When a brain is overwhelmed by digital communication like email and texting, it reacts the same way an injured brain does. It tires more easily and loses its ability to clearly understand. This is called chronic anxiousness. It’s exhausting and it’s what 80% of us – including our children – are experiencing a form of today.
The pandemic is making our families – especially our school-aged children – stressed and less happy. To combat chronic anxiousness in your family and increase their emotional wellbeing, we’ve developed these fun, timeless exercises:
- Smile breaks. Research has proven that digital interaction is making children anxious and worried. So, bring back the smile. Every two hours take a picture of your kids smiling. They can be sitting, standing, or doing something silly. At the end of the day share the pictures and talk about the day. This simple act brings back joy to the day and is a wonderful break in the day.
- Take a Droodle break. From our website pull a Droodle (an abstract picture) and ask your child what they see. Talk about it for three minutes. Droodles were created in the 1950s to stimulate creativity. The benefit to your kids, and to you, is that Droodles are a puzzle that kickstarts abstract thinking skills and imagination. They train the mind to see things in a different light, which can benefit your child’s problem-solving skills. This works even with surly teens who don’t want to play.
- Play head and shoulders knees and toes. Online we offer free microbreaks that stimulate your relaxation response. They’re science-based solutions for exhaustion, and anxiousness. (We bet even just reading the words head and shoulders you heard the old song in your head.) Take our microbreaks offline; put on some music for a minute or two and with your kids move your head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Do this with your kids and video it. Make a top ten list of head and shoulders knees and toes songs. My family’s favorite is Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September” even my partner will dance… for about a minute.
- Family bloopers each day pick a family member to be the camera operator and to film something funny they see in the house for short time. It might be catching the dogs on the couch or someone falling up the stairs, which the ballerina in my family does all the time! On Friday make some popcorn and have a “family bloopers” night. Share the week’s videos.
- Musical chairs. We all get tired of where we work, we need a change. At the end of the day or at lunch, play snippets of your favorite song. Ask everyone to pick a new chair and work in it for 10 minutes. When you are showing your family bloopers on Friday night pick the week’s most comfortable chair in the house. (In my house it’s always my chair so my family always works together to ensure that all is left for me to sit on is the couch yep… with the dogs on it.)
By now you have probably realized that each of these activities creates memories and laughter. The great Betty White said “I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside” Our research proves she is right; finding the fun side of the day is the best cure for anxiousness.