Thanks to, Michelle Paget, LCSW, RYT, for sharing three ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your family life!
In the busy and over-scheduled world we live in, it is hard to find a moment to pause and just be.
It’s the feeling we get when we arrive at our destination realizing we weren’t paying attention to how we got there or the stress of work and raising a family—all of which can lead to feeling like we are on overdrive.
Our children are not much different—they experience stress related to academics, extra-curricular activities, and peer relationships. School days are getting longer as gym and recess time get shorter (or removed completely). If that’s not enough, children are growing up in a different world than we did with screen time, social media and cyber bullying.
As a result of these stressors, many children experience over-arousal of the nervous system and buildup of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
So, how can we help?
Movement is the fastest way to process these hormones, so if we can get our children moving, we will help them reduce feelings of stress. In addition, the practice of mindfulness helps children manage their emotions and teaches them to take the pause that is so important in our over-stimulated world.
Here are 3 ways to use movement and mindfulness to help your children:
- Create a daily breathing practice: We’ve all had that moment when we told our children to take a deep breath to calm down. The only problem is that we were probably too late. Creating a daily practice helps our children learn these important skills when they are calm so that they can access them when they are experiencing bigger emotions. Maybe it’s a breathing exercise in the morning to help energize or before bed to calm down—one of my favorites to teach is heart and belly breathing. You can find a guided audio practice by clicking on this link from Little Flower Yoga.
- Yoga as a family: Not only has yoga been shown to reduce stress, but it also improves focus and can stimulate brain functioning to support learning. It can improve physical and emotional health and be a fun way to bond as a family. Try practicing a few poses with your children. Here’s one of my favorite sequences called “Emotions Yoga” from Kids Yoga Stories.
- Choose (at least) one mindful activity: We all tend to multi-task, and sometimes, creating a pause may mean just doing one thing at a time. Try picking one activity (like showering, brushing teeth, putting on clothes or eating a meal). For an entire week, experience that activity fully with your child using all five of your senses. Feel the sensations in your body and notice when your mind wanders to any past or future thoughts. We all have wandering minds, but it is good practice to notice when our mind wanders and bring it back to the present.
You know your child best, so pick the activities accordingly. It is most important that these strategies are incorporated in fun ways to engage our children in the process of learning to connect to themselves and the world around them.
Michelle Paget, LCSW, RYT is a child and family therapist and yoga and mindfulness instructor with a private practice in New York City. She specializes in working with preschool, elementary and middle school-age children and their families. Her integrated approach blends yoga and mindfulness with art and play, helping the children and families she works with to feel more connected and balanced. Michelle’s specialty areas include academic struggles, anxiety, depression, family transitions, low self-esteem, and social skill building. For more about Michelle, visit her website: www.michellepagettherapy.com and follow her on Facebook.