Today, more than ever, American families are acknowledging they are experiencing higher levels of stress than previously documented. For parents, this news is alarming, especially when we realize even our kids are feeling the stress in their young lives. While we can’t control everything in the world around us, we do have the ability to teach our sons and daughters appropriate coping skills to handle stress. If we fail to do this, we are setting our kids up for a lifelong battle with unhealthy habits. Thankfully, if we model suitable behaviors and ways to deal with stress when we are together as a family, we can set our kids up for a happier and healthier future.
To help on this journey, we have compiled the following stress-relief activities that families can do together:
Host a family game night!
Unplug the devices and pull out the board games gathering dust in the closet. Bring back family game night to reinforce family bonds, provide a distraction from outside stress, have fun, and open communication lines without adding extra pressure. Research has found playing board games can be an effective way for people of all ages to find stress-relief.
Throughout time, laughter has been known as the best medicine. Surprisingly, there maybe a lot of truth to that old saying. Laughter can release endorphins, stimulate organs, and even release tension in our bodies. As a family, make it a priority to watch funny movies, enjoy silly cartoons, download crazy videos, share memes, crack jokes, and share hilarious stories to make each other laugh and relieve stress.
Color your world!
Channel your child’s inner artist to craft away stress. Sign up for a painting class or buy a few adult coloring books so the family can take a few minutes to relax and unwind together.
A great stress-relief activity for families is to unwind together by meditating. In a calm setting, practice deep breathing and mindfulness with the kids. Turn on a soothing playlist, help guide children to breathe through their noses while exhaling out through their mouths, and use creative meditation practices, such as: placing crystals and gemstones on certain areas of their bodies to help focus on releasing stress while being more mindful.
It might seem counter-productive to add more activities to our busy schedules, but volunteering as a family is a great way to help us gain new perspectives, be happier, combat anxiety, and reduce stress. Consider signing up to walk or play with animals at the local shelter or deliver meals to shut-ins to make a difference in your kids’ and someone else’s lives today.
Step outdoors and grow your own produce in the backyard or small containers. Surprisingly, being outside and gardening is a proven way to reduce stress. In fact, experts believe gardening is a great way to beat stress. Just consider that one study found people who gardened for 30 minutes experienced better moods and exhibited lower levels of stress hormones. Another bonus to family gardening is it provides you access to fresh fruits and veggies which are vital for good health which can keep stress levels in check.
Get a move on.
One stress-relief activity for families to do together is to get moving and exercise. Physical activity is a natural way to alleviate fatigue, enhance alertness, raise concentration skills, and improve our cognitive functions. For families, exercise is an easy way to boost our energy when it has been zapped by stress. Together, head outside for a walk, pick up a game of frisbee, ride bikes, have an impromptu family dance party, or shoot some hoops to overcome stress and build in a little family bonding in the process.
There is a correlation between stress levels and the amount of green spaces a person is exposed to in their environment. Studies show that a person will be more likely to experience higher stress levels if they don’t have access to the great outdoors. Fit in some extra family time by heading into the backyard, visiting the local park, or sneaking off to a recreation area for a picnic to appreciate the world growing around us.
Eat meals together.
Try to sit down regularly together and eat as a family. According to a study from Columbia University, kids who eat dinner with their family have smaller probabilities of abusing substances and perform better in school. However, Taco Tuesday can’t take all the credit for these effects. Spending time with people who care and listen might be the key to helping kids stop stress and make better choices. Eating together provides daily opportunities to begin conversations and reassure our boys and girls that everything will be alright.
How does your family find stress-relief together?
Guest Post Author – Amy Williams
Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.