The word mindfulness is a buzz word that we see and hear frequently. During a stressful time, a moment of mindfulness can pay off in dividends. Let’s be real, who isn’t stressed right now? Whether it’s parenting a child who is remote learning, challenges with work-life balance or the uncertainty of navigating a global pandemic, stress seems to be continually lurking around the corner. We all manage stress in different ways. Being physically active, spending time enjoying a hobby and sharing time with loved ones are all healthy options to relieve stress. Intentionally practicing everyday mindfulness is a practice to consider including in your daily routine.
Over the past several months families have experienced change. Many of these changes, parents didn’t have any control over. However, parents do have control about their inner experience and how they react outwardly. It is likely parents are having conversations with or around their children about COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “When parents and caregivers deal with COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.”
Practicing mindfulness can help parents act skillfully and not emotionally in stressful situations. Science suggest practicing mindfulness creates changes in brain function as well as changes in the body’s response to stress. A study from Loyola University of Maryland showed that people who practice mindful meditation generally recover quicker from stressful events. Other benefits include: improved ability to relax, concentrate and increased creativity, self-awareness, work/school performance.
Mindful relaxation can help combat stress. The brain responds to meditation by increasing alpha brain wave activity, lowering blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration rate and metabolic rate. (https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/health/stress-mastery/learn-relaxation-techniques)
To practice mindful relaxation, try these steps:
- Set aside time each day for uninterrupted mindful meditation. Start with as little as five minutes.
- Choose a quiet place away from any technology.
- Find a comfortable body position.
- Focus on your breath flowing in and out.
- Let any negative thoughts float away like clouds.
Breathing techniques and using imagery are also practices to include in mindful moments. Taking deep breaths helps slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure. Imagery exercises are also helpful. A common practice is to picture yourself in a calm setting. Adults and youth can benefit from these mindful practices. Like physical exercise, certain mindfulness practices may work better for some compared to others.
In the spring of 2020, K-State Research and Extension published a series of videos about mindful practices for youth and adults. Practices range from yoga to breathing. The entire series can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/watch/271533152919/332453344817070