Have you heard of mindfulness? Put simply, practicing mindfulness means focusing on what you are sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgement. It’s a great tool that can help children and adults in many ways, including: strengthening self control, lower anxiety and stress, increasing positive moods, better decision making, improved self regulation, and higher self esteem.
All month, Lend & Learn Toy Lending Library has focused on mindfulness for kids and babies. We shared our Mindful March Activity Kits, hosted a super fun kid’s yoga class on Zoom, read “ABC Mindful Me” and many more activities- check out this blog post or the Lend & Learn Facebook page to see it all!
For adults, especially parents of young children, remembering to practice mindfulness might feel a little more challenging. It can be so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to take a breath and just be. Incorporating mindfulness into your routine may seem intimidating at first, but it is actually very simple! Our staff shares five simple ways that they use mindfulness in their everyday life.
Ellen (Family Resource Specialist): They’re Only Little Once
“I’ve been trying to be really present with my 7 month old daughter, especially when I’m putting her to bed. I know someday I will miss holding her in my arms and rocking her to sleep, but right now it can be so easy to let my mind wander to dirty dishes and laundry or to scroll on my phone while I rock her. Lately I’ve been trying to focus on all the little things I love about her. Listening to her sweet sleepy breaths, touching her soft hair, or focusing on how she holds my fingers while she’s falling asleep helps me stay in the moment.”
Tammy (Parent Education Coordinator): Watch the Wildlife
“I come from one of those families that feed the birds, the bunnies and the squirrels. Not just during the cold winter days but all year long. Just recently I realized that the act of feeding them (filling their feeders and water containers) and watching them eat and gather their nuts and seeds was actually a mindfulness stress relieving activity for me. As I sit and watch them I feel my breathing getting slower and slower…I can feel the stress and tightness leave my shoulders and neck. If I sit quietly on my deck the squirrels will come very close to eat bits of dried cereal and fruit from the top of the banister. Their purposeful gathering, snacking, and chirping takes my attention off of the stress of the day and on something very simple and light….it’s very peaceful and almost hypnotic.”
Charity (Lend and Learn Coordinator): Sensory Activities
Sensory activities are great for both young children and grown ups to learn mindfulness! Sensory activities encourage us to notice, explore, and create. A couple of my favorites are gardening and baking. They keep me grounded in the moment and involve all my senses – touch, sight, smell, listen, and (the most satisfying) taste!
Janice (Family Resource Specialist): 5,4,3,2,1 Grounding Technique
“This five-step exercise is very helpful for me when my mind is bouncing from one anxious thought to another, or during moments of anxiety or panic. Each step focuses on one of the five senses, helping me to feel grounded in my body and in the present moment.This is something we can teach to our young children as well!”
𝟱, 𝟰, 𝟯, 𝟮, 𝟭 𝗚𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗲𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗶𝗾𝘂𝗲:
𝘛𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘨𝘪𝘯.
𝟱 – 𝗟𝗢𝗢𝗞: Look around for 5 things that you can see and say them out loud. For example, you could say, I see the computer, I see the cup, I see the picture frame, I see the sky.
𝟰 – 𝗙𝗘𝗘𝗟: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel and say them out loud. For example, you could say, I feel my feet warm in my socks, I feel the hair on the back of my neck, orI feel the chair I am sitting on.
𝟯 – 𝗟𝗜𝗦𝗧𝗘𝗡: Listen for 3 sounds. It could be the sound of traffic outside, the sound of typing, the sound of chirping birds, or the sound of your tummy rumbling. Say the three things out loud.
𝟮 – 𝗦𝗠𝗘𝗟𝗟: Say two things you can smell. If you’re allowed to, it’s okay to move to another spot and sniff something. If you can’t smell anything at the moment or you can’t move, then name your 2 favorite smells.
𝟭 – 𝗧𝗔𝗦𝗧𝗘: Say one thing you can taste. It may be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth, or a mint from after lunch. If you can’t taste anything, then say your favorite thing to taste.
𝘛𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘦𝘱 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘥.
Kasey Hammock (Executive Director): Dance it out!
When I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed sometimes I just need to be silly! Life can be hard, and it can be good to laugh about the chaos of it all. When I notice I’m really worrying about things that I can’t control- or that I’m doing my best and it’s still not how I’d hoped it would be I take a moment and DANCE! I like to put on some of my favorite music or a zumba class from youtube and just dance it out. There are some really great ones that are only 5 minutes or less that will get your heart pumping, with all kinds of music!
I find this helps me laugh a little bit, get out some energy, and remember that it’s going to be okay. Now- don’t ask to see me dance, it’s not pretty, but it helps me be present and focus on the things I can control with a little bit more positivity.
p.s here’s a link to my favorite zumba channel on youtube!