(Photo: Ksenia Makagonova)
Since it’s still October, we honour World Mental Health Day.
Let’s continue to recognize and celebrate this day by being aware of how we can support our own, and others’ mental health. Self-regulatory and expressive embodiment is a key resource, as is building emotional intelligence and being connected to the body from an early age.
We can move to calm by:
1) Breathing in four parts: inhale, hold, release, hold.
2) Extending our out breath twice as long as our in breath (as long as it feels good).
3) Bringing our breath lower in the belly area. (With children, we can have them lie down and then place a pillow or bean bag on their tummy that they can watch rise up and down, as they breathe in that area).
4) Moving in slow motion.
5) Raising arms up and down at side of body as we breathe slowly.
6) Getting enough “motoring out” exercise, where children’s pent up energy from school or concentrated focus tasks can move out of the nervous system by dancing and sports.
Here we offer a few tips for parents, as well as for teaching children, in order to feel well in the mind.
Harness the interconnection of physical and mental health: Let’s turn off the screens and move our bodies to music! All that takes is a few minutes. Let’s all go to bed a half hour earlier tonight and before bed, receive/give a foot or lower leg massage.
As you are massaging your child, ask them what they feel. Can they describe what is different? What are the sensations like? Do they notice any change in their breathing? This builds body connection and allows relaxation to map into the brain for future “how to return to state”.
Let’s talk about feelings as an exciting discovery, and help each other identify what we are feeling, and what we might need to support that feeling to shift.
Where do we experience our feelings? In and through our bodies as sensations. Sometimes using a list helps: https://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/journalpages/feelings-list.pdf
How can we connect with, regulate, and express our feelings?
Through our bodies. There are simple movements for releasing tougher emotions: shaking, pressing, stomping, swinging arms, sounding, and/or cuddling.
Here is a great Feelings List useful for families: https://www.familyeducation.com/kids/the-ultimate-list-of-feelings-to-help-kids-express-themselves
Help children identify WHERE in their body – and how – they experience their feelings? ‘First responders’ parts of the body are the jaw, neck/shoulders, diaphragm, tummy. These can be areas to check in with for tension. Here’s a good sensations/emotions “wheel”: https://lindsaybraman.com/emotion-sensation-feeling-wheel/
From Singapore, here’s a resource with some more informative tips for maintaining mental health: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/419/boosting_childs_mental_wellbeing