Wellness Tips from Sandra Espinosa, SCM Counselor and Health Care Coordinator
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
I am writing to you on the second day of Fall and what a delight to walk outdoors and actually feel the changing of the seasons with the cool morning air that has been present the last two days. It is the perfect opportunity to encourage our children (and ourselves!) to spend more time outdoors. Wellness experts report that being outdoors is always important, but especially so after the last year, with the increased stress and screen time of the pandemic.
The myriad benefits our children receive from being outdoors is recognized by many of us, but sometimes a reminder of these benefits can motivate us and our children to build stronger connections to nature so that instinctively choosing the outdoors becomes a lifelong habit.
In addition to getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D and exercising/moving their growing bodies, research shows that spending unstructured time playing outdoors helps children to build confidence and independence, and stimulates creativity and imagination as they think freely and design their own activities. It also allows them to practice their social skills (outside of structured activities such as school and sports team) as they interact in-person with other children, negotiating, taking turns and resolving conflict.
Richard Louv, author of the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, discusses the many advantages that being outdoors has on our children’s health and emotional wellness. He notes that being in nature may seem less stimulating than watching television or playing video games but “in reality it activates more senses – you can see, hear, smell and touch outdoor environments”. He goes on to say that nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. “The phenomena that occur naturally in backyards and parks everyday makes children stay curious, think and ask questions about the earth and the life it supports.”
Simply having contact with dirt, whether it is through gardening, digging holes, or making pies out of mud, can greatly improve a child's mood and reduce anxiety and stress. These days that is worth a lot! So let’s lace up our comfy shoes and play a game of family kickball (it sure to bring about some great fun and laughter!), visit a nearby nature center, picnic at one of the many Houston parks or spend time in our backyards grounding ourselves in the nature that surrounds us.
If you are looking for more ideas for outdoor fun click here.
Until next time, stay healthy and well,
Wellness Wednesday: September 15, 2021
Wellness Wednesday: May 26, 2021
- All Are Welcome written by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
- Don’t Call Me Grandma written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
- Drawn Together written by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
- Hot Hot Roti for Dada-Ji written by F. Zia, illustrated by Ken Min
- I Am Enough written by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
- Last Stop on Market Street written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
- Let the Children March written by Monica Clark-Anderson, illustrated by Frank Morrison
- Looking for Bongo written and illustrated by Eric Velasquez
- Mixed written and illustrated by Arree Chung
- Pink is For Boys written by Robb Pearlman, illustrated by Eda Kaban
- The Name Jar written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi
- Dreamers written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales
- Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things written by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
- Get Ready for Gabi written by Marisa Montes, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
- Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) written by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat
- Juana and Lucas written and illustrated by Juana Medina
- Rickshaw Girl written by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
- The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case written by Alexander McCall Smith
- You Should Meet Katherine Johnson written by Thea Feldman, illustrated by Alyssa Petersen
- Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
- Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
- Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
- Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
- Front Desk by Kelly Yang
- Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
- Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
- Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
- The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio
- The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
- The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
- The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
- American Street by Ibi Zoboi
- Calling My Name by Liara Tamani
- Dear Martin by Nic Stone
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sánchez
- Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
- Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Wellness Wednesday: May 12, 2021
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
Can you believe it is May already? It feels like life was moving at a snail’s pace, and then in the blink of an eye I hear my son exuberantly announce this morning, “Only 18.5 more days until summer!” (More like 15.5 by the time you read this.) Where did the time go? After holding my breath and praying/hoping for an “as close to smooth as possible school year”, we arrived to the end of a better than expected - or I should say a “heck of a successful”?! – school year.
As we finish up the last few weeks of this school year, I hope you will take time to pause and acknowledge and praise your efforts – big and small – for the many ways that you showed up for yourself, your family, the children in your life and the larger community in this roller-coaster-ride of a school year. For those folks feeling tired and weighed down by the heaviness of what seems like a long year, I would like to share some micro-actions that you can take to restore yourself and your family. Micro-actions are daily shifts in mindset and habit. They are simple, science-based mind body practices you can use any time to “put the well into your being”. You can choose from a variety – try one a day and see how it feels! They consist of short, easy to do exercises to unwind, reframe, connect and revive.
