What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is something that we often do naturally. It’s about being in the present moment and paying attention to what we’re doing. In essence it is “stop and smell the roses”, to count to 10 or take 3 deep breaths.
How can mindfulness help during Covid-19?
When we’re in a prolonged state of anxiety, or facing a situation that stresses us or makes us fearful, we revert to our “lizard brain”, the primal or reptilian part of our brain that’s all about having lunch, or being lunch. This is a default, survival response, and it’s why we have a negative bias as humans. This is also known as “fight or flight” mode. Our brains are wired to perceive both physical and imagined threats, and respond by preparing us to flee or fight – sending blood to our extremities, away from our brains that can rationalise that we aren’t actually about to be eaten. This response is designed to help us survive, by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, but we don’t have the physical exertion to release these hormones, like a zebra running away from a lion would.
Stress and anxiety can affect anyone, including your kids. In this episode of The Love Destination Expert Series, Parenting and Family Relations Expert Fiona Werle talks about childhood anxiety and how it can impact your child.
Techniques you can use with your kids to be more mindful
Create a routine
- Create a new routine with your child, and make sure this is one that’s helpful for both you and your child in terms of workload and support
- Don’t try to include an 8-hour school day in this routine.
Change your attitude
- Children will model your attitude – change your frame of mind from “this is a disaster” to “I will overcome this” or “this has been done before” or “I can do this”
- View mindfulness as learning, and allow it to take up some space in your child’s “school day”
- Make a choice to show up and be present with your children, giving them your undivided attention for a period each day to create that soothing connection.
Mindful breathing and movement
- When in a stressful situation, take a moment to take 3 deep breaths, focusing on the inhale and the exhale.
- Use a breathing buddy with your child – a soft toy or pillow that can be placed on their stomach as they take 3 deep belly breaths, or practice gentle breathing. Have them focus on their breathing buddy as it rocks with their breathing.
- Take a walk around the garden or house, taking time to notice things like a flower or insect using all your senses.
- Set a time in the day to write down something you’re grateful for, and place it into a “gratitude jar” or write down 3 things that you’re grateful for in a daily gratitude journal.
- At bedtime, ask your children what happened today that went well, or that they’re grateful for. You can also ask what they’re looking forward to tomorrow, expanding their mind and learning ability.
Spend time with pets
- Stroking a pet’s fur will introduce a new texture sensation that can help bring you out of a state of fear. This can also work with soft toys.
- A dog’s facial geometry is comforting to people. Stare into a dog’s eyes to get your brain to release oxytocin, the love and connection hormone.
Tips to help your child in a panic situation
Sometimes we, or our kids, get into a state of panic or anxiety that’s difficult to break out of. Here are some top tips to help bring you or your kids back into a more present state:
- Take 3 deep breaths, focusing on your breathing.
- Stroke materials with different textures, to soothe and realign the brain. If you or your child are particularly anxious, carry something with a soft texture with you in the car or your bag.
- Use your senses to notice things around you: Use 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 to notice:
- 5 things that you can SEE
- 4 things that you can TOUCH
- 3 things that you can HEAR
- 2 things that you can SMELL
- 1 thing that you can TASTE
- Making use of a BrightSparkz tutor can help ease your child’s anxiety and return a sense of normality during stressful situations.
*Article written by BrightSparkz Tutors, Tessa Cooper and Sula Cooper
More about the expert:
Nan Lutz is a mindfulness coach and director of Mindfulness Africa. She lived in India, Nepal and Tibet for 3 years where she was exposed to many types of meditation. Learn more about Nan Lutz here.
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