LIFELINE “toolkit”, techniques and strategies for parent self-care and coping:
First, try some helpful breathing tips and exercises:
L.I.F.E. Breathing Technique: A quick strategy for immediate calm and self-support:
L- Love of yourself and your child. Nothing is a more important focus.
I– Inhale deeply, slowly for 5 seconds while focusing on the love.
F– Flowing and Freedom. Tap into flowing images.
E– Exhale slowly for 8 seconds while focusing on the flowing, freeing images.
Try this for three consecutive breaths. Try pausing for 2 seconds between the in breath and out breath. Use L.I.F.E. breathing when your child is facing medical issues.
- Breathe deeply frequently. Use L.I.F.E breathing practice.
- Essential oils. Lavender for calm and sleep and citrus for mind clearing and energy, as examples.
- Acupressure. Apply light pressure to specific spots. Space between eyes, ear lobes and entire out ear, space between thumb and forefinger on hands as examples. Apply light pressure or gentle massage each point for 30 seconds.
- Professional acupuncture.
- Drink water. Lots of water.
- Massage. Professional or self-massage. Self massage points such as neck, face, arms, legs and feet. Rubbing and gently tapping various parts of your own body.
- Stress relieving foods including: dark chocolate, walnuts, salmon, garlic, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, and citrus fruits. These actually reduce cortisol and calm adrenaline levels. Whatever you decide to eat, eat slowly and breathe between bites as that will help even if you are eating less nutritional foods.
- Move your body any way you can and get exercise if possible. Stretches. Lay flat on floor with bent knees to stretch out back/spine. Hang head over body from standing position to allow stress to flow out.
- Listen to music. Change the genre as needed. Sleep music for calm.
- Listen to podcasts. Tara Brach has many on her website as an example.
- Watch programs, shows, and movies. Watching without commercials or record so you can fast forward through commercials can be helpful.
- Supplements, adrenal support formulas and Rescue Remedies (see Bach flower Rescue Remedies as an example available in health food stores or health food section of grocery stores)
- Meditation. Longer silent, guided or short one minute brief meditations for example.
- Imagery. Practice using your images to create what is helpful and establishes your lifeline.
- Soak in bath with lavender oil and Epsom salt.
- Humor. Watch comedy. Laugh at silly things. Find humor in the surprising places and laugh.
- Talk to others about everything or anything OR decide at times not to talk, text or stay in contact.
- Permit yourself to do what fits without judging yourself.
- Self-care and self-compassion practices. Spend even a moment appreciating and seeing yourself and honoring you.
- Mindfulness. Stay in the moment, even just for the moment, without judgment.
- Practice saying and focusing on positive perspective and seeing the gifts and strengths in you and your family.
LIFELINE concepts put into a helpful acronym
L -Love. Let go. Focus on love of self and your child. Nothing really matters more. Love yourself by taking care of your body and your emotional health. Let go and go with the flow of your life.
I -Impermanence and Introspection. Appreciate this moment and that nothing lasts forever. Seek information necessary to care for your child and self. Gather positive information and perspective. Reflection and internal “check-ins” with yourself and grounding in the moment.
F –Freedom, Flow, Forgiveness, and Focus. We can’t choose our circumstances, but we are free to choose our responses. Forgiveness of self and other. Avoid self-blame/judgment and blame of others. Focus on what works and positive helpful strategies.
E -Energize, Equanimity and Experience. It’s crucial to try to find what energizes you and make that a practice. Even energizing thoughts and images can help. Equanimity helps us remember to stay even and balanced regardless of what is going on around us. It also is about coming back to balance when we get off balance. Experience is vital. Being in the experience and present for the moment can be valuable.
L -Listen. To yourself. Find others to listen to you. Talk if it helps. Choose wisely who to talk to if you want to talk. Ask others to simply listen. They do not have to solve or suggest.
I – Information. Gather positive information and and internal perspective. Seek information necessary to care for your child and self. Gather positive information and perspective. Again, reflection and internal “check-ins” with yourself and grounding to help in the moment.
N -Non-reactivity in responses. When we are non-reactive, we can practice a mindful awareness of what we think and feel without attaching any worth or meaning to our experience or the actions of others. Choosing to remain calm or come back into a calm state gives us a sense of order and control.
E -Empowerment. Anything you feel, think or experience has the potential to inform and empower us. Despite vulnerability, we are also strong and need to connect to that strength.