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10 things worth trying during times of stress, trauma, or crisis.

Feel like throwing in the towel? Try these tips instead.

10 things worth trying during times of stress, trauma, or crisis.

Regardless of what you're going through, self-care is important.

I once read something that said, "It's not the hard times that define you, it's how you respond." One important tool when it comes to dealing with personal challenges is self-care.

What is self-care? The University of Kentucky's Student Affairs Center describes self-care as "[A]ny intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health."


In times of stress, trauma, or crisis, practicing self-care can help manage your health.

While self-care isn't the be-all and end-all to dealing with stress, it can be a valuable recovery tool. Here are a few self-care suggestions from Crisis Clinic.

1. Exercise — even a little bit.

Don't worry, we're not talking about running a marathon here. Your form of exercise can be as light or as intense as you want it to be. Don't have access to a gym? No problem! Take a walk around the block, try a yoga routine on YouTube, climb the bleachers at your local high school track, go window-shopping at the mall, or give your home a speedy power clean. There are tons of ways to get your endorphins pumping, and any number of them can have a positive impact on your mood.

2. Give yourself permission to focus on someone outside yourself.

Making someone else feel good is a great way to lift your own spirits. Try volunteering or call up an old friend or family member you haven't talked to in a while and brighten their day.

3. Give and get physical touch: A hug can do wonders.

4. Give yourself permission to feel bad: Schedule it in your day. Remind yourself that your reactions are normal.

Sometimes the worst thing you can do when you're feeling down is to beat yourself up for feeling down. Remember you're human and everyone has good days and bad days.

5. Give yourself permission to feel good.

Everyone's feel-good solution is different. Just be careful and make sure not to partake in activities that could cause harm to yourself or anyone else. Get some ice cream, watch your favorite movie, or laugh at a fart joke! Sometimes when we're going through something difficult, we keep ourselves from experiencing joy because we don't think it's appropriate or we think we don't deserve it. Remember that it's OK to laugh and feel good during times of sadness, even if it's only for a moment.

6. Structure your time and develop a routine.

Finding time for friends, family, work, play, and everything in between can be difficult, even on your best days. Too often when we're extremely busy or stressed, we forget to make time for even simple things like lunch or quiet time. To make things easier on yourself, try setting alarms on your phone or online calendar for everything from meetings and appointments to taking your vitamins. There are also tons of productivity apps you can use to set for daily, weekly, and even hourly goals if needed. Not a fan of digital scheduling? Try a paper planner or giant laminated calendar to help organize and structure your days.

7. Engage in practices that are meaningful to you, such as prayer, walking in the woods, sitting quietly, reading inspirational material, taking a bath, or writing in a journal.

8. Take breaks from periods of isolation.

Everyone needs alone time now and then, but try setting a timer for yourself so you can get some fresh air and connect with others.

9. Talk it out — even with a professional.

Don't have health insurance or access to a health care professional? There are tons of free resources that can connect you with someone online or by phone. Check out yourlifeyourvoice.org for videos, articles, and local resources for people struggling with depression. Also, the Crisis Clinic (the wonderful organization behind this self-care list) has a 24-hour hotline.

10. Get plenty of rest so that you feel refreshed and relaxed.

Don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep! If you have trouble sleeping at night, try turning off the TV and electronic devices like your cell phone and computer at least one hour before you want to go to bed. A cup of hot (decaf) tea before bed can be helpful. Also, things like regular exercise, stretching, and calming music can help your body successfully power down before bedtime.

Self-care shouldn't just be for the tough times. Make it a habit worth keeping.

The tricky thing about self-care is that when you're feeling down, exercising or going to see a doctor is usually the last thing on your mind. That's why it's important to make self-care a part of your daily life. Self-care can be an important tool for times of crisis, but it's much easier to implement if you're taking care of yourself during the good times, too.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less