1. Practice Deep Breathing – During periods of anxiety, the body triggers a stress re- sponse. Breathing becomes shallow and rapid, heart rate increases, and the body be- comes tense. You can combat the stress response by triggering the relaxation response with deep breathing. Breathing becomes deeper and slower and the symptoms of anxie- ty fade away. You can practice deep breathing by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth like you are blowing out through a straw. You can adjust the counts as needed, but a good place to start is to breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and breathe out for 6 counts, making sure your belly fully expands.

2. Practice Mindfulness Meditation – The goal of mindfulness meditation is simple: to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. During mindfulness meditation, you will focus on your breathing as a tool to ground yourself in the present moment. It’s normal that your mind will wander. You’ll simply bring yourself back into the moment by refocusing on your breathing. Aim to practice daily for at least 15 minutes. There are lots of good apps for this including Headspace, Calm or even YouTube.

3. Move Your Body – Squeezing in 30 minutes of physical activity a day can make a huge difference in your mood. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins in the brain and central nervous system which will help you feel happier, more relaxed, and sleep better too.

4. Prioritize Sleep – Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things humans can do for our physical and mental health. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for adults. Sticking to a sleep schedule will help you feel better and be better equipped to handle stress.

5. Spend Time with Your Pets – From giving unconditional love to providing companion- ship, pets can be hugely beneficial for our self-care. Dogs especially can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. Try taking your dog for a walk or even just hunker up on the couch and give your pet a good cuddle.

6. Laugh – Laughter has so many benefits. It releases endorphins, relaxes the body, lowers stress hormones, and helps us let go of anger, anxiety, and sadness. To tickle your funny bone try watching a funny movie, TV show, or YouTube video, spend time with someone funny (even if it is via phone or FaceTime), play silly games with your kids or pets, read comics or tell jokes.

7. Limit Your Media Intake – Constant monitoring of news and social media feeds can quickly turn compulsive and counterproductive—fueling anxiety rather than easing it. The limit is different for everyone, so pay attention to how you’re feeling and adjust accordingly. If anxiety is an ongoing issue, consider limiting your media consumption to a specific time frame and time of day (e.g. thirty minutes each evening at 6 pm). Lastly, stick to trustworthy sources such as the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local public health authorities.

8. Stay Hydrated – Drinking enough water has many health benefits. Our physical health has an impact on our mental health and vice versa. Drinking too much caffeine or sugar can make you feel jittery and increase anxiety. Therefore, replacing some of these caffeinated and sugary drinks with plain water can help you feel better.

9. Get Out In Nature, if possible. Sunshine and fresh air will do you good. Even a walk around your neighborhood can make you feel better. Just be sure to avoid crowds, keep your distance from people you encounter, and obey restrictions.

10. Spirituality – Spirituality and religion often provide a sense of security and those beliefs can be a strong coping mechanism through trying times. If your religious beliefs and affiliations provide you with a sense of peace and purpose, be sure to do things to support that like watch church services online, pray, do Bible study, etc.

Download or draw your own bingo card. In each square, write a coping skill that could be used when times are stressful. Here are some examples of coping skills:

  • Listen to music
  • Talk to someone
  • Write
  • Take 10 deep breaths
  • Watch a movie
  • Use a stressball
  • Clean
  • Read
  • Say positive affirmations
  • Paint or draw
  • Laugh
  • Exercise
  • Dance

This is a great self-care exercise for adults and children to focus on their strengths and not their weaknesses!

We all know that who we are as individuals includes both our strengths and our weaknesses. Too often, adults and children can more easily identify their weaknesses than their strengths and may need help refocusing on the positive. We can focus on our strengths and gain self-confidence by identifying positive qualities about our- selves and encouraging our children to notice when they really shine.

Write the words “I AM” in large block print allowing room to write in- side the letters. Then identify positive traits about yourself or help your children identify their strengths. Suggestions include words like creative, smart, athletic, outgoing, organized, funny, kind, good listen- er, helpful, silly, good decision maker, hard worker, etc. You can also draw pictures such as a rainbow, a beach, or any object of interest and write positive things on the picture. Use prompts like:

  • I feel good about myself when…
  • I am proud of myself because…
  • I am special because…
  • I am good at…
  • I am most happy when…
  • I am a good friend when…
  • I am kind when…

To ease anxiety and to calm yourself down, practice this grounding technique. This self-care tool helps you become aware of yourself and your surroundings.


  • FIVE things you see
  • FOUR things you can touch
  • THREE things you hear
  • TWO things you smell
  • ONE thing you can taste

Take deep breaths while you are using this technique.

Gratitude has been shown to improve our lives in several areas. Showing gratitude opens the door to better relationships, improves physical and mental health, enhances empathy and reduces aggression, helps us sleep, improves self-esteem, and increases mental strength. Gratitude reduces stress and helps us overcome difficult situations. Grati- tude is not always our first response in situations so it helps to practice gratitude daily.

