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August 6, 2010

3 Quick Stress Calmers for Kids and Adults

Filed under: Child Safety,Parenting Tips — Tags: , , , , — Erin @ 6:00 am

Guest Blog by Mike Reeves-McMillan

Have you ever been caught in a current or a tidal rip, or by a wave, swept along helplessly and struggling to escape?

Child Meditating

Child Meditating

Sure you have – metaphorically if not literally. Because this is what it’s like to be caught up in a powerful emotion, or stressed out of your mind. You’re completely surrounded and flooded by what’s happening to you, and there’s no part of you that’s outside it.

If there was a part of you outside it, maybe that part would help to pull you out of the water. Like having a friend standing by with a life preserver and a rope.

That’s what these three simple techniques have in common. They help you to get outside the flood of emotion and stress. And back-to-school time is exactly the time to know how to do that.

1. Breathing Focus. You’ve heard of this one. “Just take a slow deep breath.” It works because you’re taking what’s usually an involuntary response, that speeds up and becomes shallow under stress, and deliberately slowing and deepening it. That sends your body the message that it’s OK to calm down. It’s a simple way to start back towards feeling in control of the situation.

2. Body Awareness. Pause for a moment and connect to the feelings in your body as you’re stressed or emotional. Whereabouts are they? What are they like? How strong are they? If your emotion had a color and a shape and a sound and a temperature, what would those be? Do you think you could use your imagination to change that color and shape and sound and temperature? Again, you’ve stepped outside of the stress and started to take steps to get back in control.

3. The Now Game. My friend Gabrielle invented this one to play with her three preschoolers when they start to get upset. You just take a moment and say a simple sentence starting with “now” that describes something you can sense. So, “Now I see a big red bus going past.” “Now I taste mint.” “Now I hear a bird.” It gets you out of your head and out of your overwhelm. Instead of being all stress, you’re partly stress and partly someone who’s noticing things around you.

You know the expression “woe is me”? For kids, who are wholehearted about every emotion they feel, it’s always true when they’re upset. They’re totally identified with being “woe”. It can be true for adults as well, though, and using these simple techniques breaks you (or your kids) out of the total identification, pulls you out of the water, and stands you dripping on the beach.

Author Byline


Mike Reeves-McMillan

Mike Reeves-McMillan is a health and personal development coach who helps all kinds of people with their stress. You can get a lot more resources like these when you sign up for his free course, Simple Stress Management Techniques.

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