October 10th 2021 is World Mental Health Day. To celebrate, we want to share 4 powerful Mindfulness activities you can do to help ease stress, anxiety and depression.
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- What is World Mental Health Day?
- What is Mindfulness?
- How can Mindfulness Help?
- 4 Powerful Mindfulness Activities
What is World Mental Health Day?
This worldwide day, first marked on October 10th, 1992, serves as a fantastic reminder that mental health impacts us all and that we must speak up about it.
Mental health, life physical health, is fluid and needs constant care.
2020-21 brought to light some irrefutable points that mental wellbeing care is not accessible to all.
The World Federation for Mental Health selects a topic each year. This year the theme is: ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World‘.
This blog aims to share some tools that can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
What is Mindfulness?
I believe the best position to approach this is to see what mindfulness is not.
Mindfulness is not a quick fix. It’s not something that we can just tick off the list and be done with. It’s not formulaic.
But it is based in scientific evidence to improve emotional control, optimism and empathy.
Mindfulness is actually built from the Buddhist belief system.
It’s not necessarily a spiritual approach to things, but it definitely is borrowing a lot of the different elements of Buddhism that allow us to focus on being present.
The top part of the ideogram is almost like a hat and it is the representation of being present.
The bottom part is actually the ideogram for heart and that’s just a beautiful summation of exactly what mindfulness is.
It is about being present and in the moment without judgment.
Allowing ourselves to feel curious and open.
There’s a really great picture here that says “is your mind full or are you being mindful?”
What I want to take note of is that the mindful side it’s not empty. There’s still a landscape ,there’s still a Sun and trees.
I think it’s really important to note that that landscape is reflected in what that little character is looking at.
The key here is that being mindful is never about finding blank.
It’s never about stopping our thoughts from occurring because then that would be us focusing on creating those boundaries around our thoughts.
Instead, what we’re supposed to be doing or what we’d be allowing ourselves to do is be fully present in that moment:
- To really notice the trees
- and the Sun and
- our puppy dog
- or our friends and our family
Mindfulness helps us to stay grounded in the present verses reflecting on the past or foreseeing what might be happening in the future.
A lot of the times we overlook just how beautiful the present day is because we’re caught up in either the past or the future and being mindful is really about being in that gift that is the present.
How can Mindfulness Help?
Mindfulness can help on any day. Not just October 10th.
Mindfulness techniques have been proven to increase gray matter within the brain. Whenever there is a gray matter showing up in an imaging it’s allowing us to see that there are different connections that are happening within the brain.
This is really reflective to any of the benefits that you might see happening within the brain for those who do
It’s specifically beneficial for us who are looking to improve our learning.
or our memory.
or even emotional regulation.
Especially as we’re trying to encourage our youth to really take ownership of who they are, this is a really great tool
that can help boost that part of them.
It also increases the space between a catalyst and a response. This is an incredibly useful benefit for us to take advantage of because it ensures that we’re never just reacting from that knee-jerk place. That we’re creating a
space or a pause.
Now we cannot stop time for our children, but what we can do is offer them the tools to feel confident enough to get grounded in the moment; to take that breath before they answer.
In this way they’re being really cogniscent of the words that are flowing out.
4 Powerful Mindfulness Activities
Gratitude is a practise that requires consistency. It allows our brain to acknowledge the things, people and experiences we are grateful for.
The practise encourage sus to be in the present moment.
Plus, if we’re recalling what we’re grateful for, it’s also encouraging us to be more attentive to what’s going on.
- Labelling emotions
This is an activity I’ve shared many times before.
Emotional literacy is so important when it comes to mental health as being able to feel heard and understood can make all the difference.
The objective is to have children annotate how and where they feel certain emotions. They do this on life sized drawings. Children are encouraged to think about the colour, the movement, the intensity and location they feel these feelings.
This will help create a vocabulary for communicating feelings.
- Breathing Techniques
Mindful breathing is simply being aware of how you’re breathing. Belly breathing is a great way to stimulate the parasympathetic system to help us relax.
Take five big
Or, with children new to mindful breathing, introduce Starfish breathing.
Inhale as you move your finger up the thumb, and exhale as you trace down.
Inhale as you move your finger up the index finger, and exhale as you trace down.
Just be mindful to help your child pace themselves.
- Ask your body how it’s feeling
It’s a simple question
That provides such great insight into what head space our children are in.
Sometimes when we say: “are you stressed?” “Do you feel worried?”
They may not have the vocabulary to respond.
Asking them how their body feels takes it away from the thought and the thinking part of ourselves and it brings them right down into their body.
How Mindfulness can Help Children’s Mental Health
It doesn’t just have to be on October 10th.
We’re in a space where our children are around us a lot more; if we’re able to sit down for dinner and start a gratitude conversation every evening, that will allow them to start being more reflective as well.
If you pause before you begin any homework tasks and get them to take those big belly breaths with you, it’ll be
setting them up for that habit.
While we are aware of the benefits of therapy and active support systems, it may not always be possible.
This is why our mindfulness coaching programmes are so powerful.
Mindfulness is something that levels the playing field and ensures mental health accessibility for everyone.
More Mindfulness Resources:
World Mental Health Day: How to champion mental health (October 10th 2020)
Bettering Youth is an ascot-based tuition and emotional wellbeing coaching company. Our small team of experts support children along their academic journey above and beyond the classroom. If your child could use some emotional support, please get in touch to learn more about our emotional wellbeing coaching programmes.