In these unprecedented times of social isolation and social distancing it is only natural that our girls are feeling anxious, worried and even scared about life in general. While we are unable to change your current situation, we can assist our girls with dealing with what is before us. The combination of staying physically active and practising mindfulness are two things that we can, as parents, do to help support our daughters.
Over the last few weeks I have been offering suggestions on how to stay active and deal with sitting in front of the computer for many hours every day and we will continue to offer videos to support our girls in staying active. We have also been looking at the concept of mindfulness within the care programme and, over the last few weeks, I've been offering some very simple mindfulness activities that can give the girls a little bit of time out and to let them refocus on themselves.
So, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the practise of orienting your attention and awareness to the present and reminding ourselves to stay present in the moment and not allow our minds to wander. In times of increased anxiety and stress, it is easy for the mind to wander and fixate on issues that are beyond our control. Practising mindfulness and incorporating it into our daily routine can help our girls maintain their focus, while minimising stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is often confused with relaxation as many mindfulness techniques can also be used for relaxation of the body. In many cases, relaxation is a bonus side effect of the practise of mindfulness. At its core, mindfulness seeks to modify negative thought patterns that lead to stress and anxiety. It is not a quick fix, as behavioural modification often takes many months before you see positive effects.
Mindful activities aim to achieve two things; firstly reconnecting with your physical self and recognising our thoughts and emotions. When focusing on our physical self, we can acknowledge the parts of our bodies where we are feeling stress; during your time of online learning and being in front of screens for so many hours everyday the neck, shoulders and back will often come to the forefront of their thoughts. As we pay more attention to our bodies, we will also notice tension through the hips, legs and abdomen as they are also side effects of being stationary for so many hours every day. While paying attention to our physical self, our minds tend to slow down allowing us to acknowledge our thoughts and emotions.
Taking the time to acknowledge our thoughts and emotions individually gives us the opportunity to identify what is truly worrying us and stressing us out. It also gives us the ability to prioritise our thoughts which will allow for easier management of our emotions. Overtime we begin to acknowledge the thoughts that frequently distract us and cause us stress and anxiety. Being aware of these thought patterns, enables us to modify them. With patience and practise, new thought patterns can be established which in turn leads to better control of our emotions.
As the practise of mindfulness is maintained, the ability to control our stress response increases and the ability to focus on what is important also increases and we become more aware of the emotional responses of the people around us.
As parents, the best thing we can do is to facilitate and give our girls the space they need to practise mindfulness. Below are some suggestions and some websites activities that your girls can do in their mindfulness practise:
Big Life Journal
Stop, Breathe and Think (YouTube video)
Mr Ryan Cheers
Deputy Principal - Students