reduce stress | Kay Trotter

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Help Children Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Help children reduce anxiety and stress

A common thread in today’s world is anxious children and parents who are pulled in too many directions—stressed out. One way to help children and parents simultaneously reduce anxiety and stress in their lives is through the use of relaxation, and visualization techniques.

Visualization is one of my favorite techniques to help clients achieve a sense of relaxation and well-being. Visualization is a form of focused relaxation that helps create harmony between the mind and body. It is a way of focusing your imagination to create calm, peaceful images in your mind; thereby creating an imaginary haven or “safe place” that can be revisited anytime.

I find that adding parents in the process is a powerful. Helping both child and parent both embrace and internalize the power of a mindful way of being. Awareness of this kind can have a virtually immediate effect on health and well-being.

Here is one of my favorite Anxiety Reduction Techniques

In my office markers, colored pencils, crayons and drawing paper is laid out on the coffee table and there is calm, meditative music playing in the background. This sends a non-verbal message to my client that “today is going to be different.” I briefly describe what we will be doing today and get their approval. To alleviate all fears that they may have, I explain that the visualization will tell them anything that they need to do.

To give a little background, visualization uses a script that is read out loud using a sing-song-style of voice. It is designed to put the listener into a relaxed, meditative state where they use their imagination to relax and feel peace. For example, one of the scripts I use is called “Cozy Castle” and it describes a magical cozy castle high in the clouds where dreams come true and we can relax and enjoy peace and comfort.

The combination of calm, meditative music with the slow, sing-song-style of voice has a powerful impact on the listener’s subconscious state. The use of a melodic and sing-song tone also allows information to be processed easier and the meditative music has the ability to quickly shift our mood, affecting our subconscious mind where pesky negative thoughts feed on our fears and fuel the fires of stress.

Before we start, I read a list of visualization scripts to my child and ask them which one they would like to start with (I like to do at least two). I also explain that I have some visualization scripts especially designed to be used at bedtime, which I will send home with them for their parent to read. (For me it’s important that the child be included in the decision process, it also models for the parent how to incorporate visualization scripts at home.)

After they choose the visualization script they want to use, I read the visualization to the child and, at the end of the script, I add the sentences, “When you’re ready to come back, open your eyes and draw your Cozy Castle [if that was the name of visualization used]. When you’re finished, I will ask you to share your drawing with me.”

I like to use visualization because it accesses the emotional world of the child in a non-verbal format, thus allowing the child and counselor/parent to understand the experience of the child. Art also allows the child and counselor/parent to connect through images rather than words alone. Expressive therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. The therapist uses the child’s artistic production as a springboard for further elaboration of the clients emotions and their causes.

After the child and I have processed their drawing, I say, “Let’s go get your parent and together the two of you can do the next visualization together.” Once the parent is with us, I explain what her child and I did in session and share the bedtime visualization scripts that I will be sending home. I then invite the parent to “join us” in a visualization journey. At this point, I again ask the child to choose a visualization script and for everyone to sit back and get comfortable. At the end of the visualization, I again ask the child and their parent to draw their experience.

Parents love this way of being involving in their child’s life journey. It’s powerful because the parent gets to experience first-hand the emotional impact of the session and they also are able to hear how I read the visualization  and understand the importance of reading in a sing-song manner with frequent pauses.

Resources:

Guided Relaxation – free Guided Imagery scripts

The Power of Music To Reduce Stress

Helping children learn how to relax and de-stress

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Reduce Stress in Your Life: Coping Skills to Live By

Whenever we experience STRESS it arises from the four core wounding emotions: loss, rejection, betrayal and humiliation.

We have a choice of “hiding” from or ignoring these upsetting experiences. The Mayo Clinic states that stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. Our ability to effectively cope with these challenges and upsets requires learning and practicing skills so they become everyday coping tools. Just learning about these principles is not enough. Remember about 75% of what you do is out of HABIT. Training our brain to use health coping methods means we can heal our own emotional wounds so we also feel better about ourselves.

Believe it our not our brains are designed to help us cope. Every time we are challenged by new or upsetting experiences that causes us stress, our brain come up with ways to deal with our stress or worry. Our coping brain uses our thinking, feeling and self-protection, to help us get over experiences that make us stressed, worried, angry or upset.

C   O   P   I   N   G   –  P   R   I   N   C   I   P   L   E   S

TO REDUCE STRESS

  1. Recognize that no thought or feeling is wrong in itself, it is what we do with it that really counts.
  2. Become aware of the way your body feels as tension begins to build up— remind yourself to breath.
  3. Recognize that you don’t have to go through this alone — help is available from a wide range of sources.
  4. Work to improve communication with your family and friends
  5. If you are experiencing fatigue or feeling overwhelmed, reduce your responsibilities for a period of time.
  6. Recognize that family and friends have to deal with their feelings too.
  7. Share honestly and lovingly how you are feeling
  8. Do things each day that are nurturing to you. Include fun activities, relaxation, time alone, and exercise.
  9. You can work to solve some of the problems that are causing you stress.
  10. Accept that guilt and worry about things you CAN’T change are useless and energy-draining.
  11. Give yourself credit for whatever level of coping you are achieving.
  12. Remember, there is no “instant fix” for stress.
  13. Develop a love and respect for yourself — because each of us is, with our strengths, a special and worthwhile person.

L   I   F   E   S   T   Y   L   E    –  B   O   D   Y,    M   I   N   D,    S   P   I   R   I   T

TO REDUCE STRESS 

You can’t always avoid stress but being able to identify what causes it is the first step toward helping yourself cope better. If you have difficulty pinpointing the causes or “triggers” of your stress, try keeping a record to help you identify patterns of stress. Learn to identify your type of stress, is it a “social anxiety”  or “chronic stress.”

