Let's find the calm in the storm!
To say we are all experiencing anxiety right now is an understatement. As a free gift for joining my email list, I want to offer you a quick mindfulness activity the whole family can participate in to reduce anxiety and feel more connected to each other.
This activity works best when you fully participate, side-by-side with the child in your life. Give this a try today and take action to find your calm!
Reducing anxiety starts with acknowledging the uncomfortable feelings in our body, and giving them the space to exist without pushing them away, distracting, or numbing ourselves. Anxious thoughts set off the body's alarm system. The alarm system is a messenger, and it has a purpose.The path to feeling better is to honor it's message and acknowledge these feelings. Our anxiety could be a sign that something in our life is out of balance. Get curious about your anxiety and remind yourself and your children, that anxiety is our body's way of communicating to the brain that something is not quite right.
On the flip side, sometimes our body's alarm system goes off even when there is nothing to be afraid of in the moment. This is typical for anyone with a history of abuse and neglect, especially during stressful times in life. Our brain's job is to protect us from threats with an ancient form of defense that was designed to fight, freeze, or flee from lions, tigers, and bears. In our modern day culture our defense system can easily be triggered into one of these modes of protection without an obvious cause.
If you or the children in your life are struggling with anxiety, give this activity a try and notice how you and they feel and behave afterwards.
Download and print the coloring page at the top of this page (isn't he cute?) This is a page from my children's book, A Grandfamily for Sullivan
Find a quiet place to sit with your child & turn off distractions
Tell the child that sometimes we all have uncomfortable thoughts and worries and that it can help to let the feeling come, and let the feeling go
Ask the child if he has any uncomfortable feelings or worries he can write down inside the clouds in coloring page. You can help the child with this if they are too young to write
Ask him to close his eyes and picture a cloud in the sky with his uncomfortable feeling labeled across the front. Ask him to imagine the cloud hanging over him for several moments
Ask the child where he feels the emotions in his body
After he identifies the location in his body, ask if he can imagine the cloud drifting pass him in the sky until it fades into the horizon.
If the child has more than one worry or uncomfortable feeling you can repeat this activity until each feeling has been acknowledged.
I encourage you to take part in this activity simultaneously with the child. The key to success is being present and available to accept the hard emotions that arise without trying to fix it or distract yourself or the child from the pain. Allowing your emotions to resonate in your body instead of avoiding/distracting yourself can help the feeling pass more quickly.
Turn into the pain. Feel it to heal it. Allow the children to cry with you!
Validating their emotions and being present with their behavior in an accepting way can help to build trust in adults and the courage to face emotions instead of running away.
I hope this exercise brings you some peace during this time of uncertainty. I look forward to continuing to learn about you and your family as we explore the world of mental health together.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions.
For more activities like this, please join us in our Facebook group, Emotiminds! It is like a virtual classroom for your family's mental health and emotional well-being.