Tag Archives: progressive muscle relaxation

Coping Skills for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common childhood-onset psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders in children are associated with educational underachievement and co-occurring psychiatric conditions, as well as functional impairments that can extend into adulthood.

The most recognizable cognitive pattern in anxiety is worry. The child ruminates on “what if” thoughts about negative events that might happen in the future. Worrying is an attempt to prepare and to feel in control. Unfortunately, the brain treats every “what if” thought as something that WILL happen rather than as something that MIGHT happen. This activates the fight or flight reaction even when no actual danger or threat is present.

With coping skills training, your child learns to relax at the first sign of the stress response.  They are able to counter the “what if” thoughts with coping thoughts when faced with a challenging situation.

What are the Benefits of Coping Skills Training?

Coping skills training reduces stress and anxiety. It can improve sleep, happiness and resilience. Coping skills training improves relaxation and calmness, while promoting the ability to manage difficult emotions.

Step One: Relax and Be Mindful

Coping Skills Training at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga is made up of evidence-based relaxation techniques. Here are some of the techniques we use at Mindful Child:

You can significantly reduce stress and anxiety with these techniques, but it will take daily practice. Additionally, the techniques should be taught in the order listed above. Deep diaphragmatic breathing should always be taught first. Poor breathing habits diminish the flow of gases to and from your child’s body, making it harder for them to cope with stressful situations. In addition, to following the specified order it is important to make the activities FUN. My book, Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, contains breathing and relaxation techniques specifically for children. Better yet – if you are in the Kansas City area, sign-up your child up for a aerial yoga and mindfulness class, camp or kid’s yoga night out.

References

Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology8, 874. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874

Manzoni, G. M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., & Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC psychiatry8, 41. doi:10.1186/1471-244X-8-41

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Relaxation Training Quickly Calms the Body and the Mind

Applied relaxation training brings together a number of evidence-based relaxation techniques. The combined effect of these techniques helps reverse the effects of stress quickly and powerfully. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga classes incorporate a variety of research-backed relaxation exercises to help children calm themselves, when they encounter a stressful situation. For this blog, we will focus on one of our favorites, progressive muscle relaxation.

What is Progressive Relaxation Training?

The technique of progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was developed by Jacobson in 1944. Yes, it has been around a LONG time. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) consists of tensing and relaxing individual muscle groups. It helps children to develop body awareness and teaches them how to release muscle tension. When your child practices PMR exercises, they may start from the top of the body and progress to the bottom, or vice versa depending on the exercise. Progressing through muscle groups sequentially makes it easier for children to follow along.

What are the Benefits?

Progressive Muscle Relaxation helps your child recognize the difference between tension and relaxation in each of the major muscle groups. This relaxation technique develops body awareness and has been clinically proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and pain.

What does the Research Say?

  • After a 12-week relaxation program, researchers observed significant decreases in young athletes confusion, depression, fatigue, tension, and anger scores. (Hashim, Hanafi, & Yusof, 2011).
  • Thayer, Newman, and McClain (1994) found exercise to be the most effective mood-regulating behavior. However, their research discovered the best strategy to change a bad mood is a combination of relaxation, stress management, cognitive, and exercise techniques. Hmmm…sounds like our aerial yoga classes.
  • Lupen and associates (1976) studied the effect of PMR on hyperactive children. Significant improvements were noted in behavior, attention, concentration, and cognition. Frequency of practice was positively linked with improvement. This means the more the children practiced the more they improved.

Kid’s Aerial Yoga and Progressive Muscle Relaxation

At Mindful Child, we incorporate PMR into our ending relaxation story. We do this in our mindfulness therapeutic sessions and in our aerial yoga classes. PMR is introduced in the aerial hammock, which adds an element of fun to the exercises. PMR does not have to be taught in an aerial yoga hammock to reduce stress, all that is needed is a quiet environment and a comfortable position.

References

Hashim, H. A., & Hanafi Ahmad Yusof, H. (2011). The effects of progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic relaxation on young soccer players’ mood states. Asian journal of sports medicine2(2), 99–105. doi:10.5812/asjsm.34786

Lehrer PM. Varieties of relaxation methods and their unique effects. Int J Stress Manage. 1996;3:1–14. [Google Scholar]

Thayer RE, Newman R, McClain TM. Self-regulation of mood: strategies for changing a bad mood, raising energy, and reducing tension. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994;67:910–25. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Lupen, M., Braud, L., Braud, W, & Derer, W. (1976). Children, parents, and relaxation tapes. Academic Therapy, 12, 105-113

Reduce Stress with Spaghetti Body

What is Spaghetti Body?

Spaghetti Body is a relaxation technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation . Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. In this activity, kids tense and relax muscles while pretending to be uncooked and cooked spaghetti.

What are the benefits?

Spaghetti Body teaches children how to relax their muscles when they are tight. Research shows progressive muscle relaxation can reduce anxiety and stress. Additionally, Spaghetti Body helps improve attention, mindful awareness, concentration, and self-concept.

How to practice Spaghetti Body at home:

  • Make you body straight and tight like a piece of uncooked spaghetti. Glue everything together and squeeze.
  • Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Your belly should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
  • Notice how you feel. This is what happens to your body when you are mad or nervous.
  • Imagine that your uncooked spaghetti noodle is being placed in a pan of hot water. The noodle is wet and it begins so soften.
  • Breathe in as you curl your toes in and scrunch your feet. Hold for one, two, three. Breathe out as you start to wiggle your toes and let your feet begin to soften just like a wet, warm, noodle. Wet noodles are relaxed and wiggly – not tight and stiff.
  • As you breath in tighten your legs. One, two, three. As you breathe out start to wiggle your legs and let them relax.
  • Take a deep breath in and make your hands into tight fists and your arms straight and tight. Hold for one, two, three, now let all the air out as you relax your fingers and arms into a wet wiggly noodle.
  • Take a deep breath in as you bring your shoulders up by your ears. Scrunch your shoulders. One, two, three. Breathe out as you let your shoulders begin to soften and relax down your back.
  • Close your eyes and scrunch up your entire face. Breathe in. One, two three, release your breath and let your face relax.
  • I like to squeeze a fresh lemon on cooked spaghetti noodles. If you would like lemon squeezed on your noodle raise your hand I will put a cotton ball with lemon essential oil in it.
  • Ta-da – you are a cooked spaghetti noodle! Scan your noodle to make sure all the tightness is gone. Let your body feel relaxed and calm. Breathe in and out through your nose slowly. Notice how you feel.

At Mindful Child, we like to pair Spaghetti Body with Spaghetti Pose, which is an activity from Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids, by Dr. Tracy. This adds extra benefits such as deep breathing, tactile discrimination, and flexibility.

If you’d like to learn more activities for home or the classroom sign up for the Mindful Child Teacher Training and become a kid’s yoga teacher!