Swerdloff Law February 2018


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When my kids were little, I remember being stressed out almost every day. I wasn’t taking care of myself very well, which, as you know, only makes matters worse. I’d just turned 40, and when I stopped to take a look at my life, I wasn’t happy with what I saw. I was overweight, not working out, smoking, and my life just generally wasn’t going well. Furthermore, my job was demanding, and I struggled to fit everything else in around it. Luckily, I stumbled upon a community class at UCLA on stress reduction. The six-month class taught me how to manage my stress instead of letting it manage me. Looking back, it saved my life. I quit smoking, started eating better, and learned to manage my stress. We learned a bit about meditation and slowing down our minds, and I found out how to quiet some of my type-A tendencies. As for work, I was always saying yes, which was great for business but not so great for my health. Plus, because I was always saying yes, I wasn’t prioritizing the cases that I found most meaningful. Through deep breathing exercises, I learned to take a step back, take a deep breath, and, every once in a while, to say no when an opportunity wasn’t the right fit for my firm. Instead of letting my frustration take over when I was presented with a stressful situation at home or work, I took a deep breath and looked at how I could handle it.

These days, people call it mindfulness.

myself, which led me to become a better parent. I’m so glad I did, because I sure do love being a part of my kids’ lives today. I know there’s no way I can completely understand the challenges you face. When you have kids with special needs, the everyday stresses you face are extreme. You might have a hard time dealing with everything going on around you. That’s when it’s time to take a deep breath and find a way, even if it’s small, to take care of yourself. By the way, if you’re looking for a community class like the one I took, UCLA offers free drop-in meditation and other community education courses. You can find more at osher.uclaextension.edu/courses.

For parents, stress is a part of life. You can learn to cope with it, but it can be tough not to let it overwhelm you. The constant stress puts a lot of pressure on couples, and often, you forget to take care of yourself. I’ve seen how this can be especially challenging for families who have kids with special needs. Often, one parent will become the caregiver while the other works to support the family and pay for medical expenses. It puts a lot of pressure on the whole family. Both parents need a healthy way to relieve that stress and take care of themselves — otherwise there’s no way you can continue to care for your kids. For me, turning 40 and taking that community ed class proved to be life- changing. I learned how to take care of

–Arthur J. Swerdloff


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