Find Resiliency During Stress: Simple Tools for Kids and Adults
By: Monica Fitzpatrick
Stress seems to be everywhere these days, especially for families and parents. We may not be able to control what happens around us, but our stress response system is within us. A healthy response to everyday stressors can help us be resilient and overcome current challenges. We
have tools within ourselves to activate our “rest and digest” mode, the parasympathetic nervous system. Here are a few simple practices that both kids and adults can try to reduce stress in the body.
Moving your body has been well studied to aid in the activation of our parasympathetic nervous system. Explore a variety of options and find what works for you. You don’t have to call it exercise, and you don’t have to go to the gym if you don’t want to. Try walking, dancing, swimming, yoga, rock climbing, jumping jacks, or cartwheels. Get creative and allow moving to be joyful because smiles help reduce stress, too.
2. Box Breath
Your breath is always with you and can be a great tool to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. The box breath is a common practice to explore and even known to be used by our military!
It works like this:
● Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4
● Exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4
● Repeat a few times.
3. Body Scan (using mindfulness)
Notice your jaw right now. Can you release any tension there? What about your shoulders? When we take the time to rest our bodies, we are actively telling our parasympathetic nervous system to turn on. This response is a wakeful rest and different from sleeping.
A body scan works like this:
● Using your mind, notice each part of your body, and as you do, actively try to rest your muscles.
● Example: face, shoulders, arms/hands, back, torso, legs/feet. Be as detailed with it as you’d like, spending about 30 seconds or longer on each body part.
● During this mindfulness exercise, our attention becomes focused on the present moment. When you notice…