The following is an example: “Unwind and self-soothe with the Butterfly hug
- Cross your arms over chest.
- Hook your thumbs together and fan your fingers into “wings”;
- Keep the tips of your middle fingers pointing up, touching just beneath the collar-bone.
- Soften your gaze or close your eyes.
- Alternate movement of your hands, tapping your chest with your “wings” for 1-3 minutes, breathing deeply as you tap.
- Observe any sensations in your body.
This technique was developed by Luciana Artigas (a psycho-therapist) who worked with survivors of a 1998 hurricane in Mexico. It’s a great way to soothe your nervous system any time you feel anxious or stressed.
Note: If the butterfly doesn’t seem to work for you, keep in mind that any kind of bilateral movement, such as walking, shifting your weight from side to side, swimming, scanning your eyes back and forth across the horizon, and even drumming are helpful ways to regulate yourself”.
Click here to learn more and check out the vast parenting/well-being resources in this website
Until next time, stay healthy and well,
Wellness Wednesdays: April 14, 2021
- Meditate three minutes (prayer or silence, focusing on breath, staring at the clouds, whatever works for you)
- Exercise (15 minutes of any body movement)
- Write down three unique things each day for which you are grateful (the key is to FEEL the gratitude while you do it)
- Write down a pleasant/happy moment from the day before in a short few sentences to cement the good memory in your mind. We have a cognitive bias for remembering the hard, scary, or negative
- Send a note, text, email, or phone call to someone you appreciate for something (a random act of kindness)
Wellness Wednesdays: March 24, 2021
Wellness Wednesdays: February 24, 2021
Wellness Wednesday: February 10, 2021
Wellness Wednesday: January 20, 2021
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As I write this, a sunny, cool day is dawning in Houston and it is a fittingly beautiful day to remember the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There seems to be an urgency now for us all to reflect on his work and his powerful words of wisdom and truth, not just today but throughout this week as we transition to new beginnings with a new presidency, and throughout the year as we contemplate the past and think about the changes and internal shifts that we want to bring forward for the better of our community and nation.
Dr. King was many things, among them a Christian preacher, a political activist, a father and husband. For me one of his most powerful roles was that of messenger. His message, and vision for a better future and justice for all people, inspired millions. His delivery, by way of non-violent protest, gave moral clarity to his message.
His message was told in a time of great unrest in this nation, with both civil rights and Vietnam War protests happening from coast to coast. Once again, our nation is going through tough and tumultuous times. But as former president Barack Obama recently noted, MLK Day “should serve as a reminder that we have been through hard times before and emerged from them stronger. But only because we never stopped believing in our democracy. Only because we never stopped working to perfect it and only because, even in the face of intimidation, discrimination, and unimaginable suffering, we never stopped dreaming of a better day – and never stopped doing the long, hard essential work of ushering it in”.
So as we move through the week and this year, and individually and collectively reflect on how we can be a part of healing our much divided nation, I’m inspired by Dr. Bernice King’s words in how we can “dig in and create a beloved community”. She writes, “you create the beloved community by rising up to be love; not the powerless, weak and anemic love. No. I’m talking about Be love and implement the demands of justice, Be Love and rise up to use your power to correct everything that stands against love. Let’s go forward in this moment and bridge the divide, let’s go forward in this hour and rise up to be love. Lets’ go forward from this place to create the beloved community.”
Until next time, stay healthy and well,
Wellness Wednesday: January 6, 2021
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
It’s the start of a new year and I don’t know about you, but I have always loved this time of year. In my mind, it is a clean slate, and a vast feeling of hope arises in me that all things are possible in the New Year. It is also a great time to reflect on the past year on what we have learned through our many varied life experiences and what we want to let go of that is no longer serving us.
