Anxiety in children is no laughing matter. If you have a child who is nervous, anxious or cries a lot, they may be suffering from anxiety. For children, anxiety can be crippling, causing not only mental stress, but also physical ailments and social isolation. School, peer pressure, testing, too much or too little structure can all compound anxiety. Here are 5 physical techniques that may offset or reduce anxiety before it gets out of hand.
- Rock Away Your Stress: Rocking has been proven to promote relaxation. Anyone with a newborn baby knows they cannot survive without a baby rocker or rocking chair. For children and tweens try a rocking board as well. They can stand, sit or lie across the board to get a total body “rock” out. You can even try an air-filled rocking board, which can be completely or partially filled with air to provide a place to chill-out and relax. Rocking not only promotes relaxation but also can encourage a calm start or finish to a stressful day.
- Hug Tight: Try a pressure garment or vest like a weighted compression vest or pressure vest, which gives a nice hug around the trunk and torso. You choose the amount of pressure by adjusting the Velcro. Vests can be worn in intervals (during stressful times) or all day. Your child may prefer some whole body pressure as well. Pressure acts like a filter to reduce anxiety and promote calm well-being.
- Heavy Work: Exercise works! For kids, we like to call it “heavy work.” Try some resistance bands or a resistance sac to wake up the muscles and joints while also applying compression. Kids love to move and then swaddle themselves while exploring space in their sac. Pressure acts as a filter to assist with sensory processing and may reduce anxiety.
- Swing Away Your Fears: Climb into a hammock swing or swing chair and ride away your worries. Swinging promotes a soothing feeling as the inner ear fluid is rocked back and forth and vestibular orientation is stimulated. Pipe in some soothing music and add some headphones. Maybe grab a book to read as well. We call this a “chill-out” zone.
- Sooth the Senses: Try Noise Reduction Headphones to block out sound, light filters to block out light or aromatherapy to calm the senses and reduce anxiety. By filtering some of the extraneous sensory information bombarding the nervous system, we can then process and orient better to our surroundings. You may want to consider a sensory habitat or chill-spa room as well. Think of it as reducing sensory overload.
Try using these tools before a stress induced activity such as travel, testing or transitions. Keep in mind that anxiety can be caused by a number of external or internal sources. Please check with your health care professional for a full assessment. These tools should be used only under adult supervision.