Millions of lives have been affected in unprecedented ways by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are all grappling with uncertainty—our daily routines interrupted, not knowing what is to come. For those of us who have Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), these times can be particularly distressing.
At the Center for Youth Wellness (CYW), we know that childhood trauma can have a significant impact on an individual’s health and well-being – both physiologically and psychologically. Since the CDC-Kaiser ACE study was published 20 years ago, research has shown that traumatic events in childhood can change our rapidly developing brains and bodies. When we’re exposed to ACEs at a young age, we encounter the risk of developing an overactive stress response — what the American Academy of Pediatrics now calls, “the toxic stress response.” Toxic stress not only affects brain development in childhood, but can also change our hormonal systems, immune systems, and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed. Without intervention, this can result in behavior problems, learning difficulties, and chronic health issues throughout our lives.
For those hearing about ACEs for the first time, this may seem like more bad news on top of what we’re already enduring with the daily barrage of COVID-19 news, but there is good news: we can provide ourselves with mini doses of healing through 7 healthy evidence-based practices to help regulate an overactive stress response, and sheltering in place is the perfect time for us to practice.
While focusing on self-care might seem overwhelming right now, there are a few easy ways to incorporate self-care into each day. Even focusing on just one practice each day, we may regain a sense of empowerment in the midst of this chaotic time knowing that we have taken steps to take care of ourselves, which also better equips us to take care of others.
7 Domains of Wellness
Whether we’re sheltering in place with others or by ourselves, the self-quarantine provides an opportunity for us to reflect on these healing practices and to challenge the people we care about to practice with us.
We tie all of these practices together with the most crucial practice of all: self-compassion. Many of us have been feeling scared, powerless, and ashamed of some of our natural responses to sheltering in place. Now more than ever, we must learn to be kind to ourselves and accepting of our feelings, as we navigate this uncertain time together.
As meditation and self-care teacher Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “When I understand my suffering, I love myself, and I know how not to keep nourishing the suffering, how to transform the suffering. I get lighter, I become more compassionate, and with that kind of freedom and compassion, I feel liberated.”
Other renowned mindfulness leaders such as Jack Kornfield and Jon Kabat-Zinn (who is doing a free daily guided meditation here during the week of March 30th to April 3rd) offer words of wisdom and guidance on practicing self-compassion that may be particularly useful in uncertain times like these.
In the end, it is about taking care of our bodies, our hearts and our minds and giving ourselves the time and space to not be overwhelmed. Trying out one or more of these practices each day can be grounding and will help us feel more prepared to face each day with strength, courage and energy. Stay healthy and safe.
Thank you for your continued support of Center for Youth Wellness. As of June 25th, CYW has combined its operation with Safe & Sound. If you would like to continue donating to the programs of CYW, please make a donation to Safe & Sound here in honor of "CYW Programs".
All donations made to Center for Youth Wellness prior to June 25, 2021 (and which may arrive June 25th, 2021) will be transferred to Safe & Sound and designated for CYW Programs. The intent of your donation will be honored.
Please feel free to reach out to us with questions and comments at email@example.com.
Your support and voice can help change the trajectory of generations of children and families.
Center for Youth Wellness is not a crisis center. Those experiencing urgent medical or psychiatric concerns should dial 911 or their local emergency agency for assistance. We are unable to respond to messages requesting referrals, treatment or clinical consultations from individuals who are not our patients.