6 Free Ways to De-Stress and Unwind, According to Kids

published Mar 1, 2022
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Credit: Jaime Torres

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As much as these are pandemic times, marked by sourdough starters and Zoom school, who could fault the history books if they also remember this as the era of self-care? Ever ubiquitous, the cultural prompt to luxuriate and indulge seems to haunt our every scroll, pulling ads and articles on everything from relaxing facial rollers to CBD oils and beyond. 

Thank goodness for kids. Leave it to our favorite little humans to remind us that taking care of ourselves and one another has little to do with our purchasing power. Sure, a fancy candle that promises stress relief is a beautiful thing, but have you considered wiggling instead? 

We tapped seven kids to share their self-care rituals — the brilliant (and sometimes goofy) moves they turn to when they need to unwind. Their answers are smart, insightful, and ripe for borrowing in your own home — especially during these trying times. 

Visualize Your Happy Place

When she needs a moment to herself, 7-year-old Lucy hits the beach — mentally, that is. “I bring out a towel and I get a drink and put in a tiny umbrella and listen to my imagination draw waves.” When pressed for tips on trying out this self care strategy for ourselves, Lucy offered this: “Use your favorite color for your umbrella for your drink. Listen to your imagination and pretend there’s always a luau at your beach.” 

Get Silly With Your Movements

Three-year-old Sylvie may not have totally understood the question, but her response is nonetheless a good one: when she wants to relax her mind and her body, she wiggles very fast and sometimes hops like a frog. “It really does work,” her big sister confirmed after quickly putting her tactic to the test. “It gets you laughing and very tired so that you’re not thinking about anything else.” 

Imagine Your Thoughts are Clouds

“I take a deep breath and I imagine clouds floating by. The clouds are my thoughts and they’re floating away from me to relax my mind,” said 7-year-old Emmeline. To try this for yourself, Emmeline recommends laying down in bed. “The clouds can move fast or slow, depending on what you like,” she added. And if you’re having a tough time with it and find yourself distracted? It’s OK, Emmeline reassures, you can always try again later. 

Put on Your Favorite Podcast

When it comes to unwinding on her own, 8-year-old Violet is a multi-tasker, turning on a podcast while she cleans her room. “My favorite podcast is Wow in the World. I especially like episodes about food,” she said. For a dose of peace in your own home, check out relaxation-specific podcasts for little ones that feature soothing audio stories and kid-friendly mindfulness meditations. 

Snuggle In

Never underestimate the power of a good snuggle. Both Rosie, age 4, and Eli, age 10, mentioned finding calm through cuddling. For Rosie, including her stuffed animals is key, but Eli gets more specific. “My favorite way to relax is laying in bed playing some games with no sounds on,” he said. “I need my Union Jack blanket because it is super soft, and I like laying with our dogs if they aren’t barking, and maybe having a snack.” 

Settle Down With a Puzzle

At 5 years old, Izzy is a whirlwind of activity and busy chatter. Puzzles, however, are the one thing that reliably slow her down and give her time to recalibrate, her mom shared. Plus, almost every household has one laying around! You can also borrow them from some libraries, too. “I like puzzles and think they’re relaxing,” said Izzy. “I have a Frozen one that is my favorite, but I think an Encanto one would be good next.” Izzy suggests finding puzzles with beautiful artwork and taking breaks if you find yourself frustrated. It’s meant to be relaxing, after all!