If there can be any positive side effects to the current mental health epidemic, it’s that the topic of wellbeing has finally moved up the agenda. With this, we’ve seen an explosion in campaigns, resources, books and guidance, all aimed at helping you to help yourself, or your child to become happier.
Brilliant? Yes. But overwhelming? Also yes. Especially when mental health problems like anxiety add an element of desperation to your solution-seeking.
If you’re looking for quick, simple and effective ‘quick wins’, here’s three child and adult-friendly activities that you can put in place today:
- Write down three things you’re grateful for each day: Developing a ‘Gratitude Attitude’ is a key step in overcoming the minds’ natural bias towards negativity. When you’re genuinely feeling thankful for all you have, it’s very difficult to feel negative emotions like bitterness, sadness, hatred, anxiety and so on.
Writing down what you’re grateful for reinforces this positive focus. If you’re super keen, you can extend this, writing down three things you’re thankful for in the morning and three great things/moments you experienced before bed.
If you’re trying this out with a child, be aware that they might find this tough at first and may need lots of prompts to consider things that they’re perhaps taking for granted. Like anything else, the more you practice, the easier it gets.
- Develop a routine of Mindful Eating: Mindful eating is always a favourite, with both adults and kids. If you haven’t tried it before, here’s a Mindful Eating Script to start you off.
Develop a routine of slow-motion eating at one meal or snack-time, working to your family routine. It doesn’t need to be something that lasts for a whole meal. In fact, it may only be something you try for the first bite or two of your evening meal. But the key is to explore your senses with curiosity. Get out of your head, or the TV, and smell, taste, touch, look and feel your food, in the present moment.
That’s some delicious headspace right there!
- Create an Anchor:
An anchor is something that you or your child can use as a reminder to come back into the present moment and be mindful. It might be a chair you sit in daily, a picture hanging on the wall or even a sound that rings from your phone. Essentially, it doesn’t matter what it is, only that it’s something that you’ll encounter often enough for it to be meaningful.If you use a chair, for example, then whenever you sit on the chair… you should take a moment to explore how your body is feeling, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head; to notice your breathing patterns and where you feel them in your body; to consider any sensations and tension that lie in the body.
There’s a lot of freedom here in terms of what you choose to be your anchor and how you use it. Just be aware that as with the other two activities, it’s about building up those neural connections through consistent practice.