(Photo source via: http://www.monash.vic.gov.au)
Worry is normal when we are faced with uncertainty. It’s also important to understand that we can find ways to control our worry rather than allowing it to control us.
Here are five simple ways you can practice mindfulness with your children now:
1.Take five breathing:Sit down, close your eyes or look down and trace your hand with the index finger of your other hand. When you trace up, take a deep breath in; when you trace down, breathe out. Keep breathing and tracing until you have traced your whole hand. (Try this while you are washing your hands!) This practice is a great way to lower cortisol levels, which can spike when you are anxious or worried.
2.See, hear, feel:Sit down, close your eyes or look down. Start to notice your surroundings. What do you see, hear and feel in your body? Each time you notice something, you can silently label it “See,” “Hear” or “Feel.” Try that for a few minutes. This practice can help you come back to the present moment when you feel anxious.
3.Mindful eating:Try to eat something and really pay attention to it with all of your senses. What does it look like, sound like, smell like, feel like, taste like? Try to eat it really slowly and notice everything about it. This practice can help you to slow down, stay in the present moment and feel gratitude for food.
4.Heartfulness:Sit quietly, close your eyes or look down. Give yourself a little hug and think “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful.” Then think about somebody you care about and then about everyone in the world. (This is another great thing to do while you are washing your hands.) This practice can make us feel kinder and gentler toward ourselves and others. It can remind us that we are connected to everyone in the world and that we all want the same basic things — health, happiness and peace. I encourage my students to take that feeling of compassion and do something to help. Helping others is a surefire way to get us out of our own heads and out of the prison of worry. Finding ways to show people that we love them is a way that we can all feel more connected in these scary times.
5.Remote-control breathing:Sit quietly, close your eyes or look down. Take three deep breaths. Try to count 10 normal breaths. If you notice that your mind wandered, just note that and start counting your breaths again. You might have to keep bringing your attention back to your breath, and that’s fine.
Stay connected with us by finding more ways to practice mindfulness, speak with your children about COVID-19 and use mindful movement and other practices to cope during this uncertain time.
Protecting ourselves and our loved ones during this COVID19 pandemic involves things we can all do:
1. Wash hands.
2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
4. Stay home when sick.
5. Cover your cough with your elbow. If you use a tissue, clean your hands.
6. Face masks might help people who are sick not spread germs when around others, but they are not needed if you are well unless you’re in close contact with someone who is sick. These are in short supply, so please do not use them unnecessarily. Your healthcare provider or caretaker might need it one day.
7. Wash frequently touched surfaces. See the post for details of this one!
We know how tough it is to talk to our children about Coronavirus. It all feels so confusing to us, so how can we explain it to them? In this quick video, Dr Michelle Dickinson aka Nanogirl, will teach you and your child all about viruses and how to stay healthy.
Click here to view the video.
During this difficult time, we understand that some of your kids are feeling quite anxious. While we may all feel so out of control with what is going on in the world, we find it is really helpful to give kids the tools to feel centered. We found this wonderful resource from the Stop, Breathe & Think YouTube Channel. Below is their description of the Square Breathing Technique.
In this video, boost your superpowers of calm and focus by breathing as Puffer Fish keeps time. Try playing this mindful game when you are overly excited or are in a meltdown.
It is also helpful to play this game when you feel already feel relaxed to build the muscles of calming down in more stressful situations. This video begins in the ocean with Puffer Fish ready to show you how to play Square Breathing.
To play this mindful game, you’ll sit or stand with your back straight and body relaxed. If you’re standing, let your arms hang by your side. If you’re sitting, rest your hands on your knees. Then, you’ll breathe in time with Puffer Fish as she swims around the sides of a square. As Puffer Fish swims up, you’ll breathe in for a count of four. As Puffer Fish swims across the top of the square, you’ll hold your breath for a count of four. As Puffer Fish swim down the side of the square, you’ll breathe out for a count of four. And as Puffer Fish swims across the bottom of the square, you’ll hold your breath again for a count of four, repeating the cycle a few more times.
Access more meditations on Youtube ➜ https://goo.gl/AbqCp8
Try their free app now ➜ https://goo.gl/7wnzVY
Please be advised that the Full Service Community School Health Center (including Behavioral Health Counseling) will be closed in accordance with Paterson Public Schools closing due to the COVID-19 Virus and will re-open at the time school re-commences. In the meantime, we are working from home and if any of our families need support our team can be reached by calling your Full Service Community School Health Center voice mailbox and the appropriate personnel will return the call. This includes Treatment Coordinators and Behavioral Health Counselors. Please click on “Contact Us” to access contact information.
Please follow our Full Service Community School Health Center Pediatrician at: docrazzak on facebook. Please see his contact information on this site ‘contact us’ for office and telephone contact. Please note, Dr. Razzak is scheduling TELEHEALTH for patients. Follow his protocols to determine need.
We realize that the uncertainty and stressors related to this situation may cause increased levels of fear and anxiety. If you find that you, or anyone in your family is experiencing a mental health emergency please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. In addition, please consider the following resources local to the Paterson Community for your long term mental health:
PerformCare New Jersey: 1-877-652-7624
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with an office in Paterson, PerformCare develops and manages behavioral health solutions for children, adolescents and families.
