As they enter the Advent Season and make preparations to celebrate the birth of our Savior, families often find themselves being pulled in a million directions. With all the trappings of the bustling holiday season, it’s easy to lose focus on what this time of the year is really about. If parents are feeling anxious and stressed at this time of the year, rest assured that kids are, too. So, how do we slow down and become more in-tune with our own thoughts and our children’s?
Mindfulness is being present in a moment, aware of our surroundings, feeling our emotions and being at peace. Parents can find mindfulness in the midst of all the holiday madness. Their calm and centered mannerisms will help their family find mindfulness too. The end goal is to purposefully slow down and be grateful for the blessings we already have. There are many ways to find mindfulness, and you’ll need to explore different methods until you find what works best to give you the calm you seek to make it through the holidays. Prayer is always a great place to start when you’re looking for ways to be more mindful and present.
Some people find that 15 minutes a day of writing their thoughts down, especially things they are grateful for, helps them to renew the soul, and centers them for the day. The physical release from writing provides calm and mindfulness, and taking time to think about the things that mean the most can help move the needle in a positive direction. Your child can spend this time thinking about everything God has blessed them with in their lives, thoughtfully reflecting on their lives and the lives of those around them.
You may be skeptical when told that you can practice breathing. However, regulating your breathing can help you stay calm, even in stressful situations. Yoga is a great way to learn to control breathing. If you find that stillness keeps you calm, sit somewhere that you won’t be interrupted (there’s always somewhere in the house) and close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing, and focus your thoughts on what you are most grateful for. Counting the seconds of your breath can help you breathe more deeply and release stress.
When you’re feeling stressed and have been inside all day, going outside can help. Perhaps take a walk and really listen to the bird songs, the rustle of the wind in the trees, or the crash of the ocean on the shore. Simply spending a few minutes per day being mindful can restore balance in your life. Think about what’s truly important, and learn to appreciate the little opportunities that occur daily.
Whether you read the Bible or have a favorite inspirational author, take 15 minutes a day to read and seriously contemplate what you’ve read. Words are powerful and can help you establish mindfulness while planting a seed you can share throughout the day. As long as you’re reading something that makes you happy or calm, taking time out of your day to read will help you slow down and improve your mood.
Make it a Family Thing
As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to be healthy, happy and to know God’s love. Modeling mindfulness to them is an important part of this. Any of the above suggestions can be adapted for children, encouraging them to take the time to slow down and be more mindful of their family, friends and self.
Spending time as a family engaging in traditions and explaining the history is a great way to introduce mindfulness into this crazy time of year. Bake cookies together, set a table together, take turns saying a prayer of thanksgiving each night before bedtime. Remember if you are mindful, your children will sense it and react accordingly.
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