In just 5-10 minutes a day, students and families who listen to the Inner Explorer audio-guided mindfulness program experience less stress and anxiety, improved immune function and resiliency, as well as increased focus! Inner Explorer is a leading provider of mindfulness programming that is evidence-based and designed for use in PK-12th grade classrooms and homes. Audio practices for the examples below can be found at https://i6.innerexplorer.org/compass/family_resources.
- 1. Staying Present. Focus on your breath to stabilize your attention. As you inhale, feel the movement of your abdomen, as you exhale, notice if the air feels cool or warm as it travels through your nose or mouth. Do this for a few cycles and sense if you feel more relaxed. Mindful breathing calms the body and the anxious mind. Anxiety can overwhelm us with what MIGHT happen. Our brain has a ‘negativity bias’, so we often imagine the worst-case scenario. When we stay in the present, the bias is overcome, and we can better manage the now. By focusing on our senses during everyday activities, from washing our hands, to preparing meals at home and even standing in long lines, we can practice mindfulness and remain calm.
- 2. Finding the Good. Challenged with new uncertainties, it’s natural to focus on the bad, the restrictions, the fears. Our current situation necessitates life changes. But we can appreciate the benefits of slowing down and connecting more closely with friends and family, if not in person, through video chats, calls, and even letters. Normalcy has its own chaos, with families often running in many different directions. Instead, take advantage of this gift of time together. While it may seem difficult to appreciate during hardship, research shows that gratitude lifts our spirits and strengthens our ability to cope.
- 3. Using the S.T.O.P technique. Stop. Take a breath. Observe. Proceed. Use this technique anytime, anywhere. The pause is powerful. When you find yourself reacting to a person or situation or even your own thoughts, you can use this simple, effective approach to take a pause and move from reactivity to responsiveness. It only takes a minute.
- 4. Practicing Self-Care. The stressors in our lives are growing. Now we have unanticipated health, financial, and logistical concerns that were unimaginable a few weeks ago. It’s important to nourish ourselves physically and emotionally. Ways to practice self-care include getting eight hours of good quality sleep, consuming proper nutrition, exercising and experiencing the outdoors (while still practicing social distancing). Find time to breathe deeply, enjoy your favorite music, and for quiet reflection. Practicing self-care will improve your health and well-being.
- 5. Developing a Daily Habit of Mindfulness. There are many books, podcasts and articles about the benefits of mindfulness. Research shows it reduces stress and anxiety, improves immune function and increases attention and performance. The critical element is daily practice, which can be challenging to integrate into an already busy schedule. Yet, during this time of uncertainty, it may be an ideal opportunity to develop the habit and experience the benefits! We invite you to download the Inner Explorer family app, and begin practicing with your children every day, starting with “Day 1” and continuing through “Day 90’ and then repeat. Inner Explorer App