Three Habits To Keep Calm This September For First Responder Families

Happy September and Autumn! 

With September comes the transition from the relaxed, playful, easy breezy summer into the transition of new routines, structure and consistency.

While this summer, in a pandemic, may not have felt very easy breezy, you might be looking forward to the routine of Fall.

My First Responder Family clients, especially those with an Operational Stress Injury, are sighing relief that structure is starting in this season. A routine, allows our brain to know what to expect and calms our central nervous system. Consistency is helpful for us as adults and especially for our children. 

School provides a routine and structure for our children. Whether your children are returning to school or homeschooling, let's talk about how to build in resiliency practices throughout the day to regulate your First Responder Family.

Some of us have work, school, sports and other activities starting back up and taking a hold of our schedule. All of these things are good, vital, create a sense of normalcy, meaning and purpose.

As much as you may be looking forward to these activities starting, it can also bring additional stress into our home while establishing new systems that work. So while you are settling into your new groove, I invite you to consider practices you can build in to reduce the stress in your First Responder Family home.

1. Breath: Take a deep breath regularly throughout your day. It grounds you back to your body. A deep breath signals to your body that you are safe. Some of my clients set alarms to signal every hour to pay attention to their breath or build in a practice to something they are already doing such as taking a deep breath before every glass of water they drink.

Before we can show up for our family members we must first center and ground ourselves. Our central nervous systems say hello to each other.  We are external regulators for our children. They borrow our calm. If we want a calm morning routine with our children, we need to start with a deep breath to connect with ourselves.

2. Body Scan: Notice what your body needs and give it to yourself. Are you thirsty? Do you need a glass of water? Have your shoulders become earrings? Do you want to do neck rolls and shoulder shrugs? Some of my clients create a system that every time before they use the bathroom or answer a text message they will first do a body scan.

Consider talking about this process out loud to role model it to your First Responder Family members. For example you could say to your children, "I notice my breath is shallow, I am feeling anxious, I am going to turn on the music and dance to shake it off. Do you want to dance with me?". 

3. Build regulation habits into your day: Consider activities you enjoy doing together to regulate your central nervous system such as morning meditation or prayer, five minute workouts or yoga after breakfast and after school, dance parties while making dinner, eating meals together, walking together in the evening and playing games together. 

As you look at your schedule, pay attention to the white spaces and days off together as a family. Consider protecting certain parts of your week for rest and habits to connect as a family and for your own self care. 

May you walk through September connected with yourself and your First Responder Family.

Love,

Kim

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