So moving forward, what do we want to call in? In other words, what intention or quality do we want to cultivate in the coming year? How will we choose to bring forth things that we want to feel more of in this, “one wild and precious life of ours?” (As poet Mary Oliver posed).
I received a holiday card from a friend this year, who said that more than 15 years ago she and her husband received an unusual holiday card that for them expressed the spirit of the holiday better than most cards they had received. It’s something she pulls from the drawer and posts on the kitchen bulletin board each year. A little research finds that it comes from Howard W. Hunt. I offer it to you to consider as well – perhaps it offers a key to bringing forth more of what you want to experience. This year…..
“… Mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Listen more. Try to understand. Find the time. Examine your demands on others. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love, and then speak it again and again.”
Here is to a happy, healthy and harmonious year!
Wellness Wednesday: December 16, 2020
Parenting tip #12: Holiday Season Coping technique
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
The holiday season is around the corner and it inevitably brings about a myriad of emotions and a million things that we need to cross off our “to do list”. However, for many this year what seems to be heavy on our minds is finding creative ways to make this time memorable, joyful, and special in spite of not being able to take part in all of our favorite traditions and rituals or be with all of our loved ones. I would like to share one of the mindfulness tools that I have gathered for my “holiday season coping skills kit” that I hope is helpful to you in times when difficult emotions arise. The 4 step technique follows the acronym R.A.I.N and was coined by meditation teacher, Michele McDonald. It is as follows:
R: Recognize the emotions, thoughts, feelings or sensations that are arising in the moment. Listen in a kind, receptive way to your body and heart. If you can, give the emotions a name. For example, “Ugh, I’m feeling overwhelmed or angry”. Identifying the feeling can take away its power.
A: Allow the experience to be there, just as it is without resisting or fighting it. It is so easy to get caught up in our emotions and thoughts and this causes us to “react” rather than being able to choose a conscious response. In “accepting” and “acknowledging” (not necessarily liking it!) it softens and eases the intense emotion.
I: Once you recognize and allow the emotion “to be”, you can choose to investigate it. Investigate the emotions with kindness. How does it feel in your body? Where are you feeling it most strongly? Are there events that happened ahead of the emotion that might have influenced it? Are there physiological factors (lack of quality sleep or food or not having a chance to move your body) that are affecting the emotion? What do you really need right now? These questions serve to help us have a wiser relationship with our emotions and thoughts.
N: Nurture and Non-identification: First offer nurture and care to yourself by bringing a hand to your cheek, or place your hand over your heart, or giving yourself a calming embrace by wrapping your arms around yourself and giving a gentle squeeze. You can also speak encouraging words to yourself as a way of self-caring, e.g. “I know this is hard right now”, “you can do hard things”. The next step is reminding ourselves that these emotions are common human experiences and there are thousands of people in this world having this exact same experience whether its sadness, grief or frustration. These emotions do not define us, but are just visiting or moving through us for now.
Teaching our children, and ourselves, the RAIN technique can be helpful when dealing with strong emotions that may show up when feeling disappointed, overwhelmed or disconnected.
Click here for a more elaborate description of RAIN by clinical psychologist, Tara Brach.
Until next time, stay healthy and well,
Wellness Wednesday: November 18, 2020
Parenting tip # 11: The Practice of Gratitude
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayers.”
- Dr. Mayo Angelou
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
As we approach the second week of November, I can feel the presence of Thanksgiving around the corner and pleasant memories arise for me, as I’m sure they do for many of you: The eager anticipation of celebrating with family and friends, the familiar smell of savory and sweet foods that fill us with delight and warm the home, and cooler weather that invites us to take a long walk (especially after our bellies are full and deeply content). All of this lends itself easily and organically to giving gratitude for the abundance that surrounds us. However, Thanksgiving will look and feel very different this year for many of us due to COVID-19. As we grieve the losses that are in our hearts, let us also make space to adapt to the new and unfamiliar, and take time to notice the silver linings that surround us – big and small.
