The Weekly Mews with Armani

Armani and Vera are both feeling MUCH better than they were a week ago, and both seem to have recovered from their big scary dental cleaning. Armani is so glad he can eat his crunchies again, and no more pain pills!

One sleepy boy

He got a Libre device at the dental appointment, and we learned his sugars have been bottoming out at night (not good). Since the Libre was put on at the dental cleaning, we aren’t sure if this was happening before or if it started after the surgery. We’re waiting on the vet to tell us if we need to adjust his insulin.

Fancy kitty

In the meantime, thanks to telehealth, we have a human home with Armani about 80% of the time. He is loving all the attention and extra snuggles, and we decided to turn the AC down so that he can snuggle like he wants to without getting too warm.

His favorite snuggle position is with both humans sitting on the couch, so he can be touching both of us at the same time.

Snuggles

It is so good to see him feeling better, eating his preferred food, and snuggling up whenever he wants to. He hopes you get to do the things that bring you joy, too.

Halo

Stay cool, stay safe, and stay hydrated!

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Ap Review: Bearable

Is the abbreviation for application ap or app? Google seems to think they are interchangeable, so I will keep using whichever feels right in the moment. Language is just a bunch of made up words anyway. The order of the alphabet is arbitrary. Definitions are only valid because enough people agree on them. ANYWAY.

Today I am going to review the ap Bearable. When I was researching mental health aps, I honestly downloaded this one because of the adorable polar bear logo. Look at that face. Tell me you can see that adorable bear resting and not smile a tiny bit. LOOK AT IT.

Bearable logo

This ap helps you learn to track your mental health and notice what factors contribute to increased or decreased symptoms. It is incredibly thorough, though some options can only be unlocked with the premium version. As with all the aps I review, I only used the free version when I explored Bearable. When you first download the ap, it asks you about your goals with using Bearable, and it tailors your experience based on what you report are your needs.

Mood, Symptoms, Energy Levels, Self Improvement, Bowel Movements

Over time, the Insights page starts to give you feedback and draws your attention to what seems to be impacting your mental health. You can customize and change what it keeps track of and update your goals at any time.

Welcome! Your homepage is ready

If you are looking for an efficient way to track your symptoms and notice patterns in your life, Bearable is a great way to do that. It gives an external perspective to notice things you might not pick up on by yourself, and it has you track things you might not realize impact your mental health.

What aps have you been using to benefit your mental health? What aps are you curious about but hesitant to download? Tell me, and I will try to review them for the blog!

Paradox: Helping Kids Talk About Unpleasant Feelings

A challenge I run into when talking with kids about their feelings is that most children want to please the adults in their lives. It is natural to want the people around you to be happy, and this is extra true for kids because they might associate upsetting adults with getting into trouble.

If I fully and truly did not care about pleasing the people around me, I likely would have been fired from every job I had after about two days. It is normal and good to want to avoid upsetting the people around you.

But, as with everything, preoccupation with how your choices will make other people feel can be problematic if taken to an extreme. I often see this play out with children hesitating to tell their parents the truth about their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors if they think the honest answer will upset them.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

There are a number of processes that could contribute to a child feeling they cannot be honest because they want to please adults. Some include:

  1. You asked if I cleaned my room. You want me to have cleaned my room, so I should say that I cleaned my room (not stopping to think that you will know very quickly if I’m telling the truth).
  2. If you know that I’m sad, you will feel sad, and then we will both be sad. If I tell you I’m happy, at least you will be happy.
  3. You told me I have been doing such a good job lately, and if I tell you that I messed up, you won’t be proud of me anymore.

It’s common for therapists to have kids explore their feelings, and sometimes we see pushback when negative or unpleasant emotions are brought up (*Note* feelings are not good or bad, but they can definitely be uncomfortable).

To counter this, I will assign children a paradox: “I want you to tell me about something that you think will upset me to hear.” The contradiction is that, in order to do what I’ve asked (and therefore, in order to make me happy), they have to share something that I will not like (and therefore, make me unhappy). It’s uncomfortable and takes practice, but this can help kids let go of their hesitancy to share things that they think you will not like.

