Let’s face it, we all have stress, especially nowadays, with the pandemic dividing mankind in sometimes not so positive ways. We can’t help but feel disappointed, anxious, depressed, lonely, lost and out of sorts. Children, just like adults, are also impacted by the challenges of this new life in physical, emotional, and social ways.
We are social beings. Being part of a friend network gives children a sense of belonging and self-worth, it grounds them and helps them feel supported and understood. When children are deprived of the opportunity to see their friends, play and run on a regular basis, it can really affect them.
Don’t be fooled if your kid is quiet, calm, and well behaved during this time. There is a good chance that they are experiencing depression. Perhaps, you have the opposite problem, and your young ones are restless, hyper, loud, and just really challenging to handle.
Both behaviors are symptoms of the same affliction: “stress”. The first course of action is to acknowledge that these feelings are normal and expected (especially right now); don’t fight it. Use these unpleasant feelings as a tool. They are an invitation to take a closer look and get to know the beauty within YOUR CHILD.
Here are some quick fixes that you can use to help get your child (and yourself) out of an unhappy place:
Shaking & Dancing:
With school being out, and children spending their entire day at home with virtual learning, it’s very easy to forget how important physical activity is for them, especially if you have girls. Boys are naturally more active, and prone to running, climbing, and playing sports than girls are. But they both need to move and shake their bodies regularly in order to maintain a healthy mind. It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on the body through exercise does relieve mental stress.
I would recommend that you make an exercise schedule in your home, where all family members can engage in a physical game that involves moving, dancing, and perhaps also singing. The goal of singing is to focus on your breath. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers. So dancing, running, singing, whatever physical & fun activity you can do at home, you should make it a daily routine.
The body responds in essentially the same way to made-up imagery as it does to real experiences. Positive, relaxing images are an essential tool for relieving frustration and finding happiness. This is why I like to practice guided meditation. By going within and imagining beautiful things, successful outcomes and personal accomplishments, you are transported to a new world of possibilities and gain new hope. This transforms your feelings of helplessness, frustration, or sadness, and fills you with optimism and enthusiasm for the things to come. I strongly recommend practicing guided meditations with your child whenever you notice they are feeling blue, stressed or hopeless.
Breathing deeply is the easiest and fastest way out of anxiety or depression. We do it all day, every day, and yet we often forget the healing powers that breathing has. Deep breathing slows down the heart rate, and lowers the blood pressure, which is the ideal recipe for inner peace. So, next time you see your child (or your spouse) irritated or cranky, try sitting with them and invite them to “Breathe” with you. You can make this into a game, encourage them to take deep long breaths through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
One thing that I always like to incorporate while I am doing this exercise, is to imagine that with each inhale I am bringing in happiness and bliss into my life. And every exhale is eliminating every feeling, event or experience that is unpleasant to me, like fear, anger, scarcity, insecurity, boredom, etc… This is a very powerful exercise! I strongly recommend you try it next time you need to reboot.
In addition to these 3 quick fixes for stress, I would also encourage you, as a parent, to start a ‘Self Care & Self Appreciation” routine in your home. Gratitude, heartfulness and appreciation are the key to a harmonious and pleasant life. Here are three things that you can start doing daily that can help you develop a grateful heart and happy disposition.
- The Appreciation Game: Look for things to appreciate in every situation. A powerful exercise for building your appreciation muscle is to take 7 minutes every morning to write down all the things that you appreciate in your life. I recommend implementing this as a daily ritual for the rest of your life. When you actively seek the positive, you become more appreciative and optimistic, which is a requirement for attracting more good into your day.
- Create a Victory Log: Keep a written record of your daily successes. It can be as simple as a running list in a notebook or a document on your computer, or it can be as elaborate as a leather-bound journal. By recalling and writing down your successes each day you log them into your long-term memory, which enhances your self-esteem and builds your self-confidence.
- Create Your Ideal Day: Before you go to bed, every night, spend 5 to 10 minutes visualizing the entire day going exactly as you want it. Visualize everyone being there when you call them, all your errands being completed with ease, and so on. See yourself performing at your best in every situation you will encounter during the next day. This will give your subconscious all night to work on creating ways to make it all happen just as you have visualized it.