5 Self-Care Tips to Practice at Home to Ease Stress

Things are tough right now, and that means practicing self-care is more important than ever.

The last couple of weeks have brought numerous changes to our daily lives, especially as parents. Schools and daycare facilities are closing, many parents are working from home, and shopping for essentials is tough. Ask the average parent how they’re feeling right now, and most will probably respond with “stressed.”

As a parent, you’re probably focused on how to care for your children during this time, but it’s important that you don’t forget about taking care of yourself. With your own anxiety and worries under control, you’ll be able to help your children get through this time as well.

Here are 5 easy but very effective ways to practice self-care and relieve stress while staying confident and optimistic.  

1. Reach out to fellow parents or even parent groups on social media when you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

Juggling social distancing with working from home and homeschooling your kids at the same time can make any parent feel overwhelmed. Knowing you’re not alone in your struggle can not only boost your confidence but also serve as an outlet to relieve stress.

If you’re feeling frustrated, reach out to a fellow parent friend or look for parent support groups on Facebook. Sometimes stress doesn’t come from a single problem but rather an overload of emotions. By texting or calling a friend or checking in with your parent group, you’ll get some worries off your mind, and we bet you’ll also find that many parents feel the same way.

2. Take advantage of FaceTime, Skype, and other free video chat apps to keep in touch with friends and family.

Phone calls and text messaging are convenient, but going without actually seeing the people you love can take a toll on your well-being and raise your stress levels. Social distancing might keep you physically apart, but video chatting is a wonderful substitute.

There are plenty of free video chat apps out there, from FaceTime for Apple users to Facebook Messenger. Skype is also free and is perfect for group video chats. You can video chat with up to 50 people at a time on Skype, making it perfect for holding a virtual family or friend get-together.

If you’re feeling rundown from a lack of socializing, daily video chats can really improve your mood. Plus, it gives your kids a chance to see their grandparents and friends!

3. Staying in the know is important, but try to limit how much news you’re consuming—especially on social media.

Staying informed is really important right now, but spending all of your time watching the news or reading related posts on social media can have a negative effect. If you find your stress levels rising as you scroll through Facebook or while you’re watching the news on TV, that’s a good sign you need a break.

Right now is a really good time to take a breather from social media by limiting how much time you spend on it. You might also limit watching the news channel when you’re having your morning coffee. For some people, reading news articles is less stressful than watching videos.

If you feel anxious about wanting to check the news, distracting yourself with baking some cupcakes with your kids or heading out to the backyard to play catch can ease your tension and create some wonderful memories at the same time.

4. Grab a yoga mat or some dumbbells and squeeze in a 30-minute workout while the kids are busy.

Diving into a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream and laying on the couch can be really tempting when you’re stressed. Although indulging your cravings can provide comfort, it’s only temporary. Right now, it’s more important than ever to boost your health (and your immune system) while also kicking stress to the curb. The solution? Just 30 minutes of exercise!

Research has continually proved for decades that regular exercise relieves stress, and in most cases, it’s a nearly immediate effect. The gym might be out of the question, but you can still do bodyweight exercises, strength training with dumbbells or bands, and yoga at home. You can find guided workout routines online for free (check out YouTube) and even use video chat with a fitness friend to keep you both motivated.

All forms of exercise are great for relieving stress, and it’s good to practice flexibility, strength training, and cardio to stay well-rounded. However, studies do show that hatha yoga is ideal if you’re specifically exercising for stress-relief.

5. Write down your worries, concerns, and general thoughts instead of keeping them inside.

Talking with someone you trust is always a great idea, but expressive writing has been shown to be even more effective at relieving stress and pent-up emotions and can even help you regain focus on the important things in life. If you’re a private person or you find yourself still feeling frustrated after trying to talk with a loved one about your stress, grab a journal and try writing instead.

The goal of expressive writing is to let your mind go and write down whatever happens to pop up instead of trying to focus on writing about one thing in particular. If you enjoy guided journaling, you can also try that approach by focusing on specifically writing about what might be bothering you and the emotions you’re experiencing.

Whatever style of writing that best reduces your stress is the right one for you.

Dr. Judith Shea and her team look forward to seeing you and your children when we return to our office.

To keep our young patients, their families, and our community safe through social distancing, we’re following CDC guidelines by temporarily closing.

If your child has a dental emergency during this break, you can give our office a call and get our emergency-only number from our answering machine message.


