Get Some Sleep! 5 Tips for Busting Through Your Insomnia

August 2, 2018

If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep, is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis. With […]

Get Some Sleep! 5 Tips for Busting Through Your Insomnia

If you find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep, you’re not alone. Insomnia, the chronic inability to get sufficient sleep, is a common problem affecting millions of Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 study, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

With a lack of sleep at the root of serious medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease, getting a decent amount of sleep on a regular basis is crucial to a long and healthy life. Here are five things you can do to change your routine and start getting to, and staying, asleep.

1. Just Two Things in Bed
Make sure that your bed is used only for two things: sex and sleep. By using your bed almost exclusively for sleep, your body will associate your bed with rest and relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

2. Exercise Regularly
Getting regular exercise (the recommended thirty minutes a day, five days a week) will help you promote healthy sleep habits. Your post-exercise temperature may promote falling asleep, and exercise in general will help eliminate insomnia by decreasing arousal and anxiety.

3. Naps, Caffeine, & Alcohol
Short naps are helpful for some, but for others it impacts their ability to fall asleep. If you’re struggling with insomnia, avoid naps during the day. Caffeine, a known stimulant, may keep you up longer than you’re aware. You may need to avoid caffeine entirely if it prevents you from falling asleep. And, while alcohol is a sedative, it can disrupt your sleep; so if you have trouble staying asleep, avoid alcohol.

4. No Screens Before Bedtime
Screen time, such as computers, smart phones and television, prevent you from falling asleep due to cognitive stimulation. Too much light at bedtime affects your melatonin production, giving your body the impression that its staying awake, not ready for sleep. Help your body get ready for sleep by eliminating screen time at least two hours before bed.

5. Create a Nighttime Routine
Creating a regular nighttime routine will help your body get into the habit of winding down and relaxing as it prepares for sleep. Create a nighttime routine an hour or two before bed. Maybe have a glass of warm milk, brush your teeth, change into your pajamas and read a book every night before bed. Make sure you go to bed around the same time every night too, including weekends.

Changing old habits and establishing a new routine is never easy. But as you make changes and sustain new practices, it will get easier. Before long you’ll have a new set of healthy habits, and you can finally settle in for a good night’s sleep.

Are you struggling with insomnia and need help maintaining healthy sleep habits? A licensed professional can help. Call my office today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

4 Tips for Parenting an Above Average Child

July 15, 2018

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may be challenged with a unique set of circumstances. Your gifted child might be mentally above average, but have difficulty interacting with their peers; they may be immature, impatient, or easily bored. Your friends and family may look on in awe at your child’s abilities, blissfully […]

4 Tips for Parenting an Above Average Child

If you’re the parent of a gifted child, you may be challenged with a unique set of circumstances. Your gifted child might be mentally above average, but have difficulty interacting with their peers; they may be immature, impatient, or easily bored. Your friends and family may look on in awe at your child’s abilities, blissfully unaware of the difficulties you face on a daily basis. Here are four tips to help you parent your above average son or daughter.

1. Have Your Child Assessed
Although testing shouldn’t be the sole source of identifying a gifted student, tests are a good way to identify a gifted learner. Contact your school to have your child assessed for gifted classes or programs. Since there are no national guidelines for identifying gifted students, your school district will have its own standards. You can also have your child tested by a licensed psychologist experienced with gifted children.

2. Find Programs for Gifted Students
Your school district may have special programs or classes for gifted students. Search online or check with your local library for special classes or groups. You might even consider taking your child to a class or seminar that would interest them. This will give you special alone time with your child as well as help entertain and educate your gifted son or daughter. Finding special programs may require additional time and travel on your part, but it will provide your child with unique learning opportunities that will benefit them for a lifetime.

3. Help Them Improve Social Skills
While it’s important to help your gifted child in their search for knowledge, it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s equally important to nurture their social and emotional development. Provide your child with opportunities to interact with their peers. Contact their school or the local park or community center to find out about social or interest groups that would benefit your child, or talk to other parents for recommendations.

4. Have Realistic Expectations
When you have a gifted learner for a child, you may come to always expect their extraordinary achievement and ease in learning. However, this is not realistic; your child may be gifted with math, but have more difficulty with reading and writing, or vice versa. It’s important to maintain reasonable expectations. These expectations may also include their behavior. Despite their amazing ability to learn, your son or daughter is still a child, and will not necessarily have the emotional maturity to match their intellectual maturity. Recognize and acknowledge your child’s strengths, and be patient and supportive when they need extra help.

