Take a Hike
Tough day at work? Take a walk as a family. Being outside in nature can help you and your kids relax after a stressful day. Explain to your kids that relaxing not only feels good, it can also help make us healthier. When we're stressed, we’re more likely to make unhealthy choices like picking junk food or deciding to veg instead of being physically active. Unwinding helps us clear our minds and gives us the energy and focus to make good choices.
Play a Game
Set aside one evening a week for family game night. While it’s tempting to deal with stress by zoning out in front of the TV or feasting on unhealthy food, teach your kids that other activities are a better way to relax.
Take turns choosing which games to play and make fun, silly rules to encourage kids -- and parents! -- to get up and move. For example, “If you land on green, get up and act like a chicken.” Moving makes hormones that can calm us.
Stretching can relax tense muscles and animal-inspired poses like downward dog and cobra can make kids giggle. Don't feel like you have to take a class to try it as a family. Find a yoga DVD just for kids or families, and make sure everyone is wearing comfy clothes.
For a relaxing activity, let your inner artists out. Cover the kitchen floor with several layers of newspapers and paint pictures right on the papers or sculpt with clay. Grab paper and pencils and draw sketches of each other in notebooks. Break out the sidewalk chalk and create masterpieces right outside your front door. Find fun ways to be creative. It's a great way to relax and ease stress.
Deep breathing is an easy way to help the family rest and recharge. It can melt away stress and relax tight muscles. Have everyone sit comfortably, eyes closed, as you coach them:
- Take a slow deep breath in through your nose. See how your belly raises up?
- Hold your breath. 1-2-3.
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth. See how your belly goes down? Let out a sigh as you exhale, "ahhhhhhhh."
Tell your kids they can deep-breathe whenever they need to relax and de-stress: at school, before a game or concert, at the end of the day.
Tell a Story
Who needs TV? Find a book and take turns reading pages out loud. Do voices for all the characters, almost like you're putting on a play.
Health bonus: Reading can be the part of a regular bedtime routine that helps kids wind down and gets them ready for good sleep.
Read a chapter a night. It may even get your kids to look forward to bedtime so they can see what happens next.
Make a ‘Mixed Tape’
Having a creative outlet can help you and the kids unwind. If you're a little bit country, grandpa is a little bit rock 'n' roll, and your kids are all pop, make a family "mix tape." Mix and match music using your computer or phone. You can even download a free DJ app so the kids can mash-up fave family songs.
Use what you create to motivate your family to walk, dance, and move. Or you can make a calming playlist with chill music to put on if you want to help everyone de-stress.
Experiment With Exercises
One of the best ways to de-stress is to get moving. Tell that to the kids as you head outside and put on some fun music and dance around. (Remember that motivating mix tape?)
Or make a goofy circuit training workout where each family member makes up an exercise. If you can't get outside, don't let four walls stop you. Try jumping jacks in the living room, toe-touches in the kitchen, and crab-walking down the hall.
Crack Each Other Up
Want to lower your body's stress hormones? Laugh! Have everyone share a funny story about something that happened to them that day. Or get everyone to tell their favorite joke at dinner. Make sure everyone is listening when it's one person's time to talk. It'll make your kids feel good when people pay attention. Everyone gets their moment in the spotlight.