The King community was joined by Lisa Damour, Ph.D., for a practical talk on managing stress and anxiety due to the pandemic. Dr. Damour is a New York Times best-selling author who specializes in clinical psychology and child development. She is recognized as a thought leader by the American Psychological Association. Dr. Damour shared her clinical insights with parents in a virtual meeting on April 21, 2021, providing them with information and tips on how to best manage stress and anxiety in themselves and their children during these unprecedented times.
Dr. Damour began her talk with a straightforward concept – Anxiety is normal. "Anxiety is a highly systematic emotion...And when you understand the system of anxiety, then you can effectively jump in at any level to get it under control," she shared. According to Damour, anxiety triggers a sequence where the body is activated to respond physically by increasing the heart rate and accelerating breathing. She explained that the mind interprets the physical response as a stressor, and then the thinking is hijacked to focus on the risks at hand. What does Dr. Damour recommend for when anxiety becomes too intense? Breathe.
She shared with the attendees two easy-to-understand resources from her website on How to Manage Stress Under COVID-19 and How to Manage Anxiety Under COVID-19 to provide parents with a quick reference guide on healthy coping for stress and interventions for anxiety, such as breathing techniques.
"The most salient takeaway for me was Dr. Damour's opinion on resetting our definition of what it means to be mentally healthy," said King parent Jennifer Connelly P'31 about her experience. "It left me thinking about the importance of parents conveying a narrative to our children that 'good' or 'normal' mental health does not equate to primarily having feelings of happiness; Stress and anxiety are productive feelings to learn from as part of our overall mental wellbeing." Dr. Damour also met with Middle and Upper School faculty and staff earlier in the day to share similar strategies on how to better manage stress and anxiety in the classroom.