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Finding Peace in Chaotic Times as the Parent of a Child With a Medical Condition

Major events like the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd in my home state of Minnesota and the breaching of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 have caused more stress than I was already facing. My heart raced and hurt similar to what a heart attack must feel like, my body’s current reaction to stressful events. My breath shortened, my brain processing slowed down and I couldn’t focus.

As parents of children with medical conditions, we face a lot of daily stress. These stressful events I have mentioned often just make it harder for us to cope. What did I do to lessen the stress reactions?

First, I turned off the news and stopped looking at my phone. What a relief! I do watch the news to stay informed, but there are times that it caused me more stress than it was worth being up-to-date on what was going on in the world. Second, I started focusing on my breath by inhaling in and out very slowly to the count of six. I started with my belly first and then the rest of my torso, like filling a glass with water. I did this for a few minutes until my heart rate slowed down. I also closed my eyes to focus on my breath.

Next, I went to bed early for some quiet time and to continue my deep breathing. I do this on most nights to fall asleep, and tonight it was essential. The dark, quiet room was also very helpful. If it had been earlier in the day, I may have meditated or prayed. Being in a quiet room helped quiet my busy mind.

I also tried being kind to myself by letting go of all negative feelings about the current event and telling myself I was OK.

“I will be OK.”

“I am OK.”

“I am a good person.”

“I can handle this, but I need a break.”

“It’s OK to take a break from the negativity in the world.”

“It’s OK to take breaks.”

In other words, I was kind and gentle with myself.

This is what I do when life feels even more out-of-control than it does daily.

Take a break from the stress if you can.

Breathe.

Get some quiet time.

Be kind to yourself.

You can do this. Slow everything down.

Getty image by Metamorworks.