Monday, December 31, 2012

Dear Teen Me: Young Authors Tell About Accepting And Living With Illness

(An excerpt from Dear Teen Me)
By Carrie Jones
Dear Teen Me,
Okay, a lot of people write about their health problems. And I get that. I mean, a lot of people like to talk about their broken bones and gastrointestinal issues, and whatever. That's fine. During flu season, people will go into graphic details about how they puked every two minutes. They'll even revel in details about the consistency of their vomit—and trust me, whether it was acidic or chunky, it was definitely gross.
You've never been one of those people, though. It's not that you think sickness shows some kind of bodily or spiritual weakness or something like that. You just think it's boring. And as far as you're concerned, there's nothing worse than being boring.
So when you were super little and broke your ankle playing tag at Debbie Muir's house, you didn't talk about it. And when you were in second grade and you broke your front tooth, you didn't talk about that either. You even kept your chronic bronchitis a secret.
And now?
I guess the older you—that is to say, me—is sticking to the plan. Because writing isn't talking, technically speaking. But I still feel this weird sort of apprehension, of nervousness. A little voice inside my head keeps telling me, "Sickness is boring. Tell a joke, Carrie. Tell a joke."
But seizure jokes are terrible, evil things. These are from

  • Do you know what to do if someone has a seizure in a swimming pool?
    • Throw in the laundry
  • What's blue and doesn't fit?
    • A dead epileptic
There are some that are even worse, but I'm not going to include them here because I'm nice like that. So, you're probably wondering why I'm even telling you seizure jokes.
Well, in about a month, a boy is going to do something horrible to you. The incident and its aftermath will haunt you for a really long time, and it will affect your life in ways that you'll never expect. One of those unfortunate, life-changing consequences includes a case of mono—but, worse still, the virus that causes mono is going to act a little funny in your case. It's going to attack your brain. And it's going to give you seizures.
DO NOT FREAK OUT!!! Things I know:
  1. You're about to go to college
  2. You don't have time for this
  3. You don't even like to talk about being sick—because being sick is boring
And I'd like to be able to tell you that it's going to be okay. I wish that this letter could actually somehow reach back in time and grab hold of you there—so that you could avoid that party, so that you could escape being hurt by that boy, and so that you wouldn't have to suffer through seizures every day of your freshman year. But I can't tell you that. Things don't work that way.
So, um, the points here are:
  1. You're about to experience something truly awful. Even though you don't drink, a certain very cruel, very callous guy is drinking—and there's nothing I can do now to stop that thing from happening.
  2. One of the lasting effects of this horrible experience is a virus that winds up giving you seizures.
  3. Do not give up.
Seriously. That's the point. DO NOT GIVE UP. You're going to have seizures. You are actually going to develop a rash as a result of those seizures. The rash is pretty gross. Pack a lot of tights and pants to hide it. The seizures will start with your hand jerking. Then you'll pass out.
Here's the thing: Your sickness isn't important. It's not going to define who you are. You have to be the one to do that.
Your first seizure will happen at home. You and Joe are hanging on the floor, watching Amazon Women on the Moon—this spoof movie that makes fun of other movies and shows. It's sort of a bunch of weird skits that feature things like a hero guy fighting against giant spiders, and a first lady who used to be a hooker. Stuff like that.
You aren't feeling great. You think it's the stress. A half-eaten tray of nachos rests on the heavy wooden coffee table in front of you. About four cans of Pepsi linger around the nachos, flip tops open, and almost drained.
You scratch at the weird rash down by your ankle. It's a bizarre array of red dots and circles. It isn't bright; just sort of looks like faded markers. You hate it because it makes you imperfect. You also hate the idea of leaving Joe, even though you're super psyched about the future right now, and about getting out of the split-level house with the ugly brown couch. You're ready to leave the entire town of Bedford, New Hampshire, behind—because it seems to be nothing but rich people (except, that is, for you).
And because it's one of the weaker scenes in the movie, and because, even though something awful happened at that party, you and Joe are hormonal monsters, you start to make out. Kissing Joe is like kissing sunlight. It energizes you, makes you all shaky inside, like you're dopes up on a caffeine IV or something crazy like that. When you kiss him, you can smell him, and he smells clean… everything is right in the world until IT happens. You're inhaling that smell when he breaks away and says, "Your lips are kind of dry."
"Oh!" You grab for your Pepsi. "Sorry!"
You remember taking a sip…holding the can…hand shaking in this weird, rhythmical way…Joe grabbing the can, his eyes all soft and concerned… his voice sounding far away. "You okay?"
That's all you remember.
Bruce Link wrote, "Stigma exists when a person is identified by a label that sets that person apart and links that person to undesirable stereotypes that result in unfair treatment and discrimination."
The first step comes when people realize that others are different from themselves. They give those differences "labels." Next, culture determines that those people with certain characteristics are representative of everyone else who shares those characteristics, and a "negative stereotype" develops, which creates an "us vs. them" mentality. Finally, those who have been labeled begin to find themselves discriminated against.
There's a massive history of people feeling ashamed of their epilepsy. Epilepsy was hidden. Epilepsy was a secret. Epilepsy was something to fear. Epilepsy was and is a stigma.
But you have it, Carrie. You have it, and it will be okay.
Remember, we define ourselves. Define yourself as awesome.

Carrie Jones is the internationally (and New York Times) bestselling author of the Need series and other books. For more information about Carrie, please visit
For more information about Dear Teen Me, please visit

 The Ultimate Superfood Powers Heart-Healthy New Year Resolutions
Flax Chia Blend Fuels Wholesome Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners
to Aid in Weight Loss and Disease Prevention

For the estimated one-third of Americans who will make New Year's resolutions to eat better and lose weight in the upcoming months, they might consider flax seeds combined with chia seeds to help them achieve their goals. 

The combination of organic milled flax and chia together offers a food that is almost unrivaled in its fiber and healthy fat content and is a great component for helping New Year resolutioners lose and maintain their weight. Many dieters have found that organic milled flax and chia seeds have been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.   

Nutritionist, Deborah Orlick Levy, MS, RD, encourages her patients to incorporate flax into their daily nutrition plans and explains, "Flax is one of the best sources of Omega 3 healthy fat that can help speed the process of losing weight while also helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also beneficial in alleviating symptoms of hypertension, joint pain, and an array of other ailments. I often tell people that you can spend your money on healthy eating now or you can spend your money at the doctor's office later in life."

Carrington Farms offers a flax-chia combination that combines organic milled flax seeds with chia seeds resulting in a nutritious blend with a wealth of health benefits. Chia seeds, low in carbs and gluten free, are packed with Omega 3's, vitamins, antioxidants, protein, fiber, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc. Organic milled flax seeds are also loaded with Omega 3's, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals, but have the added benefit of hormone balancing phytoestrogens called lignans, all of which help promote a healthy lifestyle. Together, the perfect balance of the combined blend provides an excellent source of energy and nutrients for lasting heart health and boosted metabolism resulting in the ultimate "Superfood".

