Use the Mind-Body Approach to Alleviate Stress Health Series Health Series

Dr. Wendy Jin, pediatrician for UnityPoint Health— Meriter Hospital, offers calming techniques that work for adults and children alike.

Families have been under an enormous amount of pressure these days.

Even though emotional challenges for youth were a growing concern prior to the pandemic, I’ve see a dramatic rise in mental health visits for children this past year.

We tend to overwhelm ourselves with multitasking and multi-thinking, which can spiral into a pattern of worry, self-defeating behaviors and eventually feelings of overwhelm. Mindfulness practices are an increasingly popular antidote to this distracted way of living.

These practices can help kids and adults manage stress, pain and frustrations, as well as improve concentration, impulse control and self-esteem.

So, where do we start?

Calm Your Mind and Thoughts with the Glitter Jar


  1. Find a clear jar (like a Mason jar) and fill it to the top with water.
  2. Add a spoonful of glitter glue (or glue and dry glitter) to the jar.
  3. Shake to make the glitter swirl.

The jar is like your mind, and the glitter represents your thoughts and feelings. When we swirl the glitter around, it’s just like when you feel upset or excited about something. For example, if you get into an argument with your sibling, swirl the jar, or you find out some good news, shake the jar. Now, watch what happens. See how the glitter settles and the water clears? Your mind works the same way. There is no way to rush this because we can’t push the glitter down to the bottom. When our emotions settle, we feel calm and can see things much clearer.

Ease Anxiety with the 54321 Technique

To calm the churning of overwhelming thoughts and feelings, stop and find:

  • 5 objects you can see right now.
  • 4 objects you can feel or touch
  • 3 things you can hear right now.
  • 2 things you can smell right now.
  • 1 thing you can taste right now.

Promote Relaxation with a Body Scan

  1. Sit or lie down comfortably. Let your body relax and close your eyes.
  2. Take two to three big, gentle breaths. Feel the air move through the nose and out through the mouth. Place a hand on your belly and feel it move up and down with each breath
  3. Start your scan. Beginning at the top of the head, scan down slowly through each and every part of the body, all the way down to the toes. Exhale, and also relax each part before moving on to the next area.
  4. Spend a few moments paying attention to your whole body.

— Dr. Wendy Jin, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a pediatrician at UnityPoint Health—Meriter Hospital.

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