Headlines have been incredibly hard lately. It can feel like we are in a perpetual state of trauma—from hurricanes to shootings, tragic news stories continue to hit. It impacts all of us, and it also impacts our kids.
Three of my four children are in high school this year. They see the news, the sensational and shocking headlines, firsthand, too, when they log on to their computers or phone for school, work or play.
Yesterday, they came home talking about the mass shootings in Las Vegas, having discussed it both in their classrooms and with their friends.
So what’s a parent to do during times like these?
I asked myself that many times yesterday, wishing there was some kind of book or guide. It is a different childhood then the one we knew. Gone are the days when parents would turn off the 10 o’clock news when kids walked into their bedrooms. There isn’t a ‘how-to,’ so here is a list of 7 things I have learned to do to build resilience when times are hard.
- Put on your oxygen mask first. When we fly, the flight attendants tell us to put on our oxygen masks first, before helping others or assisting a child. This is so important as parents. Make time to breathe. You don’t have to have an immediate response to everything all at once. Give yourself permission to pause.
- Breathe. The kids know that when they start to stress, and I can see their chests heaving with short breaths, I will tell them to take a deep breath all the way down to their toes. We breathe in together down to our toes, then we breathe it all out, blowing out any of the jumpy, nervous, sad energy. We usually repeat it about four times. It slows your breathing down, and I have found it helps the kids so much.
- Food Matters. Sugar jacks us up, and it spins us out. It takes us way up, then brings us crashing down. And while it may seem like a fix during times like these (I did for years), the lows take you lower. So do what you can to make sure that you eat healthy fats, protein and get fruits and veggies into you. So many of us want to dive into the ice cream. That won’t fix anything and make you feel awful later. Think about how you will feel AFTER you eat certain foods. Keep that vision.
- Dump the devices. When I am very overwhelmed, I get outside. I run, hike, something outside, to remind myself that despite how horrific a headline or day might be, the world keeps revolving around its axis, the sun shines and plants grow. Sometimes, that simple rhythm is all you need to be reminded to breathe.
- Exercise. It doesn’t have to be a cross fit program, a hard core yoga class or anything that structured. Sometimes, it is walking around the block. Move your body to clear your head.
- Supplement Support: My go to advisor on this is Dr. Frank Lipman, my podcast partner, Ashley Koff, MD, and our pediatrician. Build a dream team. Vitamin D, magnesium, turmeric, krill oil and organic greens are my go-to. I throw them into a smoothie in the morning to ensure that I get them in, like brushing my teeth to start my day. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. My friends over at Garden of Life offer it in so many forms. Magnesium is great for anxiety, stress, digestion, and more. My friends at Natural Vitality are the pros. And the greens, well, Garden of Life has those, too, in just about every form and flavor.
- Music. For as long as I can remember, there has been a soundtrack associated with different stages and occasions in my life. Those melodies are still food for the soul.
Our kids need us to protect them, but they also need to learn resilience, too. When we model resilience during hard times, we are reminding them that feelings are as valid as their strength and ability to deal with them.
They are inheriting a world that they didn’t create. The headlines remind us of that every day. We can serve as reminders that we have the opportunity to pivot, to take our stories back, to create a brighter tomorrow.
Because while we can’t change the beginning of our stories, we can definitely change the end.