Whenever we run coaching sessions on personal resilience, the question always arises - "How can I look after my child who is struggling with anxiety but won't go for professional help?" It's a tough one, very tough, so tough that there is no definitive answer to cover all situations.
Here's what we can say about the increase in what I refer to as, ADS, Anxiety, Depression and Suicide. The marked increase in these things is due, in most cases, to one or all of three things;
An overload of information for our prehistoric brain - social media, Google, too many choices and other contributors that have caused our brain to work much faster than previously. Not to mention the devices themselves that are impacting on our neuro-wiring.
High expectations on ourselves and on others - we want things now and done correctly, we strive to have the best of everything, we sometimes compare ourselves to others and want to be like them, we must get the best marks, our school reports are like performance appraisals, and perfectionism is increasing.
Social isolation - we don't talk face-to-face across the generations as we once did, we use devices more and more to communicate, we listen far too much to the voice inside our head that tells us 'I've got you, you can work through this', and when we are truly struggling we are reluctant to tell another because we feel like we have failed. We feel alone.
Current research indicates that it is not the big things that necessarily impact on us the most, it's lots of little things that accumulate and make as vulnerable when the big thing does happen. The above list is just that, lots of little things that accumulate.
To counter what is currently going on with our young ones, introducing a few little things can make a difference;
Reducing the use of smart technology - it's a balance between doing practical and tangible things along with the use of technology.
Spending one hour across the day talking face-to-face with people - not necessarily with friends, not talking with family, but also talking with; teachers, bus drivers, fellow passengers, shop assistants, the barber/hairdresser, any one and no one in particular, just with people of all generations. Listening to music is good for us, listening all day is not so good for us, removing the headphones every so often and saying hello with a smile is beneficial for both.
C's gets Degrees - there is nothing wrong with striving to do the best that we can, in fact science shows us that putting ourselves under a little bit of pressure is good for our brain. However, if we have constant high expectations of always wanting the best, getting the best, being the best, we become disappointed when it doesn't happen. With our negativity bias, we remember the negative things much easier than the positive things, so they accumulate. Slightly reducing our expectations, immediately managing any disappointment when we don't get what we wanted, and making a plan to move forward following the disappointment all help to mitigate the negative impact when we don't reach exactly what we sought.
Get outside and walk, run, bike, slide, fall, etc. - exercise, play, sun, fresh air, each of these things make a difference to our wellbeing. Join them all together and they make a massive difference.
Breathing - when we become anxious our breathing is the first thing to change, we breathe short and shallow. There are three breathing techniques that we recommend, all breathing must be done through the nose;
To manage anger (our default setting) - Take a deep breath, hold it while counting to 4 inside your head, breathe out fully, count to 4 inside your head before breathing in and resuming normal breathing.
To reduce 'thinking' (of which we do far too much these days) - Breathe in to fully expand our lungs at exactly 6 seconds, breathe out to fully deflate our lungs at exactly 6 seconds, repeat this for 2 minutes, twice a day.
To get to sleep (if you wake in the early hours) - take 9 deep breaths; for the first 3 breaths imagine that really cold air is going up one or the other nostril (but you are breathing through both nostrils), for the next 3 breaths imagine really cold air is going up the other nostril, and for the last 3 breaths imagine that really cold air is going up both nostrils.
The big hurdle as a parent is sometimes getting our young ones to listen to us. Often, they won't and we push them more because we want to help them. These days, pushing on our young can end up pushing them further away. Coax them instead, do some of the things listed above yourself and maybe they will follow, this might lead to doing some of them together.
If they won't listen to you, maybe they will listen to this person - https://youtu.be/yF3Qdn-q1eU.
If it is the little things that impact on us the most, then let's start with the little things. Our brain does not like to be forced to change, that's sometimes why we stay down in the mire. Doing one small thing daily is the way to make a change in our lives. Mt Everest was conquered in this way, just one small step at a time.