Anxiety, in its simplest form, is your body's natural response to stress. However, the way it manifests is far more complicated than that, and dealing with it can be a tough battle to fight. For children, anxiety can cripple their growth and self-development, but if dealt with correctly, it can be used as a powerful tool to help them understand who they are and what they perceive. Learning to deal with early feelings of separation, social pressure, and irrational phobias overwhelmingly improves a child's ability to learn, make friends, and succeed in life. In this article, we will explore some of the simplest ways to reduce stress and anxiety in children, and how they can be applied to everyday life.
Arts and crafts have been used in therapy for a very long time, and help to reduce and explore anxiety in children and adults alike. Creating things like ‘reminder stones’ to enforce good behaviors and habits, and ‘calm down jars’ to reduce stress and stronger emotions, all contribute to a more stable mind state and better understanding of emotions.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of understanding and dealing with the thoughts and feelings that cross your mind daily. Sound complicated? Well, with a few simple thought exercises, kids can pick up the techniques quite easily. Through guided meditation and a more complete sense of self-awareness, kids can learn to manage and reduce their anxiety more effectively.
Yoga has been found to build self-esteem, reduce stress, and create a safe environment for children to express themselves. Yoga positions and controlled breathing may also improve mood and cognitive function, which overall allows children to feel safer and have less anxiety.
We all know that music has the power to take us away from the world for a little while, and that the right song can make us feel a thousand things. When used in the right way, music can be a powerful tool and a way for children with anxiety to explore and understand their emotions better.
A study in the US found that regular, moderate physical activity, such as walking, hiking, or playing outside, isn’t good just for children’s physical health but for their mental health too. It found they had lower rates of depression, stress and that their cognitive level of health was higher and more developed.
Nature can coincide with most of the other items on thislist and can be a powerful tool to reduce anxiety in its own right. Long walks, fresh air, sunshine, and space, the benefits of being outside are endless. With kids spending more time on screen and inside the house, try and explore the many ways outside space can help!
Once the scourge of parents wanting their children to spend less time in front of screens, studies have now found that a little video gaming can help children (and adults) unwind. Engaging and with often goal set tasks, games nowadays can be gratifying and often educational too. Additionally, there are some fantastic games for the whole family to enjoy too.
Watching a movie, much like reading a good book, can be a true comfort, especially if it's an old favorite where you know every line! There's a host of psychological reasons why losing yourself in a good film can help relieve stress, but aside from that, films can help both adults and children learn and connect with the world around them. After all, these stories are windows to worlds outside our own.
Hugs are amazing. Now, you didn't need us to tell you that, but their fantastic health benefits are being proven more and more with each passing year. The Covid-19 pandemic has only helped remind us how powerful touch, and the lack thereof, can be. A good hug from a loved one will soon help calm many a worry.
You can't beat a good book; it's that simple. Reading is synonymous with relaxing, and that's no different for children. The benefits of reading are many, and not only that, it's fun and educational too. A kid happily absorbed in a book is a quiet and content one. There's a tonne of fantastic series to get them hooked on.
Similarly, audiobooks have seen a massive boom over the past decade and give kids an easy way to get lost in stories on the move. It's never been easier for people to search for a book and stream it within seconds. They're a great way to catch up on the latest releases, learn new things, and entertain yourself.
Our brains are complicated things, and sometimes they just need a little rest. When we are overcome with emotion, it's never a good idea to be feeling under-rested and tired - it's simply fuel to the fire. A little shut-eye is an easy and free way to help your child feel refreshed and focused. The benefits are numerous.
Tai Chi is a series of meditative movements that help enhance physical and mental health, as well as helping improve posture, balance, and flexibility. Originating in China hundreds of years ago as a fighting art, it's recently grown in popularity in the West as a way to relax and find some inner peace. Lessons and basics can easily be found on Youtube, and classes are often held in parks and schools.
This may seem tedious, but showing your child the power of planning and organization doesn't only help give them discipline for adult life, but can help them relax too. Being organized and planning for the future helps provide a feeling of control while making them feel productive and focused - something that anxiety can damage.
About the Author
Sam Walker-Smart is a British culture journalist currently based in Bristol. His work has appeared in CLASH, The Huffington Post, Vinyl Me Please, Barcelona Metropolitan, Little White Lies, and other outlets. He enjoys writing about inclusivity in gaming, fun for seniors, educational apps, and entertainment for all. In his spare time, he enjoys weird folklore, sad songs, and good beer.