Circle of Care for Families and Children of Passaic County: 973-942-4588
Woodland Park, Circle of Care provides services for children with emotional and behavioral challenges using a wraparound model so that the child and family may live and thrive in the community.
Family Intervention Services: 973-523-0089
Located at 655 Broadway in Paterson, FIS provides crisis intervention, therapeutic counseling, case management, education and support for families.
St. Joseph’s Health Screening Service: 973-754-2230
This 24-hour hotline number offers emergency psychiatric evaluation screenings and psychiatric referrals.
TIPS FOR MANAGING OUR WORRY AND RESPONDING TO OUR CHILDREN
Our kids already live with heightened worry — pressure to achieve, social comparison, safety in the community, lockdown drills and active shooter drills. Let’s not add to their burden. As adults, we need to do what we can to make sure we do not add to their levels of anxiety.
There is risk in living. However, when we panic and let fear guide us and try to eliminate our risks, we end up eliminating what gives life meaning — what it means to live with joy.
So, how do we reel it back and help ourselves — and our children — not get drawn into the panic vortex? We focus on that which is in our control.
Prepare like any other disruptive event — like a snowstorm — but not the apocalypse.
- Wash hands with soap and water.
That said, pay attention to over-washing that results in raw and chapped skin. If this is becoming an obsession seek help from a mental health professional.
- Boost your immune system.
Get plenty of sleep, eat vegetables and fruit — don’t stress eat sugars — and exercise to reduce stress (since stress weakens your immune system).
Have you been meaning to try meditation? Now is a good time to start. There are lots of apps out there (such as Calm, Insight Timer and Stop Breathe Think) to help you find peace and bring your – and your children’s — cortisol (stress hormone) levels down.
If you or your child starts to feel overwhelmed, dizzy and heading in crisis mode, focus on the breath. Try breathing in for four, hold for seven and exhale for eight. After a few rounds, you will feel a difference in body and mind.
- Avoid “predicting the future”
Stay in the reality of now. Avoid the slippery slope of what-ifs and what might happen.
The news has a massive impact on our distress. Try these ideas to reduce it.
- Limit media.
Again, for ourselves and for our children. Turn off the TV, especially when the kids are home.
- Turn off all news notifications and set screen time news limits.
Many children who have access to digital devices receive news alerts. Turn them off. For those who go looking for the news, you can select how many minutes or hours the news app can be accessed in a day.
As adults, we know the media profits from grabbing and keeping our attention, but many kids aren’t aware of this. The constant barrage of headlines can be overwhelming and can cause anxiety and even panic. Provide your children with age-appropriate education toward the current concern. For example show them the video from the CDC posted on our website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPsY-jLqaXM
- Don’t go down the “rabbit hole” online.
We also get caught up into thinking that if we keep reading, we just might find the one thing that can make a difference. Unfortunately, constant news, stories and information is not helpful — it just puts us in high alarm and overwhelms us.
- Vary your media sources.
- As the saying goes “Little pitchers have big ears”.
As parents, we need to be aware of what we discuss with other adults in front of our kids.
Despite our deepest desires (and our very best efforts), we cannot control everything. This is a high-profile illustration of the inherent risk of living that we have to get comfortable with. Yes, we are smart and mitigate risk when we can, but we keep our heads. What we can control is our ability to accept and more importantly to strengthen our ability to sit with that discomfort, and help our children learn this too.
As adults, we are the front line on reducing anxiety. Many of our children are too young to remember all the other panics that we have faced — Ebola, SARS, AIDS, bird flu, swine flu, Zika virus and even terrorism. It may give us comfort to remind ourselves and teach our children that this is not the first time something new and scary has hit the world and the vast majority of us have been OK.
We, as adults and parents, need to start with ourselves. Kids are smart. If we tell them all is OK but we are freaking out, they will see through that and it will alarm them even more.
We have no idea what the next few weeks will be like. Let’s not exhaust ourselves already.
All of us at the FSCS Health Centers want you to stay safe and healthy!
March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday !!! To pay tribute to our favorite children’s author, we have a very healthy poem written by the FSCS Administrator and Health Center nutritionist, Denise Hajjar.
Start your Day the Healthy Way
By Denise Hajjar
Would you drive a car with no gas? This is the question I may ask.
You need to fuel your body and your mind said the Cat in the Hat…that friend of mine.
The Cat in the Hat eats green eggs and ham so why oh
why don’t you eat a clam?
or a snail….or a snake?
Because that can give us a belly ache for goodness sake!
So what is a nutritious breakfast asked Sam I Am?
A slice of whole wheat toast with a touch of Jam!
Or an egg of course, but please no spam! YucK!
Now for some fruit…like some berries or grapes… or nice yellow banana like feeding the apes!
Choose at least 3 from the 5 food groups….even though it may give you the…..Oops! You can’t say that said Sam I
Oh never mind that said the Cat in the Hat…
These are my breakfast ideas that will fuel your brain and keep you running like a plane or a train… But sometimes I run out the door with no food in my belly…hey how about an apple with some jelly?
Well, perhaps an apple but with some peanut butter; a fruit and a protein, there’s nothing better! The protein will be sure to keep you focused all day and the apple will keep the doctor away!