How Do I Adjust Expectations During Extended Social Distancing and Learning from Home? Try Mindfulness.
These tip sheets were created to be shared with your communities: students, teachers, administrators, parents, and families. You may learn more and access additional resources at lsu.edu/bestpractices.
I think the majority of us have been good sports and were up to the initial challenge of working remotely and making on-line learning happen for our children for a few weeks. It is not easy to balance it all: work, school, food, family, structure, screen time, laundry, bills, and safety. It can be difficult to keep it all together and do it well, especially for the ones of us with high expectations. Now as we prepare for the remainder of the school year at home combined with mass global uncertainty, it is understandable for both adult and child anxiety to skyrocket.
What can we do to keep these worries and fears in check and from interfering with our abilities to focus and concentrate on the many tasks at hand?
Mindfulness may be the place to start, but it can seem intimidating to the average person. Actually, mindfulness can be started with just three simple steps and can take as little as five minutes to help calm our minds and bodies leaving us recharged and refocused. Mindfulness works because much of our anxiety is either future-oriented with the myriad of ‘what if’s” or “to do lists” or past-oriented with regretting past mistakes or fixating on old wounds. Our attention is scattered all over the place. By being still and focusing on our breathing and our body, mindfulness brings us into the present. We can pay attention to and accept our feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations without judgment. We can better accept our new circumstances- imperfections and all. Breathe well, Ground in the present, and Just Be. Then, get back to your day with a renewed sense of calm and acceptance. Give it a try today. Teach it to the kids as well. Mindfulness has benefits for everyone.
- Breathing deeply switches on the body’s relaxation system.
- Square Breathing. It is also called Box Breathing. Inhaling, holding, and exhaling are for a four second count.
- 4-7-8 Breathing. Inhaling for four seconds, holding for seven seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
- Figure 8 Breathing. This exercise is a great one for kids. Draw a figure 8 on the hand or wrist. Inhale for three seconds while tracing the top circle. Hold for one second in the middle, and exhale for three seconds while tracing the bottom of the figure 8.
- 5 Senses. This one works quickly with kids. In this moment, name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can hear, and 1 thing you can taste.
- Warm Heart Meditation. This works well for anyone who needs to take a moment to reset. Put your hand or both hands on top of your heart. Take a deep breath in and name your feelings. Tell yourself that you are safe here and now.
- Be still and let thoughts, feelings, and sensations come and go. Breathe in and out.
- No 'should's. No judgement. No parental guilt.
If you like these activities, be sure to check out some super easy mindfulness Tree House Videos. Be sure to try “Ahhh. Mindful Breathing,” “Let’s Go on a Mindful Safari,” and “A Deee-licious Way to Practice Mindfulness.” Kids love them. Parents will, too!
References and Further Reading:
- “What is Mindfulness? And Why Is It So Popular?” by Samantha Seigel
- New York Times Well: “Mindfulness for Children.”
- 25 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Activities from Positive Psychology.
- Box Breathing and 4-7-8 Breathing Techniques from Healthline.com.
- Figure 8 Breathing from Heysigmund.com.
- Warm Heart Meditation from Stanford Medicine.
Written by: Lauren Eglin, counselor grades K-5 | LSU University Laboratory School