For additional help and resources, visit the National Association for Gifted Children at http://www.nagc.org or the Davidson Institute at davidsongifted.org.

Are you having difficulty parenting your gifted child, and need the guidance of a licensed professional? Call my office at your earliest convenience, and let’s set up an appointment to talk.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

Is Meditation for Me?

July 3, 2018

As beautiful and joyous as life can be, it can also be plain ol’ stressful. Whether it’s hefty mortgage payments, killer commutes, or bosses who don’t give us the credit we deserve, stress can come at us from all different angles. Surveys have uncovered some pretty disturbing statistics about stress. 33% of people feel they […]

Is Meditation for Me?

As beautiful and joyous as life can be, it can also be plain ol’ stressful. Whether it’s hefty mortgage payments, killer commutes, or bosses who don’t give us the credit we deserve, stress can come at us from all different angles.

Surveys have uncovered some pretty disturbing statistics about stress. 33% of people feel they live with extreme stress, while 48% believe the stress in their lives has increased over the past five years. And a whopping 77% of people surveyed said they experience physical symptoms caused by stress.

What are some of these physical symptoms linked to chronic stress?

• Pain of any kind
• Sleep problems
• Autoimmune diseases
• Digestive problems
• Skin conditions, such as eczema
• Heart disease
• Weight problems
• Reproductive issues
• Thinking and memory issues

How Meditation Can Help

There is now scientific evidence that meditation is effective against physical symptoms of stress such as IBS, high blood pressure, and ulcerative colitis. Meditation has been linked with improved immune response, reduction in pain sensitivity, and a shift from negativity to positivity.

Further, research has shown that meditation may physically alter the brain and how we are able to cope with chronic stress.

But what exactly is meditation? When many people hear that word, they have instant visions of people sitting in lotus position chanting, “Ohmmm.”

Mindful meditation is simply the practice of harnessing our attention to quiet our chattering minds. Instead of letting our brains run rampant like energetic puppies, sniffing one thought after another and another and another, mindfulness focuses our attention in the now.

The problem is because mediation is so deceptively simple, many people either feel it can’t possibly work in general, or they won’t benefit from it. And because we live in a society that seems to promote instant gratification, other people expect that after their first 20 minutes of meditating, all of their problems will magically dissolve.

But meditation is called a “practice” for a reason. Like anything else that is beneficial to your mind and body (sound nutrition and exercise), it takes commitment to reap those benefits.

Tips for Beginner Meditators

If you are interested in trying meditation for yourself, here are a few key tips:

• Get comfortable – you don’t have to sit in the lotus pose. You can sit in a comfy chair or even lie down. The trick is to be comfortable enough that your body sensations don’t distract you, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep.
• Don’t try and control your breath, just breathe naturally, simply staying aware of your breath.
• Start with just a few minutes and build from there.
• Don’t try to be perfect. There is no perfection in life or meditation, so just keep practicing every day.

If you find after you’ve been meditating for a little while that you could use some extra help dealing with the stress in your life, get in touch with me. I’d be happy to explore treatment options with you and talk about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

Why You Should Limit Phone Time For Your Teen

June 15, 2018

When your child was small, they most likely couldn’t go to bed at night unless they had their favorite blanky or stuffed animal. Well, just because they’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean they still don’t have dependencies. Teens today can’t seem to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without their beloved smartphone […]

Why You Should Limit Phone Time For Your Teen

When your child was small, they most likely couldn’t go to bed at night unless they had their favorite blanky or stuffed animal. Well, just because they’re “all grown up” doesn’t mean they still don’t have dependencies. Teens today can’t seem to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, without their beloved smartphone by their side.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would go out bowling or to get a pizza. We’d actually make eye contact with one another and, you know, talk. But pay attention to the gaggles of teens in malls and other public spaces and they all have their heads down, eyes glued to their phones! It would seem cellphones are the modern security blanket and no teen wants to be without theirs.

In this way, you could almost classify this dependency on technology as an outright addiction. A strong word for sure, but perhaps one that fits perfectly in this case.

The University of Maryland conducted a study as part of The World Unplugged project where researchers evaluated students from 10 different countries to see what would happen when the students had to forgo their phones for 24 hours. Their results were eye opening. They found that the majority of students experienced distressed during this 24-hour period.

Another large-scale study involving more than 2,500 college students found that 60% of them admitted to being addicted to their phone.