Healthy eating this New Year will begin in the kitchen and the Flax Chia blend offers the convenience of nutrition that can easily and tastily be incorporated into the daily meal prep routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a delicious and subtle nutty flavor, it can be sprinkled over cereals, oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast or used as a tasty topping for salads or casseroles for lunch and dinner. It can even be used in place of eggs in recipes such as meatloaf and hamburgers, or as a coating on kid-friendly chicken nuggets. 

About Carrington Farms
For over a decade, Carrington Farms has been providing health-conscious consumers with healthy yet delicious products. The company is committed to offering the freshest and best-tasting organic flax seed that nature has grown. To that end, each batch of flax seed that goes into the Carrington product line is stringently tested and guaranteed to be both 100 % organic and non-genetically modified. This rigorous quality assurance process ensures an end product that is the highest-quality, cleanest seed available. Carrington's focus on a healthy lifestyle is summed up by its slogan: "Healthy Foods for a Healthy Soul." For additional information on the company, please visit

Health-Based New Year's Resolutions Work Better with Sleep

As the New Year approaches, Americans are ready to make their resolutions for a healthier, happier, more prosperous 2013. Statistically speaking, nearly half of the country will make a New Year's Resolution. Losing weight tops the list of most common resolutions, but a more general "stay fit and healthy" is the fifth most popular goal people set for January 1.

With health and weight-related goals, much of the focus falls on food and exercise. Maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly are essential to reducing body fat, improving organ function, and boosting overall health. However, getting enough quality sleep can help improve health and weight loss efforts.

Research has shown that people who get the proper amount of sleep each night (typically eight hours for an adult) have an easier time sticking to an exercise regimen and making healthier food choices. Better sleep has also been linked to better mental health and, for children, better behavior in school.

"Barriers to sleep include lifestyle choices, caffeine consumption, and even the bed itself," says Mark Wells of Sleep City and 

Simple New Year's Resolution: Wake Up and Achieve Your Goals

December 31, 2012- (Sparta, NJ) - One business woman from New Jersey has the simple answer for everyone who struggles with New Year's resolutions: wake up and seize the day.  Cathy Beggan, founder of Rise-N-Shine, LLC, early morning specialist and creator of Wake Up On Time, suggests five ways to wake up early to reach your goals for a positive and more productive 2013. 
 "A study from the University of Toronto suggests that early morning risers are happier than their late night counter- parts and have a more positive and motivated outlook," said Beggan.  "Committing to a resolution to wake up early and be more productive is important because it provides motivation which is a critical step in achieving your goals." 
 Beggan suggests the following five ways to wake up early, feeling refreshed, motivated and committed to making 2013 a more successful and productive new year.

  1. Prepare yourself the night before.  Facilitate the transition to morning person by getting some of the everyday task out of the way the night before.
  2. Think positive thoughts.  The night before, write down one positive thought, memory, goal or affirmation and read it when you wake up; Carpe Diem.
  3. Keep your body hydrated.  Drink water before bed and when you rise in the morning.  The body becomes dehydrated during sleep and lack of water causes many fatigue symptoms in the morning.
  4. Get enough sleep and try to be consistent.  Everyone's sleep allowance is different, so judge accordingly, but it's more important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  5. Keep your body alive and well with all-natural vitamins, herbs and amino acids.  They boost energy levels and immune systems, while elevating moods and enhancing metabolism. The body does most of its regeneration during sleep at night.      

30 Ways to Better Days:
How to Rally After You've Been Dumped
By Caird Urquhart


            Everyone has been there.  The heart ache and heart break of being dumped; the difficulty of getting out of bed each morning just wanting to stay in bed in fetal position crying; feeling helpless and alone; spending hours upon hours at the gym and not eating.

            Business and life coach Caird Urquhart shares a very personal self-help guide teaching women how to use that grief, become proactive and bounce back to reality with 30 Ways to Better Days: How to Rally After You've Been Dumped.

            Throughout the book, Caird shares the brutally honest truth of how to navigate through the gut-wrenching days of a breakup and apply little yet essential changes for daily growth.  The book is in essence a tool -- even a best friend -- to let go of the anger and become optimistic about life and the endless possibilities in the world.  It promises to raise self-esteem so one can overcome their fears and reach goals.

            Speaking to everyone who has ever gone through a break up where they think they'll never find someone again, 30 Ways to Better Days: How to Rally After You've Been Dumped covers such topics as:
  • Choosing to take control of the situation and not become a victim of it
  • How to change dating patterns to avoid heartbreak
  • Why grieving a breakup is important, and how to grieve
  • Embracing change and leading to a better life
  • Why befriending an old boyfriend can actually be a good thing
  • How a gay male friend is an invaluable friend to have

      Using the book as a tool to recover from her own heartbreak, Caird pours her heart and soul into this book, sharing her own personal experiences.

"It takes living through each season, each holiday, each 'What were we doing at this time last year?' to really clear your mind," says Caird.  "My book moves the reader out of feeling badly about their situation and into taking action to reclaim their lives."

About Caird Urquhart:
30 Ways to Better Days...How to Rally After You've Been Dumped is a self-help book aimed at women who have just gone through a relationship breakup. The chapters in the book are short and sweet and was written as an easy to read, no nonsense handbook with the intention of helping women of all ages lift their self-esteem and become empowered to move on.

With 18 years of experience in the film and television industry as a producer, casting director and actor, Caird became a personal and business coach.  After graduating from The Coaches Training Institute and being accredited by the International Coaches Federation, she founded New Road Coaching Inc. in October of 2005.

Since then, Newroad has been working with entrepreneurs, executives, athletes and entertainers to help them achieve the big picture possibilities of their lives.  Her hope as a coach is to be able to share the true magic of the entertainment industry; that dreams can become reality.

Caird lives in Toronto, Canada where she is the proud Aunt to ten nieces and nephews.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree with majors in Psychology and Physical Education from Wilfred Laurier University. And is a member of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, Canadian Association of Women Executive and Entrepreneurs, Company of Women, Women in Film and Television, The Economic Club and The Empire Club of Canada.

