New Roots Therapy Blog

Thoughts on Life, Love, & Wellness! New Posts Every Wednesday.


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Back to Work After Baby: Coping with Separation Anxiety

Written by: Melissa Kroonenberg, Relationship Therapist

Going back to work can bring about a wide range of emotions for you and your child.  It’s normal and healthy for you and your baby to experience some anxiety in anticipation of, and during, this process.  Separation anxiety in a child can begin anywhere from 8-10 months and usually peaks at around 1 ½-2 years of age.  It typically coincides with the development of “object permanence”, which is when a baby learns that objects and people still exist even when they can’t see them.  Because young children have a limited concept of time, they become anxious when they see that you have gone because they have little understanding of when, or even if, you are coming back.

There are many things that you can do to help your child through separation anxiety:

  1. Leading up to your transition back to work, begin leaving your child with a trusted caregiver for brief periods of time.
  2. Always tell your child when you are leaving and when you will be coming back (even if you feel they are too young to understand you).
  3. Play games like peek-a-boo.
  4. Develop a goodbye ritual and be consistent in using it for every goodbye.
  5. If they will be going to a new caregiver/daycare when you go back to work, try spending some time with your child at the new daycare/caregiver before you have to leave them there.
  6. Go early to daycare so that you can spend some time helping your child acclimate to their surroundings.
  7. Let your child bring objects or things from home that they typically find soothing (e.g., a blanket or favourite toy).
  8. When you are introducing your child to a new caregiver, be sure to show them that you trust them.  Introduce the child to the caregiver and tell them that they are a friend.  Your orientation and energy towards a person can go a long way to help them trust.
  9. Try to keep your emotions light and positive (even if you are not feeling that way on the inside).  Your children will be looking to you for reassurance.  The more calm, confident, and positive you appear, the better it will be for your child.
  10. When you decide to leave, leave.  It may be difficult to keep walking out the door when you hear their protests, but it is better for them when you don’t prolong the process by going back- even if it is to console them.  Most times, the crying and protesting stops before you get out of the driveway.
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Mindfulness and Anxiety

Written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

It is well known that feelings of anxiety are connected to future-focused thoughts.  That is, when we feel anxious, our thoughts are quite likely focused on something that could go wrong in the future, rather than on what is actually happening to us right now.

As such, developing strategies for connecting to the present moment by moving our thoughts out of the future and into the “now” can be helpful in lessening our experience of anxiety.  This act of redirecting our focus into the present moment is often called, “Mindfulness”.

There are a number of ways to practice mindfulness and, thus, reconnect to the present.  Below are some examples of mindfulness activities that you might wish to try:

1) Eating: The next time you’re eating a snack or a meal, try eating mindfully with your first two or three bites by paying close attention to the physical sensations of the food – notice the touch/texture, taste, smell, appearance.

2) Breathing: Take 5 minutes to practice deep breathing, inhaling through your nostrils and into your diaphragm, and exhaling through your mouth.  Notice how your belly rises and falls; notice how the air feels on your nostrils.  Notice any sensations in your body – aches, pains, comfort, etc. – as you breathe in and out.

3) Play “I Spy” with yourself: Take a look around you.  Pick one object and closely examine it.  Take note of its shape, colour, size, etc.

There are countless ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life.  At Mindful.org, you can subscribe to receive “Mindful Interrupters”, which are essentially short suggestions for connecting to your present experience.

If you’re feeling anxious, try one of the practices suggested above – or create your own!  How does being present impact your emotional state?