Parenting During Covid? These Tips Will Help

Strategies from The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program at Mass General Hospital Helping Parents During the Pandemic…

The current COVID-19 crisis is presenting all of us with new challenges related to self-care, parenting, and anxiety management. Many parents are struggling with natural and expectable feelings, including sadness, confusion, worry, and fear.

Young children and toddlers are faced with stressors of their own. The list is long:

  • They have suddenly and unaccountably lost access to playmates, teachers, classrooms, and playgrounds
  • They can no longer see their grandparents and other relatives.
  • They can no longer enter libraries or shops.
  • Gym classes, swimming, music classes, and library storytimes are all on pause.

Young children facing this crisis may be more clingy, fretful, irritable, or bored.
They may be having more trouble sleeping or may need a parent nearby to fall asleep.
The lack of interface with strangers may make them more fearful and wary of new people.

The Mass General Child CBT Program offers ways for parents to teach their children to cope with and overcome anxiety.
Parent Self-Care:
The instructions given by flight attendants are really applicable: “Please make sure to put on your own oxygen mask first, and then assist your child.”  

Caring for children during a crisis includes good self-care for parents. We offer the following suggestions to maintain wellbeing:

Be kind to yourself:
  • We may be facing super-human demands right now, but this doesn’t make us super-human.
  • Remember that the day only has so many hours, and it is okay to let some things slide.
  • Set priorities, and try to get the most important things done, but understand that not everything will get done.
  • Take a few moments to notice your own needs. These may occur during your child’s naptime after they are asleep, or while they are watching some extra screen-time.

Consider what has helped you manage stress in the past and maintain an optimistic mood.

  • Eat regular meals and stay hydrated.
  • Get enough sleep – 6-8 hours.
  • Exercise. Pushing a stroller, dancing, or playing tag with your child counts!
  • Engage in pleasurable activities. Stream a guilty pleasure on TV, do a jigsaw puzzle, cook dinner with the family!
  • Do things that give you a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering, helping a neighbor, and connecting with family and friends can be meaningful.
  • Keep a daily routine. Take off the pajamas and dress for the day!
  • Limit exposure to the news to once per day or less.
  • Stay in the moment as much as possible.

HELPFUL HINT:
Don’t criticize yourself if your routine doesn’t match what others do or expect.

Parenting Your Child in the Time of a Pandemic
Most toddlers and preschoolers recognize the change in routine and can sense parental stress, They don’t understand the full extent of the COVID-19 crisis and it is important that they feel safe, and cared for. We offer the following suggestions:

Maintain normal routines and expectationsincluding regular naps, bedtime and wake-up times,
It can be helpful to break up the time into activity periods, which may include:

  • Indoor and outdoor play
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Snacks
  • Reading together

HELPFUL HINT: As much as possible, keep the rules that were in place before the crisis (although some, including screen time limits, might change).

Provide age-appropriate explanations: There is a careful balance between telling children information beyond their level of understanding that might be confusing or frightening and making them aware of new expectations and their reasons.

Rules about social distancing, washing hands more carefully, and parents and older children wearing masks could be conveyed with simple explanations
“We need to clean our hands so we stay healthy and well.”
“We wear a mask in case we’re getting a cold, so other people don’t catch it.”
“There’s a new cold going around, so kids aren’t allowed in preschool for a while.”

HELPFUL HINT: The simplest explanation that can be repeated is the place to start. Only expand the explanation if and when the child asks for more information.

Find substitutions for lost activities:

Social interactions:

  • Many preschools or daycares are having brief, virtual check-ins so that children can see their teachers and classmates.
  • Scheduling regular brief virtual face-to-face interactions with friends or cousins could be helpful as a way of keeping up connections and social interactions.
  • Live games that very young children could play across screens with others

For young preschoolers:

  • Show-and-tell (showing each other toys)
  • Animal sound charades (e.g. guess what animal I am)
  • Guessing games (e.g. guessing what the child is holding behind their back)
  • Imitation games (like the Hokey Pokey)

For older preschoolers:

  • 20-questions, telling riddles, I-spy (if both are able to seek each other’s screen)
  • Simon Says (if supervised by an adult)
  • Story reading to children across screens. Parents could also take turns reading stories to a group of children.

