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Stress Management

Stress Management Techniques
What Parents Can Do To Alleviate Stress


Stress Management Techniques

Students demonstrating signs of anxiety may benefit from various methods of coping with their emotions. In these instances, a school psychologist may provide options for the student to begin lowering their levels of stress.  Relaxation techniques are one method of meeting this goal.

Relaxation is beneficial to both children and adults, as anxiety, fear, and tensions diminish when you relax.  It takes time and practice to create a state of relaxation, but eventually you can de-stress any time and any place.  Additionally, your children will enjoy the state of relaxation achieved from techniques such as these. 

 

Special Education Departments

IMAGERY
The Garden of Senses (5-8 minutes, Ages 7-Adult)
Goal:  To enhance concentration and creativity while clearing your mind.

  1. Read the following to another person or group.  Lightly playing classical or instrumental music may be helpful.
  2. With your eyes closed and in a comfortable position, imagine you are walking into a garden that has been sealed off for years.  You have been appointed as caretaker.
  3. You want to clear it of musty leaves and rotting branches, so you take a rake and all of your gardening tools and start to clean. You untangle the overgrowth and cut off dead branches.  You look in every corner and set everything right until the garden sparkles.  Now you plan new flowers and shrubbery of many unusual textures and vibrant colors.
  4. You hear beautiful sounds coming into the garden, humming insects, chirping birds, the sound of a distant waterfall, mostly the sacred feeling of deep stillness.  From this stillness, your other senses become more acute.
  5. You smell things sharply like fresh pine, clean air, perfume like scents of rose, jasmine, lilac, and other flowers; the earth, like a rich coffee, gives of a pungent smell.  A smoky scent wafts through the air.  Someone has started a campfire.  Imagine tasting all the delicious foods, topped off by your favorite dessert.  Your mouth waters.
  6. While you enjoy this imaginary feast, run your hands over the bark of the log you are sitting on; reach down and touch the cool moist soil.
  7. You could stay in this garden forever; it gives you so much for a little care.  Your sixth sense tells you this garden is perfect, and you can visit it anytime.  It blossoms inside your creative imagination, which gives birth each day to new seeds and plants.
  8. Take a few deep breaths, breathing in the garden’s air.  Slowly open your eyes.  You may take a pencil and draw your garden, or return to your normal activities.

Stress-Proofing Your Child:  Mind-Body Exercises to Enhance your Child’s Health, Lewis and Lewis.

DEEP BREATHING
Deep Breathing Exercise (20 seconds, All Ages)

Deep breathing is the simplest technique to learn and to practice.  When you become stressed, your breathing often becomes shallow and rapid.  By taking just 20 seconds to practice deep breathing you help reduce the effects of stress.

“Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.  Sit in a comfortable chair, preferably one with a straight back.  Take off your shoes.  Sit back in a chair.  Breathe in and out, slowly and deeply, but naturally.  Breathe deeply into your abdomen, so that your stomach swells each time you inhale.  Say the word "relax" each time you breathe out.  As you breathe in and out, slowly deeply, and naturally, you will begin to feel tension drain from your body.”

Once you learn how to deeply relax, you will be able to recreate this state anywhere you choose.  Don’t restrict yourself to using this technique at times of stress only.  Try to schedule this time for yourself everyday.

MUSCLE RELAXATION
Muscle Relaxation Technique

(Approximately 2 minutes, All ages)

Tensing and relaxing the muscles can achieve relaxation. “Begin by making a right fist.  You should feel tension in your hand, over your knuckles, and in your lower arm.  Hold the level of tension for five to seven seconds, counting to yourself.  Then quickly release the tension.  Be sure to release it abruptly, not gradually.  Pay close attention to the physical sensations associated with tensing and then relaxing a muscle group, so that you will know what deep relaxation feels like.  Next, tense and then relax the other muscle groups in the body: biceps (front muscle, upper arm), triceps (back muscle, upper arm), head area (eyes, face, throat), shoulder muscles, upper back muscles, lower back muscles, chest muscles, calf and shin muscles, feet and toes.  With each set of muscles, hold the tension five to seven seconds, notice how the tension feels, and then quickly release it.  Feel the muscle deeply relax.  After tensing and releasing a muscle group, leave it as relaxed and still as possible.”

For additional techniques/recommendations for working with children under stress, you can contact your school psychologist.

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What Parents Can Do To Alleviate Stress
Reese, F.L., and M.W. Rossa. 1991.  “Early Adolescents:  Self-Report of Major Life Stressors and Mental Health Risks Status.”  Journal of Early Adolescence 11.  368-378.

Signs of stress in children should be taken seriously, because stress can lead to problems in school and affect a child’s social and cognitive development.  The following will be reduce stress: 

  • Be sensitive to the child’s feelings and let him/her know that you recognize that he/she has a problem.
  • Be prepared to protect the child from the stressor.
  • Show signs of affection such as hugs and more hugs.
  • Spend time with your child to foster a healthy and supportive family relationship.
  • Learn and teach the child anger management and conflict resolution skills.
  • Include laughter, fun, meditation, and exercise in the child’s daily life.
  • Encourage and praise the child for things he/she does well.
  • Put as much order and consistency in the child’s life as possible.
  • Have realistic expectations for your child.
  • Reassure the child that all kids have pressures and fears and he/she is not alone.
  • Let your child express his/her feelings.
  • Provide a spiritual or religious base for the child.
  • Use non-punitive methods of discipline.
  • Help the child build friendships that support him/her.
  • Encourage healthy patterns of eating and sleeping.
  • Practice relaxation and meditation techniques.
  • Encourage daily physical activity.

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Questions? Comments? Please email Scott or Tracey.