(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
A guide to relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress in kids and teens.
The doctor leaned back in this chair and watched us as we settled into the padded seats opposite him. I glanced quickly down at my son, smiled, and squeezed this arm. We'd run the gauntlet of doctors and tests with no definite answers.
"So..." I began, "Any idea what's causing his ongoing cramping pains and distressing nausea?" I wasn't hopeful.
"Yes. Your son suffers with abdominal migraine."
"Oh.." I felt a little stunned. "I've never heard of it."
"There are various triggers but it's often stress-related. We don't medicate. But regular exercise, maybe swimming, and diet can help. I'll give you a follow-up referral with a specialist who can discuss it with you and formulate a strategy plan."
I hadn't been aware that my son was even stressed. He was quiet but seemed to have no problems at school or with his friends. Mmm..... more talk-time with us and sharing his concerns were in order.
Stress is a real and growing issue for both kids and teens.
After all, their lives are not exactly easy. They’re trying to get good grades, make friends, handle the ever-present social media in their lives and adapt to the changes that are part of growing up.
Most kids have experienced stress at some time, especially in relation to school and test anxiety. And, of course, some stress is a natural response to life changes or events. But stress that is too intense or too prolonged becomes a problem.
Not sure if your kids or teens are stressed or why?
Signs of stress in kids and teens can usually be detected through changes in their behaviours, emotions and reactions. Unfortunately, families today seem to operate on routines and schedules that are full to overflowing with busyness. And that contributes to stress. Additional overstimulation through technology and social media can pile the stress on, too.
How can I help my stressed child?
In general terms, there are simple practices that will help everyone, not just your kids, tweens or teens to handle the stresses of everyday life.
A big one is sleep. Ensuring your kids had sufficient sleep was easy when they were little. And their behaviour certainly let you know if they were over-tired. But this can be an issue for your older kids, too. Although they may want to stay up later and later, they still require a good night's sleep.
Insufficient sleep for these tweens and teens can express itself in stress and anxiety. (Actually, it's not good for anyone.)
A healthy diet is another factor to consider. And this makes a big difference, too. But if your teens are out with friends, the tendency is to grab a fast-food option.. not good for their health or dealing with stress.
Stay connected with your kids. Use meal times to talk about their day and discuss situations that may have been stressful. Maintaining positive relationships with your kids, even if they roll their eyes, helps them deal with stress.
Many people are delighted with the results obtained with relaxing essential oils. Twig+Petal produce a relaxation kit.. (Relaxation Multi-Purpose Oil +Deep Relaxation Bath Salts +Relaxation Room Spray + De-Stress Blend) ...haven't tried it yet, but I do love their Allergy roller. It's so easy to use. (I also like Twig+Petal's focus on producing quality products in small batches with ongoing testing.)
So, essential oils might be worth considering.
But... there are other helpful, specific, age-appropriate activities suitable for any stage of development, from preschoolers to teens... ideas you can use to help kids and teens deal with stress.
Check out the following ideas to help your children develop relaxation techniques to relieve anxiety and stress.
Sharing Relaxation Practices with Younger Children
Sure, it would be tough (almost impossible) to train a toddler to relax for a half hour when they can barely sit still long enough to eat. But even small children can relax and focus if you use movement and sound to make it interesting. It also helps if you provide an inspiring role model by managing stress constructively yourself.
Try these techniques:
1. Make it fun.
Be sure to present relaxation practices as a helpful tool rather than punishment. There is no point in telling our kids to just go to their rooms and rest. Instead, we can encourage them to read or maybe read to them (even better). Books like Flurry of Worry for your young ones are fun to read and help them handle stress and worry. Play some quiet games together. Work on a zigsaw puzzle together or a board game. Don't expect them to spend hours on these more restful activities. Pay attention to your child’s limits so they’ll stay engaged.
2. Keep it brief.
As little as one minute of seated quiet activity can be an achievement for a preschooler. Plan multiple activities so you can switch things around if your child seems to be losing interest: playdough, sticker fun, colouring in, puzzles, lego. Try to plan some restful, quiet family time throughout the week to enable everyone time to relax and reconnect with each other.
3. Deep breathing.
Focusing on their breathing is an excellent starting point at any age.
Ask your child to imagine filling their stomach and chest with air and then releasing it like a balloon. There's also an app to help kids relax and breath deeply- Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame. Calm for kids is another app that focuses on helping kids relax, unwind and fall asleep.
