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Embracing Wellness: Meet Dr. Sandy Zanella on World Mental Health Day 💕

Embracing Wellness: Meet Dr. Sandy Zanella on World Mental Health Day 💕

By Aya

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On this World Mental Health Day, we’re delighted to introduce Dr. Sandy Zanella! She’s not just a Yoga Teacher and Mindfulness Coach; she’s the heart behind @mymindfulmomlife and the award-winning author of “Happy Yogis.” As a mother of two incredible children, she draws inspiration from her own family to guide others in growing together, being present, and discovering peace.

We’re overjoyed to have her share her incredible tips and recommendations to help us maintain our health and well-being!

1. Can you give us a small intro about yourself?
I am a mother of two, a physician committed to fostering emotional well-being within families through a holistic approach. Additionally, I serve as a mindfulness mentor, yoga teacher, and women’s holistic health coach. I am also an award-winning author and the founder of Happy Yogis.

2.How can we recognize signs of mental health issues in my family members?
Identifying mental health issues early allows for timely intervention and treatment. Addressing mental health concerns promptly can prevent them from worsening or developing into more severe conditions.
Some key signs include:
– Significant shifts in behavior
– Excessive sadness, anxiety, irritability, or hopelessness that persist over time.
– Trouble focusing on tasks, making decisions, or maintaining their usual level of productivity.
– Physical symptoms like, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, unexplained aches or pains, or fatigue.
– Avoiding social interactions
– Excessive worry or fear about various aspects of life
– Noticeable drop in performance at school or work
– Have difficulty managing their emotions

3.What strategies can we use to create a supportive and open environment for my family’s mental health?
It is very important to have open conversations about mental health, and normalizing mental health conversations with our family members starting at a young age.Always using age appropriate tools like books. Like everything in parenting, modeling is very important, sharing your own feelings and experiences, demonstrating that it’s okay to talk about mental health will help reduce the stigma. When a family member wants to talk, give them your full attention, turn off your phone and show empathy and validate their feelings.It is also very important to let your family members know that you’re there for them, no matter what. Offer reassurance that you’ll support them through difficult times.

4.How can we help my children cope with stress and anxiety effectively?
A great way is by encouraging your children to talk about their feelings and concerns, creating a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing themselves letting them know it’s okay to feel the way they do. During my sessions with clients, I often stress the importance of introducing relaxation techniques to their children when they’re in a content and relaxed state instead of when they’re experiencing an emotion. It’s essential to ensure they’re neither overly tired nor experiencing hunger, as this sets the stage for them to fully grasp and appreciate the benefits of mindfulness. You can practice deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery together. These techniques can help calm their nervous system.

5.Are there any specific exercises or activities that can promote family bonding and mental well-being? Absolutely! There are numerous exercises and activities that can promote family bonding and mental well-being. Here are some suggestions :
– Mindfulness and breathing exercises, engage in simple mindfulness activities or guided breathing exercises to promote relaxation and stress-reduction..
– Yoga, performing yoga poses is a great way to promote self-awareness and calm the nervous system.
– Meditation, participating in guided meditation or relaxation exercises promotes mental well-being and stress reduction. All these exercises you can find them in my children’s yoga book Happy Yogis, it is a great way to start cultivating a mindfulness practice at a young age.

6.What role does nutrition play in our family’s mental health, and how can we make healthier choices?
Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting our family’s mental health. The food we consume provides the nutrients necessary for optimal brain function, neurotransmitter production, and overall emotional well-being.
Here’s how you can make healthier choices:
– Balanced Diet
– Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are important for brain health and can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. —– Limit Processed Foods: Unhealthy fats, and additives can negatively impact mood and cognitive function.
– Moderate Sugar Intake Reduce sugary snacks and beverages. High sugar consumption can lead to energy spikes and crashes, affecting mood and concentration.
– Adequate Hydration

Research in the past decade has found that gut bacteria may influence our emotions and cognitive capabilities. This is why is very important to invest in a healthy nutrition

7.How can we address conflicts and communication challenges within our family in a healthy way?
A great way to improve communication within our family is by practicing mindful listening. It involves giving our full attention to the speaker, being present in the moment, and truly understanding their words and emotions.Mindful listening encourages suspending judgment and criticism. This allows family members to express themselves without fear of criticism or rejection. Also when parents practice mindful listening, they serve as positive role models for their children.

8.Are there any early intervention techniques we should be aware of to prevent mental health issues?
Yes, you can do regular check ins with your family members, open up the conversation and give them space to express. Introducing and promoting the practice of mindfulness is a great way to equip family members with healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions. I often tell my clients that introducing yoga and mindfulness to our children is like bestowing them with a lifelong magic shield.

9.What resources or support groups are available for families dealing with mental health challenges?
KHDA is a strong advocate for student wellbeing, raising awareness of its importance. Schools often have resources and support systems in place to help families navigate mental health challenges. Healthcare professionals can offer recommendations for resources and support groups tailored to the specific needs of families.

10.Can you recommend books, articles, or workshops that can help us educate our family about mental health?
I am currently running a children’s yoga & life skills program to help children improve their overall wellbeing, as well as a program for mothers to go from mom burnout to bliss. My award-winning children’s yoga book is also a great resource to start cultivating a mindfulness practice. And lastly, in my newsletter I send free resources fro children and mothers as well as all the upcoming events.

11.How can we balance taking care of our family’s mental health while also prioritizing self-care for ourselves?
Prioritizing self-care for ourselves is essential for maintaining a harmonious household. It starts with setting clear boundaries and communicating our need for personal time. Scheduling self-care activities becomes a regular part of our routine, demonstrating its importance to our family. A great way to also take care of our family’s mental health is by involving them in collective self-care practices, like doing yoga together, going for a mindful walk, meditating as a family, etc.

Link to Dr.Sandy’s instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/mymindfulmomlife/
Link on where to buy her book: https://www.drsandyzanella.com/happy-yogis-book

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