HELPFUL HINT: These remote social interactions can be short (10-15 minutes) and supervised and can be scheduled regularly.

Outings:

  • When allowed, children can go on walks in the neighborhood, perhaps in strollers.
  • Make the walks interesting.
  • Be on the lookout and count something (dogs, squirrels, garbage trucks, digger trucks, police cars).
  • Go on “virtual” tours to a zoo, museum, or aquarium. Many have daily live events still.

Indoor Activities:

  • Play with playdoh
  • Draw
  • Paint
  • Read stories
  • Act out simple stories
  • Make pillow forts
  • Create things with large cartons
  • Make socks puppets
  • Sing songs
  • Bake
  • Decorate cupcakes
  • Make pictures with stickers
  • Play hide and seek
  • Plant seeds

Outdoor Activities:

  • Play tag
  • Play catch
  • Blow bubbles
  • Do water play (with squirting toys)
  • Try sand play
  • Plant a garden

HELPFUL HINT: THE LIST IS ENDLESS. ASK OTHER PARENTS WHAT WORKS FOR THEIR KIDS!

Photo credit: Pexels/Pixabay

Better Health Begins With Your Cells

Functional Medicine Expert Dr. Bill Cole Explains…

“There has never been a perfectly healthy person that’s full of dysfunctional cells. If you want to be well, you have to fix your cells.” – Dr. Bill Cole

Photo Credit: Anna Shvets from Pexels

How many times have you just felt…off? Your digestion is off or you’re sluggish or tired and irritable, or you have a nagging stomach ache or migraine that just won’t go away. Or maybe you just don’t have enough energy to get through the day and truly thrive.

Whatever it is, you decide enough is enough. You go to the doctor and they run some tests, but everything comes back “normal.” You’re happy that nothing is “wrong” but you’re simultaneously incredibly frustrated. Because now it feels like you’ve reached a dead end: the tests say you’re fine, but your body is telling you otherwise.

Where do you go from there?

Functional medicine expert Dr. Bill Cole knows the answer, and it has everything to do with your cells. Dr. Cole specializes in cellular health, addressing the root causes of chronic health issues. He is the founder and creator of the Key Cellular Nutrition (KCN) and Cellular Health Accelerator (CHA) programs, and he’s been helping thousands of people reclaim their energy and heal their bodies from the inside out. 

So, what is cell regeneration?

In order to explain it, Dr. Cole uses this analogy: Think about a house. If the foundation of a house is bad, can the structure be good? The answer is obviously no.

Well, the metaphorical human house foundation is our cells, because that’s what we are made of. Every tissue, organ, and gland is made of cells and so every function in our body comes from our cells. In effect, it’s not your heart that is beating. It’s your heart cells that are beating!

In this way, all symptoms and all diseases are caused by cellular dysfunction. What keeps our cells healthy is a healthy cycle of letting the good stuff into our cells and letting the bad stuff out of them (the good stuff = nutrients, for example, and the bad stuff = toxins).

What’s causing bad health today is something called…life! We have stressors that are negatively impacting the health of our cells. Physical (injuries, poor posture, lack of movement, etc.), emotional (anxieties, fears, the stress of life, etc.), and chemical (toxins from food, air, products, water, etc.) stress.

All of these stressors create damage on the cell membrane which creates inflammation. That inflammation creates a barrier which means we can’t get the good stuff in and the bad stuff out of the cells. So what happens? The bad stuff builds up inside our cell.

Makes perfect sense, right?

Thankfully, our body has an amazing capacity to heal. You know this is true if you’ve ever gotten a cut and watched it heal over time. So once you start to deal with the stressors in your life and therefore begin to heal your cells, your body can heal itself.

I know that feels daunting, because how are you supposed to get rid of all of your daily stressors? To be alive is to be stressed!

