Quick Mindfulness Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety and Stress- Part 4 Everyday Activity Mindfulness

Getting your day off to a great, mindful start is important for a mindfully successful day.

Many times when I speak to people about practicing mindfulness, they say they “just don’t have time”. That seems even more so during this pandemic for Key Workers. While part of the country went into lockdown, schools around the world continued to care, teach and support the children and families with child care in school, sorting food deliveries, creating and teaching online lessons, creating home learning packs, answering emails from parents and children, advising parents on approaches to take, speaking to children and families on the phone, safeguarding the most vulnerable and caring for their on children and families, their schooling and health and more. We have had to learn, very quickly, how to do new things with incomplete systems at the drop of a hat. While some have been bored, most educators have been anything but bored.

So, time has been at a premium.

Actually, people who practice mindfulness express that they actually gain time over the day the more mindful they are during the day. The reduction of stress, the reduction of energy and time spent on the past/future thoughts and increased periods of calmness allows for more effective time management.

We need to consider how we can bring mindfulness into our morning routines that don’t require extra time or divert us from our normal routines.

Top Morning Mindfulness Tips:

Brushing Teeth

It is simple really. It is about being in the present moment from the preparation of your toothbrush to rinsing your mouth. Here are some prompts to be mindful of while you are going about this everyday task.

– How does your tooth brush feel in your hand? How does it weigh in your hand? Is the grip smooth or rough?
– How does the balance change when you put the toothpaste on the brush?
– Smell the toothpaste. What does it smell like?
– Begin brushing your teeth. How do the bristles feel against your teeth? Your tongue? Your cheek and gums?
– Notice the foaming of the toothpaste in our mouth and how it feels.
– Once finished, how does your tongue feel against your freshly brushed teeth? Can you still smell or taste the toothpaste? How you you feel now that your teeth are brushed?

Shower Meditation

Many people spend their time in the shower thinking about the day ahead. Instead, use this as a mindful time to become present in the moment.

Enter the shower with mindful intention.

-Take a few deep, mindful breaths as the steam begins to rise around your body.

– Allow the warm water to fall against your skin, paying attention to how the water feels on each part of your body, similar to a body scan.

– Then lather up your cloth, sponge or body scrubber and pay attention to the smell of the soap and the feel of the bubbles.

– Take time to notice the feel of the soap against your skin as you slowly clean your body.

– Finally, pay attention to the feel of water and soap you rinse off, paying attention to the sense of well being and warmth of the moment.

Water Meditation

– Pour yourself a glass of plain water. (It can have ice.)

– Sit down with your water and allow yourself to be aware of drinking the water.

– Take a sip. Allow the sip to linger in the mouth. Notice the temperature of the liquid against your tongue, cheeks, gums and palate. What can you taste? Is there a sweetness, bitterness, acidic or even slightly salty taste?

– Notice the sensations of the water being swallowed and flowing down your throat and into your stomach.

– Continue to be mindful of each sip; allowing yourself to be in the very present moment of drinking your water.

Drink at least three glasses of water like this today.

Top Tip

Use what might seem like everyday mundane activities to be present. Don’t allow your mind to wander. Be in this very moment and enjoy the sensations of activity. Allow yourself to be aware.

Quick Mindfulness Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety and Stress- Part 3 Hand Washing Meditation

Many psychologists believe that our emotions begin with a physical sensation, positive or negative. When we focus on positive sensations that are calming, we can emotionally become calm.

Today, our mindfulness practice will focus on positive physical sensations to mindfully be in the moment and anchor us in the present. We are going to do it while taking part in what the medical profession says is the #1 infection control method, washing your hands. However, we will do it mindfully.

Washing Hands Meditation

When we wash our hands in warm water, it opens the blood vessels and tricks your brain out of a stressful state.

– When you go to wash your hands, be mindful of the sensation of the water and soap as your rub your palms, between your fingers and on top of your hands. Breath deeply allowing your breathing enhance the feel of water and soap.

– How does this moment feel?

– How is it making the rest of your body feel?

Repeat every time you wash your hands today.

Quick Mindfulness Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety and Stress- Part 2 Mindful Object

Recently, our days seem to be filled with thoughts flitting between lamenting what has happened in the past to what may happen in the future. Our lives have been turned upside down both at work and at home. The endless decisions and changes are putting us at constant high alert and anxiety.

Mindfulness is returning your attention to this present moment; not worrying about the future and not lamenting the past, just appreciating this very moment and appreciating the breath.

We need to give ourselves a reminder and can do this through the Mindful Object Meditation.

