Alvord also advises creating relaxing routines. “The mind and the body are very connected,” she says. “If your thought processes are spinning, you need to calm the body. Take a walk, go for a run, dance, do some yoga. If you listen to music, bounce around to it. It wards off sadness.”
For help, visit the APA Web site at www.apa.org/helpcenter or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies site at www.abct.org.
Stop ‘September asthma’
Asthma flare-ups spike in September. “September asthma” has dual causes, says Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, an allergist in Gaithersburg. First, asthma is triggered by allergies, she says, and there’s plenty to be allergic to this month. In the Washington area, ragweed runs rampant in early fall. Other key allergens in play in September: dust mites and mold.
Dust mites, which feed on dead skin cells that have fallen off the body, “have spent all summer long in schools, munching away” and multiplying. When kids return, they’re exposed to huge numbers of dust mites, she says.
Mold exists across the country, Eghrari-Sabet says, but the District area likely hosts an increased load this month because Hurricane Irene left things damp and downed trees and leaves, which harbor mold as they compost.
The other half of the equation is that many kids go off their maintenance allergy medications during the summer. This makes them more vulnerable to autumn’s onslaught of allergens. “Asthma is a chronic condition,” Eghrari-Sabet says. “You don’t just say, ‘I’ll go off my blood-pressure medicine for the summer.’ ”
Yoga’s no-wallet-out pose
Don’t know your downward dog from dandasana?
If you’ve been curious about yoga but haven’t yet ventured into a class, September — designated National Yoga Month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — is an excellent time to give it a try.
Throughout the month, 1,600 yoga studios across the country — including dozens in the Washington area — are offering new students a week’s worth of free yoga classes. To find a studio near you and access the necessary paperwork, visit www.yogamonth.org. Participating area studios offer a variety of yoga styles, from ananda to vinyasa flow. The goal, according to Sora No, director of communications for the California-based Yoga Health Foundation, which administers National Yoga Month, is to “support and build a community from the grass roots to provide awareness of the health benefits of yoga.”
The month-long celebration of all things yogic culminates Sept. 30, with a celebration called Time for Yoga. That evening, people are encouraged to do an hour-long yoga practice starting at 7 p.m. local time, moving into the restorative rest called savasana at 8 and then into a 15-minute meditation “for universal peace and well-being,” the Web site says, at 8:15. “By participating during your own local time,” the site says, “a wave of yoga will take place around the globe.”
Kid at school, loss at home
Most parents feel pangs of sadness when they send their kids off to school.
“Whether it’s kindergarten or college, a sense of loss is the common denominator,” says Lawrence Balter, a psychologist in Manhattan. You’re experiencing both “loss of control over your kid’s life and loss of your role as a parent,” he says.
But that sadness should start diminishing a week or so into the academic year. How can you get to a happier place? Here are Balter’s tips:
●Recognize that it takes time to absorb loss and separation. “Literally tell yourself, ‘It’s going to take time.’ ”
●“Make a deliberate, conscious effort to redefine who you are in relation to your offspring — and spouse, if you’ve got an empty nest.”
●“Create activities to help you develop yourself. Accentuate the other part: This change can be liberating.”
●“Don’t become intrusive in their lives” by, for example, calling a college student every night or making sure he’s done his homework.
●Don’t make your child feel guilty. “They don’t deserve to have that responsibility.”
●Be alert for “indications that your sadness is disproportionate. If it interferes with other relationships or work, or if sleep or eating problems emerge,” you may need professional help.