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Caring for children requires caring for you. 8 ways to manage stress when life is challenging and unpredictable.

Children thrive when the world seems loving, safe, and predictable. With all that’s going on in the world right now, life can feel anything but loving, safe, and predictable, not only for our children but for those of who care for them.

Young children are greatly affected by the stress of their parents and caregivers. Even babies can sense the stress of a parent. With this in mind, it’s so important to find healthy ways to cope with stress as you also care for your child. Not doing so can have a lasting effect on a young child's brain, body, and emotions.

Just as your children need and deserve care and love, you too are worthy and deserving of care and love. 

Here are some practical ways to manage stress as you continue to face new challenges in daily life: 

1. Get enough rest whenever possible. Sleep is necessary for physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing.

2. Move your body. Whether it’s stretching, yoga, going for a walk, or doing a workout online—movement boosts our body’s happiness chemicals and releases serotonin and endorphins, which help to stabilize mood and help you feel more positive about life. 

3. Get outside. If weather allows, go outdoors. Nature provides peace and perspective, and also releases serotonin. Sunlight and fresh air are good for the body and soul.

 

4. Take breaks from media. The news, social media, and local forums have their place. It’s okay to be informed from trusted sources. But mindless scrolling and taking in too much information in a culture of fear and alarm can add to your anxiety.

5. Take a break from your phone and other devices. Put it in another room for a time. Studies show that stress levels decrease when we disconnect digitally. This will feel hard at the beginning; you might actually feel more anxious at first. But over time, this healthy habit will become life giving.

6. Stay in touch with those you love and find supportive relationships. Call or text the friends and family you don’t get to see right now. Though you may not be with others in the ways you're used to, you can still reach out in ways that bring connection and comfort. Managing stress isn’t just about healthy coping strategies. Managing stress requires supportive relationships..

 

7. Know that grown-ups need timeouts too. When you’re overwhelmed, when it’s only 11 am and the kids won’t stop fighting, it’s okay to step away and count to 100. It’s okay to leave them with your spouse or partner so you can walk around the block. Parents and caregivers need support! Don’t hesitate to ask for the help you need.

8. Practice gratitude. Studies show that gratitude actually improves mental health; it's a positive emotion that helps fight negativity. Perhaps you can begin each day thinking of 3 things you’re thankful for. If your child is old enough, teach them the practice of gratitude too!

Be kind to yourself. We’ve never been through a time like this and we all need grace and compassion for ourselves and for others. Encourage the parents and caregivers in your life. Help them in any way you can, knowing that when you do, you’re helping children too.  

We trust that normalcy will one day return. But let’s make the most of this time with the children who depend on us. Research shows that a solid foundation of love and security helps children focus, adapt to new situations, control their emotions, and begin school ready to learn. 

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watchthis short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #1, "Maximize Love, Manage Stress" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers! And we'll post specific resources that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

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