Self Care Practice During the Pandemic

by Dinah Gilburd, LCSW

Raising emotionally healthy children is a loving and a daunting task, heightened by the impact of the pandemic, social unrest, demand for social justice and ongoing protests and demonstrations. As parents, you are role models for your children, as you guide them to become responsible and loving human beings. Your children look to you to help them cope with their own stress.

Therefore, your own self-care and practice is important for you and your children. In order to be present for your children, you need to “put on your oxygen mask” first before you are able to help others.

How do you do that?

A simple and highly effective method to use when stressed or overwhelmed is the use of your breath. Because your breath is always with you, this technique is readily available and a natural response to stress. By breathing in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth, you will start to develop a rhythmic pattern. This practice will deactivate the “stress response,” which is an involuntary physiological response that suppresses the feel-good hormones. By using your breath to counteract the harmful effects of stress, the feel-good hormones will cascade throughout your body. You will experience feelings of peacefulness and calmness.

As an additional practice, when you are in a stressful situation, use the acronym STOP:

S – stop
T – take three breaths in and out
O – observe your feelings
P – proceed with clarity

This mindful practice enables you to respond rather than react. So, why wait until you are in a stressful situation? Start now and develop a daily practice, which will become as habitual as brushing your teeth. Both practices can be adapted to use with children.

Dinah is available at dgilburd@jfcs-Portland.org for your questions and comments. 

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