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One morning we woke up and our reality had been turned upside-down while we slept. Our job, family, shopping, dining and other familiar routines were now menacingly dangerous for who knows how long. Thankfully, nightmares don’t last forever, and neither will the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective and apply some self-healing practices to stay on an even keel.  Here, North Texas Brain health experts give us some tips and strategies.


Stress-Related Burnout

Nearly half the workforce reports burnout, and parenting, too, is a high-stakes job. Chronic stress increases the size of the amygdala (involved in the fight-or-flight response), causes premature aging and reduces connections necessary for memory, learning, critical thinking, attention and emotional regulation. Self-care is crucial to mitigate the damage of toxic stress. Here are some strategies to help:


Be mindful and mindless: Burnout is an accumulation of inconspicuous disappointments. Thus, mindfulness, or being present in the moment, is central to gathering an internal, nonjudgmental weather report. Doing so while moving the body in rhythm with our breath adjusts neurological chemistry and boosts oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Exercise enhances attention, motivation, learning, memory and mood, and provides sensorimotor input that improves the body-brain communication. Conversely, sometimes it is essential to stop thinking. Research demonstrates this is when we maximize creativity and enjoy “Aha!” perspectives.


Nurture relationships: Laugh, have fun, and share emotions to deactivate the amygdala.


Journal: Celebrate victories, reframe setbacks as growth opportunities and practice gratitude to reduce stress and resolve conflicts. As a bonus, this fine motor task bolsters self-regulation.


Reconnect with a purpose: Write down commitment dates for engaging in hobbies or causes that set our heart on fire but have been sacrificed.


“I am overwhelmed and don’t know if I can even begin,” is a warning that our well-being is at stake. Take baby steps. We are significant and deserve to find wholeness again.


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