14 Healthy Ways to Relax for Kids

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    Run, Jump, and Play

    When you get mad, scared, or worried, you might feel a nervous, scared, or even panicky-feeling energy building up inside you. When you feel stressed like that for too long, you might also get headaches, stomachaches, or have trouble sleeping.

    The good news? Playing helps! Running, playing a sport, or doing the monkey bars every day helps work off that stress.

  • healthy ways to relax slideshow

    Play a Happy Video in Your Head

    Just thinking about something nice can help you deal with stress. When you’re calm, your heart rate slows down and you react better if something bad happens.

    Practice even when you feel fine. Picture someone you love and imagine that person talking to you. Or think of a place where you feel relaxed. Practice replaying that “video” in your head. When you get upset, stop and play it again.

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    Bang a Drum!

    Playing music can help let out your stress -- whether you’re playing the piano, blowing into a flute, or strumming a guitar. Try banging a drum, which releases stress. If you don’t have a real one to play, make one out of an empty bucket or pot. Grab some big spoons, then keep rhythm with your favorite song.

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    Breathe Deep, Then Do It Again!

    Ever see someone sitting criss-cross-applesauce and saying “OM” over and over? That’s meditating, and it can help you relax. You don’t have to sit cross-legged -- there are lots of ways to do it. Just breathe deep. Try this for 10 minutes: Pretend your stomach is a balloon and slowly fill it up as you breathe. Or pretend you’re inhaling a rainbow. Repeat a happy word as you breathe out.

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    Use Your Arms and Legs

    Pretend you’re a doll or action figure whose arms and legs can pop off, taking stress with them. That’s kinda like "progressive relaxation," where you focus on parts of your body and relax your muscles to get rid of stress. Try it: Start with your left hand and make it tense -- then relax it. Do that three times with each hand, each arm, and then each leg. It works great if you can’t get to sleep, too.

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    Laugh It Off

    Who doesn’t like to LOL? But did you know it can lower your stress or may even help keep you from getting sick? So figure out a way to start laughing. At lunch with your friends, see who can tell the funniest joke. Pick up your favorite funny book to read. Or after dinner, ask your parents to tell funny stories from when they were kids.

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    Talk To a Friend -- or Your Dog

    Talking about your stress can make your problems seem smaller. You’d be surprised: Your best friend, your mom, even the bus driver -- they’ve all probably gone through something like what you’re feeling now. If you don’t feel like talking to a person, talk to your pet. Cats and dogs make great listeners!

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    Belt Out a Song

    When you sing, you breathe deep -- plus, the music is fun. But you don’t have to join the glee club. Sing along with your favorite playlist, or just belt out some songs in the shower. The bathroom walls can actually make your voice sound louder and stronger.

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    Smell Something Good

    Scents like lavender, rosemary, or sandalwood don’t just smell good -- they can actually lower the stress hormones your body makes. You can find these scents in lotions and bath products. You may be able to find dried rosemary in your pantry. Or try growing your own rosemary or lavender plant for a natural, stress-busting air freshener.

  • healthy ways to relax slideshow

    Take a Break From Video Games

    Video games are fun, but they don’t help you relax. They make your mind work in stressful ways. Other than your homework, you shouldn’t spend more than 2 hours a day in front of computers, TV, and phones. Instead, find something else you like to do: draw, read, play with Legos, or take pictures. These kinds of activities help your mind relax, which helps your body feel better, too.

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    Be a Yoga Cat

    Yoga is a fun way to move -- and it can get rid of stress, too. Some poses look like animals -- like “cat” and “cow,” where you get on all fours and arch your back like a cat, then down like a cow. Or try “volcano,” where you squat, then stand up fast, yelling out something you don’t like (“Homework!”). Look for yoga videos online, or ask your parents if you can take a class at your community center.

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    Hang Out Outside

    Being outdoors is good for your emotions. It even helps to be able to see nature from your window. So get outside more. Walk to school if you can, or just walk with your parents a couple of blocks to and from the car. Look for cool-looking leaves, or lie back and look for shapes in the clouds.

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    Dance It Out

    Any kind of exercise can help you feel better when you’re stressed out. But dancing gives you a double boost, since music can make you feel better, too. If you don’t want to take a dance class, find some of your favorite music at home and turn it up. (Close the bedroom door or wear headphones to keep the noise down for everyone else). Then have fun jumping and dancing to work up a sweat.

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    Think About What Went Right Today

    When you’re feeling stressed out, it’s OK to take some time to be by yourself. After school, find a quiet spot -- but don’t turn on the computer or a game. Just hang out and think about your day. Focus on what went right, no matter how small -- you told a joke and everyone laughed, or you had fun in art class. Maybe make a list of those good things, then look at it again tomorrow and add to it.