5 Tips to Help Kids Find Inner Peace During the Pandemic
This school year looks like nothing we’ve seen before. Among the many challenges teenagers and young adults are facing in their life, a global pandemic is sure to add some stress! Conversations with your child about mindfulness will have immediate benefits to their mental well-being. It will not only help them navigate the unprecedented school year ahead, but it will also introduce healthy habits they can build on for a lifetime of inner peace.
Of all the ancient and modern practices designed to wake us up, the simple practice of mindfulness has arrived at the forefront of our cultural sensibility. Over 30 years ago, when Jon Kabat-Zinn began sitting and adapting Zen Buddhist mindfulness practices to the healthcare arena at UMass Medical Center and writing Full Catastrophe Living, no one and certainly not he, could have predicted the Mindful Revolution.
While so much is out of our control right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more vital than ever to focus on taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This must begin with the personal responsibility of mindful living.
Here are some proactive everyday tips to help your child maintain his/her mental health and find inner peace during times of unrest and uncertainty:
Stay Balanced and Grounded through Self-Care
Remember you’re not alone if you’re worried or anxious. Schedule self-care into your day and do at least one thing for yourself. Go for a walk, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or tea, take a long shower or bath, etc.
Tune into your breath and body regularly
Simply bring your attention to your breath, noticing each inhale and exhale. At the same time, feel both feet grounded to the earth. Your breath becomes an anchor in the body to the present moment. Bringing our attention to the present helps relax the body and mind and lessen any worried or anxious thoughts you have.
Express your feelings to close friends and family, don’t keep them inside
Worries or anxious thoughts can seem more difficult if we keep them inside. It helps to share and express your feelings to someone you trust. Make human connection a priority for your mental health several times a week and you’ll feel less alone.
Consider limiting time on social media and watching the news
You’ve probably heard this before but make some positive choices for yourself about how much time you look at social media as well as time spent watching the news. Media can increase your reactivity and worried thoughts. If you choose to look at the media, consider spending the most time on positive sites.
Mindfully Meditate either Formally or Informally
Terrific meditation apps (Headspace, Calm for example) can lead you in simple short formal meditations. Try a five or 10-minute meditation to ground your body and settle your mind. If formal meditation isn’t your style, simply bring more awareness to everything you’re doing by bringing your full attention to the activity. Recognize that worries and challenging thoughts will always come into your mind, but you can choose to simply notice the thoughts and then let them pass. This takes practice but you can do it!
Uncertainties in our environment are imminent and constantly changing right now. Taking action every day to control your mind and focus on self-care can help in maintaining mental health. And just like everything else, practice makes perfect.
Lisa Langer, PhD, is the author of Deeper into Mindfulness: Next Steps to Sustain Your Meditation Practice and Find Inner Peace. Dr. Langer is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Northwell/Hofstra School of Medicine, and the Founder of PRACTICE Body Mind Soul company, a wellness center in Roslyn, NY, acquired by the Katz Women’s Institute/Northwell Health System as their first-ever Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine. She has a 30+ year history of training in mindful meditation and body practices.