Hangover Remedies – For ALL the Hangovers

I took last week off for the Holiday. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with as little drama as life with a RAD kiddo will allow! After a big holiday celebration, there is definitely a recovery period. Here are some ideas for hangover remedies – for all the hangovers you might be suffering from.

Workout Hangover

  • Ice and more Ice: If you took some time off from your regular workout routine and you tried to make up for it all at once on Sunday, you may be feeling it. While a nice hot soak in the tub may be calling your name, the aches and pains will respond better to ice packs. They reduce inflammation and disrupt pain signals.
  • Tart Cherry Juice: A 2016 study showed that an ounce of tart cherry juice taken twice a day for eight days resulted in less inflammation and muscle damage following an intense workout. Cherry juice has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Get back at it: Keep at it. An easy walk or bike ride will get blood flowing to the sore areas and help with healing.

Sleep-Deprivation Hangover

  • Lay off Carbs and Caffeine: Your body will crave bad foods when you are sleepy. Stick to proteins for constant energy and coffee is OK, but just one cup. And getting out in the sun will help your body clock reset and shake your sluggish feelings
  • Aromatherapy: Inhaling peppermint and rosemary oil will give you a quick boost. These scents increase alertness and memory function.
  • Have a Chat: Go visit your neighbor or co-worker, schedule a playdate. Social interactions have a positive affect on your body’s clock. Even ten minutes can give you a lift in cognitive function.

Stress Hangover

  • Change the Story: Take a break and make sure the conversation in your head is real. Are you making a bigger deal out of whatever you’re thinking than it really is? A quick gut check can help get you in the right head space.
  • Settle Down: Find a quiet place to do some deep breathing. It calms your sympathetic nervous system and switches off your fight or flight response.
  • Get Moving: A quick walk will not only provide a great distraction, it boosts your immune system. Just a few minutes will clear your head and calm your nerves.

The Food Hangover

  • Eat!: The temptation is to not eat again after packing it in at Thanksgiving. But that could and probably will backfire. Better to eat a moderate meal high in fiber and low in salt. And drink plenty of water.
  • Get Moving: Works for just about everything. It speeds up digestion as well as releasing endorphins which boost your mood. When you feel less bloated, you’ll start to feel better.
  • Try Ginger and Mint: Ginger has been found to ease nausea so some ginger tea or grating fresh ginger in warm water can be helpful. Peppermint oil can help with bloating, gas and abdominal cramps by calming the GI tract. But it can exacerbate reflux so if you are prone to heartburn skip this one.

Talking Hangover

  • SHHHH: Texting and email means that we hardly ever have to use our phones as phones. Of course that’s up to the RAD kiddos to decide whether you actually get to do this. But as much as you can, less talking and with quiet tones.
  • Rehydrate: Sips of water with lemon, decaffeinated herbal tea, sugarless gum will help stimulate saliva flow and lubricate your vocal chords. Try not to clear your throat because it will aggravate and already injured throat.
  • Steam: A steam room or a long hot shower will both help moisturize your throat and make it feel better!

The Nightmare Hangover

  • Take a Cold Shower: When your sleep gets disrupted and anxiety starts creeping in, bad dreams are more likely to follow. A cold shower can shock your system, like changing the channel in your brain.
  • Get it out of Your Head: Writing down your dream and how it made you feel allows you to reason out what you dreamed. It will calm any fear and anxiety it may have caused.
  • Analyze It: Change your thoughts about your dream and you will change your feelings about it. It will instantly calm your nerves. Decide what your dreams meant in more realistic terms.

Bet you didn’t realize all the hangovers you could be dealing with? Making sure you recover from these before the next holiday wave hits will make it easier to survive the season. And it will help you be the best you can be for your RAD kiddos as well! Happy holidays!

Until next time,

Shannon

Humor is the Best Medicine

There’s times when you have to laugh to keep from crying. You know those times. You’ve been there. Or when something so incredibly bizarre happens with your RAD kiddo that you just have to bust out laughing. Because yet again it’s something you never thought would happen. But humor is the best medicine sometimes to help us deal with those times when things aren’t so funny.