Mindful Object Meditation

Once you are dressed for the day, choose an object you are wearing or keeping in a pocket to be your mindful object. It can be a ring, your id badge, necklace, tie, shoes, your watch, a button on your shirt, an item in your pocket, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is something you will see several times.

During the day, at any point you notice your mindful object, touch it, take 3 *deep mindful breaths paying attention to the air flowing in and out your body.

*Deep Mindful Breath- Inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 1 and exhale for a count of 8.

This simple meditation takes only seconds but it gives mindful focus for those few seconds and calms the mind so that you can be the best person possible.

Quick Mindfulness Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety and Stress- Part 1 Shoulder Relaxation

I woke up early this morning. It really was too early. I had an odd night with odd dreams and awoke in an equally odd world.

Being a Headteacher of a primary school during a pandemic has been the hardest thing I have had to do in my 12 years doing the job. I am not alone in this statement. Educators around the world have been thrust into the unknown without a parachute and have had to adapt and learn to fly. The mental health and well being of school staff have been pushed to breaking point.

To be honest, most of society is at breaking point. We are angry, tired and fed up. We see this manifesting in the ways that society as a whole has begun to behave and react which, in turn, puts us in more danger.

It is during these challenging times that I realise how important mindfulness is in my life. The little mindfulness strategies have been the best as I have been dealing with the anxiety over a pandemic and keeping children, families, staff and my own family safe. So, I thought I would share some Quick Mindfulness Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety and Stress.

Developing your own mindfulness will be good for your health and well-being and will support the health and well-being of your children.

Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body based approach that helps people change the way they think and feel about their experiences, especially stressful experiences.

Many of us hold stress in our shoulders. As the day becomes more stressful, our shoulders become more tense and creep up towards our ears. It is like a primitive form of contracting our muscles to spring into the fight or flight mode. During the day, take a moment, without judgement, to relax your shoulders and accept the feeling of restfulness that accompanies the moment.

Shoulder Relaxation

– Breath deeply and, on the exhale, allow your shoulders to drop towards the floor as if someone is pressing them downward.

– Continue to breathe deeply for five breaths, allowing your shoulders to slightly rise on the inhale and then completely drop on the exhale.

– Recognise how the muscles feel in the shoulder and neck. Remember, do not judge the tension. Just recognise it is there and release the tension.

Do this at least five times during the day.

This is particularly useful technique to use when having to deal with situations that are escalating into an argument or emotional situation. I also encourage shoulder relaxation in basic deep breathing as part of the everyday practice.

Top Tip: If you think you may forget to practice this strategy, set five gentle sounding alarms on your phone for the day as a reminder to give yourself a time out.

Day 4- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

Superhero Mindfulness

Body language is the way that our body communicates to others and, to an extent, to ourselves.

The body language of the “Superhero Mindfulness” strategy reduces anxiety, improves children’s ability to deal with stress and boosts their self-confidence.

How To

Before you begin, discuss with your child how superheros stand, arms spread out or clinched fisted resting in hips, feet spread apart, sheet stuck out and head held high. Discuss how this makes the superhero feel powerful, calm and confident.

Now, tell your child to close their eyes and get into their superhero pose.

Have your child focus on their deep belly breaths as they pretend to be a hero.

After about a minute or two, have them open their eyes, stretch and relax.

You may want to discuss with them how they feel and what they were thinking of when they were pretending to be superheros.

Several times in the day at random points just shout “Superheros!” And everyone stops and gets into their pose (even YOU) and take some deep belly breaths before your resume with the day.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 3- #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

When a person is in crisis (stressed, anxious, mad, upset, etc), they tend to tense up their muscles. This is especially true with children.

Progressive muscle relaxation helps a person to relax and become more calm and in control. Research reveals that there is a reduction in the levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress when this strategy is employed.

Today, we will begin developing this strategy through a simple Squish and Relax routine.

Squish and Relax

– Have your child sit comfortably with a soft, squishy object. It can be a ball of play dough, a small stress ball, a small stuffed anima, etc. They are to hold this in their hands.

– Ask them to take a deep breath.

– Direct them to become aware of their body and instruct them to slowly move their awareness to the dough, noticing the sensations from their arms and hands.

– Tell them to squeeze tightly like they are trying to pick up a heavy weight. Have them hold this pose for a count of five, then relax.

– Repeat this cycle over a period of a minute.

– Repeat with other hand.

– Afterwards, discuss with the children how their bodies felt during and after the activity. What did they notice? How could this help them when they are angry, upset or anxious?

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 2 #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

For many people, the events happening around us can be scary. When people are highly anxious, the reptilian brain snaps into action and feelings of survival and negativity surface. Negativity does not help mental health and we have to make a conscious decision to be tankful for what we do have.

