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For many families 2016 has been a struggle. For some of us, we are ready to toss out 2016 and move forwards to a happier, healthier, less stressful 2017! Families have been trying to keep on top of finances and managing the accumulating debt that seems to trickle into their household with the increasing cost of living, as well as many families who have experienced job-loss and those who have lost their homes. Not to mention the hardships around the world that has caused much pain, panic, fear and stress to resonate in adults and our children. When we watched the news, it was sad to know that many families were not going to have a Christmas that they had typically hoped for – seeing the huge smiles on their children’s faces on Christmas morning while they opened gifts. The food bank was struggling to stock their shelves and have enough to prepare hampers for families in need. The organizations that sponsor families, all of which are donation driven by the local community, had to turn families away and tell them to come back up to a day before Christmas, to which hopefully there would then be some resources available. No matter what the circumstances, the fear of not knowing can be excruciating, especially when we feel like we have let our loved one’s down by not being able to ‘provide’ or keep the ones we love most, safe.

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It is important to remember during the holidays (or even any other time of the year), that it is not the amount of money you have for gifts to go under the tree, but rather about creating memories and spending time with your loved ones. This is why there are amazing programs are out there, where we can learn to use yoga and meditation, to promote relaxation in the home with children and adults.  This is not only a life-skill, but something that doesn’t cost a lot, these programs are invaluable as they encourage bonding with your loved ones, teach children (and adults) how to relax and de-stress and it nourishes our mind and body for the long haul. There are some wonderful programs out there that teach yoga and mindfulness and the owner/founder of Mini Me Yoga, Kate Bartram-Brown has just the right program for all families around the globe. This program not only teaches us yoga and meditation, but teaches us how to use positivity – which can go a looooong way when we are feeling stressed. Just look around you – you are blessed with more than you realize and this often gets buried under all the looming stress when we are just trying to survive and make it to tomorrow.

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Children and adults who live in households that are filled with any type of stress and who have zero tools in their tool box to manage this stress are going to struggle, period! In order to manage and overcome stressful times, we often need support on three levels; self, family and community. These three areas are key to managing stress – we need to practice self-care, be supported and support our family during hard times and to be connected with our local community.  If we have all of this, we will survive the hardships and pull through in the end. This is what helps create resiliency in us all.

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Below is a list of some simple things you can start doing NOW, in 2017, in order to help reduce stress and feel on top of the world!

  • Just BREATHE! Taking a few simple deep belly breaths and focusing only on your breath, can help to relax the mind and body and it doesn’t take much time at all.
  • Do a couple stretching poses first thing in the morning when you wake (there are oodles of poses that you can search for online, that will help you be on your way).
  • Take a minimum of 30 minutes daily, to do something for YOU! 30 minutes isn’t a lot of time and you are worth every minute of it. Make sure it is something that YOU enjoy.
  • Spend quality time with your family every single day (colour together, play a game, tell jokes, laugh together, go for a walk, be silly or bake a delicious recipe). This is time that you will never get back.
  • Eat dinner together as a family and talk about your day (adults keep it positive for the children- they do not need to know adult struggles). If children talk about their challenges, be open to help them problem solve and see what they come up with, you will be amazed with the ideas they can come up with to solve their own problems.
  • Share one thing that you appreciate about each person in your home during dinner. Look at the smile on their face as you recognize them for their efforts and successes, this creates a warm feeling inside when we know that our family notices and appreciates us.
  • Find a local organization that you can support, to find meaning and experience the joy that comes with helping others. You don’t have to always make a financial contribution when you support others – giving your time is well received for many. This is also a great way to teach our children healthy values and the importance of giving and thinking of others. The joy you will feel from helping others is amazing!

Mini Me Yoga is spreading oodles of peace and love to you for the new year and we wish you nothing but happiness in 2017!

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Meet our guest blogger and Mini Me Yoga Ambassador, Nicole:

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With a Bachelor of Social Work, I have been working in the field of mental health for the past 12 years. First working with adults living with acquired brain injury for 3 years as a rehabilitation counsellor and then moving to Calgary, to pursue a career as a children’s mental health coach for mental health promotion and prevention in schools.

This past year is when I found my calling as a Mini Me Yoga Ambassador. I found that it was strongly correlated with the mental health work that I am already doing in schools, but I could have the flexibility to create a life that I want, where I can work for myself, while still promoting childhood mental health and wellness in my community.

As a Mini Me Yoga ambassador in Calgary, Alberta Canada, I offer children’s yoga classes as well as the 2-hour workshop for grownups.

I continue to attend community events, build connections with those who are closely connected to children and strive to build capacity in adults to offer the Mini Me Yoga program in schools, daycares, pre-schools, nurseries and pretty much anywhere children can be found.

I look forward to connecting you with about Mini Me Yoga and building strong and caring communities through spreading joy and happiness to children in Western Canada.

With Love,

~Nicole