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Balancing Life During Trying Times

Photo Credit Frida M Thornberg

In last week’s column, registered psychologist, Dr. Theresa Nicassio offered her expert advice on how to deal with our mental health in part one of a two-part Q&A series. 

This week, Dr. Nicassio shares her expertise on the benefits of physical exercise and ways to keep your family active and healthy. Read on…

Q: Does physical exercise help with our emotional well-being?

A: Absolutely! When it comes to emotional wellness, movement is one of the most important things we can do. Movement nourishes our entire body, including the brain by supporting the blood and lymphatic flow in and out of our tissues. 

The other benefit of movement is that it can also serve as strategy for shifting the mind through present-moment awareness and sensations, which are both key elements of mindfulness-based stress reduction practices.

Q: What are some important ways to keep your child’s mind active?

A: Most important is your role-modelling by showing your kids ways to make lemonade from the lemons life offers.

As well as how to access resources when in need and also help others through creative acts of generosity, you are able to offer them skills that will help them cope when they face challenges that may feel bigger than they are able to handle.

Q: How best should we balance our time between working at home and family?

A: Great question! Because the routine has been broken of kids going to school and parents off to work, this is an amazing opportunity to re-think and re-invent how to live and the importance of compartmentalizing our various life tasks. 

If you are able to have conversations as a family where everyone is able to name their needs and desires for daily living, collectively finding solutions for times of togetherness as well as times of privacy and solitude.

You can help empower all family members and model the importance of respect for each other, as well as teach your children the art of communication, negotiation, and compromise that will help them in all of their future personal and work relationships.

Q: How best should parents cope with anxiety?

A: In addition to the anxiety-management tips I mentioned earlier, in general, focusing on what you want to MOVE TOWARD versus what you want to MOVE AWAY FROM is a great way to cope with your anxiety.

Also, as much as you are able, STAY IN THE PRESENT MOMENT instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.

The easiest way to stay in the present moment is by focusing on your five senses, like being still and noticing the sounds that come to your ears. 

Or you can become aware of the distance between your ears or the space between your eyes, etc. Because our brain can only focus on one thought at a time, such sensory awareness practices offer a more neutral, if not pleasurable, focal point we can return to, time after time.

And of course, shifting your focus to gratitude whenever possible is another great way to positively re-regulate your emotional state.

If you have children, you can teach (them) how you are using these strategies. 

Kids learn best by example, so your own self-caring efforts will offer you the double benefit of helping you better parent, as well as offer you respite from your inner storm.  

Thanks to Christine Blanchette for her weekly Fitness Friday Features and be sure to follow her on Twitter or Youtube.

Stay Safe!!