30 Ways to Better Days...How to Rally After You've Been Dumped is available now at:

The Happiness Handbook – New Twist on Happiness
NASA engineer, author, rocker, serial entrepreneur & happy woman launches eye-opening book
San Francisco, CA (December 31, 2012) – Author Jenn Flaa isn't your average successful woman entrepreneur – she's a satellite engineer who began her career working at NASA testing space flight hardware and software.  She then started a few successful businesses and earned clients like eBay, Dell, Microsoft and the US Air Force.  If that isn't unique enough, Jenn is also the lead vocalist for the rock band, Urban Fiction.  So what qualifies Jenn to write a book about happiness?  Well, she's happy for starters. 
"I wasn't always happy," says Jenn.  "I've been knocked around by life just like everyone else.  But when I realized that the true key to happiness is so easy, I gradually became happier.  It's not an overnight process, but it's simpler than most people realize." 
The Happiness Handbook, a definitive guide to finding true joy and living your extraordinary life, is a short, casual read packed with universally relevant action steps.  Readers learn key steps from author breakout Jenn Flaa's multi-year journey. She began her transformation as a chubby, miserable divorcee, owner of a struggling high tech company, and singer that hadn't sung in a decade. She is now a successful author, entrepreneur and rocker chick who is living large as the CEO of two thriving companies, singing lead in a rock band and is blissfully happy in a fulfilling relationship.
The Happiness Handbook offers readers an engaging approach to the age-old challenge of communication in relationships, guiding them through a fun process to identify, articulate and receive what makes them happy – and most importantly – teaching them the happy dance!
Flaa's premise that none of us come with a user's manual is illustrative of the author's humorous voice – providing readers with the ultimate insider's guide to finding happiness – whether they are single or in a relationship.  A key theme throughout the book: men are hardwired to make their women happy.  So why are so many relationships struggling?  Women aren't being clear enough! 
"Everybody, no matter what their belief system, wants exactly the same thing for their loved ones -- to be healthy and happy," states Flaa.  "So isn't it our responsibility to be proactive in the process?  If we are happy, then our loved ones are happy.  It's a perfect circle but YOU have to start it."
Ironically, it was Jenn's male friends that urged her to write this book. She had noticed an underlying theme in her previous relationships – she wasn't being clear about what made her happy and when something did make her happy, she was guilty of not enthusiastically receiving it.  She course corrected and the new concepts worked well - not only with boyfriends, but in all her relationships.  Her friends wanted it all in writing so they could have the same chance at happiness in their relationships. And so The Happiness Handbook was born.
About Jenn Flaa
Born and raised in the sweeping vistas of Minnesota's cornfields, Jenn Flaa's early interests were steeped in the arts.  She took a detour in college into technology and began her career doing software testing at NASA in Maryland.  After an eye-opening business trip to California, she realized she belonged in Marin County and relocated.  Then she did a couple of stints at high-tech start-ups before she established her own companies, Vettanna (high-tech staffing and strategic communications) and Vettanna ToGo (on camera training).  After her divorce, Jenn's creative voice re-emerged and she jumped back wholeheartedly into the arts, rocking out as the lead singer in her band Urban Fiction.  Jenn currently resides in Marin, is blissfully in love, very happy and ironically, working on another space project.
The Happiness Handbook is available on More at

Ballerina opens up about body image and the dangerous ballet 'Ideal'

In her debut book The Healing Dance, former National Ballet of Canada company dancer, three-time DORA award-winning choreographer and certified psychotherapist Kathleen Rea pulls back the stage curtain and reveals a history of anorexia, bulimia and self-harm that plagues so many professional ballerinas, who introduce potentially life-threatening 'ideals' to young minds who look up to them as the epitome of elegance, beauty and control.

Says Rea: "The strict rules of ballet instantly resonated with me as a child because they provided a set of ideals to reach for—a magical recipe that promised to make everything right. But my world of perfect pliés and pretty pirouettes quickly collapsed. Starvation was not only accepted -- but encouraged -- by my employers."

In The Healing Dance Rea discusses:

  • The harrowing, self-sacrificial world of professional ballet - and why parents may need to be more careful about what influences they unwittingly introduce their children to
  • Her path to recovery - including being fired by the National Ballet of Canada and being called an 'embarrassment' to her country for going on stage with a bigger-but-still-medically-malnourished BMI
  • Young women and the body image issue, and how we can begin to help them escape its clutches
  • What signs to watch for if you suspect a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, and what steps you can take to help them on the road to recovery
  • What expressive arts therapy is, and what brought her to the pursuit and mastery of it

About the Author:

Kathleen Rea is a former National Ballet of Canada company dancer, Dora award-winning choreographer and certified psychotherapist. She holds a diploma in expressive art therapy from ISIS-Canada, a certificate in psychology from Ryerson University and a master's degree in expressive arts therapy with a minor in psychology from the European Graduate School. A practicing therapist for the past twelve years, she is also a therapeutic performance facilitator, helping people express their life stories through multidisciplinary performance.
Kathleen has taught dance therapy, dance improvisation, and contact dance at York University, George Brown College, and Niagara College, and choreographed over forty works for her company, REAson d'etre dance productions, and other organizations. Her award winning dance film, Lapinthrope, aired on Bravo Television and screened at numerous international festivals. Her production Long Live was nominated for three Dora Mavor Moore awards, including outstanding choreography. In 2010, Kathleen was co-winner of the K. M. Hunter Dance Award

The Healing Dance is available in all major online retailers and select major and independent bookstores across North America.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yiddish Book Center launches workshops on Jewish culture

Amherst, MA - What is Tent? Tent offers twentysomethings a chance to explore their area of interest through the lens of Jewish culture. Tent is an immersive, intense, series of week-long workshops for young Jewish adults focusing on comedy (Los Angeles in March), creative writing (Amherst, MA in June), and theater (New York City in August). Each of these subjects – comedy, creative writing, and theater – have rich Jewish histories and Tent’s goal is to provide an opportunity for participants to connect with those histories. The workshops are designed to help participants understand their place as Jews in a multicultural society, to answer their questions about who they are and where they come from, and to help them explore the vast, complex, and immediately relevant cultural side of their identity.

An appreciation of Jewish culture can be a portal into deeper and more informed Jewish self-awareness. Tent aims to offer young North American Jews a new way of seeing their Jewishness: as something deep, rich, alive, and inseparable from cultural forms to which they are already committed. As Josh Lambert, Tent's Program Director, explains "Modern culture can inspire us to think imaginatively about what Jewishness means. And vice versa. Many of the young Jews I know feel more connected to Jewish culture than to religion or politics. Tent will be about exploring how these cultural enthusiasms--for comedy, cooking, law, and so many other fields--can become a bigger part of the national discussion of what it means to be Jewish."

According to Lambert, "The paucity of substantive Jewish cultural education for twentysomethings is emphatically not the result of apathy. When it comes to cultural expression, Jews in their twenties are anything but apathetic. Go to a stand-up comedy show, an indie rock concert, or an Off-Off-Broadway performance and you'll find throngs of effusive young Jews. Glance through the stacks of applications to MFA programs and you'll discover hundreds of Jewish young people competing for the opportunity to discuss literature or art. Speak to law students about tort reform, or to young foodies about local produce: the passion is already there."

