Our kids have a special way of getting under our skin and making us lose our cool. For this reason, we must learn to remain calm and regulate our emotions; this will be our greatest ally in our self-care, as poor habits often arise as a result of attempting to cope with stressful experiences.
Many exercises can work to calm us down during moments of intensity, and most of them attend to our nervous systems. When we become stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, our ‘sympathetic nervous system is activated; you might know this as ‘fight or flight mode’. When this happens, our heart rate increases, our breathing hastens, and we become quickly angered and irritated. Therefore, we need to learn to modulate our sympathetic nervous system by engaging in good mental and physical habits, such as meditation, exercise, or simply deep breathing; these activities activate our ‘parasympathetic nervous system’, or our ‘rest and digest’ state.
One deep breathing exercise you can do on the fly is called ‘box breathing’, or 4 Square breathing, and it goes like this:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose for 4-7 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4-7 seconds
- Exhale for 4-7 seconds
- Hold your exhaled breath for 4-7 seconds
- Repeat as many times as you like
This exercise has been proven to lower your heart rate, and remove the body’s stress response, activating the parasympathetic nervous system; it requires no prior practice and can be done at any point during the day.
Self-care is vital for our mental health, but it isn’t always easy to implement into daily life. Start with small changes that are easy to build up over time. It might feel like you don’t have the time or energy to make these changes, however, we promise it is worth it!
- Eat healthy, natural foods that you have prepared yourself
- Exercise whenever possible throughout the day; this could be a few minutes of stretching or walking.
- Make time during your day for activities that nourish you mentally and allow you to recharge; this could be taking a bath, walking in nature, or writing in a journal.
- Practice mindfulness and self-awareness through activities like meditation, breathing exercises, or journaling.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact School Counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org