Gratitude (being thankful) is a fundamental component of mindfulness. Teaching children (and adults) to be thankful for the the abundance in their lives as opposed to focusing on the actual material objects is not always readily accepted in our society.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

Today’s challenge is to encourage thought around the good things happening in our lives and enjoying those precious moments of gratitude withe the Fab Five activity.

Fab Five

You will need:

– paper

– markers, pencil colours or crayons

How to:

1- Take some time to discuss what fabulous things they have in their lives and are thankful for having. Don’t allow your child to only focus on material things. Encourage non tangible things as well such as love from an individual, time spent with an individual or special friendships. Discuss why they are thankful for those things.

2- Have your child place their hand on the paper with their fingers spread and trace around their hands.

3- Then, in each finger, have them write and/or draw one thing they are thankful for having in their lives. In the end they will have five fabulous things that they are thankful for having.

4- In the palm, have them either draw something that represents their personality or write their name.

5- Place the completed drawing somewhere they can see often. Encourage them to look at it often during the day as a reminder to be thankful.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindfulmoment and successes by using the hashtag #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge in the comments, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Day 1 #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge

What could be more natural than breathing?

It is an automatic reflex that is hard wired in our brains. It changes energy from tension to relaxation. It does this by turning off our sympathetic nervous system that produces stress hormones. This then turns on our parasympathetic nervous system, which turns off the stress hormone pump.

Deep breathing relaxes the body, decreases the heart rates lowers the blood pressure and creates the feeling of calmness. In addition, the deep breathing ensures the essential extra oxygen the brain needs for optimal function.

It all sounds very technical however, to a child it can feel magical!

Teaching children fun and active breathing exercises will help them control their emotions and calm themselves down in situations that make them extremely happy and hyper and in situations that make them very mad and upset. Also, daily breathing sessions, even when calm, increases a person’s feeling of well being and control. 

Here is a favourite fun breathing exercise for children to try today.

Snake Breathing

When snakes are coiled and resting, they look around calmly, and when they move, they are slow and smooth.


– Have your child sit up tall.

– Take a deep breath in, filling up their whole body.

– Pause

– Breathe out slowly and smoothly, making a hissing sound for as loud as they can. (Note: The key to deep breathing is to exhale longer than you inhale. The hissing controls the extension of the exhale.)

– Repeat for three to five rounds, letting them slow down and become calmer each time.

– Afterwards, discuss with them about how their body is feeling and what they are noticing following the breathing exercise. 

Many children enjoy being told the science of breathing and understanding why this does help them calm down.

Repeat at least five times today while calm. You are wanting to create a habit. Then, at any point you see them getting angry, upset, or overly excited try getting them to use the snake breath.

Don’t forget to share your child’s mindful moment using the hashtag, #MindfulnessForChildrenChallenge and successes in the comments below, on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince or on Facebook at Education’s Voice – Mindfulness ( https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/ ).

Mindful Art Appreciation- Mindfulness in the Classroom

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According to the “Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017”, published by NHS Digital, one in eight (12.8%) of children and young people aged between five and 19, surveyed in England in 2017, had a mental disorder.

We need to be clear, the development of mindfulness strategies will not make stress in our lives disappear or cure the pressures in our lives.  However, it will give us the tools that we can access to find a moment of calm that allows us to react more positively to the stresses we face. 

Giving these tools to our children gives our children a chance to cope with life and take control of their emotions.

Art, the creation and appreciation, is something that gives many people moments of mindfulness.  Helping children to practice Mindful Appreciation of Art places another tool in their Positive Mental Health Tool Kit.

Mindful Appreciation of Art in the Classroom- How to Guide

-Select a piece of art.  It can be a drawing, painting, photograph or sculpture.  It can be a picture of a piece of art or it can be the actual piece of art.

-Play a selection of meditation music for the length of time you want the children to meditate. Usually this is one minute per year of age, ie 6 years old= 6 minutes

-Children are to sit or stand comfortably and take three deep belly breaths.

-They are to look at the artwork, focusing on the centre of the design while still breathing at a steady rate.

-Gently guide the children in a soft voice, letting them know it is ok for their gaze to wonder to other parts of the art, noticing the designs, colours and ways the lines meet each other. As the meditation comes towards the end, encourage them to focus back on the centre.

-In the last 30 seconds of the meditation, have the children close their eyes and get them to recreated the design in their mind, continuing even, steady breaths.

-Complete the meditation with three deep mindful belly breaths

Note:  Once taught,  you can use this strategy when you actually go to an art museum.

Find more mindfulness strategies can be found in the books:

100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Mindfulness In The Classroom,  

50 Fantastic Ideas for Mindfulness or on www.educationsvoice.wordpress.com

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