Life is crazy. And not just for us grownups! Kids are constantly working with a half filled cup, whether we realize it or not. And with the sense of feeling like they’re being pulled in so many directions comes stress, anxiety, worries, and fears. Their anxieties can arise from overload at school, problems with friends, over-scheduled activities, negative thoughts, not enough sleep, past trauma, and so many other things. The list goes on and on. These difficult situations release various stress hormones, such as cortisol, that cause all kinds of physical and mental changes. Tense muscles, fast heart beat, and quick shallow breathing are just some of the more obvious signs.
What Does Childhood Anxiety Look Like?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “When a child does not outgrow the fears and worries that are typical in young children, or when there are so many fears and worries that they interfere with school, home, or play activities, the child may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.” (CDC)
And the National Institute of Mental Health states that 31.9% of adolescents have had an anxiety disorder. They go on to say that 8.3% of adolescents have had a severe impairment.
The CDC lists common signs of anxiety in children as being:
- Trouble falling asleep
Many children who aren’t formally diagnosed may struggle with some of these symptoms as well. If you find your child avoiding certain activities, having unusual outbursts, or being just generally weepy, chances are they are worried about something.
One Way To Overcome Anxiety
So what can you do about it? Well, the cool thing about the human body is that it naturally also has hormones that can counteract these effects. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and produce a euphoric state where things feel better. Most know the term “runner’s high” because of endorphins that are released during exercise. Reducing feelings of anxiety is key to being able to trigger positive feelings.
Yoga Is A Perfect Stress Reliever
Yoga is a nightly ritual that can be done by children to help release endorphins and just unwind from the day. In fact, it’s a great family activity that is not only physically great for everyone in the house, but it also help build family relationships by spending time together. So pull out those yoga mats, or just find a spot on the family room rug, and start a nightly yoga routine. Combining the active aspects of holding poses and the controlled breathing will help calm the mind and body to help melt the stress away, and will definitely get you in the mood for dream time.
Another benefit of doing nighttime yoga is that it will help promote mindfulness for kids. Doing yoga before bedtime means that children won’t be on their screens before bed and will have time to unwind from the distractions of the day allowing them to be more in tune with their bodies. Turning their attention inward and being in the moment and not thinking about everything else will help center them and ease their worries.
If you're looking for some kid friendly animal yoga poses, give these a try!
Can you come up with some other poses? Make it a challenge for the whole family.
Looking for other anxiety tools for kids? Check out our SUNCards! SUNCards™ are decks of cards that were developed by a 10 year old girl, and use evidence based strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, positive psychology, and random acts of kindness to help kids manage their anxiety. They feature lovable monsters who share confidence building positive affirmations, and helpful tasks for redirection. Best of all, for every deck purchased another deck is donated to a nonprofit that serves kids.