Given our current circumstances, there is a thick fog of anxiety and uncertainty floating about. Some children are hearing information from friends, in school meetings, on TV, or maybe even overhearing adult conversations at home. Information is gleaned and stored away in those amazing little brains. It’s what happens with that information that can sometimes be concerning. Age appropriate discussions may help them manage their feelings and give them the tools to deal with these feelings in constructive or positive ways.
Anxiety rears its head in a variety of different ways. Being home, in close quarters and comfortable, you may see it in full force. Anger, grief, what if’s, checking, and worry are all pretty common. Anxiety is broad and may cause or worsen some of those natural feelings. Take it in stride, slow your roll, and give them the safe space they need to feel. Most of all, give them unconditional love!
Here are a few ways to take the edge off and add some peace to your days.
Peace Begins With Me
I first heard this while attending a yoga training class and I thought it was cute. Once I began teaching and repeating it over and over, watching my sweet little yogis repeat it, and then testing it out in times of behavior challenges, I began observing its power. Sure, it’s great to teach the kids, but teach yourself first! Really listen and hear those words, take them to heart.
You are the peace for your child. It’s incredibly difficult to manage or even hide anxious feelings from those littles, they are sponges and soak it in. Sit with yourself; if it’s in bed before you get moving, or even if it’s in the bathroom, practice “peace begins with me.” Those words will rescue you when you need them most.
Being in close quarters has its upsides, but it can be a challenge too! Bring your peace to the day, and remind yourself often. You might even feel lighter and happier. Once you feel it, pass it on.
Do a Mini Meditation
Start with a mini meditation– I’m talking two to three minutes. Feel free to build on this as time goes by, but put no expectation on it; keep it light and enjoyable. During camps or classes, I find after lunch is a good time.
Take a few minutes to clean up, digest and then move over to a wall, together. Find a clear, uncluttered space and a blanket or yoga mat to lie on. Shimmy your bottom toward the wall, facing it, lie down on your back and send your legs up the wall.Take advantage of this time to rest with eyes closed.
With your hands on your belly, count the rise and fall of your tummy, then say those magic words “peace begins with me,” quietly to yourself. Use both hands: thumb to index (peace), thumb to middle (begins), thumb to ring (with), thumb to pinky (me). Repeat it a few times, quietly and then in your mind. You’ll find a rhythm. Notice how you feel. Ask your kids how they feel. What does your body feel like? What are you thinking about?
Maybe the next time you try it, discuss what a mantra is, and how repeating something positive can sometimes help your body and brain to calm. Your body may feel more relaxed in this semi-supine position, and combined with the belly breath and mantra your heart rate should lower, inducing a bit of calm for those anxious feelings.
Breath is the holy grail of help, in my opinion. It can be done privately or anywhere you need it. You can use various methods and it does the job quickly!
If you are able to, start by sitting nice and comfy, tall with legs crossed (think: criss cross applesauce).
Bumblebee breath has a little buzz to it, kids pick up on it quickly. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. While breathing out humm or make a buzzing sound. It’s neat to feel the vibration when you exhale: place your fingers in your ears as you hum or buzz out your exhalation.
5 Finger breathing or take 5 breath is a simple tool for calming. Starting with your thumb, begin tracing with your other index finger on the outer side of your thumb. Breathe in up to the top and out down the inside of your thumb. Breathe in up to the top of your index finger and out on the way down. Continue on with each finger to one last breath in and up the pinky finger and out all the way down.
Bunny breath is usually a winner! Pretend to be a bunny, do some bunny hops pre breathwork, whatever makes it fun. Start with three short breaths through the nose (similar to sniffs) and then one exhale through the nose. As you work on it, practice extending the exhale. A little laughter is a bonus!
Inject a little practical living into the day. Satisfaction and joy from helping and completing tasks can often put the mind at ease. Create a flexible but structured schedule, inclusive of self care and chores. Children often thrive on knowing what comes next.
Moving through a flexibly scheduled day will provide a bit of continuity. Wash your faces and brush your teeth together in the morning, then check it off the list. Maybe assign some helper jobs such as sweeping, dusting, or folding towels. Kids love to wash dishes: if a little mess does not send you into a spiral– let them do it! It’s usually a ton of fun! Jobs your little can do on their own often act as a confidence builders. Praise their awesome work and watch them smile.
Talk About Control
There is not much that can be controlled in a pandemic situation such as this. No school, no play dates…activities cease. The ever-mounting change is bound to make anyone feel a loss of control. Talk about it. Discuss what you are able to control (what’s for dinner, what game you’ll play tonight, etc.) and what is out of your control (coronavirus, school closures, etc.). Let them feel. Let your littles go through their emotions and then teach them a management tool.
Find an outlet for the times that anger, grief, or negative feelings arise in response to loss of control. If your child is feeling sad and powerless, show them warrior pose. When these feelings creep in, teach them to stand strong in warrior. Mountain pose is another strong pose that can help them remember their strength. Squeezing a stress ball or watching a mind jar are not only fun crafts but also great tools for calming and anger management.
Get outdoors! Run, walk, scoot or bike ride. Make note of the trees, looking at the sky, feeling the ground beneath you, the movement of the air, the smells around you. This is a grounding activity that you can take anywhere. Apply the senses to wherever you are, taking a minute to observe and feel with them. Focus tends to be on the senses, in turn reducing anxious feelings.
Calgon, take me away!
Toward the end of the day, a soothing, warm bath can help get bedtime off to a great start. During the day when things get crazy, if you have little ones stuck inside– let them take a bath! Toss in some toys, warm the water and let them chill out. It’s a twofer! Clean and calm. Bigger kids might love Epsom salts (magnesium is a great calming ingredient), or bubble bath might do the trick. Share some positive and happy thoughts or affirmations. A relaxing bath can act as an attitude adjustment!
Keeping flexibility and peace at the forefront of your mind and a few tools in your pocket may clear the fog and set your family up for a bright, beautiful day.