The best strategy for anxious kids, a toolbox!
Worrying is a normal feeling that we all have. It is a natural response to stress. However when your anxiety takes over your daily thoughts and impacts your everyday life then it could be something more than just worrying.
When my oldest was 4-5 yrs old I remember her complaining a lot of stomachaches. All. the. time. We did countless numbers of tests and every test result came back normal. Finally a doctor suggested to me that she could have anxiety. At 3-5 yrs old it is difficult for a young toddler to articulate how they are feeling. Often anxiety can manifest in physical symptoms.
- Stomach pain
- Biting nails
- Picking at skin
- Sleep disturbances
Now I know that some of these "symptoms" are common for this age group, however if you have more of these symptoms on a regular basis its a good idea to chat with your doctor.
After 15 years of helping my daughter manage her anxiety I have learned a few tips and tricks.
A tool box for coping with anxiety.
A few things you need in your toolbox are feathers, bubbles, pinwheel, weighted blanket and a teddy bear. One of the best things you can teach your anxious child is how to breathe. Deep belly breaths are the best thing to slow down your racing heartbeat which will help calm your mind.
Teddy Bear: I always suggest starting with a teddy bear or their favorite stuffed animal. Have them lay down on the floor on their back. Place the teddy bear on their belly. Take a big belly breath and make the bear move up while your breathing in. As you exhale watch the bear go down. This is a perfect way for kids to learn big belly breaths.
Bubbles: Practice taking a big belly breath and slowly blowing bubbles. If you blow to hard or fast the bubbles pop, so big slow belly breaths are perfect.
Feather: Practice taking a big belly breath and try to blow the feather up in the air.
Pinwheel: Practice taking a big belly breath and slowly blow the pinwheel and watch it spin. While it is spinning talk about the colors and what else can you name with those same colors. "I see orange and blue. What else is orange and blue?"
Coloring: Print out their favorite coloring page and color. coloring is very therapeutic.
Learning breathing techniques are so incredibly helpful for kids that are feeling overwhelmed. The key is to practice them daily. Don't wait until they are already very worried. It is much harder to calm down.
My last tip to help manage anxiety is distraction. I would have to say that breathing techniques and distractions are my daughters best coping skills. Her favorite distraction tip is the 5,4,3,2,1 technique. It is very simple but has a huge impact. It serves to somewhat "snap" their mind out of what is worrying them. This is how it works.
If after going through the 5,4,3,2,1 and they are still feeling anxious repeat it but have them go a little slower. Ask them to elaborate.
These are a few of our tried and true coping skills for when anxiety gets to be overwhelming. Give them a try and let me know which is your favorite. Anxiety does not have to take over your little ones days.
I am not a doctor. This blog was created to share what I have learned as a mother to 4 kids. 2 of which suffer from generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks and major depressive disorder. This was created for informational purposes only and should not be used in exchange for medical advice.
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We are all to familiar with the uncomfortable feeling of stress and anxiety. Your heart races, palms sweat, nausea, maybe even dizziness. Something has triggered your fight or flight response. Sometimes it is something so out of left field and sometimes it is something that happens regularly. A trigger that sets your emotions into a frenzy. Having dealt with anxiety my whole life I have come up with 9 surprisingly easy and natural ways to manage stress and anxiety.
1.Vitamins and supplements
Often times our bodies are missing essential vitamins. This may seem like something so simple but it is often overlooked. One to consider is vitamin D. With sunscreen in lots of products it is very well possible you can be deficient in Vitamin D. The sun is what helps our vitamin D levels. Check with you healthcare provider for testing to make sure you are not lacking important vitamins.
2. Cut back on caffeine and sugar
Don't kill the messanger ;)
I know, I know. Coffee and sugar are the life blood for us moms. However too much of it can wreck havoc on our bodies. Caffeine is a stimulant. Stimulants can increase anxiety. Talk to your health care professional about sugar alternatives. Some are better than others. I will let you in on a little secret. I was a HUGE soda lover. Coca-Cola to be exact. The way I kicked my soda habit was to switch to flavored soda water and adding a splash of juice. Then you are getting the fizzy bubbles thats in soda and a little sweetness from the juice. Eventually I was able to switch just to flavored sugar free soda waters. Another great option is my red drink. If you know you know. Click this link to read about it. ;)
4. Self Care
People who have trouble saying ‘no’ or being assertive often place others’ needs before their own. Mothers are usually at the top of the list for poor self care. When you take a flight, what is the first thing the flight attendants tell you? “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.” Try to remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be less effective as a parent, spouse/partner, employee and friend. Some of my favorite self-care activities are reading in my devotional book. Every morning I wake up about 10 minutes before everyone else, grab a cup of coffee and read one chapter in my daily devotional. Those few minutes of "me time" have become my favorite part of the day.
Exercise is a fabulous stress reducer. Studies show that just 30 minutes a day 3-5 times a week can lower your anxiety. When stress affects the brain your body feels it. It only makes sense that if your body feels better then your brain will too. Another great option for exercise is yoga. Something as little as 5 minutes a day will have an impact on your stress and anxiety levels.
6. Eat Clean
It only stands to reason that if your diet is filled with highly processed foods, fast food and other less than healthy foods, then it is bound to have a negative impact on your daily life. Although there are no specific studies to show which diet will help anxiety managing what you eat can help. The connection between nutrition and mental health is critical. You may need to begin with supplements to get back on track, but if you eat more fruits and veggies, you will begin to get the nutrients you require for good health and mental health with less supplements. Fast food and restaurant eating should be avoided most of the time, and chosen carefully if you decide to indulge. Explore food allergies or sensitivities – it can make a huge difference.
8. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfullness is the practice of living in the moment. Being fully engaged and completely free from distractions. I challenge you to stop and think about how many times you are actually present in the moment. I think you will be surprised at how often your thoughts race to what is happening tomorrow or what happened yesterday.
I hope these 9 surprisingly easy ways to deal with stress and anxiety help you. The next time that feeling of stress or anxiety starts to creep in try one of these 9 things mentioned above. I am no therapist or mental health professional. These are tips and tricks that have helped myself and my daughter. We both struggle with anxiety. I would love to have you join my amazing facebook group. Where we talk about the challenges of mental health and how we can all support and lean on each other. You can find us over in Moms Seeking Purpose. I'd love to have you.