In 2013 Tent will launch with three programs, each of the workshops is offered free to accepted participants; the only cost is travel.  In the following years Tent will grow to include 30 programs by 2016. Tent’s three pilot programs are:

Tent: Comedy, a week-long seminar in the theory and practice of comedy through a Jewish lens, will take place in Los Angeles, CA, March 17-24, 2013. Participants will explore stand-up, improv, and sketch forms with comedians from the country's leading comedy troupes, and meet with performers and writers working in film and television, see Sarah Silverman’s show at Largo, talk shop with Jill Soloway, writer/producer of Weeds and Six Feet Under, and more.

Tent: Creative Writing, which is modeled on the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, will be geared toward aspiring and practicing writers and will take place at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA, June 2-9, 2013. Have your fiction workshopped by your peers and critically acclaimed visiting writers, talk about why Jews are such a bookish people and why they’ve done so much writing, meet a New York-based literary agent and the NEA’s literature director Ira Silverberg, and more.

Tent: Theater is a week-long seminar about Jews and performance in New York City, August 4-11, 2013. Participants will meet actors, playwrights, and directors, will participate in a Q&A with playwright Tony Kushner, and will attend several current theatrical productions, Off-Broadway and elsewhere.

Applications and information are available at Applications for Tent: Comedy, the first program, are due January 7, 2013 and can be submitted online here. Tent, a program of the the Yiddish Book Center, is funded through the generous support of Judy and Michael Steinhardt.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Healthy eating on the go

By: Denise Austin, author of Side Effect: Skinny


Heading out of town? If you travel a lot, you know how tricky it can be to stick with your eating plan. But just because you're in a hotel or a restaurant doesn't mean you can't eat well. Follow these tips and you'll be good to go!
Eat As You Would At Home. Control the size of your portions at each meal. Portion control can make – or break – your dieting efforts, especially with restaurants supersizing meals or fad diet plans that encourage unlimited amounts of protein or other foods.
If Your Order Arrives and It Is Enough for 3 People, Only Eat 1 Sensible Portion. If you can have a fridge in your hotel room or are staying with friends, you can ask the waiter to box up the extras before you even start to eat so you won't be tempted – and you can enjoy the leftovers as a guilt-free meal on another day. Better yet, ask about portions when you order and then see if your friends want to share.
Snack Before You Go. If you know you'll be tempted by rich foods, have a healthy snack before dinner. You'll feel fuller and will be less likely to indulge once you arrive at the restaurant.
Know the Lingo. Avoid menu items that are described using the words au gratin, crispy, fried, tempura, alfredo, cheesy, butter, butter sauce, crunchy, beer-battered, crusted, pan fried, or creamy. These are buzz words that signal major calories. Stick with choices that are baked, broiled, poached, or steamed instead.
Substitute. If a dish comes with fries, don't hesitate to ask for it with a salad, baked potato, or a steamed veggie instead. Likewise, if a meat or veggie is prepared with lots of heavy oils, ask about lighter preparations or choose another dish. Restaurants want to make you happy (you are the customer, after all), so chances are they'll be willing to help.
Share. If you are dining with a friend, split an entrée, an appetizer, or even a dessert! It is a simple way to cut calories and not feel deprived.
Don't dread the pounds you envision you'll gain on your next vacation or fall off the wagon on your next trip. By thinking ahead, you will be equipped to travel in healthy style!

Known as "America's favorite fitness expert," Denise Austin has sold over 24 million exercise videos and authored more than 12 books on health and fitness. As a worldwide fitness phenomenon, she has created a loyal audience with her two major television shows: Getting Fit, which ran for 10 years on ESPN and continued under the new name Denise Austin's Daily Workout, and Fit & Lite, both on Lifetime.

Denise served two terms on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She has testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, helped launch the new food guidance system of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was recently honored by Woman's Day magazine and the American Heart Association with the Red Dress Award for her contributions to heart health. Married for over 25 years to Jeff Austin, they have two teenage daughters, Kelly and Katie.


Side Effect: Skinny is exclusively available for purchase at as of November 26, 2012.


Overcoming Anxiety: Psychologist's Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Worry, Panic and Fear

According to findings of the World Health Organization's global mental health survey, anxiety disorders are the world's most common psychiatric disorders. There are many factors that contribute to developing a mind that is prone to intense anxiety, but there are also many things you can do to change the way it works. Research has shown that one of those things, practicing kindness and compassion, soothes experiences of fear, while self-critical thoughts tend to intensify them. If you become frustrated with your anxious reactions or consistently try to talk yourself out of your anxiety, it may be time to try a different approach – one that can be found in the new book by Dennis Tirch, PhD, The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Worry, Panic, and Fear.                      

This user-friendly program, using an integration of Behavior Therapy, Buddhist Psychology, and Evolutionary Neuroscience, will help you learn to be kinder to yourself, soothe your anxiety, and step forward into a life of meaning, purpose and vitality. Developed through decades of research and innovation, the book provides a systematic, responsive and scientifically sound approach to the problem of human suffering.

The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety, complete with worksheets, exercises, and meditation practices, includes everything you need to learn mindfulness and compassion-focused skills for redirecting your anxious thoughts  and allowing yourself to enjoy a more peaceful life.

"I intentionally wrote this book," says Dr. Tirch, "with the voice of a compassionate friend and fellow traveler, who will explain the underlying theory of how compassion soothes our fears and brings us greater courage. The theory is presented in a gentle and step by step way, and techniques are quite easy to learn and practice , on your own, or working with a therapist, teacher or friend."

The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety is divided into two sections:


  • Part I provides background information that explores exploring the evolutionary nature of anxiety and how it operates.
  • Part II examines how we are able to soothe our anxiety by experiencing a sense of safety, contentment and calm. Readers will learn of the often sometimes-untapped capacities they have to alleviate their anxiety using their intuitive wisdom, courage and compassion. Part II also provides detailed, workable and user-friendly techniques based on Compassion-Focused Therapy to help overcome anxiety.

"My hope is that the practices I describe in The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety," adds Dr. Tirch, "will open the way to greater self-compassion, well-being, and a growing capacity to bring mindful awareness and kindness into your life, moment by moment."

Dennis D. Tirch, PhD, is associate director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, founder and director of The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy and serves as adjunct assistant clinical professor at Weill-Cornell Medical College. He is coauthor of books and articles on mindfulness, acceptance, and compassion, and maintains an active research program in these areas with Robert L. Leahy. Dr. Tirch is a fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and founding co-president of the New York City chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.


The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety can be purchased from, and through all major booksellers.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Love Affair with James Bond

I watched Skyfall for the second time last night. It is the 27th James Bond movie in 50 years.