Don’t fret. If you think of the stressors as a 3 legged stool, that means that you may not be able to get rid of all 3 categories of stressors, but if you can get rid of at least one of those legs (or categories), you can begin to regenerate the cells. Because one cannot sit on a two-legged stool.

SO – the only question left is: do you want to heal your cells?

I’m glad you asked. For more information on how you can do just that, visit https://drbillcole.com/

Make 2021 Your Comeback Year!

Tips to Rebuild, Refocus & Restart From Fitness Icon Tony Horton

Photo Courtesy: Tony Horton Instagram

Tony Horton’s life came to a screeching halt in 2017 when he was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Disease, a form of shingles.  It was hard for him to envision the future living with this horrible disease. The once energetic, always on the go, always working out mega fitness star lived with vertigo, loss of hearing, and extreme fatigue. It was hard for him to see a path out of the darkness, but with the help of his wife Shawna, his close friends, his team of doctors, and his decades of health, wellness, mind, body spirit he was able to heal himself and well… pump himself up, again.

Now he is stronger and better than ever!  During his illness, he really focused on what supernutrition looked like and how it could help him heal.  He focused on creating and putting together his own nutritional product line that eventually helped him feel better.  The super nutrition line he created is called Power Life and it was precisely what powered him back to that active life.

Tony has shared his thoughts on why he thinks he was afflicted with Ramsey Hunt, and he mentions over and over: chronic stress. As the most popular well-known fitness personality in the world, Tony seemed like he had it made, but deep down inside, he suffered from the chronic stressors of everyday life.

Does that sound familiar? Most of us can’t say that 2020 has been free of stress, and between the elections and the pandemic, we have been living with a good degree of silent, chronic stress. But you don’t have to take that into 2021!

Here are Tony’s tips to help you stave off stress so you can rebuild, refocus and reset for 2021 – seriously, stop what you’re doing and incorporate one or two of the techniques below into your daily routine.

1. Breathe deeply.  I know, that’s not new or exciting, right? But it works! Why? Because deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.

2. Next try yoga oms, meditation, or prayer with gratitude. Whatever you choose, try to clear your mind of anything that causes anxiety – be in the moment and be grateful.

3. Try other practices that reduce stress and make them a regular part of your day or your week. Tony’s personal favorites are yoga, soaking in the tub, and deep breathing. Other stress management tools include “cutting the crap” out of your diet – yes that is right – time to eat clean and healthy meals, get enough sleep every night, and you guessed it, form some sort of routine of regular exercise.

4. A healthy diet.   Tony knows that eating right can help counter the impact of stress by boosting the immune system and lowering your blood pressure. Conversely, a poor diet full of sugar, salt, fat, and processed foods causes inflammation and deprives your body of necessary nutrients that help combat stress, creating a vicious cycle.

5. Get Enough Sleep! Sleep is crucial for your body to recover from stressful events, so don’t skimp on sleep!

6. Lastly, read Tony’s books, or follow him on social media – you’ll see why regular exercise is crucial to every function of your body, especially those feel-good chemicals produced in your brain when you do so.  Tony talks all about how dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and brain-derived neurotropic factors and how they matter!  These chemicals will help you feel happy, sleep better and protect against stress-induced neuronal damage. As Tony would say “BOOM! I think we just found the most important part of stress management. You’re welcome.”

So, how about it? Are you ready to open a new chapter in 2021? Tony made a comeback and so can you…

For more information about Tony, how he made a comeback, or about his supernutrition line called Power Life, visit https://mypowerlife.com/ and https://www.tonyhortonlife.com/

Brain Fog, Cravings & Emotions, Oh My!

Drew Manning’s #Fit2Fat2Forty Challenge Check-in, Week 10

Photo Credit: Drew Manning Instagram

As the holidays approach, and the call of all those yummy holiday foods are beginning their initial tantalizing whispers, we thought it would be a good time to check in with our very own Drew Manning of Fit2Fat2Fit! Drew is currently in week 10 of his 3-month challenge to gain weight again! He’s out to prove that you can get fit after 40, hence the title of this latest challenge, #fit2fat2forty! He turns 40 himself at the end of December, and will be embarking on a 3-month journey to get fit again and drop all the weight he has gained during this time alongside any and all of his followers who want to drop weight too!

