What will you do to stress-proof as we launch into the holidays? Last year I was asked to guest post on that topic for New Moon Girls; click here to read some of the tips I offered. Last month, I wrote this blog - Got StReSs?? - for this amazing collaborative I'm part of at PreKandKSharing:
Simple Stress-Proofing Strategies
‘Tis the season, the most wonderful time of the year, right? But what can you do when the stress of the season starts to steal your sparkle? Here are six tried-and-true tips to help you get a hold of stress before it grabs a hold of you and your youngsters:
1. Go From Wii to WE. Sometimes adults get busy, allowing their little ones too much time on their video game devices. Leave it to the video world to provide a lot of real-life stress. Recently I’ve worked with a few students who are having trouble distinguishing between their virtual universe and reality. Talk about a stressor! If you’re going to give your children some screen time, make sure to limit it to short increments of time, ideally 30 minutes or less in the morning and 30 minutes or less in the evening. Then join your child and turn their Wii time into WE time. What board games can you play together: Twister? Yatzhee? Sorry? Operation? Use family game time to reconnect and ward off stress and agitation
2. Teach Them To Relax. It’s never too early to teach yoga, deep relaxation, or meditation. Turns out meditation is now linked to increased happiness! I use a book called Starbright: Meditations For Children by Maureen Garth to help my students relax with guided imagery and visualization. Take your children to a safe, calm place in their minds; then teach them how to do that for themselves for a brain break whenever they need it!
3. Engage In Exercise. Twenty minutes of daily exercise is not only good for the body but also for the brain! Physical activity releases endorphins that “act like Miracle Gro for the brain,” according to John Medina, author of Brain Rules. Fire those dendrites by going on a swift walk, jumping on the trampoline, or kicking a ball around the back yard; it’ll be a win-win because you’ll not only score some meaningful movement but also some fresh air.
4. Help Them Listen To Their Bodies. Stress and other negative emotions show up in our bodies, so why not teach your kids to identify their hot spots. How does anger feel on your face, for example. What does stress feel like in your stomach? Where does worry settle? Ask your kids; they’ll tell you. Better yet, have them draw it out. Trace a gingerbread man cookie cutter and ask them to put an X where they can actually feel stress, worry, or anger.
5. Give Back. To help keep holiday gift-getting from exploding out of control, we encourage our children to choose a charity to whom we can make a donation in their name in lieu of a few gifts that they might get. Last year, we sent money to the summer church camp that they love, a gift that was every bit as meaningful to them as a present wrapped up under the tree would have been. We also encourage giving of our time and talent by sharing the gift of music and song with local nursing home residents. Additionally, we take out the traditional recipes and make holiday candy and cookies to leave them for our mail carrier and take to other community helpers to show our gratitude.
6. Eat, Drink and Be Healthy. Don’t let too much holiday cheer disrupt healthy eating habits. Remember the food pyramid? Daily guidelines have changed slightly, and it’s actually more of a plate now, but one thing remains the same: Your children should eat a nice mix of fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy. Our rule of thumb is to put three to five colors on our plates at every meal. Try it and savor the flavor. And don’t forget to offer your kiddos plenty of water.
That’s it, six simple strategies. Easy cheesy, agreed? Oh, and don’t stress about doing all of these things at once. Just focus on the one that’ll help most when you feel the holiday-stress grinch sneaking in to rob you of the gift of sanity this season.