Fill up a jar with written prompts. The prompts can be typed or handwritten on small slips of paper or even on jumbo wooden craft sticks. Fill free to add stickers, color, or anything to make it a bit more fun. Reflect on your own responses, and encourage children to talk about or journal their responses. Have a conversation with your children about their responses. Below is a list of possible prompts.

  • Something beautiful I am grateful for is…
  • A memory I am grateful for is…
  • Something that is funny I am grateful for is…
  • Something money can’t buy I am grateful for is…
  • Something in nature I am grateful for is…
  • Something that is useful I am grateful for is…
  • Something that smells amazing I am grateful for is…
  • Something I did yesterday that I am grateful for is…
  • My favorite place I am grateful for is…
  • Something that I love to eat and I am grateful for is…
  • Something that makes a beautiful sound and I am grateful for is…
  • Something new I am grateful for is…
  • Something unique about me I am grateful for is…
  • The people I am grateful for are…

You can also make a Courage Jar with prompts like “Be brave, be bold, be you” or a Kindness Jar with prompts like “Tell someone that you love them.”

Emotional regulation is the ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience. When children become dysregulated they sometimes aren’t able to appropriately respond to their negative emotions, which can lead to over-the-top reactions.

Many of us begin our days with exercise. It helps to get us moving and start our days more
focused. Exercise has also been shown to reduce stress levels and help us to manage our emotions. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that exercise can also help our children. In order to maximize the benefits, these exercises should be done in short intense bursts and ideally in the morning.

This workout can be done anywhere. For this workout you will simply need an interval timer. You can use the app Interval Timer.

Set your timer for 7 rounds of 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. Do as many repetitions as you can in the allotted time and be ready to exercise with your kids. It is great for them to see you model the technique, and exercise is always more fun together!

  • Frog jumps—Jump across the room like a frog
  • Bear Walk—Put your hands and feet on the floor with your hips and butt in the air. Take two stepsforward and two steps back.
  • Gorilla Shuffle—Sink down into a low squat and put your hands on the floor between your feet. Shuffle to the right and to the left.
  • Starfish Jumps—These are jumping jacks with your arms and legs spread wide like a starfish.
  • Crab Crawl—Sit with your knees bent and place your hands on the floor. Lift your body off the groundand move forward and backward.
  • Cheetah Run—Run in place as fast as you can.
  • Elephant Stomps—Stand with your feet hip width apart and stomp, raising your knees up to hip level.

Specific information on how exercise works to calm us down and other related information can be found at the website below.

Source: He’s Extraordinary

This is a quick and easy game you can play one-on-one or with the whole family. You can create this game using printed characters from the movie Inside Out, hand drawn emoji’s, or just written feeling words on an index card. Each player will randomly pick a card for another player and tape it on their back. Take turns asking yes or no questions until the player accurately guesses their assigned emotion.

Possible emotions:

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Excited
  • Disgusted
  • Scared
  • Embarrassed
  • Worried

Possible questions might be:

  • Do I feel this way on my birthday?
  • Do I feel this way when I’m in trouble?
  • Do I feel this way when someone takes my toy?
  • Do I feel this way when I have to go to the dentist?

Not only will these questions help children better understand and identify emotions but they will also help children understand that all feelings are “normal” and that adults have these feelings too.

Self-regulation involves learning how to control your own behavior, emotions and thoughts. Really this means learning how to calm down or self-soothe.

This is a skill we each have learned over time and that looks different for each of us. You might find yourself taking several deep breaths, sighing when you are feeling frustrated or scrolling through social media when you feel overwhelmed by a problem you don’t want to face. Children need help in developing this skill, and that is where a calm-down kit can help.

For this activity assist your child in identifying things that help them calm down and then put them into a box that is easily accessible to the child.

Suggestions for the box include:

  • Playdoh
  • bubbles
  • stress ball
  • fidget toys
  • favorite stuffed animal
  • pictures of the people they love
  • earplugs
  • scented candle
  • coloring crayons and paper

Encourage your children to use the items in the box when they feel scared, frustrated or overwhelmed. Afterwards talk about how they were feeling and what was most helpful to them.

Boys and girls of all ages enjoy this activity. It is an opportunity to move around and do something fun while still engaging in conversation. When children are actively doing something they are more likely to open up without feeling pressured to talk.

This activity can be played inside or outside with any sport the child enjoys. Basketball can be played outside or inside using a small basketball hoop and ball that can be purchased inexpensively from Dollar Tree or other household items including a small basket with crumpled up paper.

Soccer could be played with a laundry basket and ball inside as well as outside. Hockey could easily be played with a broom and basket as well. Adjust the activity based on the child’s preference and items you already have.

Join in on this activity with your child and model appropriate answers. Each time a basket or goal is made, the person who made the goal describes a time when they felt sad, happy, angry, etc. For example – “I feel sad when someone makes fun of me” or “I feel happy when I get a good grade on a test.”

This game can also be played to increase self-confidence. When each individual scores they can describe something about themselves that they feel good about. For example – “I am good at basketball” or “I am creative.”