The Samahita Blog

Love, kids, dads and stress in the time of Corona

Paul Dallaghan
By Paul Dallaghan
Family Sunset

The recent corona pandemic has impacted every life. In the space of two days I had to make new plans and jump on a plane from the US to Thailand to manage the closure of Samahita and make sure our staff are supported in this process. Even though I may be Alone at Samahita (a new series coming your way soon) it is still special to be here. The biggest disappointment for me though is having to leave my own kids for an indefinite period of time.

Before leaving the US I noticed a change in the environment on my responsibly socially distant walks (important to do as it helps, see this latest study (1) ).

More dads were out with their young kids, playing, happy, children smiling and laughing.
Wow
Yes

This temporary shift in working mode has given, for some, and in this case I refer to the daddies, a greater opportunity to feel and share the love. It will hopefully show as beneficial.

This is even more important in intending fathers-to-be – meaning you are contemplating a new child soon. A study published this month clearly identifies the biological mechanisms in how stress being experienced by you, the daddy-to-be, alters sperm and thus impacts brain development in the next generation (2). I have always advised that the step to parenthood begins months, if not years, before conception. Know how to attend to your stress levels now.

Beyond the typical advice of “do yoga practice for stress management” (have you heard that before?) how you respond to your loved one, even kids, and talk to them about their personal concerns affects your processing of stress (daddy) and their effect based on your language, as another recent study reveals (3). As a scenario, dad takes the kids out to play, both benefit, and mom gets a break and feels relieved. And as noted above, even the sperm for the next generation benefit. Then back home, based on the effect of these uncertain times, someone in the house starts to show signs of distress. Avoid controlling and justified argumentative language (yes it’s possible) like “oh come on stop worrying”. Instead encourage them to talk out their feelings. You not only manage your own stress, you manage the other’s. Of course all that is obvious yet in practice it does not happen. Know it now, read the benefit if that helps, and then enact it in your life, for the good of all, yourself included.

Maybe that child is already born and still a sweet little young thing. How do you socially distance from that? You don’t. But as a unit you stay close together. And by close I mean enjoying the unique gift of close skin-to-skin contact with your child. In fact, a study just published that terms this skin-to-skin, chest-to-chest care as “Kangaroo Care” clearly shows it has incredibly important benefits for both the infant, the mother especially in terms of post-partum depression, and also for daddy (4). In short, such closeness of care is good for all involved and even more so for the child’s ongoing neurodevelopment.

It seems the attention to minimizing the spread of the virus can help increase your close needed family love contact and increase your level of precaution in external environmental settings. Based on my own experience as a father and living a yogic lifestyle for the past two decades this has always been the case. If you take a look at the CDC’s recommendations (5) to managing stress in such a challenging time you’ll see a yogic meditative approach seems to be an extremely balanced way forward for us all.

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
    Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Take care of yourself
Take care of others
Share and spread love, especially to your kids and partner

Meanwhile I will continue to be ….. Alone at Samahita ….. for now

References:

(1) The Lancet. “Singapore modelling study estimates impact of physical distancing on reducing spread of COVID-19.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2020. https://sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200324131843.htm

(2) Jennifer C. Chan, ….. Tracy L. Bale. Reproductive tract extracellular vesicles are sufficient to transmit intergenerational stress and program neurodevelopment. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15305-w

(3) Kellie St.Cyr Brisini, Denise Haunani Solomon, Xi Tian. How the Comforting Process Fails: Psychological Reactance to Support Messages. Journal of Communication, 2020; 70 (1): 13
https://academic.oup.com/joc/article-abstract/70/1/13/5739595?redirectedFrom=fulltext

(4) Jillian S. Hardin, Nancy Aaron Jones, Krystal D. Mize, Melannie Platt. Parent-Training with Kangaroo Care Impacts Infant Neurophysiological Development & Mother-Infant Neuroendocrine Activity. Infant Behavior and Development, 2020; 58
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163638319301365?via%3Dihub

(5) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tips on “stress and coping” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

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