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Relaxing Techniques for You and Your Kids

When you are feeling anxious, probably one of the last things on your mind is relaxing your body. After all, you’re probably ready to run away, freeze or fight. Your heart rate is up, adrenaline is running through your body... how are you supposed to relax?  When anxiety is taking a toll, your body knows it. You can have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating.

Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body.  You can learn how to relax your body when you are anxious; to gain control over your body by learning the required techniques. You will stop the release of adrenaline and feel more in control of your body. Practice relaxation techniques while you are feeling calm so you understand how to use them. Practice them a lot! Then put them to work when you need them.

Here is one to help you relax from your feet to your face. Start by standing comfortably, back straight, feet shoulder-width apart.

Tree Top (Feet & Legs): Imagine you are up in a tree, standing on a branch. You must hold onto the branch with your toes and stay very still. Curl your toes under and hang on! Keep your legs stiff and straight. Tighten up your bum muscles. Hold that pose and count to 10. Release and feel your lower body relax. Do this three times. Shake out your legs and relax.

Incredible Shrinking Kid (Belly & Back): You are going to make yourself as thin as a sheet of paper. Slowly pull in your belly and imagine you can touch your belly button to your back bone. Hold it there for five seconds and release. Do this three times. Take a deep breath and relax.

Body Builder (Arms & Shoulders): Imagine you are very strong and about to lift some heavy weights. Start with your arms at your sides, the palms of your hands facing forward. Squeeze your hands tight around the weights and slowly lift them by bending your arms at the elbows. Bring the weights up to your shoulders, tightening the muscles of your hands and arms as much as you can. Feel the strength and power in your hands, arms, and shoulders! Hold for 5 seconds, then relax your arms as you slowly lower them back to your sides. Do this three times. Shake out your arms and relax.

The Puppet (Neck & Shoulders): Imagine you are an old fashioned puppet (marionette) with strings attached to your shoulders. Your invisible puppeteer (puppet master) pulls up the strings, pulling up your shoulders as high as they can go. Feel your neck scrunching down as your shoulders pull up. Stay like this and count to 5, then let your shoulders drop quickly. Do this three times. Shake out your shoulders and roll your neck gently from side to side.

The Feather (Face): Close your eyes and imagine a tiny feather is tickling your forehead. Use your eyebrows to try and get rid of it. It starts to tickle your nose. Use your nose, and other face muscles to chase it away. Then it moves to tickle your lips and chin. Use your face muscles to make it go away. Finally, it goes!

Take a deep breath and relax.

To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other positive coping methods, such as thinking positively and dealing with thoughts that increase anxiety, finding humour, problem-solving, managing time, exercising and getting enough sleep.  The most important thing to keep in mind about exercises such as these is that they are best practiced regularly, as a part of your daily routine so they become second nature.  

Article Author: Valerie Ostara is the world’s first Closet Monster Battle Coach and founder of Sound–Mind.ca, an educational and coaching organization dedicated to defeating the anxiety monsters that lurk in the closets and under the beds of our children’s minds. Through our effective and empowering strategies, children and parents learn the skills and self-management techniques guaranteed to bring peace of mind.
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