My top 9 Stress and anxiety management tips for kids of all ages and abilities (in no particular order).
1. Just Breathe
Try 4 count breathing (or for or younger kids try 3 counts). Breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, breathe out for the count of 4. Repeat 3 more times. When you have become professionals at this, increase the hold and exhale to 5 or 6 counts eventually building up to 4-7-8 breathing. Practise this daily when calm using props like a pinwheel, bubbles or partyblower so that you can move easily into this type of breathing when stressed.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Simply breathe in and tense your feet muscles, breathe out and release the muscles, release the tension. Breathe in and tense your calf muscles, breathe out and release the muscles, release the tension. Continue up the body finishing with a whole body tense and release. This is a great relaxation exercise to teach our kids some emotional regulation as it enables them to realise what their body feels like when it is relaxed as opposed to stressed or tense. For our highly anxious kids, feeling relaxed can actually feel abnormal and they will fight that feeling with all of their being. Script this for them at first so as they can just relax into it without worrying about what happens next. A written script can be found here and an audio clip here.
3. Write it out – Journal it.
Write down exactly how you feel and when. Take note of any patterns that emerge. eg: feeling angry at the same time, on the same day each week. Journaling can help you to identify your triggers so that you can implement suitable strategies. Some ideas for journaling prompts can be found here and further benefits on journalling here.
4. “I am” Statements
Come up with a list of “I am” statements and pin it to the bedroom mirror, fridge door or somewhere where it is easily visible to you. A list of positive “I am” statements can be a great reminder of your positive attributes and goals and can be a real “pick me up” when you are feeling down.
5. Guided Meditation
Listen to a guided meditation or some relaxation music. I have recorded some meditations on my YouTube channel or look up Jason Stephenson for further meditations that really do work. Use these during the day to calm and ground or before sleep at night to help calm those monkey minds and ensure a restful slumber.
6. One Minute Meditation
Simply breathe in and breathe out (breathe into your belly if you can). Just concentrate on your breath. Every time your mind wanders just bring it back to your breath. Breathe in and breathe out. One minute is all it takes to reset the mind and calm the body. Breathe in, one, breathe out. Breathe in, two, breathe out and continue for one minute. YouTube clip can be found here.
Join a local class or gym, follow a YouTube clip or for our younger kids, Cosmic Kids Yoga is a great resource. Cosmic Kids Yoga clips keep the kids entertained through guided stories whilst incorporating breath work, hand mudras, brain gym and of course yoga. See https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga.
8. Emergency Essence
A blend from Australia Bush Flower Essences that promotes healing on a vibrational level. This 100% natural remedy helps to eliminate feelings of panic, stress and fear, providing comfort, assurance and the ability to cope. Made here with colloidal silver as the preservative and available in drops or spray form. More information can be found here.
9. Holistic Counselling
Holistic Counsellors treat the person as a whole, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just treating the symptoms of a condition or behaviour. Not just talk therapy (what kid likes to sit and talk about their emotions with a stranger?) On top of the strategies already mentioned here I also use play, art activities and a host of other strategies and modalities to keep hands busy and minds and hearts open. More information can be found here.
Stay tuned next month for “More Stress Busters for Kids and Teens”, an article outlining further strategies for use at home, school and in any environment.
For a personalised stress and anxiety management plan for your child and family, please do not hesitate to contact me to arrange an appointment.
© copyright. May not be reproduced without acknowledgement to the author. Written by Kim Norton 8th November 2019.