3 Mindfulness Activities to Do with Your Whole Family
Work schedules, school activities, errand running and all the basics that make a family function can keep life dialed up to a high speed. By the end of the day, kids are overstimulated finding it tough to settle down and parents are feeling oh, so full up desperate for some downtime.
This constant motion can create an exhausting tension that brings on feelings of frustration, sadness, and yup…familiar feels of mom burnout. All of this tension seeps into how we communicate with our loved ones and can cause an unintentional negative experience.
When finding a calm place from which to parent feels as insurmountable as your seventeen-million piles of dirty laundry, it might be time to check out tools that can help move your family to a space where loving connection is everything. Mindfulness expert Jessica Sharpenstein, says, “Mindfulness is being able to lean into your senses at this moment.”
Related: 30 Mindfulness Activities for Kids
Practicing mindfulness means putting a pause before action and it’s this intentional pause that supports us in staying calmly connected to ourselves (and others) during stressful and/or overwhelming situations.
Learning to Be More Mindful Every Day
Sharpenstein says it’s common to fall into a pattern of mindlessness when relationships and situations become “predictable.” So, if your hurried schedule in combination with your toddler’s daily meltdowns are creating big feelings of anger or anxiety, you might be stuck in a reactive habit. Sharpenstein says asking questions that deal with the present can move us back to a more grounded, mindful state.
“Ask yourself, “How can I love this person more fully? What do I appreciate about this person?’” she says. Taking that pause and asking in-the-moment questions is one way to reestablish a calmer connection with yourself and those around you.
Here are 3 more ways to continue your journey into mindfulness with your family.
3 Ways to Practice Mindfulness with Your Family
1. Mindful Conversations
Practicing active listening is one of the most meaningful gifts we can give someone, Sharpenstein says. Active listening is a skill and Sharpenstein offers tips to help out you and your family.
Listen without thinking about what you’re going to say next, repeat what you’ve heard, be non-judgemental and curious when asking questions, and offer empathy. When you implement one (or all) of these techniques into your family dynamic, conflict and impatience lessen which creates space for healthy connections.
2. Mindful Breathing
Taking time out to take deep breaths has been proven to stabilize blood pressure and reduce stress. If your family is in the middle of a debate or maybe handling a threenager meltdown, taking a breath can help.
“I place one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly (the hand placement offers me grounding nourishment) and breathe into my belly in through my nostrils and out through my mouth,” Sharpenstein advises.
These don’t have to be big breaths and you can incorporate this method into a morning ritual or to calm your racing thoughts. “It’s an accessible breathing technique to bring mindfulness into any moment,” she says.
3. Mindful Walking in Nature
Research shows that spending time in nature improves health and makes us happy. Combine that with mindfully walking outside together and we can find even more moments of connection and centeredness. “When walking outside we can tune into our senses,” Sharpenstein says.
Be mindful of all that you see, hear, and smell and then talk about this with your loved ones. This makes room for a consistent habit of easy and open conversation and Sharpenstein says walking outside creates a sense of awe and inspiration in all that we see.
For even more ways to practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life, see our 4 Mindful Alternatives to Meditation for the Whole Family.
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Tonilyn Hornung is an author and freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, and many other parenting magazines and websites.