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Balancing Stress and Creating Resiliency

by Sharon Darin, MA, LMHC
Darin Counseling, LLC

God has gifted us with an array of emotions, including stress. Many people see stress as a negative in their lives however, stress can be a positive motivator. For example, stress may ensure that we put in extra time and focus prior to a big presentation for work. Our children may prioritize studying because they are stressed about doing well on a math test. When our hard work pays off, we appreciate how we handled the stress. We acknowledged what we were feeling, we identified what we could do to feel more confident and we took action. We “named it to tame it” and we took control.

The coronavirus, and the uncertainty that surrounds it, is stressful and it does not feel positive. Let’s name it to tame it! Let’s give ourselves permission to admit some days are harder than others – for kids, for moms, for dads – for everybody. And then, let’s move forward with an action plan that nurtures resiliency, helps us thrive and practice self-care during a stressful time.

  1. Create structure and maintain a consistent routine. Post your schedule on the refrigerator or a whiteboard as we respond best when we know what is expected and when.
  2. Communicate positively using “I statements” that offer perspective and lead with feeling:  “I feel _____ when you _____ and I would prefer _______.
  3. Listen well and paraphrase: “It sounds like you are scared, what do you need to feel safe?”
  4. Encourage discussions by answering questions with truth, brevity and reassurance.
  5. Exercise daily! Take family bike rides and walks, do calisthenics or practice yoga to maximize positive endorphins.
  6. Sleep – Consistent bedtimes and wind-down routines encourage restful sleep.
  7. Eat healthy – Try new recipes, bake together, take turns planning meals.
  8. Nurture relationships – FaceTime and Zoom are healthy ways to use technology to stay connected to family and friends. Handwritten letters are fun to write and fun to receive.
  9. Mindfulness – Practice living in the moment. Accept uncertainty. Focused breaths will calm your mind and slow your heart rate: inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts. Kids respond well to mindfulness games. In addition to focused breaths, engage their five senses: “Name 5 things you hear, smell, feel, taste, see.”
  10. Practice gratitude – Create a gratitude jar, start a gratitude journal, create a tradition of sharing “I am thankful for” at the dinner table, write a letter to a friend, teacher or mentor sharing the positive influence they had on your life. By implementing these activities, you will see an increase in happiness and experience a positive mood change. Patience, humility and wisdom will also be gained. 

This season is an opportunity to do life differently, create a new normal that works for your family. Remember to be kind to yourself. We will get through this together!

Psalms 47:1 Clap your hands, . . .; shout to God with cries of joy