Research conducted by psychologist, Dr. Robert Emmons (author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier) has consistently linked practicing gratitude with a wide range of benefits, including strengthening your immune system and improving sleep patterns, and experiencing more joy and pleasure. And who couldn’t use a boost of that right now? According to Dr. Emmons, you don’t need to follow a series of specific step or create goals that might seem overwhelming, just set the intention to notice and be open to gifts in daily life.
When we share out loud our positive perspectives and feelings – even over the simple, ordinary gifts of life – it can have the ripple effect of elevating the mood and a sense of resilience in the people around us.
In cultivating a practice of gratitude with our children, there are many creative ways we can weave this into their daily lives. A friend of mine has a wonderful parenting blog that she authors with 3 other moms whose background are in education and children’s ministry. In their November newsletter they share numerous ideas of how to bring a gratitude practice into their family’s lives via children’s books, Bible verses and fun activities. My favorite is a book they highlighted called, Thanku: Poems of Gratitude. It consists of 32 poems, each written in a different poetic format and by a diverse group of authors. I love the idea of families reading the poems out loud and then each person writing their own poem whether it be a hyperbole, sonnet or Haiku format. It’s a fun way of connecting and sprinkling gratitude into your day. Click here to learn more about this.
There are a number of other great book recommendations on the subject of gratitude for pre-school to young adult age through the Brightly website. You can click here to learn more.
However you spend your Thanksgiving this year, I hope it includes opportunities to genuinely connect with those you love, good food, nature walks and hearts filled by the deep sensations of gratitude.
Until next time, stay healthy and well.
Wellness Wednesday: November 4, 2020
Parenting tip #10: Supporting our Immune System through Managing our Stress
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
I invite you to take a few moments to pause and take 3 deep belly breaths with me if you feel the need. The last several months have been tough. An ongoing pandemic whose end date is unknown, social unrest throughout the U.S. and a contentious election with results still being counted as I type. This, on top of the everyday challenges and hiccups that we experience can place a huge overload on our brains and emotional well-being. Although stress is part of life, when the stress becomes chronic and lives in our bodies too long, it can have negative effects on our immune system. In previous newsletters, I shared with you, the importance of getting consistent quality sleep, moving our bodies regularly and healthy eating as ways to support and care for our immune systems. These lifestyle habits can also help us manage the high levels of stress that we sometimes encounter. I have also talked at great length about developing a mindfulness/meditation practice as a way of getting better acquainted with our minds and body and how, in doing so, we are more likely to be tuned in to the early warning signs of stress. This can be a gentle reminder to ourselves to slow down and move towards more self-compassion and care. I like the idea proposed by therapist, Deborah Riegel, MSW in Psychology Today of “emotional snacking” – taking small bites on a regular basis to help build up your reserves to handle hard times”. This entails engaging in something daily that brings you a moment or two of peace, relaxation, gratitude connection or joy and can make an enormous difference in our physical and mental health. Click here for “snack sized” habits to try.
Similarly, Ross Gay, poet and author of the heart-felt book The Book of Delights set out every day for a year to write about the delights of life that he observed around him. He found that this practice helped develop his “delight radar”, or his “delight muscle”. The implication is that the more you study delight, the more delight there is to study. I love this idea, and especially this week it has helped me to shift from my hard focus on the news to turning my attention to those things that spark a moment of joy or delight, no matter how small. My recent delight was seeing a gray egret soar through the air during my evening walk. We can share this practice with our children and encourage them to be attuned to what speaks to their senses and declare it with their finger in the air when they see it, feel it or hear it. The smell of baked cookies: Delight! The sound of birds chirping in the early morning: Delight! The comfort of a warm jacket on a cold morning: Delight! What delights did you encounter today?
