No one wants to be anxious. Still, so many of us are. The statistics say that about 1 in 20 people in the United States are diagnosed with some sort of anxiety disorder. That's not surprising considering all there is to worry about in the world. Especially now in this time of political tension and increased health concerns. But true anxiety isn't just a normal response to real stressors. It's when you worry about things irrationally and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prevent bad things from happening to the point that you can't enjoy good things that do occur in your life. It's very difficult to say exactly how much we can do to prevent anxiety disorders because they're a complex mix of genetics, environment, and experiences. But because of new and exciting brain research, we're beginning to be able to pinpoint certain experiences that reduce anxiety and therefore the potential for anxiety disorder.
In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second.* After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. In light of these findings, focussing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-
Although the research is complex, the experiences it suggests are simple and soothing for kids, teachers, and parents alike. After more than 40 years of working in the field of early childhood and family education, here is one of my favorite anxiety quelling techniques. Mindfulness Renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Richard Davidson is one of the most important names in the field of emotional health. He heads the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's researched the minds of young children, childcare teachers, and even the Dali llama to find out what really works.
I combined my own yoga story experience for kids and adults with Dr. Davidson's mindfulness experience and got this super soothing activity that you can do with very young children at home. I always think about the youngest due to the research shown above.
But his fun technique works for all ages!
Hint: try using battery operated candles with really young children and have them pretend to blow them out as a closing ritual. You can turn them off on the bottom as they blow! Have the participants lie on floormats or sit comfortably in a very quiet room with the lights dimmed. Tell them to imagine they're on a beach relaxing and feeling the warmth of the sun on their faces. Tell them hey can also feel a breeze. Tell them in a soothing voice that all they can smell are the flowers and all they can hear is the birds and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. Chsh.......chsh...........
Repeat these words or similiar (you are only limited by your imagination). After a time, ring a chime once softly.
Tell everyone to listen carefully to the bell. Then ask them to listen again and raise their hand when they can't hear the bell at all.
You'll be amazed at the level of focus and calm this produces!
2 more stress reducing ideas are singing and using boundaries effectively.
I'll be publishing more about those 2 stress relievers in the weeks to come!!
If you're interested in The New Empathy and how to Bully-Proof your kids, sign up here.
I'm giving away free copies of a really cool gift this week.
It's a 22-page slide show about getting kids to listen withoout yellling or time-outs.
How do we get kids to listen respectfully?
We know they learn by example so how do we show them both strength and understanding.
This free slideshow will tell you exactly how to say things so they all make sense!
Nanci J Bradley, 60, is an early childhood and family educator, parent, author, teacher, SELF-care facilitator, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.