Category Archives: Stress

Dead Bug to De-Stress

Mother with the baby doing exercises over white

Dead bug is a fun yoga pose with multiple benefits. I use dead bug as a wake-up exercise following relaxation. It’s an easy transition since the children are already lying on their backs. Dead bug can also be called octopus or jelly fish and is a great pose to incorporate into an ocean sequence.

BENEFITS

  • Balances brain hemispheres
  • Calms and restores the central nervous system
  • Strengthens the core

HOW TO BE A DEAD BUG

Lie on your back. Lift up arms and legs. Lengthen your arms and legs to build core strength. Breath in and out while making your arms float slowly back and forth making “X’s” in the air.  This locomotor movement crosses the brain and bodies midlines, which balances and organizes the brain’s hemispheres.

BONDING AS A BUG

Dead bug can also be done as a partner pose with toddlers. Parents, lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your child on their stomach on your legs. Hold their hands and sway your feet slowly back and forth. Remember to breathe in and out as you move.

Lying on the floor waving limbs in the air never gets old. It is a great way to de-stress children of all ages.  Try it…

Mindfulness Quiets The Mind

Casa Somerset Yoga-30

I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the ‘monkey mind’ — the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness is characterized by stopping, paying attention on purpose, peace, and compassion   Mindfulness is a way of looking at experiences with emotional balance and compassion for self and others.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Mindfulness gives the individual a way to deal with negative experiences. More intimate connections with others are accomplished and regrets are not focused on. Mindfulness enhances physical health by decreasing stress, blood pressure, pain, and improving the quality of sleep. Mindfulness can supplement mental health treatments by improving symptoms related to depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Siegel (1999) reports that the structures and functions of are brain are molded by interpersonal experiences. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve neural growth in the brain. The more you engage in an activity the better the body will become at doing it due to this neural growth; therefore, it is important to engage in mindfulness daily.

Stress comes from contemplating about the past or worrying about the future. Living your life in the current moment and focusing your attention on the activity you are doing at the moment does not leave space for other things to invade your thoughts, such as fears, worries or anything that may be stressful. When meditating, your attention is on the meditation object, which may be your breath or mantra. This focus allows your mind to quiet and to be fully present in the moment. Performing activities such as schoolwork with mindfulness leads to improved outcomes. Not only is stress and worry decreased, focus is improved.

 HOW DO I TEACH IT TO MY CHILD?

Teaching children mindfulness can be tricky. After all the art of doing nothing is hard to learn in our frantic society.  A simple way to demonstrate mindfulness to children is to show them how to check in with their breath. Props such as stuffed animals or hoberman spheres can be used.  Children love to pretend the props are riding the breath on their tummies. Also, there are several books that introduce mindfulness. One of my favorites is “Peaceful Piggy Meditation. ” So spend a few minutes at the end of the day being mindful, and before you know it you will have a mindful child.

References

Boyce, B. (n.d.). The secret of success for MBSR. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/in-body-and-mind/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction/the-secret-of-success-for-mbsr

Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Cultivating mindfulness to reduce stress and anxiety. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm

Siegel, D. J. (n.d.). The science of mindfulness. Retrieved from http://mindful.org/the-science/medicine/the-science-of-mindfulness

Siegel, D. J. (1999). The Developing Mind. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

 

Eight Essential Oils That Reduce Anxiety

lavender essence

The medicinal use of essential oils can be traced to ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures. Aromatherapy is taught in French medical schools and prescribed by European physicians; however, doctors in the United States typically don’t prescribe or use them. Hmmm…

The sense of smell is linked to daily functions such as relaxation, attention, performance, and alertness and these states may be achieved purposefully with different aromas (Butje, Repede, & Shattell, 2008). Lavender, my favorite, has been linked with parasympathetic stimulation of the autonomic nervous system. Whoa, sorry, I’m starting to sound like a medical journal. The parasympathetic nervous system helps us stay calm and relaxed. Thus, research has associated lavender with decreased anxiety, enhanced mood, and increased sedation.

Peppermint and rosemary have been linked with improved memory and cognition. Lavender and rosemary have been shown to significantly reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on the body. This suggests a protective effect that is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-carcinogenic (Butje, Repede, & Shattell)! Amazing.

Essential oils may be applied in multiple ways; however, the most effective route for reducing anxiety and slowing an overactive mind is inhalation.

Oils used by aromatherapists to decrease anxiety, enhance mood, and reduce stress include (d’Angelo, 2002; Lis-Balchin, 2006):

Lavender.
Lemon.
Clary sage.
Roman chamomile.
Geranium.
Rose otto.
Sandalwood.
Jasmine.