With the holidays on the horizon, we’re thinking he timed the “weight gain” portion of his challenge quite perfectly! You can bet he’ll be having seconds and probably even thirds of all that pumpkin pie, eggnog, and gravy!

Before we lose you in your daydreams of holiday foods (sorry about that!), let’s check in to see Drew’s progress:

Week 1:

Weight = 181.6 lbs
Waist = 33.5’’
Hips = 38”
Body Fat % = 8.4%

Week 9:

Weight = 217.6 lbs
Waist = 41.25”
Hips = 43.5”
Body Fat % = 18.9%

Mental/Emotional Changes:

  • Still sleep-deprived
  • Libido is dropping
  • I get stressed easier
  • Feel tired during the day and almost need to take naps
  • Can’t fall asleep at night even though I’m exhausted
  • Constant brain fog
  • Lack of motivation to do chores/work
  • Major food cravings
  • Eating my emotions

Ugh, there you have it, folks. Proof that though the food may feel good on your tastebuds, choosing unhealthy foods comes with a price, many of them listed in Drew’s list of mental and emotional changes above.

If you could use a little extra kick in the New Year to get fit and healthy, you might want to consider hopping onto Drew’s challenge when it begins on January 3rd! JOIN THE JOURNEY!

Whether you are just generally interested in tracking Drew’s journey or you have a personal “steak” in the game, follow him on IG @fit2fat2fit and subscribe to his podcast for more intimate details.

These days, we could all use a little more self-care: a massage, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, an acupuncturist or whatever else. But not all of us can spare the $150-$200 it will cost to have a session (or twenty, which is what we could all use). We’ve all got some kind of pain we’re dealing with, from migraines to back and neck pain and everything in between. And no matter the expert we seek out, why should it have to cost so much for us to find relief?

Bed of Nails has become a lifestyle for many to bridge better health by using the products to alleviate pain such as migraines, back pain, and release endorphins and more. They even have a new back acupressure strap that acts like a quick trip to the acupuncturist, without the hole in your wallet!

Bed of Nails user-friendly tools brings the self-healing benefits of more expensive treatments (such as acupuncture and massage) into the homes and workplaces of people everywhere. The healing effects of Bed of Nails include relief from stress, insomnia, and pain, as well as increased energy and overall well-being.

Bed of Nails came out in 2007 on the Swedish market and due to its healing benefits quickly spread by word of mouth and has been recognized in the Swedish healthcare sector. After just 2 years on the Swedish market, it was voted “2009 – Christmas Gift of the Year” by the Swedish Retail Institute (in 2010 it was the “tablet computer”/iPad).

Britney Spears loves BON

It is already well known that acupressure stimulates energy in the body and is great for treating chronic pain because it increases your body’s production of Serotonin which is a natural painkiller. In addition, it promotes circulation and boosts relaxation.

Bed of Nails also releases Endorphins*, the body’s very own “happiness drug” which provides a sense of joy, energy and pain relief, and Oxytocin**, which makes you calm and relaxed (yes, it is possible to feel energetic and be relaxed at the same time!). Laying on a Bed of nails also activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System which takes you into an instant deep relaxation.

*Endorphins are released in response to pain and stress and help to alleviate anxiety and depression. Similar to morphine, it acts as an analgesic and sedative, diminishing our perception of pain.

**Oxytocin – This “Bliss Hormone” can help heal your body. A mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing. Oxytocin can act as a psychological buffer. It reduces background anxiety and naturally enhances a sense of; optimism, trust, mastery, and self-esteem. Oxytocin also influences the digestive system as much as it influences the brain. It has been proven to cool gastrointestinal inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Oxytocin also reduces levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body and lowers blood pressure.

For more information on Bed of Nails, visit http://bedofnails.org/.

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