Self-care is a recent buzzword, and it does not just mean pedicures and occasional guilty pleasures. Self-care is something we should all practice every day. Self-care helps us to bring balance into our lives. For adults, that balance is most likely between work, family and personal needs. How often do we, as adults, practice a healthy balance? Do not feel guilty if your answer was “not enough.” Perhaps your “not enough” can turn into an opportunity to teach yourself and your child(ren) how to bring self-care into both your lives. Remember, you need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. It’s just like when you are on an airplane and you get the instructions that if needed, put your oxygen mask on first, then help those around you. Why do children need self-care anyway? Aren’t all their needs met? What kind of stress can a child have? Let us consider that in the past year, they have had their schedules turned upside down. Between the shutdown of school last year to a quick introduction to virtual school to finish the school year, the elimination or change of format with extracurricular activities, and a new school year that included virtual and/or hybrid options, they have been through a lot. Less obvious sources of stress may include the child worrying about changes in their household. Many children have not been able to see grandparents or other older family members. Many children may have noticed financial changes in the home. That’s a lot for a child to endure and most children will not, and sometimes cannot, express all of the feelings they are experiencing. As adults, we can see changes in the child’s behavior as a sign they are feeling stressed. Acting irritable or moody, feeling sick, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, crying, or acting fearful are behaviors that are giving the stress signal, according to the American Psychological Association. What are some the strategies we can teach them — and practice ourselves? • Schedule break times. Take a five to 10-minute break every hour. Working on a computer is hard on posture and eyesight. A quick stretch break, and time away from looking at the computer will help reduce stress. That also means time away from screens during the break — no phones! • Be creative. Tapping into your personal creativity is great for reducing stress. Color, draw, paint, craft, sew, knit or any creative endeavor is great way to give your brain a break. It does not need to be the most important piece of art ever, just a personal creation with your favorite colors. Expression, not perfection! • Get your body moving. Move away from your work area. Stretch your shoulders and your hips. Do a few exercises. Run in place. Dance — the sillier the better. • Appreciate nature. Walk around and enjoy the weather even if it is cold, hot, humid or raining. Run your fingers through the grass or pick leaves. Make a snowman. • Try silence. Take a few minutes to be totally quiet. Close your eyes. Take slow deep breaths. • Create a new mindset. Practice thinking “I get the opportunity to” instead of “I have to.” • Fake it ‘til you make it. The muscles that are used when smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, sends a message to your brain that relieves stress. Laugh out loud, even if you are alone. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your child is to forgive yourself if you forget to self-care for a day or two. Even though I am the author of this article, I forget to take time out of my day for self-care. It’s OK. But now I have some sewing to do — that’s my self-care go to! Sandi Graham is the Penn State Extension 4-H Educator in Lackawanna County. Penn State Extension is dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses and communities. They partner with and are funded by federal, state and county governments. For more information on what they’re doing in Lackawanna County, visit extension.psu.edu/lackawanna-county.

Self-care is a recent buzzword, and it does not just mean pedicures and occasional guilty pleasures.

Self-care is something we should all practice every day. Self-care helps us to bring balance into our lives. For adults, that balance is most likely between work, family and

personal needs.

How often do we, as adults, practice a healthy balance? Do not feel guilty if your answer was “not enough.” Perhaps your “not enough” can turn into an opportunity to teach yourself and your child(ren) how to bring self-care into both your lives.

Remember, you need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. It’s just like when you are on an airplane and you get the instructions that if needed, put your oxygen mask on first, then help those around you.

Why do children need self-care anyway? Aren’t all their needs met? What kind of stress can a child have?

Let us consider that in the past year, they have had their schedules turned upside down. Between the shutdown of school last year to a quick introduction to virtual school to finish the school year, the elimination or change of format with extracurricular activities, and a new school year that included virtual and/or hybrid options, they have been through a lot.

Less obvious sources of stress may include the child worrying about changes in their household. Many children have not been able to see grandparents or other older family members. Many children may have noticed financial changes in the home.

That’s a lot for a child to endure and most children will not, and sometimes cannot, express all of the feelings they are experiencing. As adults, we can see changes in the child’s behavior as a sign they are feeling stressed. Acting irritable or moody, feeling sick, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, crying, or acting fearful are behaviors that are giving the stress signal, according to the American Psychological Association.

What are some the strategies we can teach them — and practice ourselves?

• Schedule break times. Take a five to 10-minute break every hour. Working on a computer is hard on posture and eyesight. A quick stretch break, and time away from looking at the computer will help reduce stress. That also means time away from screens during the break — no phones!

• Be creative. Tapping into your personal creativity is great for reducing stress. Color, draw, paint, craft, sew, knit or any creative endeavor is great way to give your brain a break. It does not need to be the most important piece of art ever, just a personal creation with your favorite colors. Expression, not perfection!

• Get your body moving. Move away from your work area. Stretch your shoulders and your hips. Do a few exercises. Run in place. Dance — the sillier the better.

• Appreciate nature. Walk around and enjoy the weather even if it is cold, hot, humid or raining. Run your fingers through the grass or pick leaves. Make a snowman.

• Try silence. Take a few minutes to be totally quiet. Close your eyes. Take slow deep breaths.

• Create a new mindset. Practice thinking “I get the opportunity to” instead of “I have to.”

• Fake it ‘til you make it. The muscles that are used when smiling, even if you don’t feel like it, sends a message to your brain that relieves stress. Laugh out loud, even if you are alone.

The most important thing you can do for yourself and your child is to forgive yourself if you forget to self-care for a day or two.

Even though I am the author of this article, I forget to take time out of my day for self-care. It’s OK. But now I have some sewing to do — that’s my self-care go to!

Sandi Graham is the Penn State Extension 4-H Educator in Lackawanna County. Penn State Extension is dedicated to delivering science-based information to people, businesses and communities. They partner with and are funded by federal, state and county governments. For more information on what they’re doing in Lackawanna County, visit extension.psu.edu/lackawanna-county.

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