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The Road to Peace, Calming Techniques

I love gazing at beautiful scenes of nature like this one. Whether it's a photo or I'm actually there, I immediately start to feel my muscles relax and my breathing slows down.

The road to peace involves a plan. When I'm in the midst of a stressful situation, whether it's my children or a work situation, a cross-brain activity can be used as the first line of defense for anxiety. Science has shown that cross-brain activities calm down your brain and alleviate stress.

Some cross-brain activities include walking, swinging, playing the piano, riding a bike, jumping jacks, painting, crawling, dancing, playing patty-cake, tennis and swimming.

Another successful calming technique is proper breathing. When the body is stressed, the heart pumps faster causing one to breathe faster and less deeply. Our bodies are preparing for the fight or flight reaction. To reverse this reaction, you can learn how to breathe properly at the beginning of the stressful event. For proper healthful breathing, you breathe from your diaphragm. Put your hand above your abdomen, just below your rib cage. When you breathe deeply, you will feel your abdomen expand. As a singer, I was taught to breathe properly to develop the ability to vocalize a song note longer. This technique has been an invaluable tool for both singing and relaxation.

When I worked as an education therapist, I taught the students how to breathe properly. I then told them to concentrate on this type of breathing just before a test or any other stressful event. This proper breathing ushers in more oxygen to the brain to allow for better focusing, and for the body to calm down.

It took me years to train my mind and voice to remain calm while reacting to a stressful situation. I still have to talk myself into remaining calm at the beginning of the stressful event, but when I'm successful, I calm down faster. After my calming self-talk, I use the diaphragmatic breathing. Those around me react in a more calm manner as well.

For your child's caretakers and school staff, you can create a list of cross-brain activities they could use when the child is displaying stress and anxiety. Once the child has calmed down, you can teach them to use the breathing technique.

Having an organized plan for addressing a stressful situation opens a door to freedom. You will no longer be a prisoner of stress and anxiety. Having a plan changes you from being "reactive" to being "proactive." I have been on both sides of this type of living, and I will always vote for being proactive. It truly leads you down the road to a more peaceful way of life, for your children and for yourself!

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