Slow Time for Worries Summer seems to be a slow time for worries. More sleep; more play; more hanging out with mom and dad. Why not use this time to give your child a leg-up on worry-fighting for the fall?

Relaxation exercises are a natural fit for summer, and there is convincing evidence they carry year-round benefits, moving chronic worriers from an ongoing state of fight-or-flight to a quieter, more balanced nervous system.

Slow Time for Worries Start by adding time for relaxation into your child's day. Teach a specific relaxation exercise, or experiment with a few to see which your child likes best. Then have your child practice daily. Make it comfortable and fun: sit in front of a fan, have a cool drink, turn off electronics, be together, relax.

The key is to do this often (once or twice a day), as frequent practice stimulates the relaxation response (www.relaxationresponse.org/howto.htm) while providing your child with an additional tool if worries come knocking in the fall.

Relaxation methods:

  1. Meditative
    1. Sit comfortably with eyes closed.
    2. Focus on breathing slow and easy, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
    3. Slow Time for Worries Silently repeat a calm but meaningful word with each exhale (determine this in advance with your child, linking the word to a calm place or peaceful activity; words like flow, peace, smile, safe, breeze work well).
    4. Remain focused on breaths moving in and out, letting go of all other thoughts (it helps for children to picture a color or a relaxing scene rather than trying to make their minds go blank).
    5. If thoughts wander, gently shift them back to breathing.
    6. Continue for 10 minutes.
  2. Muscle Relaxation
    1. Sit or lie comfortably with eyes closed.
    2. Tighten all muscles simultaneously (children sometimes benefit from wrapping their arms and legs around a large pillow to squeeze).
    3. Slow Time for Worries Relax, letting all tightness/tension go; silently say relax as you do this.
    4. Let your whole body sink into the chair or onto the floor.
    5. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth (x3).
    6. Repeat b-e for a total of 10 minutes.

For additional ideas about relaxation exercises, check out Lori Lite’s wonderful material at stressfreekids.com