Mindfulness means paying full attention to something. It means slowing down to really notice what you are doing, how your body is feeling and what is happening around you. When life gets busy, it's easy to become focussed on worrying thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness helps us to take a step back and focus on the present. You can practice mindfulness at any time and in lots of different ways:
An easy way of explaining to children about how mindfulness can help calm their busy brains is by making a mindfulness jar. After shaking the jar, the glitter will swirl around quickly, just like all the thoughts and emotions in our heads. The glitter will slow down and settle, just as our mind can settle when we practice mindfulness.
The video below gives instructions on how to make a mindfulness jar so you can have a go at home. When you've made your jar you can use it to help when you are feeling overwhelmed or finding it difficult to focus:
When we're feeling 'big' emotions like anger, frustration, worry or anxiety, our bodies often display a 'fight or flight' response which raises our heart rate. Taking a moment to focus on slowing our breath down will regulate this and help to dissipate these emotions. Children often this easier to understand and practice if they have a visual support. The two videos below are good starting points for regulating breath.
This activity is perfect for refocussing/calming children down when they are feeling a bit 'buzzy'!
The tense and release muscle relaxation is an exercise that relaxes the mind and body by progressively tensing and releasing large muscle groups. In this activity, you will gently tense and then release each large muscle group without straining too hard. Try to tense each muscle for approximately 5 seconds for the best results. This activity is perfect before to going to sleep because it helps the body release tension. Have your child try this activity lying down after they get into bed for the night.
Starting at the feet, gently squeeze the muscles in the feet by tightening them, then slowly releasing. You can also point the toes up and then back down for a gentle release. Next, squeeze the large muscles in the calves for 5 seconds, then gently release. Working your way up the body, squeeze the thigh muscles for 5 seconds then gently release. Notice how much calmer you feel already.
Next tense and release the hips and buttocks. You can also do this by straightening the legs and then releasing the tension. Squeeze the abdomen and chest next and gently release. Now slowly draw both hands into fists and squeeze tightly for about 5 seconds then release. Point your arms and hands out straight while squeezing tightly then releasing next. Finally, shift your attention to your neck and shoulders. Raise your shoulders up towards your ears and squeeze for 5 seconds then release. Do this a couple more times and feel the gentle release. Gently move your head from side to side 2-3 times and then relax.
If you would like to, you can continue this activity back down the body for more relaxation. This activity grounds you into the physical body and it's a great way to practice mindfulness. The tensing and relaxing of the muscles of the body helps release the strain and stress of the day, aiding a good night's sleep!
❤️ The Heartbeat Exercise ❤️
The heartbeat exercise is a great grounding activity because it allows your child to focus on the sensations in the body. It's also a great exercise to do if your child is feeling stressed or anxious, for example, if your child is working on their Home Learning pack and getting frustrated or feeling stuck, you can gently redirect them by asking them to STOP what they are doing and take a break.
Ask your child to stand up and either jump up and down or do jumping jacks for one minute. At the end of that minute, have them place their hand on their heart and pay attention to how their heartbeat and their breathing feels.
Tuning into how your body is feeling is a great way to redirect the focus. With this new burst of energy, your child will hopefully feel a new motivation to complete the previous task!