Play is Self-Care
In this article, working parents of young children (and their employers, HR managers, and CPOs) will find quick solutions to help cope with pandemic job stress and build resilience at work and at home.
Surprisingly, the solution lies in children.
Stress Levels of Working Parents are High
In the latest LinkedIn Workforce Insight newsletter, George Anders reports about “People who’ve begun using the opening minutes of a Zoom or Teams call to vomit out everything that’s been happening to them lately,” and warns about alarming stress levels.
While presenting factors of stress at the turn of the 19th month of COVID-19, Anders also quotes Kevin Delaney, CEO of Charter, whose mission is to transform every workplace: “Schools and caregiving have not come back to normal.”
For working parents of young children, the sources of pandemic stress are then at least three:
- education or caregiving services
Your Children Can Help You Reduce Pandemic Stress
Right after reading the Workforce Insight’s article, I bumped into an inspiring quote by American author Joseph Chilton Pearce:
“Play is the only way that the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.”
Let’s approach the stress issue with intelligence, then.
Playing children learn by using their bodies to perceive, sense, and move. Playing with them while following their approach to life could help us stop overthinking and build anxiety.
Imagine your children can help you cope with stress. I want all the stressed working parents out there to play with their children! I like working parents to reduce high levels of stress through a playful self-care strategy that everyone can implement in their household.
How to Play with Your Children and Cope with Pandemic Stress
Play games that involve positive social interactions, sensory experiences, movement, and imagination.
The goal is to help you relax and strengthen social skills that will help you avoid overexposure to stress.
Your children need you to be a fair player and avoid setting up academic educational moments for them. Enjoy their company, listen to their ideas, and let them lead. This way, everybody will benefit from playing together.
Here are five sensory-play activities that will help you and your family manage stress and may also change how you use the opening minutes of a Zoom or Team call.
5 Sensory-play Videos to Help Working Parents Cope with Pandemic Stress
1. Open a Flight School in Five Minutes
At Embodied Learning, we use this game in experiential team building and coaching sessions to work on leadership (person and paper sheet: who is leading who?), collaboration skills, and problem-solving.
In 1:1 coaching, we use the same game to explore the role of pace, proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body), and motivation in internal communication.
Finding a balance between gravity and levity – while having fun – is a fantastic emotional skill that greatly helps deal with stress.
2. Create a Fountain With a Soup Pot in Seconds
This activity is very popular in Embodied Learning 1:1 coaching for leaders. It’s all about boosting life skills such as time management, motivation, and intuition. It has to do with self-awareness, humility, and the predisposition to fail and learn from experience.
3. “The Goal is the Journey” in Your Driveway
Cope with stress by designing and building the best way to reward yourself. Creating a labyrinth is a great way to physically experience challenges along a process and understand how your embodied cognition plays a role in reducing stress at work.
4. Can You Hear Yourself?
Cognitive scientists say: “The body is the most powerful social and emotional sense organ humans have.”
While having fun building this simple bodily music instrument, take time to “listen” to yourself and your body.
5. Your Waterspout is an Organ Pipe
Ultimately, you cope with stress as soon as you can stop. This outdoor activity helps you and everybody in your family stop and shift focus on things you can approach differently in your everyday life.
About the Author
Tommaso Lana is an award-winning trainer, performance artist, and consultant, founder of Embodied Learning.
Embodied Learning is a multidisciplinary experiential training program for people of all ages that enhances communication and collaboration skills through sensory play, movement, and imagination.
With his Embodied Learning projects, coaching, and professional development training sessions, Tommaso has been serving teams, managers, and administrators at Caltech, Google, WeWork, The Smithsonian Institution, NAEYC, Los Angeles Public Library, New York Public Library, and more.
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