Adapted from Susi Amendola’s original article
The start of the school year is just around the corner, and kids, parents, and caregivers are beginning to feel excitement mixed with anxiety.
Now more than ever, the demands of school are at an all-time high. We’ve all seen our kids at every school level experience more scholastic pressure. With the added stress of social media, bullying, rising suicide rates and drugs, their social burdens have also skyrocketed.
Research has continued to show that stress can have serious health consequence including anxiety, insomnia, depression and obesity. Luckily, there’s a solution to help kids create good preventive habits from the beginning. They will make your life healthier as well. Research shows that stress management tools like yoga can help kids (and their caretakers) deal with these mounting pressures.
The Importance of Managing Stress
At Ornish Lifestyle Medicine we’ve seen the importance of managing stress on our total health and well-being. Participants in our program use stress management techniques taken from the tradition of yoga to manage and reverse heart disease. These powerful practices are real tools for all the stressors of modern life. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry found that yoga can help children find emotional balance for their minds and bodies.
Sharing these practices with your children, grandchildren and young people in your community will help you keep on track with your own stress management. It is also a way to connect with younger people in your life that will support and help them navigate the stressors of back to school.
Stress Management for Pre and Grade School Kids
- This helps even the most active kids learn how to slow down.
- Begin by walking slowly while holding one hand behind your back.
- Now invite them to try to go as slow as they can without losing their balance.
- Try it outside and inside. Make it a game.
- Even creating your own labyrinth together can bring fun to this unique meditation practice.
- Use a snow globe that you can pick out together.
- Place it on a table and sit down in front of it.
- Begin by shaking it up and then placing it on the table and watching as all the glitter begins to settle. Explain how the mind is like this glitter. If we watch it without continuing to shake it up, it will eventually settle and we will feel calmer.
- When all the glitter has settled, you can tell your child to close their eyes and imagine this glitter as thoughts settling in their own mind or they can shake it again.
- Remind them when they are stressed at school they can imagine this snow globe and their own thoughts settling.
Slow Smooth Breathing
- Encourage your grade schooler to take slow smooth deep breaths through their nose when they feel tired, anxious, angry or out of sorts.
- They can also use sighing breaths as a tool when they want to feel calmer.
- This is done by taking a deep breath in and letting go of a sigh through the mouth as they exhale.
Stress Management for Middle School
- These slow gentle movements will help kids have more awareness of their own bodies.
- Neck and shoulder exercises can counteract the constant neck strain from looking at phones and screens.
- Back stretches like the cobra and locust can offset the long hours sitting in the classroom.
- Twisting can help to keep the spine healthy and flexible.
Tense and Relax
- By going through the body systematically squeezing and relaxing, it can help to highlight the difference between tension and relaxation.
- This is helpful for kids who need to pay attention to how and where they are holding tension in the body.
Stress Management for High School and College
- An invitation to practice stress management techniques such as yoga asanas, deep breathing, and yoga nidra or progressive relaxation will help focus your high school or college age students.
- Roll out an extra mat and use one of the many yoga resources available in your neighborhood.
- Doing yoga together will give your student important skills to counter the effects of stress while giving you meaningful time together.
Taking time to share what you have learned about stress management can not only serve to bring you closer to your school aged children and grandchildren, but you will be passing on self-care techniques that will serve them for a lifetime.
How will you introduce stress management tools to your children or grandchildren?
‘Ekahi Health, a member of the ‘ike family of companies (www.ikehawaii.com), is an innovative healthcare delivery organization that provides comprehensive community-based care focusing on primary care and prevention and wellness. It was the first organization to offer the Ornish program to the people of Hawaii.
For more information about ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, visit www.ekahiornish.com and follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.