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Back to School - Tips for Stress Relief by Amber Keating, LCSW and Clinical Supervisor



School is starting again soon, from grade school to college and trade schools. While the start of a new academic year is stressful under normal circumstances, we’re all facing remarkable ones right now. Whether you’re in school yourself or parenting a child who is, chances are that neither you or your child(ren) have been on campus with other students since March 2020. That’s almost 18 months! You and your family may be experiencing nervousness, excitement, overwhelm, grief over people or experiences lost in the last year and a half, or a combination of all these feelings. That is all totally normal and expected for what we’ve been through with this pandemic. Here is one tip to support you through this back-to-school season:


The breath is our best ally in managing our feelings. Why? Because slow, extended breathing lowers our heart rate and blood pressure, sending messages to the brain that our stress response can ease up.

-- Check to see how you currently breathe. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. We automatically breathe more in our chest, but our goal is to shift to belly breathing.

-- Next release your belly muscles and as you inhale, allow your belly to expand. As you exhale, use your belly to gently push the air out of your lungs. This usually feels quite awkward at first!

-- As you notice your thoughts & feelings, keep breathing slowly & thoughtfully. You might even want to count along with your inhale & exhale, to keep that focus on the breath. The mind is an excellent creator of distractions, so it may require a stronger effort initially to stay aware of your breath.


The more you practice, the easier this deep breathing process will become. It may even become your new auto-pilot, bringing with it greater stillness and focus in every moment (not just pandemic survival moments!).




Have you achieved success in your life, only to find that you feel resentful and burnt out? I am passionate about supporting high achievers and perfectionists in finding a sense of ease and balance in their lives. My clients say that I am both fun to work with and provide a truly safe, grounded space for self-discovery. My approach is casual and compassionate, while also being wholly attuned to my client's goals. In our work together, I will utilize a combination of present-focused skills and insight-building questions to guide you in finding your truth. This allows you to skillfully manage your feelings, make choices that align with your values, and find comfort in whatever struggles you encounter. The habitual stress associated with being a powerful go-getter can also lead to health problems.

I enjoy blending mind, body, and spiritual healing modalities to help clients achieve wellness at all levels. if your physical health problems are not stress-related, my holistic style can help you build resilience in the face of chronic pain, illness, or disability. Having been raised in a small California town, I bring the calm of the wide-open spaces to our hectic urban landscape. Whether you’re looking for support for yourself or a teen in your family, I look forward to hearing from you!


Amber is currently accepting online clients. To learn more about her schedule and availability, please call/ text/ email her at 424-254-9565 / Amber@pacificmft.com.

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