10 Things Your Whole Family Can Do In Together At Home

Cure your family’s cabin fever during self-quarantine.

Even under self-quarantine, it’s a blessing to have spare time to spend with your kids. After the first few days, however, you may find yourself out of ways to entertain your family—leaving you with a gaggle of increasingly rowdy, bored kids. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can save yourself and your kids from cabin fever without breaking self-quarantine. Here are 10 things your whole family can do together at home.

1. Have a movie night.

If you’re ready for a relatively quiet night at home, have a movie night. Movie theaters are even adapting by allowing you to stream movies that are still in theaters from home! You can make it more special and gain an entire afternoon of fun by turning your movie night into an at-home, drive-in theater! It’s as simple as helping your kids make “cars” out of cardboard boxes. Your kids will have a blast making their cars, which will, helpfully, catch most of the crumbs from snacks during the movie.

2. Teach your kids to bake.

Teaching your kids to bake, especially if they’re on the younger side, can be messy, but it’s a fun and rewarding task for them because it produces a delicious treat they can enjoy. It can also work as a sneaky lesson in measuring and math for slightly older children.

3. Camp indoors.

It might not be the best time to go camping at a campground, but you can still have a blast and create lasting memories by setting up a tent and some sleeping bags in your living room! You can even get an inexpensive indoor s’mores maker to roast marshmallows, allowing you to enjoy the special treat without a campfire.

4. Introduce your kids to Mad Libs.

While your kids are out of school, you can keep them learning by introducing them to Mad Libs. The word exercises teach your children parts of speech, but they’re also incredibly fun; your kids will love reading the hilarious, silly stories they’ve created. Turning this into a family activity by making your own or working together to create a story can make it even more entertaining.

5. Reinforce the importance of oral hygiene.

While you have your kids at home for an extended period of time, it’s a great chance to reinforce just how important oral hygiene is. You can read books about it with your kids and make a habit of brushing and flossing your teeth as a family. It’s important for your kids to see you practicing what you preach, so a habit as simple as starting a family oral hygiene routine can greatly improve your kids’ willingness to brush and floss their teeth.

6. Visit Mars—online, of course.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has been on Mars for years now, diligently studying the planet and taking high-resolution photographs of its surface. These pictures have been used to create a 360-degree view of the red planet that your family can see online for free! It’s full of fast facts about the planet, the rover’s mission, and the rover itself; there’s even an image of Curiosity that explains what each part of the rover is designed to do. This makes for an exciting learning experience for kids, especially if they love space; while many of the explanations on the website are too complex for young children to understand, they’ll still love getting a look at Mars.

7. Play hide and seek.

Hide and seek is a classic children’s game for a reason—it’s simple, takes zero time to set up, and it’s incredibly fun for kids. Playing a few rounds of hide and seek as a family will make your kids incredibly happy and can easily entertain your little ones for an hour or more.

8. Cuddle up with a good book.

Reading with your kids is an easy, low-energy activity that won’t create a mess, but it also allows you to get some cuddling in and helps build your kids’ love of reading. It also sneaks in a little learning, helping to improve your child’s reading ability and vocabulary the more you encourage them to read. For a special treat, you can even settle in to listen to a story read by an astronaut in space! Young kids who love science and space or who want to be astronauts one day will absolutely love this.

9. Paint masterpieces together.

If your children are getting a little antsy, you can fill an entire afternoon by setting up a painting craft for them to do. You can do this in your backyard if the weather’s nice, which protects your furniture and is easier to clean up, or you can set it up inside. Your entire family will have a blast going crazy with colors and being creative, and when the afternoon is over your kids’ masterpieces will make great decorations for your refrigerator or presents for their grandparents.

10. Go on an African safari at home.

Africa is full of unique, beautiful wildlife—all of which you can see right from your home computer! There’s a collection of cameras that record live footage of water holes across Africa, day and night. With a little patience, even just an hour or so of monitoring the cameras on and off can earn you and your kids a glimpse of lions, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, antelope, jackals, baboons, and more. This provides a great opportunity for you to teach your kids a little bit about Africa’s wildlife and the challenges they face, and kids who love animals will be thrilled at the chance to see them in the wild.

It’s natural for your whole family to feel the effects of cabin fever after a few days cooped up at home. Thankfully, you can use a mixture of technology and tried-and-true methods like hide and seek to keep everyone happy, entertained, and even learning.