But this addiction can sometimes lead to unhealthy mental behaviors. For instance, researchers at the Catholic University of Daegu in South Korea found that teens who used their smartphones the most showed troubling psychological issues such as aggression, depression, anxiety and tended to withdrawal more.

While more research is needed, and while not everyone in the mental health community categorizes cellphone addiction as a real disorder, yet, it is clear that teens are having trouble curbing their own technological desires.

Signs Your Teen May be Addicted to Their Phone

How do you prevent your own kid from experiencing the aggression, depression and anxiety associated with overuse of a smartphone? First, you must recognize signs that there may be a problem:

– They feel the need to respond to everything immediately. They seem unable to resist that urge.
– They constantly check their phone, even when it isn’t ringing or vibrating. This behavior actually has a name and is called ‘phantom vibration’. This is a definite sign that your teen may have an addiction.
– They are disconnected from the real world and ignore what is happening right in front of them.
– They feel anxious and even angry when they are away from their phone.

What You Can Do?

First, try speaking with your teen about their phone use. They may or may not be receptive to the talk, but it’s a good idea to make the effort before you suddenly throw down new cellphone rules and regulations.

Next, set some rules. Understand this will be hard for your teen to accept, so go a bit easy. You may want to start by saying cellphones are not allowed at the dinner table. Of course, you as a parent must follow your own rules.

Next, you might want to enforce a “no bedtime” rule. Studies have found electronic equipment like laptops and cellphones hinder sleep. Try and encourage your teen to leave their phone in their bag and try some quiet time before bed by reading or listening to music.

Above all, encourage your teen to start regulating their own behaviors. That’s what growing up is all about. Ask for their input before setting rules but be firm about enforcing them.

If you find you have trouble speaking with your teen, you may want to seek the guidance of a trained therapist who can facilitate communication and offer tools for managing any upsets moving forward.

If you would like to explore family treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day

June 4, 2018

Is this a scenario you can relate to?: You sit down in front of the television or computer with a bag of chips or pint of ice cream intending to eat only one serving, but before you even know what’s happened the entire bag or pint is gone. And you have no real recollection of […]

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating Every Day

Is this a scenario you can relate to?:

You sit down in front of the television or computer with a bag of chips or pint of ice cream intending to eat only one serving, but before you even know what’s happened the entire bag or pint is gone. And you have no real recollection of tasting or even enjoying it. You seem to have eaten the whole thing on autopilot.

This is how many of us eat every meal of every day, without any awareness of the food or how much we eat of it. This is mindlesseating, and it is the cause for so much overeating and weight gain in this country.

What is Mindful Eating and How Do I Do It?

Mindful eating is exactly what it sounds like – it is a practice of becoming more aware of what and how much you eat. It is not a fad diet, which are short-sighted approaches to eating, and there are no specific recipes to follow.

Instead, mindful eating is a long-term approach to eating. It’s about forming a relationship with your food, not being controlled by food. When you eat mindfully, you taste and savor each and every bite.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try, here are 4 ways you can begin practicing mindful eating every day:

1.  In Sight – In Mind

You know the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?” Well the opposite is also true – the food we see we tend to want to eat. If you have boxes of cookies and donuts on your kitchen counter, you are going to grab one (or more) when you pass by because your blood sugar is low, and you need energy. You’ll have an entire donut eaten before you even realize you ate it.

Your mindfulness must start in the grocery store. Stop buying unhealthy foods laden with salt and sugar, and opt for healthier foods and snacks like fresh produce and nuts. Strategically place these healthy options around your home and kitchen so you can’t help but see them first the next time you reach for something to eat.

2.  Stop Multitasking

How often do you just eat and only eat? Stop eating in front of the television, and stop eating at your computer. And if you absolutely must work through your lunch break, try alternating between tasks so you can focus on one entirely at a time.

For instance, focus on writing and sending that email, then switch tasks and spend a full minute or two on eating your lunch, savoring each bite. Then switch to another task, and back to eating and so on.

3.  Slow Down

Unless you’ve entered a pie-eating contest, there’s no rush. Too many of us wolf down our food, then wonder why we feel so sick. Pace yourself. In your mind as you chew, repeatedly tell yourself to slow down. Eventually slow, purposeful eating will become an ingrained habit, but in the beginning you need to train yourself.

4.  Gauge Your Hunger

How hungry are you when you begin to eat? Are you even hungry at all, or are you eating as an emotional response to something?