4. Play music.
Does your child have some favourite songs? Take turns singing different parts or ask them to listen for certain notes. There has been plenty of research done and reducing stress is just one of the benefits of listening to music or singing. (Birde media player, designed especially for kids, produce a guided relaxation pack.)
“I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”
5. Share some physical activity
Exercise helps to burn off the stress hormone 'cortison'. So..take a walk. It's a wonderful opportunity to appreciate your surroundings while you’re moving around. Go to the park and identify as many different kinds of flowers, trees or birds as you can. Take a frisbee with you. A large skipping rope is another simple but fun physical activity. Just a simple walk along the beach works wonders. Doing simple exercises together can be fun as well as helpful for reducing stress.
If you’re still looking for something more, see what’s available in your neighbourhood. Check event listings at your local library and other resources to find courses; maybe less physical but equally fun, like photography or gardening classes.
6. Time to journal or colour
Colouring is a rhythmic activity that, regardless of the age or abilities of those involved, will calm the brain and provide relaxing fun. Printable pages or books are available or store-bought options can be easily found.
Sharing Relaxation Practices with Teens
With teens, you can build on the techniques designed for younger children and introduce some new lessons. But the causes of stress can be very different for teens. You will be well aware of the growing stress that teens today experience. Changing relationships with friends can fuel stress. There may be a growing pressure to experiment with drugs or alcohol. They may even be bullied at school and online. They may feel the pressure to achieve high scholastic results especially if they look toward university requirements. They may feel expected to make far-reaching decisions, such as career choices, even though they don't have the life experience to do so.
There are still things you can do and strategies to implement that will help.
7. Set a limit on your teen's activities.
Sure.. it's great if they have skills and interests that they enjoy and may wish to develop. The activities may be wonderful opportunities. But too many activities that take up too much of a teen's time and will result in stress.
Sit down together and list those activities and the time per week/day each activity requires. Determine how much time for rest is needed. Work out a reasonable daily schedule. It may mean that some changes will need to be made. Maybe some activities can be discontinued for a time. But setting time aside for fun and relaxation is crucial.
8. Model Philippians 4:6-7
' Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'
Talk with your teen/s and encourage them to ask for God's will and direction for their lives and the individual challenges they are facing that lead to stress. Pray with them. Talk about times when you have struggled yourself with stress in your life and how God has helped and enabled you to handle it. If your teen can see how you cope with stresses, they will be encouraged in their own lives. Remind your teen that God has promised us peace that seems beyond our understanding. A copy of Reflecting on the Names of Jesus: Jesus-centred colouring book and devotion might be something that might benefit your teen, too.
9. Work on basic problem solving skills.
Stress often results when lots of small problems are unresolved. These, then, can cause mounting stress. Help your teen take a serious look at the problems and identify the underlying issue- why does your teen have difficulty confronting and handling the problem? Then work on the steps needed to resolve each problem. Your teen will develop strong problem solving skills to handle future issues by working through these current problems in a logical and thoughtful manner.
10. Take time to journal
Numerous studies have shown that 15-20 minutes of writing, done daily or a few times each week, reduces stress. Encourage your teen to write about their thoughts and concerns. Take time to reflect on those things that have brightened their day, the unexpected highlights and blessings, and the small but important 'moments that matter'.
A journal is also the perfect place to record and track goals. This can boost your teen's sense of achievement and lessen the stress.
11. Give thanks
It sounds easy. But it's something that needs practice, for all of us. Giving thanks, taking note of the big and small things that have brightened your day or lightened your load is something that we all need to remember. And your teen is no exception.
But it's an activity that really does reduce stress and add joy to your life. It's so easy for us all to focus on problems ahead and stress. We need a regular reminder to stop, discover the gift of the present, thank God... and trust Him for the future.
Nothing seems to help?
Now, you may find that, no matter what you do and how you try to help your teen to instil helpful strategies for handling stress, nothing improves. When that happens, you may need to seek professional counselling services for your teen.
Kids, tweens and teens can benefit from relaxation practices whether you use a modern app or an old-fashioned teddy or cushion to cuddle. Introduce your sons and daughters to positive habits that can help them grow up to be happy and peaceful. Help them see that everyone struggles with stress at certain times in their lives.
But there are many strategies that can help them deal with stress.
What relaxation techniques work for you?
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Help your family discover the Light of Christmas in a new way!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Every year, Christmas seems to arrive in the stores earlier than you expect. Beautiful Christmas displays appear mid-October, Christmas gift ideas fill store catalogues, and glittering ornaments are hung in the specially created Christmas-theme areas.