Particularly as we move into the holiday season where we might be adding even MORE dysfunction to our lives, we need to keep our funny bones active! You need to be able to “go with the flow” and able to throw off some of the craziness that happens during the course of your RAD kiddo day. Not everyone has the ability to retreat to their gorgeous spa bathroom while the nanny takes over the bedtime routine with the kids. So what other options are there? There’s humor.

Finding something funny in every day is a great exercise for your brain. When you smile you look better. Laughter works out your core muscles. There are so many reasons why daily humor is a good idea! And an even better idea is when you can laugh with your RAD kiddos. Trading jokes, watching a funny movie, anything to lighten the mood of a particularly stressful day is a great way to help everyone release the stress.

So as we get into the holiday season, remember to laugh. Remember to smile at your children. Find a humorous book to read. Go get a joke book from the library and keep it around to share jokes after dinner. Keeping this spirit of joy and humor which I know can be hard, will go a long way toward helping the entire family survive and thrive this holiday season.

Until next time,

Shannon

Today Is Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day which may on the surface have nothing to do with reactive attachment disorder. But there are so many lessons that the service of our veterans can teach our RAD kiddos. And the military can possibly be a good option for some RAD kiddos who will work well with the structure that the military provides.

Being a Veteran means subscribing to almost everything that’s the opposite of how a RAD kiddo thinks. Military service means being willing to sacrifice for a cause much bigger than yourself. It means living for the goal of the unit. And It means understanding that you are not the one in control. Your training and your education must be your highest priority. And remaining calm even in the most stressful situations is critical.

Now yes, Veterans sound super-human and many are. And that’s why we love them and honor them. Because our country wouldn’t be the same were it not for the amazing men and women who choose to serve. But I’m sure the RAD families reading out there might be laughing thinking that sounds like anyone BUT my RAD kiddo!

Would it be possible to impart some of these Veteran qualities onto our RAD kiddos? Could we use this day to explain how much the actions of our veterans are admired and revered? Yes, I think we can. If you have family members, still living or passed, use today or sometime this week to talk about their service and memories you have or stories you remember. If your child remembers them as well, talk about memories you share.

And if you can, have your family member talk about their service, what it was like and what it meant to them. Hopefully it’s someone that your child likes and looks up to. If so, then they can talk about why it’s important to have qualities of respect, self-control, dedication, a team player. Because a lot of times other people can reach your child when you’ve been saying the same things for years!

And many people have the day off today. So hopefully you can find some good time for self-care today. No kids to shuttle to school and activities. No homework to check. Don’t even have to get the mail! Find a few minutes of quiet time to read or reflect. Take a moment to say, “Thank you” to all those who have allowed us to have the life we have in the U.S.

Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you to all the readers who have served.

Until next time,

Shannon

A Story That Rang Too True

Well this isn’t at all what I was going to write about today. I had a light fluffy piece full of inspirational quotes planned out and in doing some research came across this old 20/20 story from four years ago. And it rocked me to my core. Here is a story that rang too true.

I don’t know how I hadn’t seen it before. It’s completeness in how it talks about reactive attachment disorder and all the ways parents and adoption organizations and therapists get it wrong was startling. And it’s thoroughness in how it shows what RAD kiddos go through was so impressive.

So here is the link to the story. It’s 40 minutes long so get settled in with time for watching the whole thing. What will jump out at you immediately is how little information the adoptive parents at the center of the story seem to get or take seriously about RAD. They talk about it initially as the cause of the first disruption. But they don’t talk about educating themselves about RAD. And I have a hard time believing that a therapist said, “Just love them enough.”

Second, there is a lot of focus on the concept of “rehoming”. That is avoiding child abandonment charges by finding a suitable family to adopt the children before surrendering your parental rights. And the end of the story talked about states passing legislation outlawing rehoming. But I’ve done some research and haven’t been able to verify states that have actual laws on the books except Wisconsin. But I also couldn’t find current information. But for information on rehoming and what it means, check out here.