Before you dive into that large pizza with the works, gauge your real hunger level. On a scale of 1-10, if your hunger is a 3, one slice should suffice. If you’re not hungry but in a bad mood because the boss is making you stay late, don’t eat the pizza. Instead, lift your mood with a non-food treat like a funny Youtube video you know you like or by mentally planning out all the enjoyable things you’re going to do after you get out of work.

Simple. Not easy, per se, but it will become easier with practice.

Try to incorporate these tips into your everyday life. You will be surprised how mindful eating can change your entire life, from the size clothes you wear, to your health, to how in control you feel in other areas of your life.

If your mindful journey helps you to uncover certain food or emotional issues you’d like to explore further, please contact me. I have worked with many people who have food addictions or use food as an emotional response and I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help you.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)

May 17, 2018

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child from harm and make sure they grow up healthy and happy. You make sure they wear a bike helmet and knee pads, but if they do take a tumble and break an arm, you immediately seek medical attention. Some “boo-boos” aren’t as noticeable […]

Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child from harm and make sure they grow up healthy and happy. You make sure they wear a bike helmet and knee pads, but if they do take a tumble and break an arm, you immediately seek medical attention.

Some “boo-boos” aren’t as noticeable as a broken bone, but these emotional wounds hurt just as bad. If left untreated, these emotional injuries can result in further problems as your child grows. This is where therapy comes in.

“But isn’t my child too young for therapy?” you might be wondering. In my practice, I have seen children as young as three years of age. Trauma and behavioral issues don’t have an age restriction, they can affect a child at any age.

Signs Your Child May Need Therapy

Instead of focusing on the age of the child, it’s better to address the particular problems he or she may be having. As the parent, you know your child best. While a friend or family doctor may tell you your child is just “going through a stage,” you may recognize that something seems… off or not-right. Trust your instincts.

With this in mind, here are some signs that may indicate a problem that may require specialized attention. Your child:

  • Is having trouble at school (grades, bullying others, talking back to teachers…)
  • Is attempting to injure themselves
  • Avoids family functions and ignores friends
  • Experiences frequent mood swings and/or extreme emotions (anxiety, angry outbursts)
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Had difficulty sleeping
  • Is eating far more or far less than before

This is by no means an exhaustive list but gives an indication of the kinds of behavior that may need addressing.

It is also important to mention that other things can be ruled out before you decide to give therapy a try. For instance, has your child had a full medical work-up recently? Her difficulties at school could be caused by an emotional disturbance, OR they could be caused by poor eyesight. His insomnia could be caused by anxiety, OR it could be the result of a biological issue that is causing him pain. Are you and your partner arguing more? Is your child’s behavior a natural response to an emotional situation at home?

Talk to Your Child About Therapy

While you may be worried your child is too young for therapy, your child may quite like the idea of talking to ‘someone special’ about how they feel. And, at the end of the day, your child is taking cues from you on how to feel about things. If you feel therapy has a certain stigma, your child will feel shame and not want to explore this option. But if you see therapy as beneficial, chances are your child will as well and be open to trying it.

Once you decide to explore treatment options, look for a therapist who specializes in helping very young children. They will most likely put an emphasis on art and play therapy, allowing your child to express themselves in a way that is natural for them.

Be sure to ask as many questions as necessary to select a therapist you feel comfortable with, and speak openly with your child about treatment so they can know what to expect.

If you believe your child may benefit from therapy and would like to speak about treatment options, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to see how I may help.Isn’t My Child Too Young for Therapy? (Myth vs. Reality)


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

Common Signs Your Kid Is Being Bullied

May 2, 2018

For many parents, bullying brings up memories of the schoolyard. You may have memories of yourself or a friend being bullied in the classroom or on the school bus. But today, social media has created a whole new realm for bullying, expanding the problem and making it easier for children to be harassed. If you’re […]

Common Signs Your Kid Is Being Bullied

For many parents, bullying brings up memories of the schoolyard. You may have memories of yourself or a friend being bullied in the classroom or on the school bus.

But today, social media has created a whole new realm for bullying, expanding the problem and making it easier for children to be harassed.

If you’re concerned that your child may be being bullied, look for these signs.

Difficulty Sleeping

Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or tiredness in the morning could be a sign of bullying or depression. Your child may be too anxious to fall or stay asleep; they may be crying themselves to sleep or having nightmares. Wetting the bed is another sign of fear or anxiety in a child.

Unexplained Injuries

Does your child come home from school with bruises, scrapes, cuts or torn clothes? When you ask your child about the injury or ruined clothing, do they appear nervous or avoid answering your questions? Attempt to assess if these are normal injuries as a result of play, or a sign of playground bullying. Ask them open-ended questions such as, “What happened at recess today?”