And that's fine... although I never seem ready for Christmas despite the early reminders and displays. But the Christmas proclaimed in the department stores and shopping centres is not the Christmas that's important to me. And it's not the legacy of Christmas that, by and large, I want for my family. It doesn't reflect the humble stable of the Saviour's birth or the gift of that first Christmas.
The store-bought Christmas is filled with music and joy and fun and feasting and unwrapping endless gifts. I want to help my family unwrap the real joy of Christmas. And I believe that families, like mine, can hear the Christmas story in a new way using creative family-focused devotions.
So I looked at just five such devotional resources and you can check them out, too, below:
So.. first up..
1. All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar
Focus on th Family has produced a beautiful Advent colouring and devotional book. It will help you focus on the anticipation, preparation and celebration of Jesus' birth.
The ongoing enthusiasm for colouring by all ages means the your whole family can be involved.
You'll find beautifully detailed colouring pages with peel-and-stick ornaments, 28 days of faith-filled activities, Scripture readings and an Advent calendar Christmas tree. (You can find a free Advent calendar, too.)
All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar.
2. All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Colour your Way to Christmas
Yes... this is another colouring devotional for Christmas. This publication is by Nancy Guthrie. It includes bonus activities, discussion starters, and kid-friendly colouring pages- Christmas ornaments and decorations.
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
3. Made by Me Nativity
This kit starts by making a great nativity keepsake set. It's included in the kit. But there's so much more...
There are gifts to make and give to friends, family and neighbours. Other faith-building activity suggestions are included: field trips, a Christmas movie makeover and other fun!
And yes, there's more...
Simple kitchen-based mission ideas (cookies, nut baskets, Christmas morning mix) will get your kids up and serving others and discovering Jesus.
Made by Me Nativity
4. Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
Host a kid-friendly Christmas family night with the Christmas Movie Night Kit.
You'll find a read aloud picture book, activities, puzzles and games. The animated Story of Christmas dvd includes sing-along videos of Christmas carols and behind-the-scenes production footage.
Celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with this creative Christmas kit.
Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
5. Advent Journey Colouring Posters
The birth of the Saviour on that first Christmas was news that was shared. This is a big part of the Advent Journey Colouring Posters, too, sharing the Christmas story with friends, family and the community through colouring.
The posters are big.. supersize. Four of the posters measure 3' x 2' and the other two are even bigger- 6' x 2'. So they are wonderful to colour together in groups. It also offers plenty of opportunities to talk and share together while colouring.
Using these posters requires some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to using them. Sure, you can use them for children's ministry groups or teen groups. You can take them to nursing homes to colour in together. Use them following your Sunday services for your church family to colour and enjoy while having morning tea. Schools may wish to use them. Your family might invite friends over for a colouring evening. There is also an accompanying Advent Journey Devotional Guide. So start thinking now... how will you use these wonderful resources for sharing the Christmas story?
Oh.. and the finished posters make beautiful display posters, perfect decorations for large walls, hallways and even stage areas.
Advent Journey Colouring Posters
Take time to explore the real meaning of Christmas with your family with these creative resources. Explore the events surrounding the first Christmas and learn how this season can bring us hope, love, joy and peace.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Exercise and fun. Two words that, for most people, will never go hand in hand.
The fact of the matter is that, as adults, the majority of us do not get our 150 minutes of cardio and two days of strength training every week. This sounds like an impossible task. We are just too busy now, the household chores take priority, the kids need their meals, and by the time everything is done, we are absolutely exhausted and need to get our rest in before it all begins again tomorrow!
And to top it off, we don’t eat as well as we did 30 or 40 years ago. The pull of ready meals and takeaways beats the effort of making a meal from scratch. We just cannot cope with the amount of pressure being put upon us every day.
What is the solution? Making exercise fun! And here’s how you do it…
Play That Funky Music…
Doing any type of exercise, whether you are finally getting to the gym, or dancing at home, is fully enhanced by the addition of music. For the parents that are unable to get out of the house, put a song on that really gets the kids up and moving, and join in with them! Scientifically, they say that the type of music that you enjoy will really affect your workout for the better. So, if you like heavy metal, the speed of that type of music will get your heart pumping faster than Mozart’s Requiem! Disco music, with its steady beats and upbeat rhythms, is far likelier to induce positive exercise than feeling like you can’t go on. Dancing is one of the best forms of cardio, and you only have to look at the ballroom dancers on TV to see how fit they are!
