by Lori Lite, Founder of Stress Free Kids
Holidays were originally designed to be relaxing, merry and bright, but the reality is that most of us associate holidays with stress. The economy is adding extra restrictions on gift giving and children still have high magical expectations. With a little bit of effort we can turn stress off and turn on deeper connections with our children and teens, good health, and relaxation. We can use this holiday season to shift our focus and bring the merry and bright back into the holidays.
- Slow down. I don’t know anyone that can rush and feel stress free at the same time. Children are especially prone to meltdowns when asked to rush. Leave extra time for the purpose of moving slowly and focusing on your breathing. Enjoy the moment.
- Give your family a better understanding of the economic climate and why their holiday gifting expectations may need to be adjusted. Rent Kit Kittredge: An American Girl for a family movie night. Everyone will be reminded to appreciate family.
- Bring creativity and music into your home. Place musical instruments like jingle bells, maracas, and tambourines on the coffee table. A box of fun hats and reindeer antlers in the living room and let the creativity and stress management begin. Join in the fun and lead a parade around your apartment or house. Laugh and you will enjoy less stress and more joy. Children want your time more than presents. (I have had teens enjoy both hats and instruments and they always film it. Just pretend you are not watching and their imaginations take flight.)
- Be aware of your language. It is easy to become negative during the holidays. Use positive statements and affirmations like, “I am happy, I am calm, I am thankful, I am healthy.” Encourage children and teens to write their own affirmation and stick it on their pillow or mirror.
- Cold weather brings lots of opportunities to get outside. Take the kids on a walk to look for elf tracks in the snow. Leave a container of water outside to invite Jack Frost to visit. Use the cold air as an aid to teach children how to use relaxation or diaphragmatic breathing. (Foster sibling bonds by letting your teen take the lead looking for elf tracks. You will be surprised at how much fun they will have when mom is not around.)
The following excerpt is from Sea Otter Cove: A Relaxation Story. This story is also available on the Indigo Ocean Dreams CD and in Spanish. To see your breath hit the cold air, breathe out through your mouth and say ahhhh….
The sea child told the sea otter to breathe in through his nose and out through his nose. He focused all of his attention on the tip of his nose.
They both did this breathing together.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.
In 2, 3, 4… out 2, 3, 4. In 2, 3, 4… out 2, 3, 4.
The sea child told the sea otter that he could breathe this way whenever he felt angry or scared or nervous. He could focus on the air moving in and out of the tip of his nose, and he could feel calm. The sea otter placed his hands on his belly, and felt it lift up and down as the air moved in and out. For a few moments they both did this breathing together.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
In 2, 3, 4… ahhhh 2, 3, 4. In 2, 3, 4… ahhh 2, 3, 4.
The sea child’s mind began to wander. She imagined that her thoughts were a feather as she blew them away with her next breath out. She focused her attention on her breath again as she drew in a breath of warm fragrant sea air.
She liked the way it felt to quiet her mind.
She focused on the way the air felt moving in and out of her nose. She felt her belly lift up and down as the sea child and the sea otter continued to breathe together.
In 2, 3, 4…ahhh 2, 3, 4. In 2, 3, 4… ahhh 2, 3, 4.
In 2,3, 4…out 2,3,4.
Teens can learn deep breathing with Indigo Teen Dreams CD.
Stress Free Kids founder Lori Lite has created a line of books and CDs designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Ms. Lite’s books, CDs, and lesson plans are considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, and yoga instructors. Lori is a certified children’s meditation facilitator and Sears’ Manage My Life parenting expert. For more information visit Stress Free Kids and for daily advice follow Lori on Twitter and Facebook.