AUTHOR: KAREN NIMETZ
The 2020-2021 school year was challenging for everyone involved. Due to the pandemic, administrators, teachers and students had to quickly revamp school protocols, teaching styles and learning methods. Parents struggled to decide between face-to-face instruction or at-home learning for their children. Even with the school year now over, many parents are still stressing over whether or not they made the right choice for their child. That big decision along with other pandemic-related challenges has taken a toll on the emotional and physical well-being of many parents and caregivers.
“It’s important for parents to let go of any guilt, shame or feelings of blame they may have about decisions they have made because it’s not productive,” says Christine Certain, licensed mental health counselor at the Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families. “It’s not going to help them be a better parent by beating themselves up over a decision that’s already been made. Parents should remember that they did the best they could with the knowledge they had in that moment and not to judge themselves on yesterday with the information they have today.”
In order to release some of that stress and anxiety, Certain suggests prioritizing time for self-care each day, even if for just a brief amount of time. “Carving out 15 minutes a day, just for yourself, and being very purposeful about doing something productive for your mental and physical health can make a huge difference in your daily life, especially when going through stressful times.”
While self-care is a necessary aspect of one’s overall well-being, it is often confused with self-comfort. “Many people like to use the term ‘self-care’ as a blanket statement that covers everything from eating an extra cupcake after dinner to drinking a glass of wine or whatever it may be,” Certain says. “While there is nothing wrong with having those things, the satisfaction is short-lived. You need to ask yourself: Is it going to have a lasting effect that will get you through the next few days or even just the rest of that day? Probably not as much as something that is truly self-care.”
Certain says true self-care is something that benefits you physically or emotionally, and ideally both. Exercise and meditation are both great examples of self-care, however, there are many other ways people have found to bring more calm and peace into their lives.
Barreto-Fermin says she was initially hesitant to try CBD. “At first, I didn’t understand the difference between cannabis, medical marijuana and CBD. I thought, I’m a mom—I can’t use that! But I educated myself on what it actually is and the benefits and decided to give it a try.”
Based on a recommendation from a friend, she decided to purchase CBD from Treadwell Farms, a local, family-owned hemp company. Barreto- Fermin says that within a month of using CBD, she “noticed a huge improvement in the quality of my sleep. It has been instrumental in helping me to find balance in my life.”
Barreto- Fermin is not alone. “Treadwell Farms has seen an increase in the sales of all of our CBD products but particularly our CBD hemp evening blend, which features boosted herbals to promote rest and calm. All of Treadwell Farms’ products are formulated to supplement the endocannabinoid system, which helps with balance and stress management,” says Jammie Treadwell, co-owner of Treadwell Farms.
Kids Coping with Stress
The anxiety caused by the pandemic was not just felt by adults; children also experienced their share of stress. According to experts, oftentimes kids; stress goes unnoticed by caregivers as children do not display signs of anxiousness in the same way as adults.
“Kids will often show their stress, their feelings and frustrations through behaviors rather than through emotions,” says Dr. Michael Westerveld, neuropsychologist at AdventHealth for Children. “Acting out, aggressive behaviors [and] changes in physical habits, like lack of sleep or eating behaviors, may be signs of stress.”
These behaviors were more difficult to spot this past year as daily routines changed drastically and many families struggled to navigate a new normal. With so many kids homebound and most sports canceled this past year, some children missed out on vital daily exercise and developed poor eating habits. Both of these factors weigh heavily on a child’s overall physical and mental well-being.
“We will most likely see an uptick in childhood obesity as we come out of the pandemic, predicts Dr. Elizabeth Davis, a pediatrician and sports medicine physician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “We may have kids who developed obesity as a result of the pandemic and we may have kids who were already previously dealing with obesity and the pandemic made it worse.”
Dr. Davis recommends kids “get 60 minutes of vigorous exercise or physical activity five to six days a week.” For those who remain homebound, Dr. Davis says parents should seek out creative ways of keeping their children fit and healthy. “You don’t need exercise equipment to exercise; you can use your own body weight or safe household objects like cans, or a jug of water.” She says parents should encourage their children to be physically active, even if they choose not to participate in sports. “If your child isn’t into team sports, try individualized sports such as karate or swimming. Running and playing at the park are also great way for kids to get exercise.”
In addition to staying active, Dr. Davis says children should be aware of the importance of good nutrition from an early age. She recommends eliminating any sugary beverages, such as juice and soda, and following the MyPlate nutrition guide created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where half of the plate is made up of fruits and vegetables and the other half consists of a quarter of a lean protein and a quarter of a whole grain.
Experts agree daily physical activity and open communication with loved ones are key elements to helping families and individuals alike achieve better overall physical and mental well-being.
“Going for walks or playing at the park together are great ways for families to spend quality time together,” Certain says. “There are a lot of benefits biologically on almost every level. … Kids are mirrors and if parents are prioritizing their own health and well-being, that sets a great example for kids that will not only help them get through this last part of the pandemic but to also create healthy lifelong habits.”
Read the article in Orland Family Magazine HERE.