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Self-Care Friday with Matt

I felt that after talking about some of the contributing factors to child abuse, that it would be a good time to talk about self-care and some simple emotional regulation techniques.

Before I go into describing a couple of simple practices, I want to make note that emotions are real and everyone has different experiences with how we are “supposed” to express them. I believe that it is important that we DO NOT suppress emotions, we should acknowledge them and it is fine if the strong emotions need to be expressed loudly, just be sure that it is safe and no one will be harmed in that expression, including yourself. If you feel that you need to harm yourself to gain relief from the emotions you are feeling, please reach out to someone for assistance.

I’d like to share a couple of things that I do to maintain my emotional health. I am by no means an expert on this but like I said we all have some things we do to “make it” through the pandemic.

Honestly, I love kicking back on my couch with a blanket and a beer on those cold or rainy days. When the cold and rain seem to linger on forever, I do my best to look for something that needs to be taken care of. Maybe the dishes or that dusting that I’ve let go for too long.

Sometimes I’m in the middle of working or taking care of kids and I find the anxiety or pressure building in my chest, or my mind begins to fill with distractions of all types. I know I need to keep plugging away but I just need….. something! Breathing, deep in hold for a count and a long exhale. I do this four to six times and it clears my mind and reduces the pressures in my chest so I can make it through to that next break! As a parent there are videos that you can run through with your children one is Elmo belly breathing which can be found on YouTube.

I have also had moments where I feel so disconnected, exceptionally anxious and unable focus. Breathing just didn’t work my mind was still racing so I went with a grounding technique; A common one to use is the 5,4,3,2,1 grounding technique. It takes a little more time and does require focusing on yourself and your surroundings if you are working with children you can try to make this something you do together too:

You begin by looking for 5 things that you can see and say them out loud, trying to do so calmly, and take a deep breath.

Then paying attention to your body name 4 things you can feel, the seam of you socks, or the chair pressing against your back, and take a deep breath.

Next listen for 3 sounds (I ignore my tinnitus since that’s always there) but maybe you’ll notice a grumbling stomach or the squeak of your chair, and take a deep breath

Find 2 things you smell may be difficult, the hand sanitizer on your hands or the coffee you drank this morning, or if you can’t smell anything name the 2 things you like to smell, and take a deep breath.

And finally, 1 thing you taste, again if you can’t taste anything name one thing you like to taste, and take a deep breath.

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