence, you need to do it for yourself as well.

If they see you always prioritizing other people’s needs before your own, you are teaching them to place others’ needs first at the expense of their own…. People pleasing, does that ring a bell (read more)?

Our unhealed wounds are passed down from one generation to the next, when we live and parent unconsciously. All too common are women raised with the principle that putting their needs first equals being selfish. Other childhood or past wounds lead to lack of proper self care. And if you struggle with this, delve deeper into your issues, and work through them. This will greatly change the way you parent your child, for the better.

Adequate self care starts with setting  healthy boundaries, which goes hand in hand with self respect, and self respect fosters healthy self-esteem.  If your self esteem is healthy, the greater the chances your child will develop a healthy self esteem as well (read more and here).

In the midst of attachment parenting and conscious parenting, there is still space to take good care of yourself. How will your child learn self love if you don’t have love for yourself. You teach people how to treat you, and it starts with your family. If you send conflicting messages between your actions and your words, trust me, your children will follow your actions.

I have seen it too many times in my practice, parents asking me to heal their child of an ailment which is only a mirror image of their own suffering. But like most moms, and I have been guilty of this on many occasions, sometimes we show more love and dedication to our children than we do to ourselves.

We always put them first, at the expense of our own health and wellbeing. But I learned the hard way that if I did not heal or take care of myself first, then I am not a good teacher to my daughter.

It is important that you create for yourself rituals of self care, set clear boundaries for respect of mommy time: practice your favourite hobby, socialize with your friends, have date nights with your husband or partner, workout, do yoga, meditate, read, etc. Whatever brings you joy and peace. It is important that you have time for yourself only.

Step 1: Do make a point to make yourself happy once a day for the easy doable things, and regularly for bigger ticket items. Here are a few examples of what I like to do for myself on a daily basis : read a book at bedtime, meditate, yoga, write my book, listen to my favourite radio station when I cook or walk the dog or drive. Here are examples of things I like to do for myself on a weekly basis : meet with a good friend, go out for tea or coffee in my favourite café and write, have a nice long walk with the dog, take a nice bath with candles, work on an art project, take time alone in my healing room, light a few candles, put soft music, and read special passages in various books (or inspirational cards) that I have, or just sit there in silence and gratitude.

Step 2: Create a special space in your house or apartment for yourself. It can be a whole room or a section of a room. If your space is small you can use a divider or the architecture to create an illusion of a separate space. You can create a non-religious altar where you keep special items in that area (on a table or bookshelf). It can have pictures of people you love, special stones, books, candles, crystals, incense, essential oil diffuser, a Himalayan salt lamp, or any inspirational object that has special meaning to you (example 1 of altar, example 2 of altar; beautiful pictures of altars) . You can add a comfortable chair or cushions to sit on, a music player to relax the senses, etc. Your space can have a theme, a colour, special decorative items, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to deciding what you make of that space. The important part is that when you enter that space, immediately it shifts you into a positive state of mind, and thus will relax you and help you disconnect or unwind, and bring you peace and joy. I recommend that you give that space a name. I call mine the “healing room”. Retreat to that space in those moments of self care.

Step 3Self love and self care involve loving your imperfections and doing so out loud. Show your kids that it’s OK to not be perfect and to make mistakes. Forgive yourself and be kind to yourself. Don’t be so hard on yourself and such a perfectionist, as this is what you are teaching your kids to be. Instead of paying attention to your perceived flaws, pay attention to your strengths and assets, and highlight them and be proud of them. Teach the same to your kids. Even super models hate parts of themselves, no one is perfect! If you catch yourself berating yourself or your appearance, correct yourself as you would correct your child. Tell that mind of yours to take a hike!

You need to embrace your mistakes and imperfections, they are gifts. If you don’t, your child will not only mirror them back to you, but how do you expect them to embrace their own imperfections ? Lead by example or you will be perceived as a fraud by your kids. Start by practicing this simple technique called “Mirror Work” as taught by Louise Hay (see here for instructions) and change the way you talk to yourself (more here). What you keep affirming becomes your reality. So make sure you affirm good thoughts in your life.

Step 4: Develop a gratitude practice. Once a day, at least, reflect on what you are grateful for (you can even write it in a beautiful journal). It is especially important to do this on difficult days as it will put things in perspective. Psychology research has shown the positive impact of keeping a gratitude journal (e.g., better sleep, better mood, fewer illness, more happiness – read more articles on the impact of gratitude). Read some  tips on keeping a gratitude journal. Do this gratitude quiz to see how grateful you are :-), it will give you a great baseline measure. It is well known, that an attitude of gratitude leads to greater life satisfaction.

Step 5: If you have unhealed wounds, invest in a good therapist. YOU are worth it.  As you heal your wounds, and take care of yourself, naturally your child will benefit. You will then parent more consciously and thus be more present emotionally to you child’s actual needs, and you won’t project your own issues on him or her (Watch videos here on being a conscious parent).

“When mama’s happy everyone is happy”. This saying bares so much truth. Take the time to pamper yourself, it’s well worth it.

Action Step: To practice self care and self love, requires a bit of introspection. Start by deciding what you value in life and what brings you joy, carefully ponder on this. It may take a few days. Look at your schedule and see how, on a daily, and weekly basis, you can make time for yourself. Develop those rituals that show how much you love yourself by working through the 5 steps mentioned above and start seeing positive changes in your life and your family’s life. Keep me posted below!

For more on self-care, read this good book by Cheryl Richardson (The Art of Extreme Self-Care). Designed to complete one chapter a month.