I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with my boyfriend and his cousins from Texas. It was wonderful to meet the entire family for the first time. His cousin has three children ages 9, 11 and 13. We were sitting at a restaurant in downtown Denver and all of a sudden the fire alarm started to go off. It wasn’t a loud obnoxious noise, but the lights were blinking off and on kind of like a strobe light.
Ella, the thirteen year old started to feel anxious and nauseous. She put her head into her hands to desensitize herself from the blinking. I had her breathe in for the count of 3 and breathe out for the count of 4. As she closed her eyes I told her to imagine a peaceful place that makes her feel really happy as she takes some nice deep belly breaths. She did this for 10-20 seconds and then opened her eyes. “That helped a lot!! I feel so much better!” Ella doesn’t practice yoga but was open and receptive to the cues. I was so happy that simple stress management tools could make her go from panic to ease. It was the first time that I was able to really calm someone down when they were not feeling well in the present moment. I usually get to talk about hypothetical situations where we can use our breath, guided imagery or accupressure to help feel better, but this was an actual circumstance. I wish I had these tools when I was younger. I think every child should be aware of them to help empower themselves in uncomfortable situations.