I first became acquainted with James Bond and author Ian Fleming in 1963 at a friend's home in Belgium. He had read several Ian Fleming novels and watched Dr. No which was the first James Bond movie, coming out in 1962.

Since that time I have seen each of the Bond movies, which are marked by action, romance, and thrilling twists and turns in plot. While lots of people die, the viewer sees none of the gore of so many action films. The special effects may have improved but the action has not deteriorated into the blood and gore of so many current films. Action is not limited to fights, although that is still a strong element in the Skyfall movie. One of the best scenes was a motorcycle chase across the rooftops of the bazaar in Istanbul.

Romance has not changed either. While Bond is still a lady's man, the sex is no more explicit today than it was 50 years ago. Another aspect of romance is the places the movies take us to. I'm a world traveler because of the James Bond movies. The view of Shanghai at night with its multitude of lights in Skyfall was amazing. London can be uninteresting, but not when standing on a rooftop looking at a panorama of many flags. I felt national pride, a strange feeling for someone whose ancestors left Britain 150 years ago for a better life in America.

My Literature teacher taught me that there is only one plot--hero beats villain and gets girl. The rest of the story is twists and turns. Plenty of twists and turns exist in Bond movies, but he never gets the girl. In Skyfall Bond loses two girls, both under tragic conditions. The last one was completely unexpected and heart-rendering. That was the twist that ended Skyfall. Enough said.

Skyfall was all about retirement. It was foreshadowed early in the movie when we saw JMW Turner's painting in London's National Gallery of the Fighting Temeraire being tugged to her last berth to be broken up. Ian Fleming wrote 11 Bond novels and five other authors have added to his work. Maybe it was time to retire Bond, but not so. There will be another Bond movie and probably many more after that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Half a dresser

Mesquite is about an hour and a half east of Las Vegas on I-15 on the border of Arizona. Twenty seven miles further you are in St. George, Utah. As the gateway to Nevada, Mesquite is not only known for gambling but also as the home of Virgin River Motel and Casino. Along highway I-15 going south are a multitude of bill boards advertising $30 rooms with breakfast at the Virgin River.

On my way back to Provo, Utah I thought I would take advantage of the $30 offer, but no luck. I was supposed to phone for a reservation and all $30 rooms were gone. However, what I got was almost as good minus the breakfast. For $35 including tax I got a non-smoking room with two queens, one lower than the other, and half a dresser. The other half must be next door in room 4331. Despite the Spartan room it was clean, had a 19 inch TV, clean towels and three soaps. When I called my wife, she told me to check for signs of bedbugs. Not a one.

Before checking in I checked out the hotel prices online while eating a $12.99 t-bone and shrimp at the River Cafe in the casino. The meal was delicious although it was a little bigger than I should have eaten. The price online was the same as at the registration desk. The next closest price in town was $79.99. Virgin River was a steal at less than half the price. A great place to stay whether going south or north on I-15.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Don't Let Cancer Spoil Your Holidays

By Deborah J. Cornwall*
Having cancer or caring for a cancer patient in the family is hard, but cancer during traditionally happy holidays is even harder. It’s a time when each family enjoys traditional shared activities usually characterized by good food, drink, and company. Yet how can you carry out these traditions when you’re in the throes of cancer treatment or even dealing with the aftermath?

The most important message from cancer caregivers who have worked through these challenges is to seek normalcy, no matter what the patient’s prognosis. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s profound. It all stems from the issue of control.

Throughout the cancer care process, both caregivers and patients experience a fundamental loss of control. On some days, it may feel as though there is nothing left of the “good old days.” They describe their quest for normalcy ― for moments of P.C. (Pre-Cancer) life― and their feelings that every aspect of their lives has been turned upside down. They’re less available than usual, and even when available, they may be feeling depressed, anxious, or pre-occupied. Perhaps worst of all, their friends and relatives often don’t know what to say, or do, to help.

The combination of these factors can make the holidays feel like a particularly sad and lonely time, and it might bring the temptation to mourn what’s been lost. But cancer caregivers recommend that you do just the opposite ―that you try to maintain a few of your past traditions, social connections, and day-to-day activities in the interests of being able to celebrate what you still have.
So . . . exactly what does this mean? Pursuing normalcy means doing four things::
  1. Keep It Festive
As tempting as it might be, don’t ignore the holiday. Instead, find a way to put a smile on your and your patient’s faces. There are several things to try:
  • Make sure you find something every day to bring you joy.
It may be a baby’s laugh, or smelling a rose, or telling a joke that breaks a loved one’s sense of depression or isolation. It may be preparing the world’s best clear chicken broth for a patient who’s having trouble keeping food down, or it may be just a few minutes holding hands while favorite holiday music plays.
  • Identify a few key elements of your traditions that you can maintain. James, who has been fighting multiple myeloma for over 20 years, spent three Christmases either in the hospital or away from home as a result of treatments or bone marrow transplants. When he was hospitalized, family members brought a tiny artificial tree with a few artificial ornaments and put it up in his room. They gave him gifts that would make him and others laugh; can you imagine lounging pants with reindeer on them, or a “Bah, Humbug!” sign hanging on the IV stand? His wife even donned a mask and gloves and used pasteurized egg whites to make icing for his favorite holiday cookies while he was in isolation.
  • Maintain some of the traditions, like Christmas Eve Mass and decorated sugar cookies, or lighting the Chanukah Menorah and giving the kids chocolate coins.
  1. Keep It Simple
Caregivers are often so tired and stressed when the holidays come that even the idea of all of the traditional holiday activities and “fixings” can feel overwhelming. This is an important time to focus on simplicity; don’t even think about buying or doing too much. Only do the part of the holiday that matters the most for you and your patient. That means:
  • Thanksgiving is a particularly challenging time because there is so much emphasis on fixing an elaborate meal. So:
    • If the patient can’t eat or isn’t strong enough to leave home, have guests come to you.
    • Plan a group meal for which each guest brings a dish and people volunteer for dish-washing patrol. The point is to be social, not to be Superman or Superwoman.
    • Accept offers of help from friends and neighbors. Consider buying some of the items that you used to make (unless the “nesting” process of cooking is therapy for you).
    • Accept invitations to join friends for dinner, so you don’t have to cook or clean.
  • At home, if you decorate, bring out only your favorite ornaments. Keep decoration simple, and focus on things that remind you of the good times.
  • Consider postponing gift-giving completely and focus on togetherness. For adults, time with family and friends is usually far more enriching than opening presents.
  • If you must shop for gifts, find ways to do holiday shopping on line or by phone, for things like a decorated tabletop tree or a basket of fruit or cheese goodies. Also consider developing a theme, like “laughter” or “comfort” that can focus gift-giving and divert from the daily stresses of treatment.
  • Think about playing a game (like the New Yorker Cartoon Captions Game, which involves writing captions for cartoons) with family or friends that will bring laughter and good feelings.
  • Let people do things for you. Keep a notepad handy for noting who brought you things and when you thanked them. You might even want to keep some little bags of Hershey’s Kisses or Ghirardelli mints next to your front door as a thank-you so you don’t have to write thank-you notes.
  1. Keep It Social
Remember that the real meaning of the holiday is togetherness, whether that means gathering together family members or getting together with friends. Family and friends bring normalcy.

