We are definitely living in stressful and challenging times, with the recent coronavirus situation that has suddenly become a major part of our lives. We are all in this together! As COVID-19 has become a source of stress for all of us, it has caused increased anxiety throughout our society. As a mother and an occupational therapist, I wanted to share this to help our community that has been affected by this pandemic.
Stress can affect our mood by giving us a negative attitude, increased irritability, and it may make us feel anxious and depressed. Stressful times might also make us aggressive, or make us withdraw and avoid other people, which can increase anxiety and depression. The following are some somatic symptoms that we as adults and children may face when dealing with stress: difficulties with falling and staying asleep, headaches, feeling restless, teeth grinding, increased heart rate, tensed muscles, and just an overall low energy.
Here are some strategies that may help you and your children to cope with this challenging event:
Practice Positive Affirmations
It may be helpful during this difficult time to practice the use of positive affirmations. Affirmations are statements that we say to our loved ones and to ourselves that are positive that can help improve our mood. There are some great examples of positive affirmations at https://www.thepathway2success.com/101-positive-affirmations-for-kids/.
These are some of my favorites:
Everything will be okay.
I am calm and relaxed.
I start with a positive mindset.
Yoga for Children
Yoga helps improve focus, calming of the mind and body, which helps with self-regulation. In addition, it helps develop skills such as core and upper body strengthening, motor skills/sensory processing development, and bilateral coordination skills. I especially love cosmic kids yoga videos. Yoga exercises can be incorporated as movement breaks during online schooling. I use yoga exercises with my children and they love it! I also love this free resource from teachers pay teachers:
Mindfulness practice has become a popular practice for all ages. It is the practice of focusing our thoughts, feelings, and our sensations on what is happening at the current moment. With practice, mindfulness helps us increase self-regulation, focus, and attention. I particularly like the Calm app and the Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids.
Focusing on our breathing promotes relaxation and helps us to be present in the moment. Kyra Wiley’s breathing exercises and songs are fun, entertaining, and a great source of material that helps kids relax without even knowing it! I’ve used these with my own children, kiddos I work with, and children during my BLT summer camp. These are my favorites:
Snake’s breath: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbL2ypqpoNk
Candle Breath: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Dg6DpXyICY
Just Be song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gj76Ma8zLU
I hope to find these suggestions and resources helpful! Enjoy practicing mindfulness and positive affirmations with your children.