How do you help kids share negative feelings?

Telehealth Activity: Zen Photon Garden

I have been back in my office part-time the past few weeks, and it has been pretty great to be able to interact with my clients in person. We’ve been able to use actual, tangible fidgets, and when kids need help with something, I can usually actually step in and help them. I played Twister for the first time in over a year, and I definitely should have been more consistent with my home yoga practice because my body is not as bendy as it was before. (I think I can come to terms with body changes, though – I just survived a pandemic!)

Although it is exciting to see people in person again, it’s pretty clear that telehealth is here to stay. More than half of my clients want to keep their sessions online for the convenience, and I’ve been able to expand my practice to help those who did not have the option to come in person. (Quick shameless self-plug, this is why the lovely people at PESI have asked me to write a book about telehealth with kids – details coming in approximately August 2021!)

Since we know telehealth is not going anywhere, I am going to keep accumulating kid-friendly interventions. You can never have too many choices, right? This week, I discovered something called a Zen Photon Garden. You may recall when I wrote about sand drawing and traditional Zen gardens. This is similar, except instead of raking sand, you rake light.

“Draw On Me”

They can tweak different settings – diffuse, reflective, and transmissive – to change how the light interacts with the lines they draw. This is a great mindfulness activity, and it gives kids control over the light. I use this intervention simply by pulling up the website, sharing my screen, and giving my client control of the screen. It’s so fun to see what they come up with, and you can save the final product if you would like.

My photon drawing

Every time I think I have found everything the internet has to offer for telehealth, something else pops up on my radar. This increased access to mental health care is benefitting so many people in rural areas, and I am so honored to be a part of this shift in my field.

The Weekly Mews with Armani

Good morning and welcome to Armani’s weekly mewsletter! Let me tell you, friends, Armani had a WEEK.

He has some FEELINGS about this past week

It was a normal Tuesday. Armani was minding his own business. He noticed his breakfast was smaller than usual, but he was prepared to overlook that because he knew he could try and eat the strawberries out of the garden later.

Then ALL OF A SUDDEN he was put in his carrier! Taken to the vet! They POKED him, and it made him fall asleep. When he woke up, THREE OF HIS TEETH WERE MYSTERIOUSLY GONE!

You’d be mad too if you woke up with teeth missing

Yes, Armani and Vera had their dental cleanings this week, and they were not fans. Everything went great, and once they fully recover, they should feel much better with the infected teeth removed. Vera is excited that she gets wet food for a whole week, but Armani prefers his crunchies, and the vet says no dry food for 10 days.

What’s this garbage?!

Armani has been Very Grouchy this week, with good reason, but he has had humans checking in on him and loving on him even more than usual, which I assume will speed up his recovery. Fortunately, we managed to trick him into taking his pain pill, which seems to have helped.

On the road to recovery

Armani would like to remind all of his fans that sometimes we have to do hard things because they make us healthier in the long-term, but he wishes this was not the case. He also wants to remind you to brush your teeth.

Get Weekly Mews with Armani in your inbox by subscribing to my blog!

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Proceeds from Armani’s mewsletter help pay for his insulin and vet costs. He also shares 50% of each donation with organizations that help pets.

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Armani thanks you for your donation!

Armani thanks you for your donation!

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Yahtzee for Telehealth

Yahtzee isn’t a game I use often in therapy, but it can be helpful for frustration tolerance, focus, and problem solving. It can be fun for groups working on taking turns as well.

There are many options for playing Yahtzee online, but this website has a free dice set. Pull up the site, share your screen, and take turns rolling. The dice on the site make it easy to play but also allow you to give your client extra rolls if you want to let them change the rules to the game or if you are taking a non-directive approach in the session.

I also found a site that has a PDF of royalty-free score sheets, which you can print. Of course, printables are not always ideal when you are doing telehealth, so a fillable version of the PDF can be downloaded here:

You can never have too many options for telehealth activities, and there are endless games available online if you know where to look.

