Thanks to Dr. Charlotte Reznick, author of Imagery for Kids. With the holidays right here and now, here are some great simple activities to help the entire family.
From Imagery For Kids archives, and now on the Huffington Post, a wonderful reminder how to have stress-free holidays for the whole family.
By Dr. Charlotte Reznick
Although holiday time means presents and no school for most American kids, it can also be a stressful time – particularly in families facing financial challenges, in split or blended families, and in families where a loved one has recently passed away.
One of the first steps for parents is to realize how much stress kids are under – much of it related to the economy and school. A recent American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found that while 45 percent of teens and 26 percent of tweens said they were under more stress this year, less than a third of parents even noticed their kids’ increased worry.
And their worry is affecting the quality of their lives: 42 percent of teens and 30 percent of tweens report headaches; 49 percent of teens and 39 percent of tweens cite difficulty sleeping; 39 percent of teens and 27 percent of tweens say they eat too much or too little.
Here are 7 simple holiday stress-reducing strategies that can make a difference:
Visualize a heart-filled holiday: You can do this one at the dinner table. Have everyone in the family close their eyes, focus on their heart, and imagine what kind of holiday will bring joy into their heart. Then share your ideas around the table. This helps kids feel listened to, cared for, and included.
Give the gift of calmness: Ancient wisdom and modern research point to the calming effects and health benefits of slow, deep breathing. Make a regular practice of taking 1 to 5 minutes each day of relaxing “balloon breathing.” Breathe in to a count of 3 about 2 inches below the navel, imagining there’s a balloon filled up with air, and out to that same slow count. It’ll center and rebalance every family member to face the joys and inevitable disappointments of the holiday season.
Offer distress a voice: If this is your child’s first holiday without a loved one – grandpa passed away, or big sister is in Afghanistan – younger family members may feel a deep sense of loss. Or maybe your child is feeling the stress of a recent divorce. Give her paper and markers, and ask her to draw whatever is making her sad or mad. Then ask her what the picture wants to say out loud. Often, putting a face on an emotion and letting it “speak” makes the child feel better – and gives the parent a way to understand what’s going on.
Sweat is sweet: Kids (and adults) can get all pent up during the holiday time. Surprise little ones by clearing the furniture out of the center of the room, turning on some fun music, and dancing vigorously for 10 minutes. Or bundle up the family and take a wintry walk while playing “I Spy.” Exercise releases feel-good chemical and is one of the fastest ways to chase away holiday blahs and instill a sense of togetherness.
Blow out negativity, light up hope: Create a family ritual of hope. Have two candles for each family member: one lit, one not. Have each imagine what they’d like to let go of – what no longer serves them – and say, “I’m going to toss this out (anger, worry, meanness to my sister) when I blow this candle out.” Then light a new candle and share, “I hope to bring in (kindness, faith, cleaning my room) as I light anew.” Let go of the old and bring in the new. You can use one candle to symbolize all, or light up your whole home with several.
Click here to read entire post.
By Dr. Lynn Hellerstein, Colorado Optometrist in Vision Therapy & Visual Processing