Let’s Go Outside…
There are many benefits to going walking with the family. Not only does walking along different gradients of land help to burn calories more efficiently, but the experience of being outdoors is a more positive one than running idly on the treadmill for 40 minutes and has been proven to release tension and stress. And by doing it before your evening meal, you are working up an appetite as well as improving your digestion.
If being at one with nature isn’t your speed, there are many activities that you can participate in as a family. By scheduling family time, you are not only getting in the desired exercise, but you are bonding over the experience. That doesn’t mean to say that you need to play an overly competitive sport.
There are many other fun activities that you can take part in, such as swimming or, for the uninitiated, Bubble Football -Holleyweb provide zorb-like football suits you can wear and get playing. If the exercise is fun, it won’t even feel like exercise!
There are so many things you can do to inject fun into your exercise routines, and if you enjoy it, you will always want to come back to it.
It’s always challenging for grandparents when their grandkids reach teenhood. After all, they can morph into mini adults who you might not see as often as before. And as for present buying, it can turn into a minefield. After all, it’s challenging to know what’s on-trend nowadays. But there are a few things you can go for which will definitely work for your teens. Therefore, here are some ideas of gifts that your teen grandchildren will love!
It’s hard to go wrong when it comes to food with teenagers. After all, they tend to eat their parents out of house and home when they are in their teens! Although they do have an excuse; they are growing lads and girls. Therefore, if you want to ensure you make the right choice with a gift, you should consider going down the food angle. You could make them a hamper full of all their favorite sweets and chocolates. If they have a sweet tooth, they will absolutely love this present. Or you could even bake them some cookies or muffins. Nothing beats your grandparent’s cooking so they will adore this present! And if your teen is a health nut, you could make healthy snacks for them instead. They will love the fact you are paying an interest in their life and will enjoy the gift.
Teens today are more interested in their appearance than ever before. Therefore, if you want to get the right gift for your teen grandchild, you should go down the grooming route. For girls, any form of body lotions or makeup would definitely be a winner. If you are unsure about which brands they use, go for a voucher they can use to buy some new makeup. And as for boys, you should opt for some shaving sets which are a must have once they have hit puberty! You can find out about the best ones on ManlyMatters, and other similar sites. Otherwise, some cologne would go down well with your teen grandchild. As we said before, they will love that it will help them to stand out!
You will find that your teen is always talking about some singer or band that they love. After all, music is a big part of their lives. Therefore, you should go for something music related for a gift that they will love. For one thing, you could always look to see if their favorite performer is on tour soon. You could put some money towards the ticket so that they can go see them live in concert. Or you might even choose to go for some music vouchers so that they can buy some tunes from Apple store. After all, they won’t use a CD if you buy it from the store. Therefore, it’s best to give them a voucher which they can use to download some new tunes!
And although it’s a tricky one, clothes could be a good present idea. Just make sure you check their size and the stores they like to go in before making a purchase. It might be wise to go for a voucher instead so they can choose what they like to buy from their store!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
'An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.' - Henry David Thoreau
The bright sunshine in Australia is beautiful but intense for most of the day. It makes for a wonderful holiday destination, brilliant beach snapshots, and plenty of solar energy. But it's also really important to wear a hat, sunglasses and 30+ SPF sunscreen, frequently applied.
Although my grandmother was accustomed to cooler, softer English days, without exception, she would venture out for her daily walk despite the heat. Did it harm her? No.. she lived well into her 90s. In fact, current research would indicate that her daily walking habit probably contributed to her longevity.
We were designed to walk for miles and miles to hunt and gather our food. Yet, in modern society, we spend most of our time sitting down. That is not good for our bodies leading to a host of health problems. This is probably one of the most important reasons to make an effort to move around and go for a walk each day. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
How can walking help me?
Research indicates that walking offers great health benefits, from helping you to lose weight and to de-stress to lowering your blood pressure and BMIs. And although it's seen as a convenient and easy 'keep fit' option, it can be difficult to develop a daily walking habit.
Most of us sit for our work, we eat sitting down, and to be honest all we want to do when we come home from work is plop down on the couch for a Netflix marathon until bedtime.
In other words, getting and staying in the habit of going for a walk each day can be a bit of a challenge. But that’s exactly what we need to do. We need to get in the habit of going for that walk just like we’re in the habit of brushing our teeth twice a day or taking out the trash on Tuesdays. Once it’s a well ingrained habit, it won’t be as much of a challenge to make sure we go for a walk each day.
Okay, how can I begin?
