It's that time of year again. Going back to school can be exciting and fun, but it can also be stressful. For many children and parents, back to school means an increase in stress levels, anxiety attacks and an overall feeling of dread. These feelings arise from a variety of sources, some of which can be easily managed by incorporating mindfulness into our back to school routine.
Get plenty of rest. Try your best to put the kids to bed on time. They need their rest to be able to handle the ups and downs of the school day. You need your rest too! Put yourself to bed on time. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep and if you are able, take a nap during the day. Inadequate rest is perceived as a stressor to our brain, so the stress response is engaged when we are sleep deprived.
See the chart below to find out how much sleep your child needs each night.
BE OPEN HEARTED
What does it mean to be open hearted? Open heartedness is a three dimensional state of being. On the physical level, we feel warmth and a sense of relaxation in our heart center. On a mental level, we are able to keep things in perspective and wish others well. On an emotional level, we maintain a sense of empathy and compassion. When we go through out the day with an open heart, we are better able to stay centered in the midst of chaos and adversity. We are more resiliant and better able to rise above obstacles and challenges with people and situations.
This may be easier for parents to achieve during back to school stress than children, but children do understand how to be open hearted. They just need to be reminded that they have this superpower. Try this quick open heart meditaton to understand how open heartedness feels.
PRACTICE LOVING KINDNESS
Remember to make sure your child always feels loved and don't forget practice self compassion as a parent. Going back to school is difficult, but LOVE has the ability to transcend all that is negative. Give hugs often. Hugs decrease stress! A recent study has shown that people who give and receive hugs were less likely to get sick and had less severe symptoms if they did get sick. The researchers also concluded that the stress reduction of hugging was one of the main reasons why those in the study were less likely to get sick. Why? Stress lowers the immune system. So give and receive hugs frequently now and through out the school year.
When we are under stress, our brain cannot distinguish if the stress we are experiencing is "being late for school" stress or "being chased by a lion" stress. It all feels the same to our brain. so it enters into the fight, flight or freeze response in an effort to protect us from this perceived threat. This is not something that we consciously do, this is just how we are wired for survival and is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. Several stress hormones are released into our bloodstream to do everything possible to save our lives. Over time, these stress hormones have a negative affect on our bodies. We experience, anxiety, high blood pressure, increased chances of developing diabetes, lower immune system and much more. But guess what? We also have a built in stress reliever that reverses the fight, flight or freeze response and puts our brain and body back in balance. It' is called taking a DEEP BREATH. Simply inhale deeply and exhale. The more we take slow, deep breaths, the less likely we will be affected by stress in our daily lives. Practice deep breathing several times a day. Remember to do it when you know you are experiencing stress, but also train yourself to do it on a regular basis. Teach you children to take deep breaths and to practice deep breathing as a part of their daily routine.
Meditation has the ability to calm stress, relieve anxiety and provide much needed relaxation and can be done almost anywhere. Try this quick and easy meditation that also utilizes visualization every morning when you take a shower to start your day off on a positive note!
Start the school year out on the right foot! If you and your child are able to incorporate these 5 mindful ways to reduce back to school stress into your daily routine, you'll feel more at ease with yourself and the world around you. As the school year progresses, Soul Centered Kids will have more tips and tricks available for you and your child to place into your mindful toolbox. Sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss these very important updates!