CWRU Social Worker Creates ‘Take a Break’ Deck to Relieve Stress

CLEVELAND – Tackling the pressures of everyday life doesn’t have to be time consuming.

That’s the message Dr Jennifer King, a social worker at Case Western Reserve University, is sharing with a deck of cards she created in the early part of the pandemic.

“The kind of activity needed to calm the stress response lasts only a few seconds or minutes,” says King.

Her “Take a Break” micro-practice card features a brief stimulus that calms the body’s response to stress.

“Those are exercises that can be done in three minutes or less,” says King.

The idea was born in a way that King found herself and her family reacting to all the changes brought about by COVID-19.

“I realized that I applied a lot of what I understood about stress and trauma, brain and body to how I coped and how I supported those around me and coped,” says King.

Family-friendly strategies are now in place throughout Northeast Ohio.

“I wanted to create something accessible, that can go with you, to allow people to have that kind of support on the go and in different environments,” King said.

One of the cards features the five-finger breath.

“It’s simply breathing in and out and following your fingers as you move,” says King. “It checks all the boxes. It is a pattern, it is repetitive, it is rhythmic. “

King’s 7-year-old son, Roscoe, says the practice of mindfulness is his favorite and it really helps him calm down.

“It’s just really satisfying the way your fingers, the way your index finger goes up and down. That’s the gentle part,” says Roscoe King.

The father of two, Steve Leetch, noticed a change in his daughters’ demeanor after completing the heel kick exercise.

His views on parenthood during the pandemic and the stress it brings are simple.

“The way we try and think about it is like jazz, and so we hit the jazz drums and they’re blaring all over the place and we’re just trying to be steady vocalists and not let Leetch speak.

These cards are another option in the toolbox to help parents like Leetch stay alive when turmoil strikes.

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