A HOLISTIC APPROACH ON TREATING ANXIETY IN CHILDREN & ADULTS
Stop and breathe: Pause and take some deep breaths with your child (deep breathing can help reverse the nervous system response) Where is the fear in your body?
Ground: ‘Pull out’ the fear - physically or mentally throw it away, step back, breathe and repeat until you feel grounded and present. Say to yourself – ‘I am here and I am safe’. Mindfulness brings a child from ‘what if to what is’ and prevents a panic attack.
Explain why worry and fear are normal as protection mechanisms for our survival. A natural stress response preparing us for fight, flight or freeze when we sense danger. This shuts down our logical brain.
Kick start the logical mind into gear – What is the best scenario? Worst scenario? Most likely scenario from this event? Use your imagination to time travel into future and past and then come back to present time. Breathe.
Role play and bring worry or fear to life by personifying it with puppets or toys.
Create a ‘worry box’ (decorated shoe box) when worry thoughts come to visit – draw or write them down and end with gratitude for a great thing that also happened.
Encourage children to ‘have a go’. Praise or reward them for every step they manage to take. Create mini-goals to get closer to the bigger goal (e.g., go to the edge of the park, then walk into the park, go to the slide, and, finally, get on the slide etc). You can use each step until the exposure becomes too easy.
Last but not least. Establish routines for:
Sleep: School-aged children need l0 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Use Flower Essences like Emergency Essence (Australian Bush Flowers) as oral drops or spray bottles before going to sleep or as needed through the day.
Eat healthy foods and drink filtered water - caffeine and sugar-rich drinks like soda, sport and energy drinks can increase anxiety and agitation.
Exercise: A minimum of 30 mins of aerobic exercise daily is advised. Discuss ways your child could incorporate this in their existing routine (e.g. joining in school programs, family activity, playing with friends outside, joining sporting teams like tennis or soccer).