Avoids Social Situations

If you notice your child has lost friends or has developed a reluctance to spend time with them, this may be a sign of bullying. You may also notice your child is afraid to ride the bus or avoids school entirely by skipping classes or feigning an illness. They may go to the school nurse with a mystery ache to get you to pick them up early from school. If you’re beginning to notice a pattern, try talking to them about it. “I’m starting to notice you’re feeling sick a lot lately. Is everything okay at school?”

Changes in Eating Habits

If you notice your child’s eating habits are changing, such as skipping meals or binge eating, this can be a sign that something’s wrong. If your child comes home from school very hungry, it could be because they didn’t eat lunch. They could be too nervous during lunch time to eat, getting their lunch or lunch money stolen, or possibly avoiding the cafeteria entirely because of bullying or harassment.

Changes in Social Media Habits

When a child is being bullied online, they may start spending too much time on their devices or avoiding them entirely. Monitor their social media sites by friending or following, and if you suspect bullying, check their phone for harassing messages. You may also want to look into parental control and monitoring apps.

If you believe your child is being bullied at school, contact their teacher, the school principal or the school counselor or psychologist. You can also visit StopBullying.gov for more help and resources. If you or your child need professional help to deal with a bullying situation, please call my office today so we can schedule an appointment.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

5 Foods & Beverages That Can Cause More Anxiety

April 19, 2018

Most people know that a healthy diet is important in managing weight and aging well. But what many people don’t realize is that the foods we eat can significantly alter our mood. While eating foods rich in protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help fight depression and other mood disorders, eating the wrong kinds […]

5 Foods & Beverages That Can Cause More Anxiety

Most people know that a healthy diet is important in managing weight and aging well. But what many people don’t realize is that the foods we eat can significantly alter our mood.

While eating foods rich in protein, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help fight depression and other mood disorders, eating the wrong kinds of food can cause depression and anxiety and even worsen symptoms.

If you have panic attacks or suffer from a mood disorder, it’s important that you can identify which foods may trigger or exacerbate symptoms. As a general rule, the following 5 foods should be avoided if you suffer from anxiety.

1. Coffee

Have you ever had one too many cups of coffee and a little while later had the jitters? Coffee can worsen existing anxiety and even cause it in people who don’t normally suffer from it. Caffeine increases cortisol levels (one of our “fight or flight” hormones), which in turn makes you feel stressed even when there is no external stressor.

According to research, lower intakes of coffee (less than 6 cups per day) has been linked to less depressive symptoms.

2. Alcohol

It has been said that one or two glasses a day of alcohol such as wine is good for your heart. While this may be true for those that don’t suffer from anxiety, those that do should steer clear of alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has stated that alcohol may worsen mood and contribute to anxiety.

3. Sugar

Often people reach for sugary foods like cookies and candy when dealing with a mood disorder. While it may seem these sweat treats are soothing in the moment, sugar actually makes your negatively feelings worse. A diet high in sugar causes spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, which can wreak havoc on your moods and cause you to have panic attacks. Though delicious, avoid sugary foods as much as possible.

4. Trans Fat

It turns out trans fats found in foods like French fries and packaged snacks are not only bad for your health but for your mood as well. In fact, studies have found that foods containing trans fats, also called hydrogenated fats, can increase your risk of depression.

study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, examined the brains of rats and found that prolonged consumption of trans fat led to more anxiety-like symptoms.

5. Gluten

You don’t have to have Celiac’s Disease to be bothered by gluten. Many people don’t realize they have an intolerance to gluten that often shows up in the form of anxiety and panic attacks. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that those with gluten sensitivities are more prone to feeling anxious after eating wheat.

While cleaning up your diet can help you deal with your anxiety, sometimes diet alone is not enough. Therapy can help you to identify the root cause of your anxiety and cope with it.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child

April 1, 2018

If your child is sensitive to the emotions of others, worrisome and easily overwhelmed by changes or new people and environments, you may have a highly sensitive child. Parenting can be demanding, and parenting a highly sensitive child can present additional challenges. However, with a few simple strategies, you can better manage everyday problems and […]

Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child

If your child is sensitive to the emotions of others, worrisome and easily overwhelmed by changes or new people and environments, you may have a highly sensitive child. Parenting can be demanding, and parenting a highly sensitive child can present additional challenges. However, with a few simple strategies, you can better manage everyday problems and create a more peaceful home for the both of you.

