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  • KS Services, LLC

Many of us are finding ourselves in unchartered territory lately…

We have kids home from school for an unidentified amount of time, and we find ourselves working from home. We are having to be parent, employee, cook, nurse, and housekeeper - all at once - all day long - everyday.  During this time, so many of us are focusing on how to make this time “right” and “good” for our children, but this can easily lead to forgetting ourselves in the process. To be the most healthy and connected mother or father, finding time for personal space is necessary. This sounds overwhelming probably - one more “should” on your to-do list. But there are some quick and easy ways to find this personal space, ground yourself, and be more connected as a result.  

First things first - communication.  It will be important to set some expectations up with your family and let them know what you are doing and why.  Talk to them about the time frame each day that is set aside for your personal space and let them know they are not to interrupt. If you have little littles, this may be a conversation with your partner where you each set up a “personal space” time while the other is in charge of the littles. Once everyone is clear on expectations - consider what to do with your time.

You may want to take a walk, go on a bike ride, have a cup of coffee outside, read a book alone in a comfy space, paint your nails or even just have time for a shower.

Another way to implement this is to set up personal space for small chunks of time throughout the day.

Start your day a bit early and just have a moment to savor your tea or coffee.  During that time, ground yourself by positively reflecting on what you want your day to look like.  This would be a great time to do a devotion or read a few positive affirmations. 

In the afternoon set aside another chunk of time to connect with friends and loved ones.  Grab a second for a Facetime call or a regular phone call - instead of focusing on just talk of the virus, decrease talks of fear and anxiety and increase conversation about hopes and dreams. 

In the evening, use bedtime as a way to ground routines and expectations.  Establish healthy boundaries by sending kids up to their room (or bed depending on age) so that the adults can have some kid free time together.

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Uncertainties and unknowns can feel overwhelming for children and adults and the rapidly changing situation with covid-19 is no exception.  Everyone (no matter what age) reacts differently to stressful situations but having a few tangible coping skills in your toolbox can make you and those you care about, stronger both mentally and physically.

Coping skills don’t have to be time consuming activities that require materials and supplies.  Actually, in general, coping skills are quite the opposite. Coping skills are simple strategies for solving personal and interpersonal problems that contribute to stress and anxiety.  

Lets chat coping skills specific to Covid-19.

First, pay attention to how you are feeling and note symptoms of anxiety. Although symptoms vary from person to person they may include things such as rapid heart rate, stomachache, headache, sweaty palms, or consistent distressing thoughts.  If you notice any of these symptoms, your body may be telling you that it needs a break from watching, reading, or listening to news stories (including social media). Consistent exposure to the news and other updates may cause heightened anxiety...give yourself a break.

In general, during these next few weeks, try and give yourself some physical wellbeing.  Studies show that lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety. Despite changing schedules, try to keep a regular sleep and wake schedule and get the recommended amount of sleep.  Get exercise regularly - take small walks or find yoga on youtube to keep your body moving.  

Throughout the day, take regular breaks to check in with yourself and breathe.  A great strategy for focusing on grounded breath is 4,7,8 breathing. You can do this with your kids too!

Take a big breath in and while you are breathing in, count slowly to 4.

Hold your breath at the top of the inhale and count to 7.

Now slowly exhale and count down from 8 while exhaling.

This deep breathing resets the flight or fight feeling that can cause anxiety and lets the body know it is not in immediate danger.  The heart rate will slow, breathing will return to normal, the muscles will relax and you will be able to move forward in a state of wellbeing.  Practice this deep breathing technique as many times as you need to throughout the day - even when you are not feeling extremely stressed.  

We hope that these few tips help ground you as we move through the next few weeks together.  Be sure to continue to check our blog as we will update often with more strategies for you and your family. 

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  • KS Services, LLC

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Self care looks different for everyone. Finding ways to unwind, breathe for a moment, and get centered can come in many different forms.  One thing to try as spring comes closer is to take your self care outside with a hike. One of the best parts of NOVA is the fact that, despite all the traffic and chaos, short hikes and pieces of nature are not far away.  Here is a list of local hikes and some information about the access, the difficulty of the hike, and other attractions surrounding it. Happy trails to you!

Right here locally we have Accotink Park and Burke Lake Park. These are two great loops you can walk with kids.  Accotink Park has a great place to do paddle boats, carousels, mini golf and a playground too so you can make this an entire afternoon. Burke Lake has a playground as well as Frisbee golf, a train you can ride during the peak seasons and a carousel.  Again, you can just park and walk around the lakes or you can enjoy some of the extras. Pack a picnic and make it a day! You can make these as long or as short of a hike/walk as you want. Around Accotink (lake only) is about 4 miles and around Burke Lake (lake only) is about 4.5 miles.

Similarly, Huntley Meadows is a great one too. You have some options here. You can park and walk through the woods, over boardwalks and really see some wildlife. There are dirt, paved, and boardwalk trails to explore.  Walk about one mile in and climb the tower to see over all the marsh/wetland. Trails wind and bend so there is plenty to explore.

Huntsman Park in Springfield has a great little playground in the entrance. If you walk past the playground there are some fun loops around Huntsman lake to explore. You can take a quick one right around the playground or go out a bit further and circle around the lake.  You can use the address 9150 Dorothy Lane Springfield to check it out.

Hidden Pond Park in Springfield is fun for a more family/smaller kid outing. There is a playground and a Nature Center to explore. There are some smaller trails around the pond there as well – fun to explore and see for shorter hikes and bits of outside fun. 8511 Greeley Blvd Springfield will get you to the Nature Center.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean, VA!  It’s a light hike that only takes an hour, great for dogs and kids who can’t handle longer or more steep climbs.

For a fun little trail – try Lake Royal. The trail around Lake Royal is nice and has 2 playgrounds around it and soccer fields and a baseball field. The loop around the lake is two miles around.  Use 5344 Gainsborough Drive Fairfax on the GPS.

Another option for a smaller loop is Mason Neck. They have combinations of longer and shorter treks with lots of wildlife to view. You can see more about the trails there by clicking this link.

Fountainhead Park has numerous trails that you can explore.  Look at the fun trails here!  

Now if you want to trek out a bit check out:

Roosevelt Island – This is such a fun place to explore and learn a bit of US History along with it. Cross over the footbridge and take the big loops around the island. Or choose to cut it in half by going through the memorial and seeing all the inspiring quotes and history there.  And in the summer you can splash a bit in the fountains (no standing but little hands and feet can certainly splash and kick!)

Rock Creek Park – This is such a gem in the middle of the city. Park at any access point and walk around and explore.  Of course we always end up at a Cupcake Shop in DC when we are done – because #balance. PS for cupcakes we loved Baked and Wired in Georgetown. A MUST HAVE!  Trails here follow along the creek and on the weekends the roads are blocked off so it is actually a great place to bike and not worry about traffic!

Consider Great Falls.  Here there are miles of trails and of course – waterfalls.  You can pick a map up when you enter to help you pick the best hike for your family. Remember there is a parking fee $5/vehicle!

Hopefully this list gives you some variety of trails to explore in the coming months.  Take a second and disconnect from your phone and connect with nature - I do not think you’ll regret it!

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