Simple Strategies to Relieve Anxiety as a Family

I love stress mastery for its impact on anxiety! Becoming a certified stress mastery educator was partly because I wanted to learn how to help others with this journey we’re on, but also because I needed these skills for myself!

I’m so happy to have this foundation and knowledge to help us all through these challenging times we’re living in right now!

What is Stress Mastery? (and What It Isn’t)

Many people talk about stress management – which is all about removing your stress. It’s often impossible to do that under normal circumstances, but can especially be a challenge in these days!

If we can’t avoid or remove our stress, then what?

That’s where stress mastery comes in!

I love stress mastery because we define stress as the gap between your demand and your capacity; or the gap between what you’re being asked to do and the energy you have to bring to your day.

We often can’t change what we’re being asked to do, but we can increase our capacity and recharge our energy.

Here are my three strategies to master your stress and anxiety:

  1. Start the morning with gratitude
  2. Take “recharge breaks” to re-energize
  3. Maximize our sleep (this is the most important one!)

Relieve Anxiety by Starting with Gratitude

From a stress mastery perspective, how should you start the morning?

It's so important to start your day correctly. -Katie Kimball

I completely stink at routine, seriously! I don’t do schedules and I’m always late, but I have learned that if I keep certain things out of my way the first hour, my day goes much more smoothly and I am more focused and productive with the things that matter the most.

I thought it was fascinating when I read the research that shows that what you do in the first hour trains your neural pathways for the rest of the day.

If you’re checking email you’re going to feel more reactive to OTHER people’s priorities, not your own. Even if it’s productive and it’s quality work getting done, you won’t be as creative or focused.

If you’re reading the news or social media in that first hour, you’re literally training your brain to look for the negative in the day.

Instead, starting the day with a habit of gratitude can really build the brain in the right direction!

Research shows that people who focus on what they’re grateful for train their brains to look for the positive throughout the day. We all need a little bit of that.

In our family we start our day by asking our kids, “Good morning, what are three things you are grateful for right now?” And give back to them what you’re grateful for!

Simply start with gratitude instead of negativity, and you’re setting the scene for the whole day! We can do that, even in these times. We also end the day in the same way, by listing what we’re grateful for.

Do-Able Recharge Breaks During the Day

We want to take three to five “Recharge Breaks” throughout the day – just like we would fill a car with gas or recharge our cell phone batteries. We should consciously take a break from what we’re doing.

That might look like prayer or meditation (even 30 seconds to 2 minutes!), exercise, taking a walk, playing with the kids mindfully, filling out like a gratitude journal, breathing essential oils slowly to settle our body down, inspirational reading, even watching a funny video… All these are great ways to just take a break in the middle of the day.

Family going for a walk

In these times, connecting with a friend and snuggling with a kid or a pet are also really great stress mastery recharge techniques.

Text someone, videochat (and limit how much you talk about the news and anxiety), or (gasp!) pick up the phone and CALL someone! 🙂

If your friends are like mine – they’ll feel “seen.” We all need to feel seen in these weeks of social distancing, don’t we?

RELATED: Try this simple breathing technique to reduce stress.

The definition of discontentment is being one place and wishing you were doing something different. Sometimes just diving in and embracing and saying, “you know what – this is an opportunity and I can’t be perfect all the time but for five minutes I’m going to be really present” is such a gamechanger for me!

How can we effectively integrate these recharge breaks into our day?

First of all, it’s important to connect them with things that you know you will do every day – like eating lunch, getting out of bed, or taking a shower.

One example could be: Every time I get out of the shower I’m going to take 30 seconds, and do some deep breathing. Another could be: Every time I wash the dishes I’m going to put on some music and move my body (sing if you want!).

What could this look like for you?

The Most Important Strategy to Relieve Anxiety

Sleep. I’ll say it again. SLEEP!

I’m not the poster child for this since I’m a night owl like no other, but I think it’s the most important thing that families can do right now to reduce anxiety and I’m making conscious choices and effort toward this in my life too.

boy sleeping

We have time at home.

Netflix isn’t forcing us to stay up and watch anything.

With fewer demands on our time, many of us have fewer outside distractions and priorities.

Adults and kids – we all need sleep! That’s when our memories reorganize, our cells regenerate, digestion is fixed, our immune system is boosted (and who doesn’t want that right now?)!

As tempting as it is to kind of “play weekend” or “play summer” and let our kids stay up late, I just want to really encourage parents to keep a normal school bedtime. We know those elementary kids aren’t going to sleep in anyway and teenagers need way more sleep than they’re getting.

(Never wake a sleeping teenager! There’s a cool study that showed that adding 45 minutes to teenagers’ sleep increased SAT scores by 200 points!! So maybe a silver lining here is that our teens will come back smarter IF we get them enough sleep!)

Really making an effort to keep a consistent bedtime for your kids AND for all the adults is so vital!

You may not be able to control the news, your health, and many other stressors, but in most cases, you do control your own bedtime.

RELATED: 5 weird tools to improve your sleep.

I hope these tips are super practical and achievable for you and your family to help relieve anxiety in the coming weeks.

Relieve anxiety with 3 simple strategies

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