Change Your Viewpoint

First, it’s important to change your viewpoint. Your initial reaction might be to see your highly sensitive child’s special needs as a detriment, rather than an asset. However, highly sensitive children tend to be more creative, insightful and empathic. With proper guidance and understanding, your child will grow into a happy and well-adjusted adult.

Encouragement and Praise

Your highly sensitive child will maintain his sensitivity into adulthood. Therefore, it’s crucial that he learn as a child to embrace and manage his emotions. Feeling shame about his sensitivity could cause him to develop anxiety and depression as he ages.

Validate your child’s feelings by encouraging him to express himself, and listen when he speaks. Encourage your child to manage his emotions rather than suppress them. Don’t ask or expect your child to “toughen up.”

Your sensitive child will also benefit from praise on a job well done, as this will help him develop confidence in himself.

Help Them Prepare

Sensitive children can become easily overwhelmed by new environments and people, so a little preparation can be helpful to both of you. For example, if your child is headed to a new classroom, prepare him a week or so in advance by visiting the school, playing in the playground and meeting some of the teachers. Reassure him that it’s natural to feel a little anxious, and that the other children are nervous as well.

Create a Safe Space

It’s often important for highly sensitive children to retreat to a quiet place where they can be alone with their thoughts. Their safe space can be a literal space you’ve created, or it can be as simple as a container of crayons, blank paper and their favorite stuffed animal in a quiet area of the house.

Get Involved

If you notice that your child tends to isolate or have great difficulty in social situations, try volunteering for field trips or as an occasional recess or lunch monitor. Encourage your child to participate by interacting with the other children. When he sees you having fun, he’s more likely to go from observing to participating.

With love and gentle guidance, your highly sensitive child will develop a confidence and self-acceptance that will carry him into adulthood. If you or your highly sensitive child needs guidance and support, please give me a call to schedule an appointment.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families

4 Ways Play Therapy Can Improve Your Child’s Life

March 15, 2018

Children have great imaginations, and they use it in every aspect of their lives. Play is a huge part of children’s lives and they create imaginary scenarios with their toys all the time. If something is going on in a child’s life, one of the best ways to discover their true emotions is by watching […]

4 Ways Play Therapy Can Improve Your Child’s Life

Children have great imaginations, and they use it in every aspect of their lives. Play is a huge part of children’s lives and they create imaginary scenarios with their toys all the time. If something is going on in a child’s life, one of the best ways to discover their true emotions is by watching them play.

Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic treatment, specially developed to help children between the ages of 3 to 12. A play therapist works with the child to explore and resolve their issues through the therapeutic use of play.

A safe space called a playroom is created. This allows the child to play with specially chosen toys, encourages them to express their feelings and helps them develop healthier behaviors. A a variety of techniques such as drama, storytelling, sandplay, painting, drawing and creative visualisation can be used.

Who can benefit from play therapy?

– Children who are constantly aggressive and willfully disobedient.
– Children who are ill or grieving
– Children who have depression, anxiety or attachment problems
– Children who are involved with fostering or adoption
– Children with conditions like autism and speech problems

Here are some ways play therapy helps children:

1. It helps them heal from past traumatic experiences- When children go through traumatic events, the negative experiences can create emotional and behavioral problems. Play therapy helps them make sense of the traumatic experience, by using their imagination to express themselves through toys. For example, a child who has witnessed domestic violence may make his toys fight each other. Play helps the child unpack emotions, understand the experience better and heal.

2. It enhances creative thoughts and ideas- During play, children use their imagination and creative skills to learn through play. During play therapy, children get to create different scenarios with different endings. This gives them a better understanding of what’s happening in their lives, and helps them cope.

3. It helps them deal with difficult emotions and situations- Play therapy involves activities that helps the therapist discover how the child deals with difficult emotions and situations and help the children address these difficulties. For example, a child may feel like they caused their parent’s divorce by being naughty. The therapist can help correct this wrong belief and help to eliminate feelings of guilt by encouraging positive thoughts.

4. It gives the child emotional support and helps them communicate their problems and concerns with others- In play therapy, children learn to work through difficult feelings and memories that they may not know how to put in words by expressing themselves symbolically with the use of toys. This helps the adults in their lives understand what children need in order to provide the right type of help and support.

Play therapy is quite beneficial to children, and kids who go through play therapy show great
improvement and display a higher level of confidence. Working through difficult feelings through play can be deeply restorative for children.

If you would like your child to see a play therapist, please contact me to book a session.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families