Give Yourself a “Time Out”
Stress can be serious stuff: For babies and young children, experiencing early stress can stop brain cells from growing and forming important connections, which can lead to problems with learning, issues with behavior, and even mental and physical illness. The best way to prevent children from getting stressed is for parents to have less stress in their lives. (Certainly, it is easier to be nurturing and patient when you are feeling good yourself.) So how can busy parents give themselves a break—in order to be better at parenting?
Take a deep breath. Taking a deep breath enables oxygen to enter your bloodstream, which can help you feel more relaxed. Deeply breathe in for the count of five, hold that breathe for two, then release for the count of five. As you inhale, visualize that you are “breathing in” something positive, such as peace, serenity, or calm. As you exhale, “breathe out” stress, tension, or anxiety.
Get moving. Shake out the stress by putting on some tunes and dancing, going for a quick walk or run (even with a stroller), or hitting the gym. Getting some aerobic or non-aerobic exercise has been proven to improve mood and according to a 2013 Princeton University study, exercise may block stress responses in the brain, which may reduce stressed-out feelings going forward.
Call a friend and have a laugh. Strong support from friends and family can protect both adults and children from the worst effects of stress. Connecting with others helps us know we are not alone. And humor may be a proven stress-buster: Laughter boosts heart rates and oxygen consumption and may actually lower stress-related hormones, according to a Loma Linda University study.
Visit www.first5la.org/ParentalStress for more information and resources.
Visit 211la.org/children-families/parent-programs/ to find parent support and other programs in your neighborhood.
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