There are two reasons for you to let others help. First, the patient needs friends, now more than ever and especially during the holiday season that represents togetherness. Too many people are afraid of cancer ― it’s not necessarily that they think they can catch it from the patient, but they don’t know how to talk to either of you, so they may shy away. Encouraging friends to stay close reminds you of normalcy.

Second, no caregiver knows how long the cancer caregiving experience will last. It can last for a few weeks or for over 20 years. You may well need friends and their help a lot later in your caregiving, especially when you get caregiver fatigue.

So make sure you reach out to friends and family. If invitations to you both dwindle, invite others to your house. Sometimes friends don’t want to intrude on your privacy, so they stop inviting you out. Make it clear to them that you’re determined to maintain your social connections, even if the visits are shorter or closer to home.
  1. Keep It Positive
Cancer disrupts your whole life, and sometimes it’s hard to remember the good things, the things you still have. For Carl, that meant learning how to swim even after one leg had been amputated, because he loved swimming almost as much as he loved his wife. For Mike S’s wife, it was making sure that the family still got together for each holiday and that they continued to build strong traditions, even though he was fighting terminal pancreatic cancer. For Artie’s daughter-in-law and grandchildren, it was about continuing to leave cookies and milk for Santa Claus.

Finally, if you’re dealing with the aftermath, following a patient’s death, and you’re wrestling with how you’ll get through the holidays, be willing to change family rituals. Consider focusing the holidays around family and friends in a new setting. David’s family had had a ritual about Christmas, and after he died, his parents stopped doing Christmas on the east coast and started doing it in California with their daughter.  Another caregiver scheduled a family trip over the holidays, so that the patient and his or her loved ones could be together in a stimulating and new environment that would give them lots to see, do, and talk about other than cancer.

Many cancer patients live long and happy lives, well after their initial diagnoses. Holiday periods nourish their spirits and remind them how much they have to live for. Family caregivers can help lengthen their lives simply by reminding them of normalcy and reducing anxiety. They can do that by celebrating holidays with zest that keeps things festive, simple, social, and positive.

*Special thanks to Kathleen Bond, a 20-year caregiver, for her valuable input.
Deborah Cornwall is a cancer survivor and has over 20 years of experience as a leadership volunteer for the American Cancer Society at national, regional and local levels. She is also the author of Things I Wish I’d Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out. For additional, please visit

Effective feedback in business and life

According to Charles Coonradt (2007, p. 44), "Successful managers have the capacity of generating greater result with the same amount of resource, or the same result with less resource." A major difference between good and poor performers is feedback. Successful managers understand the "results to resources ratio" and use it to measure productivity.

A winning football quarterback wouldn't use the same set of plays repeated time after time in a football game. Instead he varies plays depending on the situation at hand. Similarly a successful entrepreneur adapts workflow based on the information he or she gets.

Several axioms govern feedback. PresidentThomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declared: "When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates."

Coonradt adds two other axioms:
1. Increasing the frequency of feedback improves the quality and quantity of performance.
2. When feedback is illustrated on charts and graphs, the impact is even greater.

These apply in business, but also in personal goal setting and performance. Go beyond simply planning to report back frequently on performance.

Coonradt's book is called "The game of work: How to enjoy work as much as play." It's available at

Monday, October 29, 2012

Are you "happy healthy?"

If you're happy and you know it, Elize Hattin says you're rare. Now, the author and transformational life coach is hoping her new book The Naked Truth About You: Your Path to an Extraordinary Life Revealed will serve as a guide for finding the fulfillment so often sought in daily life.

"We reside in countries with higher living standards and greater opportunities to have every desire within our grasp," says Hattin. "Yet most people, even those successful and wealthy by worldly standards, often feel desperate, depressed, stressed, anxious and lonely." A manual geared toward all demographics, Hattin delves into understanding the brain, the conscious and subconscious mind with chapters including "Make the Most of Time," "Engage in Your Life's Work," and "Face the Big Four: Change, Problems, Goals and Others' Opinions of You."

5 Things A Bully Doesn’t Want You to Know

As the sound of school bells ringing signals that school is back in session for the year, it also means that students and parents will face some common issues. It is estimated, each day in America, that 160,000 students stay home from school in order to avoid being bullied, so it makes a lot of people wonder what goes on in the mind of a bully. Judging by the research regarding who bullies, it would stand to reason that it's quite a bit.

"We tend to look at the situation of bullying, and not so much at the bully him- or herself," explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the book "We're All Different But We're All Kitty Cats." "But if we had a chance to peek into the mind of the bully, we might be surprised at some of the things we would learn."
There are some things that bullies don't want people to know, including:
1.They aren't sure about the best way to communicate their feelings. Usually, there is something that a bully wants, but they tend to go about trying to get it in the wrong way. While people have typically thought that bullies were never the popular kids, for example, research shows that they are often popular kids. They tend to bully because they are trying to look good to their peers, and become even more popular.
2.They may be hurting inside and want you to hurt, too. Some kids who bully don't feel good about themselves and may be bullying others to help offset their own feelings. Bullies usually want to feel stronger. Bullying others makes them feel stronger and more powerful. Bullies, especially those who bully to raise their social status, want desperately to fit in with their peers and be accepted.
3.They are probably bullying people in the home, too. If someone is a bully at school, there is also a good chance they are bullying someone in the home, such as a sibling. Research published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology found that children who bully at school are likely also bullying their siblings in the home.
4.They have probably also been bullied, somewhere along the way. Some children who bully have learned the behavior at home. Research has found that many children who bully have seen such behavior in the home, or are more likely to have been exposed to violence in the home.
5.They probably sought you out because they thought you were weak. According to the American Psychological Association, a typical victim is sensitive, quiet, withdrawn, shy, insecure, has low self-esteem, and appears physically weaker than the bully. Those students who appear not to have at least one good friend are often seen as easy targets by bullies.

"A bully is a kid, just like everyone else," added Goodman. "They may need some help in learning better ways to communicate their feelings and learn how to get along better with their peers. But this is something that each of us needs to work on, in our community, in order to make it a better place for everyone."
According to the National Institutes of Health, bullying takes place when someone repeatedly tries to harm someone that they believe is weaker. It can take multiple forms, including physical (e.g., hitting, kicking, pushing, etc.), verbal (e.g., threatening, teasing, etc.), and social (e.g., rumors, exclusion, etc.). In recent years, cyber-bullying has also become more widespread; this involves bullying through the use of electronic means, including online and through text messaging.

