Improving Children’s Wellbeing this National Relaxation Day
TEMPUR® sleep expert and chartered psychologist provides relaxation techniques and highlights the importance of relaxation to improve the mental health of our children.
Often given a bad rap (deemed as ‘lazy’ or ‘unproductive’) the practise of relaxation is not only a nice thing to do but is an essential life skill that both children and adults need to cultivate.
So, this National Relaxation Day (15 August), TEMPUR® sleep expert and chartered psychologist, Suzy Reading, highlights the importance of relaxation to improve kids’ mental health and provides tips for parents to help their children learn effective relaxation techniques.
“The ability to relax promotes the chances of a better quality sleep,” says TEMPUR® sleep expert, Suzy, “which is fundamental to mental health and wellbeing.
“The skill of relaxation also develops our self-soothing capacity, helps restore the mind and body after challenging life experiences, and better arms us to cope in the moment. Knowing how to keep calm boosts confidence and can also help us to better navigate difficult emotions. It’s a crucial skill for our emotional wellbeing.”
The good news is that relaxation is a skill we can all develop. Read on for Suzy’s insights on how relaxation can help children and tips on how to achieve it.
- The skill of relaxation can help children to navigate anxiety. Focus on teaching your little ones how to calm their mind with kind self-talk for example, and calm their bodies using yoga stretches, chicken wing shoulder rolls, or squeeze and release exercise at bedtime.
- Coping with change (transition, disruption to routine, family landscape, etc.) Build in time to talk with your kids before bed. Wind down time is when they are more inclined to share their concerns and it presents an ideal opportunity to make plans together, to help visualise what’s to come, create some realistic expectations, and feel the comfort of knowing the new shape of things.
- Worry about sleep – let your kids know that this is a very normal experience. Take the pressure off – you can’t make yourself sleep, so knowing how to relax is key. Focus on resting. Develop a ritual of soothing practices – colouring, journaling, bath, yoga, or breath work.
- Mindfulness for kids is a key coping skill. Share the concept by explaining that you are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions, you are not your sensations, you are not your memories. You experience all of these as passing states. Try blue sky mind practice (notice all your thoughts, feelings, sensations) and imagine these are like clouds, floating across the sky, where you (or your child) is the sky.
- Meditation for kids – guided savasana practice (lying down relaxation) can be done in bed and is a great exercise for kids to teach them how to relax the body and mind.
- Knowing how to dial down the stress response boosts resilience and confidence. Try a mountain breath with your kids; perfect for a zesty but calm start to the day. Focus all your attention on how it feels to be moving, keeping your mind anchored on this present moment. Repeat the mountain breath exercise six times, noticing how it helps you breathe deeply and how you feel when you breathe better. On the last repetition, hold the pose with your arms overhead for a few breaths, feeling the length of your spine and the strength of your legs and tummy. Notice the sense of power, energy and focus you feel when you reach up and stand tall like a mountain.
- Use relaxation to help your kids make peace with difficult emotions and to move through them in a safe and healthy way. All emotions have an energetic charge and it helps kids process them by releasing this charge using movement or breathing. Shake it off or roar it out with lion breath (releasing what it is difficult or harmful to say in words). Breathe in through the nose, exhale through the mouth with the tongue extended out of the mouth as far as possible. Repeat three times. And then have a giggle too!
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