The children have gone back to school, and whilst that should mean a more relaxing time, for many of us, it doesn’t.
Children report lots of worries and can very very anxious about going back to school. Some big, but often just little niggles that can make the day stressful and worry us as parents about how they’re coping.
Parents and carers can find it challenging too; the school run, extra-curricular activities and managing homework and our children’s social schedule is not always easy. You might be trying to work or care for relatives too and the time pressures can feel overwhelming.
If this anxiety is seriously hampering your ability to function, affecting your sleep and damaging your day-to-day life, it’s important to have a chat with a professional.
Natural strategies can be powerful though, in helping manage you and your child’s day-to-day stresses and strains in a healthy way.
Aromatherapy and Anxiety:
For your child: Provided your child is over five, aromatherapy is generally considered a safe and effective way to support their well being, especially if coupled with other sensory supports, like touch.
We’d advise using a very small amount of organic lavender oil (essential oils are one product where quality really does matter) to start with, which is soothing and relaxing. You can add a couple of drops to a bath at bedtime, as part of their bedtime routine which can help with easing the stress of the day.
Over time, we start to associate the scent with feeling relaxed and calm, so it can be introduced in other ways throughout the day to help worries to settle more quickly.
Of course, lavender can help you, but a more complex blend can have excellent results for adults. Look for a blend with additional relaxing ingredients, which can include Ylang Ylang (promotes a sense of warmth and well being), soothing Sweet Orange (great for frazzled minds) and sleep-inducing Marjoram (perfect for nights when you find it hard to drop off).
Our ‘Relax’ blend is highly valued for busy minds and those finding it hard not to worry. Kirsty, a customer shared that she uses it in her aromatherapy diffuser every day during her mindfulness practise to help her relax.
The Power of Touch and Anxiety
For your child:
Lots of children often find touch calming – although we’d always suggest you ask first. This can range from a great big squishy hug to a light hair stroke.
Massage is an appropriate option from birth (although we’d definitely advise getting some lessons in how to do this safely). Many children also seem to benefit from a gentle foot rub or massage when they’re feeling very stressed.
Reflexology has been shown to help with anger, concentration, stress and sleep issues in children, and lots of parents have found that it helps to put aside a little quiet time in the day where their children feel safe and cared for.
There are many short reflexology courses available across the country if you want to learn from a professional, or you can simply follow some of the brilliant Lucy Johns[kL1] reflexology for babies and children videos.
You can of course visit a massage therapist yourself, but that simply isn’t practical every day. A lovely, alternative way to benefit from the calming benefits of touch is to try a simple DIY hand massage:
- Using a rich hand cream or butter, and applying moderate pressure, start by cupping your hands together in a circular motion as though working the butter into the palms. Do this at least ten times.
- Next, gently work your palm from the wrist to the elbow and back again along the forearm (both sides). Do this five times to warm up and relax the muscles.
- Create a ring around your wrist using your thumb and middle finger and work it up the arm and back down – again do this five times
- Lightly pinch the skin on both sides of the arm to increase blood flow
- Rub your thumb and forefinger in a circular motion across the back of your hand and palm, and between the fingers.
- Finish by interconnecting your fingers and gently pulling them apart to stretch and warm the muscles there.
We’d recommend keeping a little tube or pot of cream in your bag or desk, as it is easy to do on the go – even on the school run!
Meditation and Breath Work for Anxiety
For all the family.
The benefits of mindfulness and mindful movement for children are well known, with many schools now incorporating breath work and yoga movements into daily practice.
If you’re not experienced at this there are some straightforward tips to follow that can help.
Firstly, be realistic. Young children especially cannot focus for long periods of time. Start with 60 seconds to a minute to make it achievable and build up in increments of 20 seconds.
It works the same for adults with many of us so busy that just the thought of trying to find ten minutes for ‘alone time’ feels impossible.
Our advice is to make mindfulness a family activity.
One way to introduce it that we love is the power of sound. You simply step outside and close your eyes, then ask your child to breathe very deeply into their tummy, before concentrating on all the sounds they can hear. It’s a fun, but deeply relaxing way to introduce the concepts of awareness to all members of the family.