To effetely use a chart, make a note of all your activates during the day and how you felt at the time. Fill in the chart whenever a stress symptom occurs, noting what happened just before. At the end of the week evaluate when you felt stressed and when you felt relaxed.

R   E   L   A  X  A   T   I   O   N   

TO REDUCE STRESS

For long-term stress relief you need periods of mental and physical relaxation throughout the day. Relaxation is a set of skills that teach you how to combat the effects of stress and restore the balance between body and mind to enable healthy, happy living.

WHY: long-term stress changes the balance of hormones in the body and leads to exhaustion. A suppressed immune system, slower metabolism and slower cell repair, result in rapid aging, weight gain, and greater risk of degenerative disease.

C   O   P   I   N   G   –  S   K   I   L   L   S

TO REDUCE STRESS

  • Learn to become aware of when you are experiencing stress — listen to your body
  • Practice deep breathing – just 3 deep breaths will change your body chemistry
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness practices – the state of being attentive to and aware of the present moment only
  • Guided Imagery or Visualizations
  • Journal about your feelings, thoughts and worries
  • Use Positive Affirmations to change negative self-talk
  • Exercise daily
  • Get a Massage
  • Pick a hobby
  • Cut down on activities
  • Unplug from technology – turn down the noise
  • Get outside – your brain is created to respond positively to nature — soothing your soul
  • Get enough sleep
  • Seek social support  – talk to someone

Things to Ponder to Help You Free Yourself of Stress

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“Some people think it’s holding that makes one strong – sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.”‘ -Eckhart Tolle

“The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment.” -Elbert Hubbard

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” –Socrates

“Every day brings a choice: to practice stress or to practice peace.” -Joan Borysenko

“Don’t let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries.”  ~Astrid Alauda

“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“Letting go of the past means that you can you enjoy the dream that is happening now.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

 

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De-stress: You have the power to reset

[callout1]You stomach clenches, your heart races, and you can’t catch your breath — all tell-tale signs you are getting anxious or overwhelmed. But while a slight from a co-worker or bad news from a family member can raise your blood pressure, you have the power to reset and focus on de-stressing.[/callout1]

Flight or Flight

When you’re stressed, your body instinctively reacts with the “fight or flight response,” which, in the pre-civilization world, helped us escape from predators and dangerous situations.

But, today, our bodies can’t tell the difference between an approaching grizzly bear or a difficult boss. So, our stress response is triggered when there’s no imminent danger. And, instead of helping us to escape, it can contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension and headaches, as well as mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorders.

The good news? Just as you have a stress response, you also have a “relaxation response,” during which you can slow down your breathing, decrease your blood pressure and use less oxygen.

Go For A 10-Minute Walk

While just about any walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins, consider walking in a park or other green space, which can actually put your body into a state of meditation.

Breathe Deeply

Breathing exercises – or even just taking a few deep breaths – provide an extra boost of oxygen and help reduce tension and relieve stress. Best of all, deep breathes will help you calm down.

Visualize

A short visualization is an easy way to get back to center.

Simply make yourself comfortable (at your desk, on a park bench – wherever!) and then try to picture a peaceful scene: a future vacation, your favorite beach. You can even visualize yourself accomplishing a goal or maybe picture yourself in an elevator, happily sandwiched between two hot actors of your choice!

Eat A Snack

Stress-eating doesnʼt have to be bad. Pick a snack that will fill you up – half an avocado, a handful of nuts, a hard boiled egg. Then take your snack away from your computer and go sit someplace peaceful. Focus on your food: its texture, the way it tastes, how it makes you feel. Voila! Youʼve turned your snack into a meditation.

Step Away From The Screen

Uninterrupted computer use has been associated with stress, lost sleep and depression. Make sure to take frequent breaks from computer use during your day – and try to shut offline at least an hour before bedtime.

Or, On The Other Hand, Plug In

While screens can stress you out, you can turn to the Internet to get a little stress relief. Do a search for a web-based stress management program, like guided meditation, or watch a viral video that will make you laugh. Laughter is a great de-stressor because it first activates your stress response and then deactivates it, creating a kind of “rollercoaster” that leads to a feeling of relaxation.

Hang Up, Then Turn Off Your Phone

Cell phones stress you out, thereʼs no question about that. Smartphones, in particular, can make you feel pressure to respond to messages at all times and talking can even raise your blood pressure. So, consider shutting off your phone for an hour or so.

Put On Some Music

While classical music slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure, any music that you love will flood your brain with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine. So, crank it up on the drive home!

De-stress: You have the power to reset  

You also might like these resources on reducing stress and anxiety by Dr Trotter

STRESS QUIZ: How Stressed Are You? Do you diminish or categorize your stress as “normal” or “it’s no big deal, everyone has stress?”

Belly Breathing – One of my favorite de-stressor or coping skills that I teach to all my clients young and old that can be done anywhere at any time is “Belly Breathing”. – See more at: http://www.kaytrotter.com/3-deep-breaths/#sthash.D9SldQh5.dpuf

Social Anxiety and Stress – Shyness is the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people. There are many degrees of shyness.

Anxiety – Anxiety is the displeasing feeling of fear and concern. Anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread. It is also associated with feelings of restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems and muscle tension.

The Healing Power of Nature – Read how Dr Kay reduces her stress.

Kids and Stress—10 Parenting Tips -The way parents respond to emotional situations significantly affects how well children learn to cope with their emotions.

Dr Trotters Pinterest board Anxiety/Stress Management – Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress.

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