7 Techniques to help young children deal with stress.
Stress from schoolwork and external factors has many negative effects on developing children.
Sometimes the young life of a busy schoolkid can be overwhelming – school work, sport, culture, other extracurricular activities, family, friends and everything in between… We feel stressed out and we just want life to give us a chance to take a breath. Yet, life doesn’t stop for anyone! It is our responsibly to find ways how we can cope with stress and still be our happy and unique selves.
William James said: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” We are in control of our thoughts and we can definitely control our stress levels when they get out of hand. Here are 7 easy techniques to help you deal with stress.
1. Manage your time.
Most people tell children and teenagers to “manage their time”, but no one really shows them how. Our third blog from January 15th, 2018 - ‘4 Tips to help you set up a schedule for a successful school year’ tells you everything you need to know about setting up a schedule. Other than setting up a schedule for your school work, study time and extracurricular activities, you also need to set out a time to rest. This can be anything from a 15 minute break to a full day over the weekend to do nothing but to recharge.
Manage your time by getting well organised. Keep a journal where your activities (and the required time) is written out. If you realise that you have too many activities in a week, it may be a wise decision to cancel one or two activities. It isn’t worth it to make yourself sick over stress from not being able to do everything, because you will eventually end up doing nothing!
When you manage your time, remember to only focus on the things you really can control. Sometimes we can stress so much about the uncertainties and then play out stressful scenarios in our heads over everything that can possibly go wrong, and then we forget why we want and need to do it in the first place. Choose to release those thoughts and only focus on that which you have power over. You have the power over many things – such as your productivity and what you waste time on.
2. Take care of your body.
Physical exercise is one of the greatest stress relievers in the world. That’s because the hormone endorphin is produced when you exercise. Endorphin is a feel-good hormone that makes you happy. When you are happy you automatically feel less stressed and will perform better regardless of the heavy workload. Stretching or Yoga is also wonderful for stress relief because you loosen the tension in tight muscles. Try this simple stress-relief stretch: Lie flat on your back and lift your legs to rest against the wall to form an L-shape with the wall and floor. This helps relief tension in your hamstrings and lower back (where you store a lot of stress during the day when you sit at your desk).
Massages help to release trapped stress and other toxins in your body. You can either go for a massage with a trained massage therapist or even just give yourself a hand, neck or foot rub. Your feet store a lot of stress since it has pressure points where the nerves connect. Take a golf ball or any small ball and simply place one foot over the ball and press gently on it. Roll your foot over the ball in circles to start to relieve the pressure.
It’s not only important what you do on the outside for your body, but also what you put inside your body. There are many foods and drinks that relief stress. We have listed some below, but it is certainly not limited to only these:
Asparagus, Avocado, Blueberries, Almond and Cashew Nuts, Oranges, Salmon, Spinach, Garlic, Oatmeal, Chamomile Tea, Dark Chocolate (it regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and stabilizes your metabolism), as well as other foods rich in Magnesium and Omega 3 Oils.
Get enough sleep. Growing children need at least 8 hours of good sleep for recovery after a busy day, for their growth and for their brains to function. Take care of your sleeping patterns. Go to bed and wake up the same time every day.
3. Learn to breathe.
Taking the time to breathe deeply when you’re in stressful situations can lower your stress levels. When you breathe-in deep breaths you allow more oxygen to your brain. This helps your brain think clearer and better thoughts. It also calms down your respiration and allows your heart rate to slow down. Next time you feel stressed, try this breathing technique:
Sit quietly on the floor or your bed with your legs crossed. Begin to inhale deeply – don’t let your shoulders rise, keep your upper body and chest still. Focus only on your breathing. Let your belly fill up with air and pull your diaphragm down. Inhaling should only expand your stomach. While you inhale count slowly from 1 to 4 then hold your breath for 3 counts. Now exhale. Slowly breathe out all the air from your body with an even exhalation. Remember to keep your upper body still. While you exhale count slowly from 1 to 5. Repeat this exercise for a minute and you will already start to feel relaxed.
4. Talk about it.
Sometimes when we feel stressed we tend to close off from our loved ones. It is very important to be able to talk about the stress you experience with someone you love and respect. Tell them what makes you feel stressed. Ask for a hug and for help if your relationship allows it. You can also start writing in a journal about your experiences. This helps your mind to release any cropped up feelings that you are trying to suppress. Simply writing or speaking about it in a safe environment helps to lower your stress levels.
5. Seek the sun.
Spending time in nature will reduce feelings of fear, anger and anxiousness. When you sit in nature for a couple of minutes each day, or even walk with your bare feet on the grass, your physical well-being increases dramatically. It lowers blood-pressure, calms your heart rate and releases tension in muscles and decreases stress hormones.
When you come into contact with direct sunlight your body produces serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate and balance your mood, appetite and digestion, sleeping patterns and memory. Sunlight also gives your body a vitamin D boost that helps build up strong bones. Be cautious of the sun though – 15 to 30 minutes sunlight will have a great effect on your stress levels, but always remember your sunblock!
6. Smell the Roses.
Aromatherapy has proved that certain smells will have a calming effect on people under stress, for example:
Lavender has calming properties and helps control stress, release tension, headaches and depression.
Eucalyptus helps counter mental fatigue and increases energy.
Peppermint relieves pain, increases energy and relaxes the nerves.
Jasmine acts as an anti-depressant, as it produces feelings of confidence and renewed energy.
Cinnamon stimulates concentration and focus and also fights mental fatigue.
Citrus revitalises, reassures and calms the nerves.
If you enjoy any of these smells, get yourself nice smelling bubble bath liquid soap or a scented candle to help you deal with stress.
7. Take a break to do something fun!
To do something fun could mean many things! You don’t always have to be surrounded with friends at a party, spend a lot of money on games or travel far away to have fun! To do something fun could mean to do something you haven’t done before. It could mean to discover hidden talents or to do something you have always wanted to try. Maybe something fun could mean to help out at a dog shelter or seeing family you haven’t seen in a long time. Really listen to your heart and do what is right for yourself.
These 7 techniques will help to reduce stress tremendously. Stress isn’t healthy for you and can have many negative effects later on if left untreated. Always remember to seek professional help if you require it!
Share with us how you deal with stress. Do you light up sweet smelling candles to calm down? Do you enjoy a long walk in nature to relieve stress? If you have a friend or someone that’s close to you that is struggling with stress, share this article with them – you might prevent them from burning out!