Goodman's first book of the Kitty Cat series, "The First Day of School," is being used by schools, groups, and individuals across the nation to help teach young children about bullying. The book uses a cast of cat characters to demonstrate how we are all different, but that it's important to be accepting of everyone.

The book has been written for children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade. The earlier children learn about the importance of preventing bullying, the better. To learn more about the book series, or to purchase the volume that addresses bullying, visit
For more information about the book series, visit the site at: or our YouTube channel

American Psychological Association. School bullying is nothing new, but psychologists identify new ways to prevent it.
National Institutes of Health. Bullying.
Science Daily. Bullying at school linked to bullying at home. December 2009.
WebMD. Bullying may be linked to violence in the home. April 2011.


Red Ribbon Week increases drug awareness

The National Family Partnership (NFP) announced its 27th annual Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31. Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. In 1985 after the murder of a DEA agent, parents, youth and teachers in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the destruction caused by drugs.   

"By decorating their homes together with this year's Red Ribbon theme, families carry the message to their communities." said the NFP's Volunteer President Peggy Sapp. The nation's oldest and largest drug prevention campaign reaches more than 80 million people nationwide. 

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is co-sponsoring this year's Red Ribbon week. "DEA is excited to partner with the National Family Partnership to come together to talk about the drug problem," said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.  "Red Ribbon Week is also when we honor DEA Special Agent Enrique'Kiki' Camarena, who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe."

The NFP was established in 1980, and is a national leader in drug prevention, education and advocacy.  Its mission is to lead our nation's families and communities in nurturing the full potential of healthy, drug-free youth.  

Catalogue of Science on Vaccine Safety

Sourcing scientific research and information about the safety of vaccines got a bit easier with the launch of a new Catalogue of Science containing nearly 200 research studies and other scientific documents never before assembled in one place.  Featuring 14 categories with links to abstracts and full text of studies published in peer-reviewed journals, the Catalogue makes it easy for parents and medical professionals alike to connect the dots and navigate the science exploring vaccines. The Catalogue debuted at, and is a cornerstone of the new website for the awarding-winning documentary film THE GREATER GOOD. 
Filmmakers Leslie Manookian, Kendall Nelson and Chris Pilaro spent over five years researching and making the film, which follows three families personally impacted by vaccination.  Manookian collected research sourced for the film and many additional scientific works to create the Catalogue, which will be updated on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available.

“When discussing the issue of vaccines, people often say ‘Show me the science’.  But as we learned while researching our documentary, the science can be difficult to find.  We’re committed to providing critical scientific research missing from the popular discourse on vaccines, and have brought together dozens of critical pieces on an array of topics to help people become better informed,” Manookian said.

The new website, launching just in time for Vaccine Awareness Week also includes a suite of tools for hosting community screenings and a discussion guide with tips for facilitating conversations on the often challenging topic of vaccine safety.  The film can be streamed online at the site, and visitors can buy a New Parent Gift Box, which includes a DVD of the film and other great gifts for expectant parents. Also available on the new website are fact sheets including an FAQ and a ‘Fact Check’ which provides links to sources for all the information in the film, for which the filmmakers interviewed experts from all sides of the issue. (A full list of experts is available at )

“We hope the film will inspire more rational discussions about vaccinations, and serve as a resource for parents, physicians, policy makers and others who want to participate intelligently in the heated national dialogue on vaccines and vaccine safety,” said Kendall Nelson, Producer/Writer of THE GREATER GOOD.

More information and a tour of the Catalogue of Science is available at and the film can also be found on Facebook at, and as @greatergoodfilm on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall Asthma and Allergy Triggers – What You Need to Know

The fall season plays host to a slew of allergy and asthma triggers. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, this fall allergy and asthma sufferers face:

  • An extended ragweed allergy season – research suggests that this will last three weeks longer than usual due to global warming
  • Classroom triggers – everything from mold to dust mites to contagious viruses can up the chance in allergic reactions and asthmatic symptoms in children
  • Falling leaves – as the trees begin to turn, pollen and mold can be kicked up during outside activities such as mowing the lawn or raking
  • Longer warm periods – unseasonably warm temperatures can bring your summer allergy suffering well into the fall season

While the triggers my not be preventable, symptoms can be abated, if not fully avoided, by having an action plan in place. Dr. Stephen Apaliski, author of the book Beating Asthma: Seven Simple Principles, provides helpful advice to readers on how to put together a plan to avoid allergy and asthma triggers, touching on the following:

  • The principles of dealing with seven areas of asthma – problem, prevention, pulmonary function tests, pharmaceuticals, plan, patient-physician, and positive mindset
  • Identify fall triggers for asthma, both allergic and non-allergic
  • Identify and research triggers localized to a particular area or region
  • Develop a communicate relationship with an allergist to put together the best preventive plan
  • Know what, how, and when to use medication in order to act quickly when problems occur
About the author:

Dr. Apaliski has been a practicing physician for over 30 years. He first trained as a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and later as an allergist at Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. In 1990, he served as a flight surgeon in the first Gulf War.

Dr. Apaliski is Board Certified in Pediatrics as well as Allergy and Immunology. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American College of Allergy and Immunology and a Board Member of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America—Texas chapter. He is also certified by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals as a Certified Physician Investigator. In addition to seeing patients in his medical practice at the Allergy & Asthma Centers of the Metroplex and conducting Clinical Trials as the Medical Director of Discovery Trials-Arlington, Dr. Apaliski is on the medical staff at THR Arlington Memorial Hospital in Arlington, Texas.

Dr. Apaliski is also a speaker for various pharmaceutical companies, helping to educate physicians and other health care providers about the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergic diseases.


Beating Asthma: Seven Simple Principles is available for purchase on the website listed above and on

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good sleep hygiene for children

By Dr. Tom Jackson

Sleep hygiene refers to the set of habits and guidelines that promote consistently restful and sufficient sleep at night and complete alertness during the day. It's what you can do (and in some cases, not do) to help your child (and you) sleep easy and well.

Like dental hygiene, instilling good sleep hygiene habits early on in life will promote the retention and sustaining of those good habits throughout a child's lifetime. Sleep hygiene can even help children avoid a whole host of sleep-related disorders.

The clearest sign that a child has poor sleep hygiene (or could at least use some improvements in the area) is if he/she experiences nighttime sleeplessness and/or daytime sluggishness.

But that covers a broad base of issues, that could include any of the following:

bedtime resistance
anxiety about sleep
sleep onset delay
nighttime wakings
inadequate sleep duration
difficulty awakening in the morning
morning moodiness
daytime sleepiness
to name a few!

