Do you experience anxiety in your everyday life? Have you ever wondered how many different tasks an adult is called to complete every day? Have you ever wondered how many different tasks a child/adolescent is called to complete every day? Are we all doing too much? Are we giving ourselves (and our children) a hard time? Let’s talk about anxiety!
Here are 10 Techniques to help you and your child cope with everyday anxiety:
1. WRITE IT OUT
Write it out and then throw it away, a study that was done in 2012 and Published in the journal “Psychological Science” suggests that the physical act of writing our worry down and then discarding that piece of paper, helps us to remove the thoughts that make us anxious.
So, next time that you or your child is anxious, take a moment to write the feelings or thoughts on a piece of paper and then throw it away or burn it down. It’s a pleasant habit that you can introduce to your everyday life to improve the feelings of anxiety. Test it out for at least 21 days and let me know how well it works for you. I am trying this tonight so i can get a good night sleep.
2. HAVE A TALK WITH YOURSELF
Recognise the thoughts that cause the feelings of anxiety. This is based on Aaron Beck’s theory, a behavioural Psychologist (the therapist who practices the well known CBT). Ask yourself if the anxiety you are experiencing at the moment is due to factors like:
– Jumping to conclusions
– Paying attention only to the negative details of the situation instead of the positive.
– Magnifying the negatives and minimising the positives of the situation,
– Personalising, assuming you are responsible for problems you are not.
– Externalising, putting the blame for the situation on someone else when you are the one responsible.
Beck’s theory is very interesting and it might give you information that will help you deal with everyday struggles. Depending on the age of your child you can help them use this method to recognise the cause of their anxiety too.
3. SELF CARE
Physical touch releases oxytocin, with is very well known as the “feel-good” hormone. We instinctively tend to hug someone who feels anxious or worried and we tend to do that a lot with younger children. So next time you feel anxious or worried do this (hug yourself) you can do this very discreetly by folding your arms and squeezing your body in a nice way. And of course you can teach this to your kids, it’s simple, effective and they can learn that really fast because hugging is something that comes to us naturally anyway.
Furthermore you can rub your ears, that’s what Chinese acupuncturists suggest, and using gentle pressure squeeze them for about five seconds each time. That’s another thing that kids can do easily especially if you pass it on to them as a “game”.
4. UNDERSTAND ANXIETY
Learn about the physical symptoms that worry can cause. Familiarise yourself or the child with the changes occurring in our bodies when we worry. Our heart rate increases, the breathing gets faster, we sweat, we want to go to the bathroom more often. If we are aware of these physical symptoms of anxiety it becomes easier for us to recognise them and use the techniques we learn now, in order to fell better.
5. UTILISE YOUR BODY
Studies have shown that people who practice yoga experience uplifting feelings that help them cope with anxiety. If you are not familiar with yoga, yet again slow methodical stretching can help, as well as breathing slowly and focusing on the circle of your breath.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can also be used which is a combination of tapping the acupressure points along with verbalising the negative emotions. This is the ultimate way for me to reduce anxiety and children love it!
Last but not least, exercise can help too. During exercise we release endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals in our bodies. Physical activity also helps our bodies to cope when anxiety kicks in. That’s why we say a healthy mind in a healthy body.
6. DISCONNECT TO RECONNECT
Modern technology is adversely correlated to stress, especially in children. Do yourself a favour to spend some days – a Sunday for example- without computers, smart-phones, videogames and take that time to be more creative. You can do things like, crafts, drawing, decorating, baking which are very relaxing and don’t depend on technology. Children might not like this idea but it’s definitely going to help them sleep better and manage their anxiety better.
7. USE WATER
We tend to ignore it but we are made 70% out of water and our brains are 85% water. Drink your water! Dehydration will simply cause us anxiety on it’s own because it’s unnatural to live without water. Furthermore, dehydration dosn’t help the brain and that makes the anxiety symptoms worse. Simple, small change, but so important to our wellbeing. For the children, ask your doctor how much water they have to drink according to their age and body-type. Help them to consume water in any way they can. (Juice, smoothies, soups, herbal teas, give them a nice bottle that they want to use all the time and keep a glass of water next to their desk or bed-site table).
Another way to benefit from water is to take a bath, or a shower. Hydrotherapy has been used for centuries to cure and prevent deceases. Teach your kid to take a short shower wherever they feel anxious to help them feel better. And of course remember to do that too! ( Calm parents, raise calm children).
8. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness can be practiced in various ways. From focusing on your breath and breathing slowly and deeply to observe your thoughts. A very useful technique is called the “Train of thoughts”. In this technique you imagine your thoughts like trains, coming to a busy station. Sometimes they will slow down and pass by; and other times they will make a stop at the station for some time. If a thought stops at the “station” (your mind), breath slowly until the train pulls out of the “station”. This is a method that works equally well with adults and children. In my practice i find it very easy to pass it on to children and i encourage them to use it daily. This also teaches us that we don’t have to fight every thought that occurs to us. Some thoughts just pass and some need to stay with us for a while before we release them.
Listen to music, play the music, dance or meditate with it. Challenge yourself to start dancing to your favourite song every time you worry. I promise the worry will seem much smaller after the first moves. Same applies to children!
Also, listen to the uplifting words of another person. They can be motivational talks, recorded affirmations or simply call someone who can give you that sort of input. I’m a big fun of recorded positive affirmations, so i encourage you to record yours and listen to it at every opportunity. Remeber, very often anxiety is caused by a negative internal monologue.
10. EMBRACE THE ANXIETY
Let yourself know that this too shall pass. One of the greatest lies the anxious brain tells is that we well feel anxious forever. It’s physically impossible to be anxious all the time and it usually lasts for a few minutes.
Also, feelings of anxiety, stress, worry are part of our humanity. These responses are there for a reason, to protects us and keep us safe in situations we are not familiar with. So let yourself (and your child) know that there is nothing wrong with experiencing anxiety. It’s part of living a normal balanced life!
Have a pleasant peaceful day and remember that you can have it All.