This has really rattled me. I know this happens. The story that got a ton of attention of the woman in Tennessee who put her Russian adopted son on a plane back to Russia happened right about the time August got diagnosed. Because I remember his psychiatrist (the wonderful one that finally gave us the diagnosis!) asking if I’d heard about it and what I thought. I remember saying I can imagine the pain she was feeling and the despair but I can’t imagine making that decision.

I would love to know your thoughts on these issues. Particularly if you’ve adopted from foster care or adopted older children. Do you feel like you got enough training/information on RAD? If you got any, was it still not enough and why?

There’s so much to still understand about how trauma affects the little brains of these children. And how to heal what that trauma does. But we have to keep working at it.

Until Next Time,

Shannon

When You Just Need Sleep

I had something else planned for today but then I saw this in a magazine and I had to reprint it. Sometimes us RAD parents need all the help we can get to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, some more “unconventional” methods would be even more helpful. This comes from Elizabeth Preston from the latest issue of Real Simple Magazine:

Sound Machine Options That Would Actually Help Me Sleep

  • Flowing stream outside a rental house where I have absolutely no cell reception unless there’s an actual emergency at home, in which case I will be instantly reachable.
  • Engine of an airplane on which I have booked only one seat and no lap infants.
  • Sounds of the rain forest,where I live with no responsibilities because I’m an orchid now.
  • Crickets chirping at the exact same time of the year they always have, because the planet is not warming and it never was warming, in fact the climate is setting records for its unchangingness.
  • Traffic sounds without music, beeping, or cartoon voices mixed in, because the child in the backseat of the car is silently reading a book instead of blowing past her screen time quota.
  • Air conditioner that doesn’t add to the electric bill.
  • Bubbling pots on the stove, but I can’t offer to help cook because both my arms are broken
  • Lapping waves of an ocean my child is at least 100 yards away from, enclosed by a fence, even though she is a strong swimmer and is wearing a Coast Guard-approved, full-body flotation device.
  • Clothes dryer being run by someone else, who will also fold and put away the laundry.
  • Chatter of people talking in a nearby room at a party I didn’t plan the menu or tidy up for, because it’s at someone else’s house, and I’m lying on their four-poster guest bed with all the coats and I’ve locked the door.

But seriously, sleep is so vital and often so elusive to parents of RAD kiddos. Many live with alarms on the doors (not just on the outside). And even total exhaustion at the end of the day doesn’t shut down a brain full of worry and anxiety. So here are some natural herbal remedies for helping with relaxation and sleep.

Four Herbs to Help You Fall Asleep

  • Chamomile: A cup of chamomile tea before bed will help you unwind and fall asleep faster. A heaping tablespoon of the dried flowers in a cup of boiling water is all it takes.
  • Hops: Yes, hops is a component of beer, this doesn’t mean drinking a beer will help you sleep. Drinking tea made from 1-2 teaspoons of hops flowers (called “strobiles”) will help you get a deep restful sleep. Not a tea drinker? Make a sachet of hops, chamomile and lavender to tuck in your pillow and this will be a great sleep-aid as well.
  • Valerian: This is a well-known sleep aid. Use 1-2 teaspoons of dried valerian root to make a tea. In some places you can also find it in a pudding! Warning-it doesn’t smell great.
  • California Poppy: This has a mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Yes, it is a relative of the opium poppy but it has no opiates so it is in no way addictive. Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried aerial parts of the plant in boiling water to make a soothing tea.

A good night’s sleep has so many benefits. If you find no other self-care, make sure this is one you focus on!

Until next time,

Shannon

Homemade Self-care Products

When we are feeling the most stressed and at our wit’s end, some easy quick self-care can be just the trick to bring us down to earth. And taking care of ourselves doesn’t have to be expensive and even creating self-care products can be soothing if you are a slightly crafty type (and even if you aren’t). These homemade self-care products allow you to make your own calming comfort products for face, body and hair. Also, you can pick some of the smells and other materials to make them the best for you.

A pretty jar can make having the lotion even more fun!

