Mindfulness Summer Challenge – Week 6

Mindfulness Summer Challenge – Week 6

So here it is, the final week of the mindfulness summer challenge. I hope you have found the ideas and suggestions in this summer’s blog helpful and it has enabled you to find just a few more mindful moments in your lives. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing all the research for these challenges and have even surprised myself in being able to find 42 unique mindfulness activities for children and families!

But this week my thoughts turn to children going back to school. So all the activities this week are ones that will help anyone who is feeling a little anxious about the term starting or who struggles a little with a change in routine. You can download a pdf of the activities here and I hope you enjoy them!

Mindful walk – 5 senses

Whilst it can be useful to have a space to talk about school, the morning of the first day back is not always the most helpful time. Keep your child in the present moment by doing the 5-senses activity on the way to school. As they are travelling they need to identify: 5 things they can see, 4 things they can feel, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell and one thing to taste. There is a free printable for this exercise which you can download here.

The Magic Shell

In the preceding week before school help your child find a small token that they can carry with them. Perhaps the worry stone,a favourite pebble or shell that they found on holiday, or a ribbon or something that they like the feel of. Encourage your child to carry it with them and whenever they begin to notice anxiety creeping up, support them to touch the stone and start to focus on their breathing. I also love to use “The magic shell” guided meditation by Debbie Wildi which is just beautiful and perfect for using with the stone.

Sleep – muscle relaxation

One of the first things to be affected when we start to get nervous or worried about something is our sleep. Progressive muscle relaxations are perfect to help get rid of all the stress from the body and to help with going to sleep. There are plenty of scripts online, but one way to do this is to encourage your child to lie comfortably in bed, then starting at the toes, say ‘goodnight’ to each part of the body: the toes, calves, knees and thighs, bottom, back, tummy and chest. Fingers, hands and arms, then the chin, cheeks, eyes and forehead. For younger children you could gently tap or press each part of the body as you say it to help bring their attention there. The exercise should take at least five minutes.

Massage

A hand massage is a wonderful calming exercise for children of all ages. You can choose to use a lotion or perhaps a massage oil scented with lavender to aid the calming process. Spend a few minutes really focusing on massaging their hand using your thumbs. Work in circles around the palm of the hand and wrist before gently pulling your fingers up each of their fingers and thumb. Older siblings might like to do this on each other.

5 finger breathing

I believe this is the best breathing exercise to teach children as it gives them a tool to use anytime they feel anxious. Even at school they can do this subtly under their desks!

Affirmations

Positive affirmations are a great way to build self-confidence and self-esteem. There are plenty of affirmation cards available online (e.g. Magnificent Me Magnificent You) or you can make your own. Be as creative as you like, perhaps buy some lollypop sticks, write on your affirmations and pop them in a jar. Choose one to read out loud each morning. Remember, affirmations should be short, positive and in the present tense.

Letting go of worries

Sometimes there are just too many thoughts that cloud the mind and a breathing exercise is not quite enough to calm everything down. In these situations it can be helpful to find a way to ‘say goodbye’ to the thoughts that are stuck. This is a helpful visualisation exercise that you can use to help this happen:

Imagine that you are blowing bubbles. In each bubble that rises into the air, put a thought or feeling into it that you no longer want inside you. See the first bubble rise up. Think about what is inside. See the thought, watch it, and see it slowly float away. Try not to judge or think about it more deeply. Once it has floated out of sight, watch the next bubble appear. Think about what is inside. Watch it, and see it slowly float away. If your mind goes blank, then watch the bubble rise up with “blank” inside and slowly float away.

 

Good luck in heading back to school!

Chartered Clinical Psychologist at | [email protected] | Website

Louise is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist specialising in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Mindfulness. She set up Calm Strong Minds in 2017 to help families to access information and ideas on using mindfulness to develop resilience, confidence, and inner strength. Louise also works in a specialist London NHS hospital with children, young people, and their families.

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