Make Your Home Stress-Free for Kids with Anxiety
If your child has an anxiety disorder, creating a calm and inviting home environment can help with the daily stresses and worries brought on by anxiety. Here are six ways to transform your home into a stress-free environment and make it more comfortable for your child.
Create a Peaceful Haven for Rest
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest culprits for anxiety and can be remedied by getting an adequate amount of sleep. Make sure the mattress in your child's bedroom is comfortable, swap out lumpy pillows for supportive ones, set the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees and stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends.
2. Post encouraging reminders throughout the house
If you have children with anxiety, placing positive notes around the house can get them out of a negative headspace and into a more positive mindset. Here are a few examples of encouraging reminders that can be left in your child's bedroom, in the bathroom, on the fridge or simply around the home:
- Do your best—Instead of aiming for perfection, strive to complete a task to the best of your ability. You should be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you can't control everything—There will be some circumstances that are completely out of your control. That's OK. Focus on the things you can control.
- Breathe—Sometimes, the best reminder is something that you or your child can focus on. Channeling your actions on this simple reminder can help tremendously when anxiety begins to build.
3. Address sounds that could lead to anxiety
Having a leaky faucet that continues to drip or hearing the dryer screech as it cycles through another pile of clothes can trigger anxiety in a child, no matter how minor these sounds seem. If one of your appliances needs to be repaired, see if it's covered by a home warranty—most home warranties will cover appliances that have broken down due to normal wear and tear. If this is the case with your system or appliance, you'll be able to get it fixed quickly and efficiently. If it's not covered by a warranty, schedule a time for a technician to come out and address the problem as soon as possible.
4. Declutter your home
Clutter plays a huge role in affecting someone's physical and mental health. According to a recent online survey, 84 percent of recently stressed Americans say they worry that their home isn't organized enough. What's more: 55 percent of that group called it out as a source of recent stress. Not only can clutter increase stress and anxiety levels, it can foster unhealthy eating habits, trigger respiratory issues and encourage feelings of isolation.
Keeping a clean home environment can help reduce your child's anxiety. To remove clutter from your home, start by organizing everything you have into three piles: one for keeping, one for giving away and one for throwing away. Focus on getting rid of junk mail and other trash that's been sitting around, pick up toys in the living room or kitchen and organize your child's clothes so they can easily be found in drawers.
5. Limit television time
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences found that 24 percent of a study's participants experienced a large rise in cortisol levels when they watched something stressful play out on video. If your child watches a fictional show that involves demanding situations, they could mirror that experience and get more anxious as they watch. To avoid this, try limiting TV time to 20–30 minutes a day and encourage educational shows instead of ones with violence or stressful situations.
6. Create a space for exercise
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate mood levels and improve the quality of sleep. Dedicate a space in your house (whether this be an entire room or a section of one) for some type of exercise—yoga and Pilates are some of my favorites. These exercises can help build confidence levels in kids, increase muscle, support flexibility and promote concentration.