Homemade Lotion
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 oz. Beeswax
5 drops essential oil fragrance of your choice
Supplies: double boiler, bowl, hand mixer, clean jar for storing

In a double boiler, heat up coconut oil and beeswax. When completely melted, add the essential oil. Next, pour into bowl and wait until cooled. Then, using hand mixer, whip the lotion until it is the consistency of…lotion. This is how the coconut oil keeps whipped at room temperature. Homemade lotion doesn’t last as long as manufactured; it will be good for about two months.

Vanilla Olive Oil Body Scrub
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 cups Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract or your favorite essential oil
Supplies: bowl, spoon, airtight container

Mix together sugars. Then, add olive oil. Last, mix in honey and vanilla or fragrance. Store in airtight container. Some notes: this is NOT a face scrub; body only. If it’s too coarse, you can use regular brown sugar instead of Turbinado. The olive oil will settle so you’ll need to stir it and if you want a more liquid consistency you can add more oil after it’s packaged.

Jelly sized mason jars are perfect for storing!

Homemade Bath Salts
2 cups coarse sea salt
1 cup Epsom salt
1/3 cup baking soda
Essential oil of choice
Food coloring
Supplies: bowl, container with stopper or airtight container

In a bowl, combine the sea salt, Epsom salt and baking soda. Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil and combine. Next, add food coloring to get the color you’d like. Store in container. Sea salt is an exfoliate, Epsom salts soothe and fight inflammation. Baking soda softens water.

These can also make great gifts for other stressed out friends or family members with the holidays coming up. But this is the time for you. Now, I’m off to make some body scrub…enjoy!

Until next time,

Shannon

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Do you remember being asked this question when you were a child? Do you remember asking this question of your own children? It comes along as children learn language with favorite color and food and others as we begin to form our identity as separate humans from our parents. We develop our own tastes and interests and passions which lead to our potential career choices. But for many of us, life takes turns between that question when we’re very young and now. So, what did you want to be when you grew up?

For a long time when I was growing up I wanted to be a doctor. Specifically, a pediatrician. I’m not sure where that thought came from. But that’s all I can remember ever wanting to be. And I, and my parents were very proud of that choice.

Until I realized an amazing fact. I loved ice skating when I was young. My best friend and I would go ice skating outside in winter at the pond in our hometown and at the ice rink down in Cincinnati other times of the year. You may or may not know that the machine that put down a new smooth coat of freezing water on an ice rink is a Zamboni truck. Well, one day at a Red’s baseball game there was a rain delay. They brought out a machine to suck up the water from the Astroturf and blow it over the outfield wall. Guess what that machine was? Yep. A Zamboni. I was thrilled. When I figured out I could work year round driving a Zamboni truck, I almost fell out of my chair. That became my new career obsession. Still is a little bit!

But the serious career aspiration of becoming a pediatrician stayed until college and my first semester when two things happened. My first chemistry class and my first psychology class. I hated chemistry and fell in love with psychology. Became a psychology major and never looked back. A semester or so later I took my first political science class and then every poli sci class I could make room for. Walked into college pre-med; walked out with a BA in psychology and a minor in political science.

Now I’m sure I’m not the only one with this kind of story. Part of the reason for college is discovery. Learning what you are passionate about and what you have a talent for. It’s part of the reason colleges don’t make you declare a major for the first two years. And I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who are doing nothing even closely related to what you went to school for. That’s probably the second most common thing after having changed plans once we get to school.

So beyond a career or a college degree, what else did you want to be? Obviously we all wanted to be parents. But did you say when you were little, “I want to parent a RAD kiddo that’s going to test me every single day. A child that’s going to force me to put locks on my door and have a safe for all my valuables. Who I’m going to someday call the police on?” Was that what you wanted to be when you grew up? I imagine probably not.

You probably dreamed as we all do of your well-behaved children who would excel in sports and academics, grow up to respect you and other grown-ups, go to your alma mater and then take care of you in your old age. And wherever your dream veered off course, you may not have landed where you planned. But how has your life been enhanced by the challenges you’ve had to face? The people you have met along the way? The strength you’ve had to use that maybe you didn’t know you had?