In thinking of all that is happening at this moment in our nation, I close today with a beautiful prayer from Sister Pat Bergen, CSJ:
“Dear God, May today be Day One of a new unity in the US, with former divisions freshly healed by humility, wisdom, charity, grace and forgiveness. Healer of our every ill, breathe in among all of us who dwell on this land. Soothe our wounds, Calm our fears. Mend our divisions. Hope of all tomorrows, open our deaf ears and fill us with compassion. Tender our hearts. Inspire creative ideas to address the cries of our sisters, brothers, and Earth itself. Send forth your Spirit of Love and Unity. Transform pointed fingers of blame into hands open in reverence to receive one another. Fan into flame the gift of our founding and let us be known again as a people united for the goodness, justice and peace of all people forever”.
Until next time, stay healthy and well,
Wellness Wednesday: October 28, 2020
- Keep a variety of veggies/fruits in plain view - Have a bowl of fresh fruit on the table. Cut up favorite vegetables and store them. Keep dried fruit in the “snack drawer.” Making fruits and veggies readily available has been shown to increase consumption. Also the more visually appealing foods are the more likely kids (and adults) are to enjoy them.
- Have a plate of colorful raw veggies and fruits at the table for kids to munch on while you are preparing dinner.
- Experiment with different textures and cooking methods of veggies: there is big difference in eating steamed Brussel sprouts vs. roasting them or air-frying them. The same with green beans. Some kids may prefer the crunchiness of steaming them vs. roasting them.
- Get creative with food: use a spiralizer and make zucchini noodles in place of pasta or chop up cauliflower in the food processor to make cauliflower rice and get kids involved in the process.
- Try new foods when they are hungry.
- Use a healthy dip for veggies such as hummus, almond butter or tzatziki.
- Get kids engaged in the process of selecting veggies/fruits along with an easy recipe that they can help prepare and/or cook: Developing a connection through cooking, and preparing food and eating it together, helps create healthier relationships with food.
- Growing some of your favorite fruits, veggies and herbs at home can be a very fulfilling experience for children and studies show they are more likely to eat the foods they grow.
- Model healthy eating habits: Role modeling is one of the best ways to get your children onboard with healthier eating. Even if we would categorize ourselves as “healthy eaters,” we all tend to gravitate toward our favorite foods. This can also limit our children’s food exposure because even healthy repetition is limiting. Head to a new grocer or even visit your local farmers market to investigate new foods together.
- Limit the junk food to birthday parties and special occasions: Let your pantry and fridge be filled with the foods you value and want your kids to eat more of. By having fewer junk foods around, it will give space for your children to eat more veggies, fruits and whole grains.
Consider incorporating a “Meatless Monday” into your meal planning. This allows you to experiment with different types of vegetables and gain the benefits of the nutrients that they provide for your health. Fall and Winter is the perfect time to make nourishing soups and stews and an easy way to get a lot of veggies into our diets.
- Lentil soup or any other soups from this cooking blog
- Smoky red lentil soup
- Eggplant Skillet with a side of whole wheat pasta
- Taco night
Wellness Wednesday: October 21, 2020
- Eat foods from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
- Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients and that a 3rd grader could not pronounce
- Buy your snacks at the farmer’s market
- Eat only foods that will eventually rot
- Consult your gut. Slow down and pay attention to what your body – not just your sense of sight – is telling you
- Eat all the junk food you want – as long as you cook it yourself
- Treat treats like treats – nothing wrong with special occasion food as long as every day is not a special occasion
Wellness Wednesday: October 7, 2020
Wellness Wednesday: September 30, 2020
- Put yourself on a schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends). Our bodies respond well to routine.
- Turn off electronics an hour before bedtime: Blue light — which electronic devices like cell phones and computers emit in large amounts – tricks your body into thinking it is daytime. I know this is can be a hard one, but micro changes like this can make macro differences in your quality of sleep.
- Create a sleep friendly bedroom: dark, quiet, tidy and cool temperature bedrooms have been found to foster a better night’s rest.
- Winding down rituals: Adopting pre-sleep rituals help prepare our minds and bodies for sleep. Here are a few to consider: Warm baths; relaxing, quiet music playing in the background as a cue for bedtime; reading a book; writing down or talking through any thoughts and worries; 4 simple, yoga stretches that both parents and children can do.