A great place to start is to find a walking route you enjoy. It helps to make it as easy as possible. Your favourite walk may offer beautiful vistas, but if it’s a 30 minute drive there and back, you’ll be less likely to do it every single day. Instead, save that walk for the weekends and come up with something convenient and pleasant for your everyday walking routine. If you can, find a route in your own neighbourhood so you can leave right from your front door. Just lace up your shoes and start walking.
Challenge yourself to walk faster or with less effort
Taking the same route every day helps form that habit. It’s also encouraging to notice that you can walk the same loop faster or with less effort over time. It proves that you're making a difference and are getting stronger and increasingly more fit.
Make the time enjoyable by listening to music or a favourite podcast
Listening to your favourite music, podcast or audio books is also helpful. It will make the time go by faster and give you something else to look forward to. You can even use your favourite media as a way to bribe yourself to go for your daily walk. Let’s say you have a couple of podcasts you enjoy. Save them for your walks and only let yourself listen to them while you’re walking. It’s a great incentive to get out there even on days when you’re not feeling it.
Make it social
Last, but not least, consider walking with other people. Find a walking group in your area, or talk a friend or neighbour into becoming your walking buddy. Not only is it more fun to walk when you have someone to talk to, it also has some built in accountability. It’s much harder to skip a walking workout when you know that other people are waiting for you and relying on you to join them. A growing number of walking groups are meeting at the local shopping centre. It's air conditioned and flat, making walking comfortable, fast and easy.
Download an app to measure your progress
There is a growing number of apps that can encourage you and help develop your walking habit. Use these apps to map and measure your walks, set walking goals, earn rewards, and share your achievements with friends. Check out the readers choice awards for walking apps before downloading.
Why not take your smartphone with you and share your walk on social media? Develop your photography and Instagram skills with a quick online course and enjoy sharing amazing images from your walk.
Give these tips a try and see if they help you make walking a daily habit and an integral part of your health, your fitness, and your life. Download and print the free infographic below. Mount it on your fridge or noticeboard. Refer to it regularly for inspiration and encouragement.
*Choose a simple route for your first walk.
*Check with your friends and family and find a walking buddy.
*Choose your favourite music or podcast to listen to while walking.
*Download a walking app to measure your progress and share your achievements
*Do you wish you could find time to refuel your tank, improve your health, invest more into your family, or even just to slow down and breathe? Take the 14-Day Make Over My Mornings online course now!
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*Find more ideas and inspiration in the articles below.
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Make the most of your home with these fun activities
At this time of year, we all find ourselves spending more time indoors. The cold weather sets in, and suddenly it can feel like we’re hibernating. But how do you keep the family entertained on those cold days? Before you go putting the television on, consider these fun indoor activities instead. Here’s how to make the most of those winter evenings.
For a hands-on activity that involves the whole family, why not decorate a room in the house? This is one of those jobs that, for one reason or another, we never quite get around to doing. But grabbing a brush and repainting the kitchen can be rewarding, even therapeutic. And if you make a game out of it, it can even be fun. Give everybody a wall to paint, and see whose comes out best.
Play a Board Game
These days, we seem to have almost forgotten about board games. But playing a board game is a tried-and-tested way to fill a rainy afternoon with guaranteed fun. Or if that’s not your cup of tea, how about a game of cards? You could even put your heads together and try to come up with a new card game. Attempting to think of rules which nobody has thought of before can be a surprisingly creative act!
If you think karaoke is for the nightlife, think again! There are a host of ways to bring the atmosphere of a karaoke night to your living room. What’s more, it is probably cheaper than you think to do so. Set up and start singing for a rocking evening.
Here’s a sure way to get the whole family excited. Spend a day baking all your favourite treats - and the kids’ favourite treats, too. Bake some chocolate chip cookies or gingerbread if you’re feeling naughty. Or be kinder to everybody’s teeth by using sugar free recipes as delicious alternatives. Either way, keep that oven going and you’ll be warm in no time.
Drawing or Painting
Next time you’re all stuck indoors wondering what to do, why not have an art class in your home? It’s surprisingly easy to set up a still life scene for all the family to draw. What better way to get the creative juices flowing? All you need is a fruit bowl, some fruit and a few good pencils.
If all else fails, how about this for a unique solution to the kids’ boredom? All it takes is a few hidden treats around the home and a timer! With the right attitude, every member of the family will soon find themselves raring to go. For a fun and energetic way to bond with your family, this is a hard one to beat.
So remember: being indoors doesn’t mean you have to be bored. The next time the weather forces you inside for the day, get all the family together with one or two of these fun activities. You’ll be wishing for more cold weather before you know it!
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Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.