Dr. Rivera

Dr. Karla Rivera is a district-wide psychologist here in Irvington. She is here to provide support for children and families as we face these challenging times.

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Five ways to Find Peace and Calm Through Mindfulness This Fall

It’s September again and time for school! Maybe your scholar is excited for a new school year, or maybe not- but no matter what, it’s our job as parents to do our best to help our child feel prepared and ready to learn. This means making sure our child is primed for academic learning, but also socially and emotionally prepared. The first cannot happen without the second. Here are some ways to help your child feel confident to tackle school.

Now that summer has ended, the quicker pace of daily life can feel overwhelming. Practicing mindfulness- being present in our lives- can prevent us from feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Mindfulness helps us to be more self aware- more conscious of what we’re feeling, thinking and doing. This brings a greater sense of control to our lives. Fall is a special time of year of new beginnings. Mindfulness can help you really take in these experiences. Find some ways to be more mindful by:

Taking a mindful walk: Fall is an especially beautiful season. Unplug and take a walk outside. Observe all that’s around you- what do you see and hear? Feel your body moving through space and concentrate on the sensation of your movements. How do your feet feel on the pavement? Focus on the rhythm of your breathing. When you can, have your child join you- teach them to do the same.

Taking calming breaths: Feeling overwhelmed in a situation? Deep breathing is an immediate and discreet way to calm down. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Pause. Take your next breath before you feel desperate for air. Repeat for ten breaths or until you feel calm. Your child also benefits from deep breathing- practice together!

Telling yourself you’ve got this!: Positive self-talk means telling yourself messages that help you feel calm. Doing this often can ward off anxiety, depression, or simply help us to find calm in a stressful moment. Repeat a phrase that feels helpful to you for example-”I can do this”, “I am calm”, “I will overcome this”. Positive thoughts can powerfully influence our thoughts, emotions and behavior. Children who understand this process are more confident and successful socially. Help your child learn how to give themselves positive messages for greater happiness.

Finding what brings you joy and doing it often: Part of being mindful involves self-awareness. It means understanding the things that bring you joy. What makes you feel happy or calm? Do you love music, cooking or art? Does playing a sport or exercising make you happy? Did you once love something but let it go? Can you return to what gave you happiness? Help your child to identify what brings them joy. Teach them how important it is to find and put in place things to bring them happiness- this is a coping skill for life.

Meditating: There are many ways to learn to meditate- and it does take practice. It may feel awkward at first and challenging to “turn off” our brains- but mediation brings a wealth of emotional and physical health benefits. You don’t need to do it on your own- there are many guided meditations available through youtube and social media platforms. Children also benefit from learning to meditate, as you learn how, have your child join you.