Oils that are synthetic and called fragrance or perfume oils will not offer the therapeutic effects pure plant-extracted oils will and should be avoided. Oils need to be bought from a reputable source and no, Walmart, is not a reputable source. I order my essential oils from Young Living and use one of their diffusers in my therapy room. I’m impressed with their seed to seal process.

Like all medicinal products, it’s important to research oils before using them. Essential oils can be toxic, produce side effects and/or cause allergic reactions. Effective use requires knowledge to safely administer oils.

References

Butje, A., L.M.T., Repede, Elizabeth, MS, APRN-BC,F.N.P., C.M.H., & Shattell, Mona M,PhD., R.N. (2008). Healing scents: An overview of clinical aromatherapy for emotional distress. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 46(10), 46-52.

d’Angelo, R. (2002). Aromatherapy. In S. Shannon (Ed.), Handbook of complementary and alternative therapies in mental health (pp. 71-92). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Lis-Balchin, M. (2006). Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London, United Kingdom: Pharmaceutical Press.

Be a Cobra to Relieve Stress

Casa Somerset Yoga-5

 COBRA

 Children love to slither on the floor and pretend to be snakes, but what parents do not realize is being a cobra has multiple benefits. Slithering around on the floor builds upper body strength and coordination.   Exhaling out a “hisssss” releases tension and coordinates breath with movement.

Cobra is a great pose for all children, including those with developmental delays, ADHD, and autism.  Cobra integrates the Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex, which is a primitive reflex that has a role in development.  This means it has an important therapeutic role.  So by all means have snake races with your children!  Not only are they  fun, but it’s an aiding in their development.

 BENEFITS

  • Relieves stress, tension, and fatigue
  • Strengthens back and spine
  • Integrates primitive reflexes
  • Opens chest and lungs

HOW TO BE A COBRA

Lay on your belly with your legs together. Put your hands under shoulders and elevate your head and chest. Exhale out a “hisssss” then lower down to rest in the grass. Try it again. This time move your head from side to side as you hiss. Try it a third time. This time slither forward only using your hands and arms to move (works best on slippery flooring). Teach cobra to your friends and have a race!

 SHOW  US

Post your best cobra on Mindful Child Wellness Facebook page for a chance to win the pose of the month contest. Ready…

Stop and Smell the Flowers, Lavender Calms the Mind

Essential oils reduce stress and calm the mind.

Aromas act directly on the brain through nerve receptors in the nose.  Millions of nerve cells in our nasal passageways send impulses to the hypothalamus and limbic area, which are the brain’s emotional centers. Aroma of certain oils is linked to the amygdala and pineal gland in the brain, which are also associated with emotion, thus it can help the mind and body by reducing emotional trauma.

Lavender is associated with relaxed brain waves.  Thus, when a child is upset, deep diaphragm breathing coupled with lavender, will have a calming affect on the central nervous system.  Research demonstrates breathing exercises have been successful in reducing anxiety related to attachment disorder, agoraphobia or general anxiety disorder.

Children often need visual reminders to breathe, especially when they are upset.  I make bracelets with lavender scented flowers.  When the child is upset and breathing shallowly, I provide the cue, “Stop and smell the flowers.”  Nine deep breaths are needed to calm the central nervous system.

Additionally, I use essential oils when teaching kid’s yoga and mindfulness. When mixing essential oils, always use oils that are pure and from a respectable source, such as Young Living.  Essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil such as sesame or olive oil in a specific ratio. So if you can’t find a flower to smell, make one.

References

Di Ciacco, J. A. (2008). The colors of grief: Understanding a child’s journey through loss from birth to adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Overholser, J.C. (2000). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder. Psychotherapy, 37, 247-256.

Splish Splash, Put Magnesium In The Bath

Magnesium is found in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas.  Dietary intake of magnesium is low in the Western diet.  Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions.  This means children need magnesium for optimal brain functioning.

Magnesium may be depleted from the body during stress; therefore, children dealing with chronic stress may be at-risk for a magnesium deficiency. Signs of magnesium deficiency include: anxiety, muscle spasms, constipation, and insomnia. Additionally, Werbach (1991) asserts magnesium has been linked to aggressive behavior.  An excess or deficiency may result in aggressive behavior.  This is hypothesized to be due to magnesium being a cofactor in the activity of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.  Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are neurotransmitters, which means they are brain chemicals that regulate mood and sleep.

Magnesium is easy and inexpensive to supplement.  Magnesium may be added to the bath and absorbed through the skin. Consequently, pouring a cup of lavender scented epsom salt in your child’s bath at bedtime is a fantastic way to supplement magnesium.  The combination of magnesium and lavender may improve sleep, especially when combined with calcium. Rub a dub, your child will be relaxing in the tub. Long about a Saturday night, yeah!

Reference

Werbach, M.R. (1991).  Nutritional Influences on Mental Illness, (2nd ed.). Tarzana, CA: Third Line Press.

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children