- Yoga and deep breathing: Click here to view yoga techniques or deep breathing techniques to calm the nervous system such as the 4-7-8 breathing method devised by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD and which is considered a “natural tranquilizer”. It entails inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8.
- Breathing techniques for sleep: Click here to learn more. For younger children, there are a number of different ways to teach deep breathing techniques. If you would like to learn more, click here.
Wellness Wednesday: September 23, 2020
Parenting Tip #5: Finding Discipline
Dear St. Catherine's families,
On this ongoing parenting journey there are those awesome moments when life places at your feet exactly what you needed in order to move you from a place of feeling stuck as a parent to giving you inspiration and a deeper understanding of how to better manage your child’s behaviors and big emotions.
This was the case for me, when I recently heard a “Mindful Mama” podcast #238 – Discipline Explained – Tina Payne Bryson (8/25/20). It was a conversation between Hunter Clarke Fields (author of Raising Good Humans and founder of Mindful Mama Podcast) and Child Psychologist, Tina Bryson (author of The Power of Showing Up). There are many golden nuggets throughout this talk. A few that I would like to share with you follow:
Often as parents we forget that the purpose of discipline is about teaching and building skills so that our kids can do it differently the next time or over time as their development unfolds.
As parents, we tend to focus on responding to the behavior that we don’t find acceptable (often in a reactive way) without looking at the mind behind the behavior. We should be chasing the “whys”; peeling the layers and asking ourselves, “what skills or coping strategies do I need to help my child with?” Their behaviors communicate the skills they need to learn.
If our goal is to teach, then our child(ren) needs to be in a receptive mode and regulated enough to receive the lesson. Things we do in the name of discipline are typically counter-productive (yelling, making threats) and it exacerbates their state of distress. Children regulate through us, and count on us to be that safe, steady presence.
We can say no to the behavior while still validating the child’s feelings.
In the midst of our child’s big emotions, we can get triggered. However, by placing our left hand over our heart (with a little pressure) and right hand over our belly, it grounds us, and settles our nervous system state of arousal. The act of placing our hand over our heart reminds us to take a few deep breathes before responding.
We tend to “pathologize” negative emotions. We think something is wrong if our child is anxious, angry or sad. All emotions are part of the human experience and we help our children become resilient by giving them practice experiencing difficult feelings and having difficult circumstances, while knowing our emotional support is nearby.
What our child needs most to weather difficulty is for us to show up and be available to them in a connected way. That means helping them feel Safe (“I’m here and we will get through this together”, Seen (I see what you are going through”) and Soothed (support and help; How can I help you?”). When we do this “not perfectly but enough times”, then our children develop a Secure attachment which helps them build up their mental capacity and resilience, teaching them to cope and soothe themselves and others during hard times.
This hard work of showing up for our children requires us to show up for ourselves (self-care) and have people in our lives that show up for us and help us feel safe, seen and soothed.
Wellness Wednesday: September 16, 2020
Parenting Tip #4: Create Space in Your Day for Stillness and Mindfulness.
It is worth revisiting again, as I shared with you in May, the great benefits research shows a meditation and/or mindfulness practice has on one’s emotional and physical health. These are tools that when practiced consistently, even for a few minutes a day, offer the gift of positive shifts in our thinking and being. The research also shows positive effects on children’s ability to regulate their emotions and improve their focus and clarity. In a world full of distractions that cause us sometimes to “check out” or feel overwhelmed, carving out time to pause, take some deep breaths, feel what is alive in our minds and body can do wonders!
There are lots of different ways we can weave meditation and/or mindfulness throughout the day. For us parents, if sitting in silence for a few minutes in the early morning does not work for your schedule, you could set a timer during the middle of the day to remind you to take a pause for a minute or 2 and close your eyes, doing a quick body scan, feel your breath come in and out of your body, letting out a few deep sighs and then continue on in your day.
