Put your hands up if you had anxiety when you were a child?
Was it labelled as anxiety or is this something you have only just begun to address?
For myself, I suffered from anxiety and depression from an early age. Homelife had some difficult turns, which rippled out into school, with the later diagnoses of being dyslexic.
According to Place2Be,1 in 8 children and young people have an undiagnosed mental health problem and many continue to have these problems into adulthood.
So my question is, do you still have this anxiety, does it feel bigger than before?
If we are unable to address these issue from an early age, they begin to build-up, until even the little problems can feel unmanageable because we haven't even begun to let go and heal the feelings from the beginning.
When we are faced with stress our bodies natural response is to go into 'flight or fight' mode which is how our sympathetic nervous system protects us from danger. What this also does, is to shut off less necessary body functions while we try to survive the situations. This is great if you are being chased by a bear or even in our modern world dodge a car. Prolonged stress such as school bullying, grievances, divorce, work-life etc. will cause chronic stress if we haven't got the tools to switch into our parasympathetic nervous system.
Our parasympathetic nervous system is what tells us we are calm and safe. When this is in a healthy function we can concentrate during school, strengthen our immune system and manage difficult emotions.
What's great about society now, is that we are becoming ever more aware of mental health, how we can address it in our lives and also our children's. So although we may be hearing more of it, this is also because we are addressing an issue that has been playing out for decades.
How are you addressing it in your life?
There are endless ways we can support mental health in the family. The core principles of these are being mindful. The moment we can be mindful about how, what and when the sympathetic nervous system is being triggered, for ourselves or others, we can start to take those actions.
Signs of anxiousness/stress (some physical and some mental):
tightness in the body, clenching jaw, sore shoulders.
shallow breathing or holding breath
mind chatter/ overthinking
worrying about what others are thinking
belly aches (butterflies) & nausea
procrastination or avoidance
a spontaneous outburst of anger, tears, tantrums or emotions that are causing distress
panic attacks (which have symptoms of there own)
isolation or finding it difficult to be in crowds (there can also be other reasons associated with this)
How do we tackle these with yoga and mindfulness?
Once you noticed tightness, observe where it is in the body, add beginning to breathe into that area, imagine with each breath you are sending calming and relaxing feel to it, as you breath out you are gently pushing out the feeling that was causing your discomfort.
you can either take larger breaths to fill up the lungs, sending it all the way into the belly. but if you are feeling extremely anxious and more of the panic scale, then stick to soft slow natural breaths, which you could also count and notice how it takes fewer counts each time to calm down.
Take the time to observe the thoughts, be still, as one comes in, instead of getting consumed by the conversation, imagine it is moving on like a cloud. Keep doing this with each thought that comes in. There is no need to try and force them out, it's ok if they come up, it's how long they stay there for.
If you are worried about how others are thinking, this could be a judgment on yourself. Observe the situation; what would happen if that judgment was true? but equally what if it isn't? try and turn the worry into a passive. e.g I want to play on the slide, but I'm worried others will think I'm too old. If they think I'm too old, there isn't actually anything they can do or say that wouldn't be a true statement. However, if I worry about them thinking that, I may miss out on having fun and expressing the inner child we all have within us. Perhaps other adults will be amazed at how I am so carefree... sure they wished they did the same.
Take a moment to lay down and focus of the breath, gentle breathing. You can place your hands over your belly and imagine with each breath you are breathing in golden light and when you breathe out you are sending it through your hands and into your belly. Notice how hot or tingly you hands get...
You may just need to place yourself in a dark place until they subside. Don't be afraid to take time out from what you are doing. Regular yoga will help align the spine from hunching and tightness that can appear over time when suffering from prolonged anxiety. Alternative nostril breathing is a great way to balance the autonomic nervous system (SN&PN).
Write a list of what you need to do, what's holding you back and what would you gain from achieving it. setting little goals to work towards will bring confidence. Using positive affirmation will also encourage achievement.
If we are holding onto a bunch of emotions, there will come a point when it gets all too much, so when something arises try to address it there and then. If an outburst does occur, allow it to ride out, take some breaths in a quiet place. Tapping on the body helps move up stagnant or unwanted energy in the body, try tapping in the centre of the chest (thymus thump).
If panic attacks are happening regularly, seek professional help, there are alternative ways such as meditation classes, qigong and yoga that will give you the tools, like visualisations and breathing. In your mind, take yourself to someplace nice, safe and beautiful. The thymus thump is another great one for panic, tapping at a slow rhythm, while breathing softly, with longer exhales. I actually used to close my eyes and turn myself into a bird flying in the sky or a dolphin swimming in the ocean, which made me feel free and I felt the elements hit my new body.
Try making small steps to meet with one or two people and build up as you feel more comfortable. Going places you know and sourcing out a quiet place in a venue so you know where to head if things become overwhelming. Observe when this feeling first arises, find the trigger. This could have occurred from a younger age or a past life experience, so it's as if this is a hindrance in your life. Alternatively you could visit a quantum hypnotherapist/regressionist to see when this had occurred in your life. EFT also helps overcome traumatic events.
As a parent, if we are able to tackle our own mental health with the right mindset and tools we are even more likely to assist our children in the right way with theirs. It can be near impossible to help others when our heads are filled with worrying thoughts, tight and fatigued bodies. This isn't to say that you can't, but why suffer when all the tools are available to do so.
I hope this article will be an assistance to you and your family, and that you can always contact me or some amazing organisation that works in mental health.
Kind Kids Yoga & Mindfulness runs online live/recorded and in-person.
Yoga classes are in groups and one to ones.
I aim to support children, as they are growing up, to have all the tools they need to overcome anxiety among many other health benefits.
visit the website or contact me Georgia to arrange a class booking.
Mental health support websites-