Every one of these issues - and more - can be traced (at least in part) to a lapse or gap in some aspect of proper sleep hygiene—and by the same token, every one of these problems can be alleviated (again, at least in part) by making the appropriate adjustments in sleep hygiene.

What follows are Four Pillars of Good Sleep Hygiene:

Bedtime Schedule
Bedtime Routine
Environmental Conditions of the Bedroom
Daytime Behaviors and Habits

1. Bedtime Schedule

Create a bedtime routine that works for you and your child, and then stick to it.

Sleep and waking cycles need to act in harmony with all other body cycles, such as body temperature, metabolism, dietary schedule, and hormonal activity—our “circadian rhythms.” Our bodies are designed to naturally seek out “homeostasis”—or the condition in which all body systems find balance. In order to achieve that homeostasis, all these circadian rhythms, must sync smoothly with one another.

For any bedtime schedule to work, it requires two key components:

It must include both a regular bedtime and a regular waking time. Make sure the times you select are practical and realistic for you and your child's other life schedules.
It should stay consistent 7 days a week. If you must adjust it for weekends, then don't adjust it by any more than an hour in either direction, or else you defeat the whole purpose. Their physiology simply will not know when it is time to sleep or be awake. And this goes double for teenagers.

Adults may find this framework an even harder challenge to meet than his children, because his own schedules usually differ from weekdays to weekends—and in many cases from weeknight to weeknight. Unfortunately, this irregularity in your own schedules may make it difficult to enforce a regular bedtime schedule in your children, but it makes it no less necessary.

At the same time, in order to be effective the sleeping and waking times you set must not merely be consistent and practical for your schedules, but he must also enable your child to get a sufficient amount of sleep—not too little and not too much. These days, most experts place the right amount at around 8 hours, although for younger children and teens the number may be closer to 10.

Think of a bedtime time schedule like setting your child's "biological clock." Set it right and your child's bodily rhythms begin to naturally run like clockwork.

2. Bedtime Routine

Establish a regular bedtime routine for your child. A regular bedtime routine, about 1/2-hour long leading up to bedtime itself, is how you can best help your child to prepare for a good night's sleep.

A bedtime routine involves engaging in comforting and familiar activities that are also relaxing.

Thirty minutes before bed is the time for a child to start winding down, not up. To be avoided during this critical time period are:

heavy emotional conversations
video games
active, rough-and-tumble play and cardiovascular/aerobic exercise
caffeine (chocolate, caffeinated teas, and some sodas)
lots of liquids (water, juice, milk)*
big meals and sugary snacks*

* Foods with predominantly carbohydrates and proteins (like milk and cookies), and foods with tryptophan (like milk and turkey) both can actually help a child, once fallen asleep, to stay asleep. Just remember to keep bedtime snacks light.

3. Good bedtime routine activities include

taking a warm bath
reading a story together
quiet, relaxing family time
listening to tranquil music, nature sounds, or a relaxation CD

As children grow older you can be more flexible with bedtime routines, which may grow to include a walk outside, a chat on the back porch about the day’s events or future plans, or perhaps playing a board game or card game or doing a puzzle together. Older children may want to retire to his room to read, listen to music or work on a favorite hobby before retiring for the night and possibly listening to a sleep program.

Whatever activities you (and your child) decide upon, the cornerstone of your child’s bedtime routine is that he know what time to slip into pajamas and brush his teeth, what time to be in bed, and how much time he can spend on in-bed activities such as reading.

4. Environmental Conditions of the Bedroom

Certain qualities of the setting in which you set your child down to sleep can play a significant role in the quality of his sleep.

Set a bedroom temperature that's comfortable and will remain consistent throughout the night, erring on the cooler side as it's more supportive of healthful sleep than an excessively warm room (that being anything over 75 degrees); and keeping that temperature consistent throughout the night can help avert nighttime wakings
Make the room sufficiently dark; a small nightlight is okay, if needed, but too much brightness interferes with restful sleep
ensure sufficient ventilation/air circulation, such as by cracking the door open or using a ceiling fan set on low; refrain, however, from leaving a window wide open all night for both safety and health reasons (additional air quality solutions follow at the end of this list)
Provide your child a quiet sleeping environment, for reasons that should be obvious
Shut off the television, and what's more take the television out of your child's bedroom; recall from Bedtime Routines above that all television-viewing should cease at least 30 minutes before bedtime anyway
Keep the bed for sleeping, in other words refrain from getting your child in the habit of associating his bed with anything other than sleeping, such as playing, reading, eating, or watching TV; for this reason, the value of these children's custom hime beds and playhouse beds that have become somewhat popular of late is questionable
Dress your child in comfortable pajamas/nightclothes, as the more comfortable she is the easier a time he'll have of falling asleep and staying asleep
For the same reason, provide your child with a comfortable mattress and pillows, bedsheets and blankets

4. Daytime Behaviors and Habits

Many of the factors that influence your child's sleep the most don't even occur at night. On the contrary, a variety of habits and behaviors that have a major impact on his sleep occurs in broad daylight.

The following are suggestions of daytime behaviors supportive of good sleep hygiene

Expose your child to sunlight first thing in the morning, as soon as possible after waking, as it helps to set his circadian rhythms for the rest of the day, and long-term for the rest of her life; additionally ensure your child gets sufficient exposure to natural sunlight on a daily basis
Don't use your child's bedroom for punishments or time-outs, as a child must feel comfortable, safe, and happy to be in his bedroom in order to fall asleep and sleep soundly—all of which are prevented when he starts associating his bedroom with punishment
Monitor the content of your child's television viewing, internet surfing, and video game playing, as exposure to excessively violent, disturbing, or confusing images could be responsible for many sleep disturbances, such as nightmares
Confront bullying or other prevalent emotional issues in your child’s daily life, as any number of daily stressors—from being subjected to bullying on a daily basis, to experiencing trouble in school, to facing emotional troubles at home like a divorce, a death in the family, a move, or a sibling rivalry—could direly impact your child's sleep
Discuss your child's medicines with her pediatrician, as some children's medications (including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and all-natural/herbal remedies) could have side effects that interfere with your child's restful sleep; if your child turns out to be on such a medication, your doctor can usually help you find adequate alternatives devoid of such side effects

Improvements in your child's sleep patterns likely won't happen overnight, but once you begin implementing good sleep hygiene practices in your child's life you're bound to notice positive results in due course.

Dr. Tom Jackson is a psychiatrist who has specialized in the treatment of sleep disorders and anxiety for the past thirty years. He is the creator of the DreamChild™ Adventures audio programs and author of the companion guide, DreamChild™ Adventures in Relaxation and Sleep (August 2012). He is currently Medical Director of a public mental health clinic and in private practice. For more information, please visit and