I never planned to become a writer. I have always loved to write and it’s always been easy for me but I never saw it as a career. It took having a RAD kiddo to help me find this path and realize that writing was what I wanted to be when I grew up. There can be blessings that come from RAD that we don’t see in the moment but they show up in other places and times. My career has definitely been one of them.

Finding the good in the midst of bad is a great form of self-care. You may not have the idyllic dream you saw when you were young but there are happy moments and celebrations coming and still to come. Let that be your focus.

Until next time,

Shannon

The Healing Power of a Good Smell

When I was growing up, we would spend a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. The house where I now live. She always woke up way before we did and one of my favorite memories is of waking up to the smell of bacon. She cooked bacon better than anyone ever. And there’s nothing that will get your day going like that smell! That’s when I first learned of the healing power of a good smell.

As I grew up, it was feeling prettier with a certain perfume on. Or how when you clean something and it has that wonderful lemony or Windex smell. When my son was born it’s of course the new baby smell. Or the new car smell (even if it causes cancer!) Fresh cut grass. Autumn leaves. They all have some wonderful memories associated with them and every time they changed my mood for the better. So I’ve found some essential oils you might want to try so that the healing power of a good smell can help your mood as well.

  • Lavender: This is a well-known scent for both alleviating anxiety as well as a sleep aid. It has been used for centuries so there are many products available that contain this pleasant smell. Try an evening bubble bath with lavender bubbles after the kiddos are in bed to help balance your mood.
  • Citrus: As I mentioned, the lemony smell helps us feel good and perks us up. But it can also reduce high amounts of stress and anxiety. A whiff of lemon, lime, orange and bergamot can create a sense of calm.
  • Peppermint: Are you a stress eater? Grab something peppermint! Lighting a peppermint candle, eating a peppermint candy or some peppermint oil will help reduce cravings. It’s also good for stress-induced migraines!
  • Coconut: If the smell of coconut immediately sends you to the beach with palms trees and the sound of waves, then you get the power of coconut! I hate the taste of coconut, but love coconut body butters and lotions! The smell can lower our heart rate and soothes agitated nerves.

These are the most popular and common scents that you can find in a lot of products. But if you’d like to try some that are more unique, check this article out. I keep a candle lit a lot of the time while I write. I don’t always pick the same scents. It depends on my mood. And I pull out different ones for Christmas and other holidays. I have lavender bubble bath and coconut lime body butter. Any and all occasions to use the healing power of a good smell to calm my head and my heart.

Until next time,

Shannon

It’s Always Better When You Take A Walk!

Many times in the middle of a heated battle with August I have wanted to run away. Or he HAS run away. When he gets anxious or stressed he knows the best outlet for those feelings is to run around the house. To quite literally run around the outside of the house until he’s able to burn off the energy created by that anxiety. The change created in his demeanor and physical body posture is incredible. Doctors and scientists and veterinarians will tell you the same thing. It’s always better when you take a walk!

An article on the Healthline website found studies that indicate that walking between 15 and 30 minutes a day can:

  • Burn Calories
  • Lower Blood Sugar
  • Strengthen the Heart
  • Ease Joint Pain
  • Boost Immune Function
  • Boost Your Energy
  • Improve Mood (BINGO!!)
  • Extend Your Life
  • Tone Your Legs
  • Promote Creative Thinking

You can read details about each of these benefits and the studies here. But what is it about walking that is so helpful for our mood? Well, depending on the situation, it might just be that we’re finally alone, out of the house and away from the chaos that is our day-to-day lives! But it’s more than that, right? Because sometimes we can’t walk that way. Sometimes we’re walking on a treadmill or a track at a gym full of people. So there’s still noise and activity.

I will have to walk a long time to get all the great thoughts I need!

And sometimes we don’t walk alone. We walk with a partner, friend, dog. I know when I walk with my dog, Mia, the walk is the one she wants to take, not necessarily the path I want to travel! Occasionally even a walk with our RAD kiddo can be self-care if everyone is in the right head space.

