7 simple steps to manage stress.

The focus of this year's Mental Health Awareness week is stress and the damaging effect it can have on people's mental health.  There's no doubt that an increasing number of us are experiencing rising stress levels.  And this isn't just limited to adults, one of the more alarming articles I read was about the increase in anxiety amongst children and young people.

So as the pressures of modern life increase for mums and kids, here are seven simple steps to help you and your child manage your stress levels.

7 steps to lower your stress levels

Take A Deep Breath

It may sound obvious but don’t forget to breathe properly. If you or your child feels a rising sense of panic or a feeling of being overwhelmed – remember to slow your breathing down. Think to yourself yoga breathing - in through the nose and out through the mouth - and you’ll immediately feel more relaxed and in control.

Work smarter, not harder

If you’re worrying about all the things you have to do, just take a step back and do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking can be very stressful, so focus on what is really urgent and prioritise this, rather than worrying about a long to-do. Similarly, if your child is struggling to manage their homework, help them to organise their time more effectively and breakdown the workload into manageable chunks so they feel less daunted.

Be Mindful 

Mindfulness – the ability to be truly present in the moment – is a powerful tool to manage anxiety and stress. As a busy mum, it’s all too easy to feel as though life is rushing you by as you juggle the commitments of work and family. So take some time to be still – doing nothing for just 10 minutes to calm your mind. Many schools now teach mindfulness techniques in class, so both you and your child can benefit from taking time out each day to be present. Apps such as Headspace are a great way of helping you achieve mindfulness.

Switch Off

In today’s world we can be connected to technology 24/7 - whether it’s you checking your emails on your phone, or your child glued to Instagram or Snapchat. So it’s more important than ever to be disciplined enough to turn off technology for certain times of the day. This will allow your child to unwind properly after the stresses of school and talk through anything that is bothering them.

Look After Yourself

As a mum we are used to putting the needs of others before ourselves and this can affect our stress levels. So don’t neglect the basics – remember to eat regularly, stay hydrated and get enough sleep. By looking after yourself, you are more likely to be able to deal with the pressures of daily life.

Take Some Exercise

Exercise is a great way to lower anxiety and stress levels as it releases endorphins that improve your sense of wellbeing. This doesn’t mean you immediately have to hit the gym, even a short walk can help clear your mind. Similarly, as the nights draw in, it’s easy for your child to stay inside in front of the TV, so make sure they go out and get some fresh air and exercise whenever possible.

Sing a Song!

You only have to watch an episode of Gareth Malone’s Choir to see the role music can play in controlling stress. Whether you sing in the shower or listen to songs in your car – music can be one of the best de-stressors and a great way to manage your mood. So the next time either you or your child are feeling down or overwhelmed, find an uplifting tune and hit the play button!

As we start the second half of this term, I hope these stress-busting top tips will help you and your child gain a greater sense of control and well-being so you can relax and enjoy the busy run-up to Christmas.

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