Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anxiety: 10 Tips To Stop The Cycle!




As parents we naturally want to keep our children safe and in this current world we live in that can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Just flip on the news for one evening and we can see for ourselves that no matter how careful we are in trying to protect our children bad things do happen. We wouldn't be doing our children any favors though not to try to look out for them as best as we can... we just have to keep a healthy perspective in doing so. As parents we want to teach our children cause and effect... that all callous or dangerous decisions do often have negative outcomes. With that being said we don't want to instill an unhealthy fear in them to create unnecessary anxiety, fear and stress.

As parents what can we do to make sure we are instilling what we can to keep our children safe yet also not do it with overkill and consequently contribute to causing our children to be anxious? There are some things we can keep in mind and implement so we don't fall into this trap.

Communicating to our children that the world is very unsafe... 

Parents need to be as self aware as possible not to project their fears and anxieties onto their children. They may worry incessantly about their children... concern is fine but keeping excessive worry under wraps may lessen your child's view of the world around them as being overly threatening to their safety, health and well being. If as parents we chronically say things like "Don't do this!... don't do that!... " it creates panic, restricts their children and creates unneeded fear to begin to grow over time. Instead we can tell our children very simply that when we cross the street we must hold hands and look both ways. We can teach our children and role play with them about situations they will likely experience in their pre-teen and teen years regarding peer pressure... smoking, drugs, sex etc. By teaching them that they can have some freedom but equipping them with the knowledge and practice they need to make good choices we are well on our way to helping them feel secure in the world.

Criticizing your children... 

Nothing good comes from criticizing your children. This is a red flag of parents who are perfectionistic and who are transferring their perfectionism onto their children. Their children will pay the price and always wonder if they are good enough or did well enough etc. It's truly a no win for children and in the end the parents lose too because the children will grow to resent them. The children will grow up to be adults who still are turning to their parents for acceptance and love. Unconditional love that they never felt they received. These are the children who later grow up to be the people pleasers and are beyond stressed out because their stomach is in knots, their schedule is overpacked and the guilt they consequently feel is busting at the seams. Stopping the criticism of little Susie's hair, her artwork, her attempts at helping, etc...  you will go a long way in helping her become a healthy adult. Parents can definitely change if they want to and if a reward system of some sort is implemented for every time we don't criticize our child (or ourselves) helps, by all means embrace it.

Shutting your children down....

As parents one of our jobs is to ensure our children are taught to adequately express themselves in a non-hostile, friendly but assertive manner. Extremes are never healthy and by encouraging our children to firmly stand up for themselves or voice their wishes or feelings about a situation we are setting a good foundation for our children to use their speech well into adulthood. But if parents are shutting their children down and not allowing self expression and in fact are punishing them because they are voicing a feeling, thought or concern... they are nothing but bullies. Children should be taught to speak with respect but also allowed to use their own minds and tongues to relay their thoughts. If a child is repeatedly given a dry biscuit for breakfast every morning and has respectfully asked his father for healthier options such as eggs, fruit or yogurt and dad denies him that, shuts him down and verbally berates him for it... the problem isn't the child. The problem is the father who has to remain in control... one, by not giving the child any other options... two, by not allowing the child to speak his or her mind. The father is in fact merely a bully. The child who is continually shut down will pay the price by becoming more tense, more anxious, and have issues as an adult adequately expressing themselves. This will lead the child once grown to have issues in his or her own relationships with communication and assertiveness.

Whether parents are inflicting all of these issues or just one upon their children, over time they create huge amounts of stress that builds, consequently creating anxious, tensed up children, teens and later adults. Just some of the factors that they could unfortunately face include... migraine headaches, panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder, muscle pains, fatigue, tics, eating disorders, sleeping problems, depression, phobias, ocd, trichotillomania, and more. Fortunately, parents CAN change... just knowing if you are struggling with some or all of these issues is the beginning to positive change in your child's world and your own. Self-awareness is always a good first step and then taking the initiative to implement new ways of relating to our children little by little will produce great fruit in their lives.

If as an adult you have experienced an upbringing that involved these anxiety producing issues... you may very well be suffering from anxiety because of it. There are many things you can do if you are already suffering from the anxiety monster that seems once it has it's hold threatens to take more and more. As someone who as suffered from anxiety for years trust me, you are not alone. Thankfully there are techniques available to help.

1. Talk to someone. Or pray. Sometimes just expressing it helps.

2. Journal. Get it out on paper.

3. Relax. Bubble baths, a massage, sex etc are great ways to ease stress.

4. Redirection. Redirect your thoughts to something pleasant such as a vacation spot.

5. Deep breathing. Slow, abdominal breathing through your nose, exhale from your mouth. Place your hand lightly on your abdomen to ensure it's rising and falling with each breath and you are not breathing shallowly.

6. Muscle help. Start with your jaw, neck and shoulder muscles. Relax them one at a time and slowly work your way down your body until your muscles feel like jelly.

7. Picture something pleasant such as water or the ocean waves, imagining the sound.

8. Aerobics on a regular basis. Proven to rid the body of tension that has built up and ease anxiety.

9. Positive thoughts. Remind yourself that this will pass... you are not your anxious thoughts or actions.

10. Practical help. Stress ball to squeeze at your desk, chew gum if needing to clench your teeth.

© ~ 2013 

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