Dare App Review

While no app can replace therapy, there are some great options to learn more about mental health. Dare has an option for a paid upgrade, but the free version is fantastic. Choose what you are struggling with, and you are presented with education about each topic presented by a soothing voice.

Anxiety, panic attacks, health anxiety, insomnia, worry

You can choose how you want to relax, again with free and paid options. There are both video and audio options that are very relaxing, and you can download your favorites to access them when you aren’t online.

Breathing, anxiety, release, and nature

If you’re experiencing a (non-emergency) crisis, they have options for that too! All of the options to de-escalate during a panic or anxiety attack are free to use. The soothing voice talks you through calming down and makes you feel less alone while it’s happening.

This is not a substitute for medical attention but can help you move past intense emotions

I love the free version of Dare for providing mental health education and teaching de-escalation. You can learn more about your brain and get through intense moments between therapy sessions.

Call for Submissions

Dr. Katelyn and I would like to once again thank everyone who purchased It’s About To Get Real Unprofessional! We are still accepting submissions to both coloring contests, so remember to enter if you want to win a printable copy or a Cameo-style video from Armani.

Since so many people loved our first coloring book, Dr. Katelyn and I have decided to make another book! This time, we want to feature 69 (heh heh) mandalas that you can color, each one paired with a calligraphy quote. What quotes will we use? That’s where YOU come in!

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Have you received troll comments or snide responses on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? Has someone tried explaining something to you that you’re an expert in? Instead of getting mad, let us turn that comment into a beautiful coloring page!

Send us the sickest burns (or ridiculous insults) you’ve received on social media, and we will choose our favorites for the book. Release date TBD.

The Weekly Mews with Armani

What a week it has been, friends! The humans had some guests over, and Armani was excited to meet new Real Life people for the first time in over a year. He asked them to help him get on the refrigerator, but they didn’t pick him up the same way that I do, so he was angry. But then he got to hang out in the garden, and he forgot all about it.

Gardening is just chewing on the plants, right?

Armani is excited to start judging everyone in the coloring contest, so don’t forget to get those submissions in!

He’s ready to judge you.

Armani is nervous too, though. After consulting with his vet at length (she is probably very tired of our calls but so sweet about it), we decided to move forward with the dental cleaning. The risk of infection with gingivitis is higher than the risks from anesthesia, so on Tuesday, Armani gets to join his sister at the cat dentist. (Vera is low-risk for the anesthesia, so the decision to make sure her teeth are clean and healthy was easy.)

What’s happening?

So please send all good vibes, happy thoughts, and prayers Armani’s way on Tuesday. Hopefully he will feel much better afterwards and can go back to snuggling and talking to his friends on Twitter.

I’m not sure how this position is comfortable, but he stayed like this for an hour.

Next week, Armani will tell you about his trip to the vet, and maybe he will share his new clean, shiny smile!

Get Weekly Mews with Armani in your inbox by subscribing to my blog!

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Proceeds from Armani’s mewsletter help pay for his insulin and vet costs. He also shares 50% of each donation with organizations that help pets.

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Armani thanks you for your donation!

Armani thanks you for your donation!

Armani thanks you for your donation!

DonateDonateDonate

Fluid Ap Review

Recently I asked people to share their favorite free therapeutic aps with me, and I got some great suggestions! Today I’m going to talk about an ap that wasn’t technically designed for mental health but that I absolutely love: Fluid.

With Fluid, you tap your screen to create some gorgeous aesthetics made of different colored smoke and light. It’s an awesome way to relax and be mindful, and it can be a grounding experience if you’re feeling anxious or triggered.

Pretty colors

There are infinite images you can create just by poking around at the screen – light or dark, more colors or fewer colors, and you can tweak the animaitons.

Preeeeeeeeeeetty cooooooooooooolors

There’s a paid version that gives you more settings that you can mess around with, but I’ve been very satisfied with the free version. Available for Apple devices and on the Google play store.

Fluid settings options

Which aps have you found therapeutic? Tell me about them so I can check them out!