October 5, 2020

Daily steps can reduce stress and help you parent better 

In the best of times, we parents tend to forget about our own needs and take good care of ourselves. In these Coronavirus times of high anxiety -- saddled with the stresses of homeschooling, keeping our families well, social distancing, working from home, and more -- self-care has truly fallen by the wayside.  

We polled our Nola Family network for ideas of how they’re tamping down life’s stressors and taking care of themselves.

No surprise on #1: Breathe!
Stand up right now, put your arms over your head, and take three deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Now, set your smart watch or cell phone timer to go off every hour on the hour in the daytime to do this.  

2. Stretch.
Stretch and walk around the house, your office, or backyard for two to five minutes. This will not only get your blood circulating, but also will get blood to your brain for better project focus and improved mood. 

3. Yoga.
Take the next step and download a yoga app. Hatha incorporates easier movements and its slower paced style is ideal for beginners. Start with one pose a week and build your core strength from there.

4. Take a walk.
You can do this any time! Divide your thirty minutes daily goal into 10- or 15-minute increments. Take the kids or your partner, or relax on your own. Bonus points for no phone and observing nature!

5. Light a candle.
Looking at a candle flame can be very calming. And certain scents have been proven to reduce anxiety and help you relax, lavender especially. Stay safe and keep the flame one-foot away from anything flammable.

6. Hot bath.
For a mini-vacation, lock the door, turn on some favorite music, light a candle, and declare yourself off limits to kid intrusions. 

7. Garden.
With winter approaching, bring gardening inside. Small pots of assorted herbs and flowering plants will thrive in a south-facing window or next to a French door. 

8. Journal.
Get in the habit of writing a quick daily page of what’s bothering you as a means of resolving any negativity or fears. By the same token, write one sentence daily on a goal or inspiration to spur positivity.

9. Read a Book.
Books are escapism at its finest. Crawl into bed early with a good book instead of binge watching a Netflix series. Really!

10. Listen to a Book.
If you spend 30 minutes or more in the car daily, download a book for listening. New Orleans Public Library has free e-books and audiobooks. Or tune into a good podcast that makes you laugh.

11. Bake.
Simply put, baking is therapeutic. It takes you out of the moment and instantly places you in a creative mindset. And let’s not forget those amazing,
mouth watering aromas! Let the kids join in.

12. Herbal Tea.
Brew a cup of herbal tea and sit down then and there to drink it while it’s still hot. Close your eyes and relax. Not sleeping well at night? Then brew a cup of
camomile tea 30 minutes before bedtime for restive sleep.

13. Self-health.
Schedule your annual physical and any tests you may have missed this year. Recognize that
your well-being is as important as everyone else’s. 

14. Mental health.
Last, but certainly not least: get help if you need it. Everyone goes through rough patches from time to time. Professional resources are available and ready to address your concerns, including calling 211 for emergency crises. 

In all, don’t forget that you’re the linchpin in your family’s life. By incorporating regular self-care into your routine, you’ll be better able to deal with daily stress and stay positive. 


Trevor Wisdom is managing editor of Nola Family and native New Orleanian, who raised her daughter as a single mom. 

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