In addition, there are many meditation Apps that guide you through a variety of meditations if that suits you better. A couple of popular ones are: “Calm” and “Headspace”, both of which are for parents and children.
If your schedule allows, you could also join a few of the St. Catherine’s parents via zoom on Fridays at 9:00AM for the next 5 weeks to learn about Christian meditation. Learning more about it recently definitely piqued my interest and curiosity. Click here to view a video overview on Christian Meditation as told beautifully by Laurence Freeman OSB, director of the World Community for Christian Meditation:
For children (Kindergarten through 5th) Mindful Schools has fun and engaging online classes (15-20 minutes) that introduce them to meditation and mindfulness activities. Click here for my favorite Episode # 5- “Sending kind thoughts”.
Click here to read more about mindfulness activities/games that you can introduce and teach your child(ren), there is lots of good information for you to review and share.
Until next week, stay healthy and well and please reach out if you have questions, suggestions or concerns. If I don’t have the answer, I will do my best to find it! 😊
Wellness Wednesday: September 9, 2020
Now that the school year is getting back into full swing, I find myself inundated with all the things I need to do! I imagine many of you are feeling the same way. I would invite you to step back for a moment though, and consider who you want to BE. Said differently, what are your intentions for this new school year? What do you want to lean towards, pay attention to or nurture in yourself? Intention setting is a great connecting exercise to do with the entire family. Set aside 3-5 minutes to be still and let your mind turn toward creating an intention. What arises in you when you think of something you would like to grow or work toward? It can be a phrase or a word to focus on this school year and one that best encompasses how you want to be. Some intentions to consider:
- Steady, calm presence
Once you have your word/phrase for the new school year, place it in locations where you will be reminded of your intention(s) often. On one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, seeing the word “calm” or “grace” may help you remember your intention and set your positive energy in motion, so you can be mindful in your response to whatever challenge you are facing.
Stay healthy and well,
Wellness Wednesday: September 2, 2020
Parenting Tip # 2: Taking Care of Yourself
“Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.” - Bryan McGill
Click here if you would like to read more about Dr. Markham and her parenting ideas.
Wellness Wednesday: August 19, 2020
Parenting Tip # 1: Create a Morning Ritual
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,
Welcome back and congratulations on making it through the summer! I hope you were able to unplug a little from the noise of the news, and the heaviness of these uncertain times, and enjoy some peaceful and fun moments with family. As we go through life, we can get caught up in the day to day grind, so I will be providing weekly wellness tips to remind us of simple ways to create connection and improve daily life.
Tip of the week: Create a morning ritual.
Our brain loves predictability and as we move toward the total unpredictability of what will happen with school throughout the year, we can lessen the anxiety children may feel by creating a morning ritual that starts their day on a bright note. Consider creating a playlist of music that children can listen to as they move into the morning and prepare for school whether it be virtually or in person. Our brain associates music with being relaxed and enjoying ourselves, and it is a great way to lift everyone’s mood and carry us through the day.
This tip derives from a talk given by Dr. Tina Payne Bryson (author of “The Power of Showing Up” and coauthor of the “Whole Brain Child). If you would like to learn more tips on easing children’s anxiety about school, you can click here to listen to the entire talk (it's only 8 minutes long!).
Wishing you well!
Wellness Wednesday: May 27, 2020
Dear St. Catherine’s Community,The time has finally arrived, the end of the school year! Pat yourself on the back, give yourself a hug. You did it!! It was hard many times, but you survived!! I know for myself after home schooling my son these past 2 ½ months, I have newfound admiration for teachers/guides. And of course, we can’t forget the other heroes of the virtual learning challenge: our children, who had to adjust and adapt to a myriad of changes while their whole world turned upside down with rules they’ve never known and struggled to understand. Sending every single one of them a virtual embrace and letting them know, I see your bright light. 😊
Wellness Wednesday: May 20, 2020
Wellness Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Wednesday Wellness: May 6, 2020