August and I took at walk on the greenway behind my house in North Carolina around dusk one evening. I don’t remember the time of year but it’s almost always copperhead season. And we came upon one on the path. I walked around it and kept going. August froze. I could not get him to go around the snake. He was petrified. I told him to go around on the backside like I did and the snake wouldn’t even care. He wasn’t having it. It became quite apparent that I wasn’t going to convince him so I came back over to his side and we went back the way we came.

This article focuses only on how walking can improve your mood. Now one of the things I didn’t think about that it suggests is to find a walking partner you can vent to. I’m not so sure that is a good idea because I’m more of a relax and release kind of walking but I bet if I was venting to someone as I walked I’d cover a lot of miles! If you try this, please let me know!

However you choose to make walking a part of your self-care, do it. Even 15 minutes a day to get up from your desk chair, get out of your car, get off of the couch, whatever can make such a difference. And if you’re worrying about losing productivity, get and audiobook to listen to. But try hard not to. Focus on breathing and just being. I promise that will be productive enough.

Until next time,

Shannon

Where Did My Friends Go?

Have you asked yourself, “Where did my friends go?” since you started your journey with reactive attachment disorder? For many of us, a RAD diagnosis wasn’t the parenting experience we signed up for. We dreamed of fun play dates at the park and maybe having neighbors with children of the same age who we would become life-long friends with. And we’d watch our children grow up together and go to the same schools and be on the same soccer teams. The boys and girls would date and go to prom and it would all be like a cute version of High School Musical. Until they go off to the same college and we all watch them, arm-in-arm with tears in our eyes. Then go off and celebrate with many bottles of wine!

Well that’s not how it’s going, is it? For me it wasn’t. From kindergarten through second grade, none of his friends had moms who I had anything in common with. When we moved, the neighborhood seemed more promising. It was over Spring Break during second grade and he wanted to ride the bus home the very first day. There was a boy in his class who lived in the neighborhood who’d help him so I said OK. He jumped off the bus that afternoon saying, “Mom! Can I go to Andrew’s house!” This boy had obviously made an impression and the two of them became fast friends.

He also made friends with the kiddos who lived behind us. And the boy in the cul-de-sac up the street. And a boy a couple of streets over. So you might think things from a friendship standpoint were going well for him. And as a result for me. But as is so often the case with RAD kiddos, being friends with them can be intense. And they can overwhelm their friends with attention, with demands for doing things their way and impulsivity which children don’t always understand. So his relationships with the kids in the neighborhood were somewhat fluid. They’d be fine for a while then someone would just burn out and have to take a break. So there’d be a period of no contact.

As August got older and his behaviors got more problematic, I started to feel some of the separation. It wasn’t intentional; who knows what to say to someone whose son got arrested for stealing a cell phone in 6th grade? Or bringing vodka to 8th grade? He’d switched schools so much that he wasn’t in the same schools as any of the neighborhood friends which further isolated him and us.

Then you wake up one day and you figure out your child doesn’t have anything in common with the neighborhood kids. You can’t coordinate play dates because no one wants their kiddo to play with yours. And After the stolen cell phone his Saturdays were spent doing community service. You can’t chat at the pool about what your kids are up to because there isn’t anything your kid is doing that other kids are involved in.

Any of this sound familiar? Nothing is intentional in any of this. It’s just life. Just the saga of having a RAD kiddo who doesn’t fit in the box of “normal” when it comes to social interaction. And how that translates to your social interactions as well. It can be pretty defeating and isolating when you are dealing with issues your friends and your children’s parents can only hear about and be shocked.

When August first got diagnosed I sought out comfort on social media where I found a lot of parents like me. The only problem was they all seemed to be living everywhere except where I was. And it only goes so far when you can’t crack open a bottle of wine or dive deep into a pint of ice cream over the internet.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have some amazing friends. Some who have seen me through every scream and tear and terrified moment. They hear everything August does and take it all in without judgement or alienation. And I love them dearly.

Here is an idea of why our friends may have a hard time sticking it out. Your true friends may not be able to help you but they will get you and they will stick by you. And the best friends will bring wine!

Until Next time,

Shannon