Something your family might be finding difficult at this time is calming anxious minds. Here are some activities for all ages to harness the powers of relaxation with minimal supplies, from the comfort of your home! We’d love to see and hear how you and your family are doing these activities at home together! Email your photos and thoughts about the activities to [email protected].
Breathing for Relaxation: Ages 3-8
No supplies needed!
Have your children find a comfortable seated position on the floor. You can make this fun by inviting them to sit on a pillow and grab their favorite stuffed animal to participate, too. Have them practice closing their eyes and breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5. They can hold one hand on their chest and one hand on their belly to feel these parts of their body inflate and deflate as they breathe.
Next, have them imagine their favorite dessert. Is it birthday cake? Cherry pie? Ask them to think about this dessert, quietly in their own head. Will it be served on a plate? In a bowl? With a side of ice cream? Will they eat it with a spoon or a fork? Or with their hands? Have them think about what their dessert smells like. They can even pretend to be holding their dessert out in front of them. Slowly breathe in the smell of the dessert through the nose. Imagine tasting it. Is it hot or cold? What does it taste like? Breathe in the smell of it once more and open the eyes. Have them describe their dessert and the experience of visualizing it. Was it easy or hard to imagine? This can be a great technique to shift our thoughts away from anxiety and stress, to relax the mind by focusing on something positive.
Coloring for Relaxation: Ages 9-12
Supplies: Coloring book or printable mandala, colored pencils, markers or crayons
Have your child find a quiet space in the house. They can work silently or select relaxing music to listen to. Mandalas, like the printables linked here have a repeating pattern that make them ideal for mindful coloring. Invite your child to take several deep breaths, in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5, before beginning to color. If while they are coloring they find themselves feeling distracted or anxious, invite them to join you in several deep breaths again.
Safe Place: Ages 13-18
Supplies: Paper, pencil, colored pencils, markers or crayons
Have your teen find a comfortable, quiet spot in the house. Instruct them to take several deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, closing their eyes as they do. Ask them to think about a place where they feel safe. A place where they feel calm. Ask them to visualize this safe place – it can be anywhere, real or imaginary. Are they indoors or outdoors? What do they see around them? Ask them to use all of their senses – what do they feel? Soft carpet? Crunchy leaves? What do they hear? Is it quiet? Or is there the soft babbling of a creek? What do they smell? After they have walked through all of their senses, allow them to take several more deep breaths, letting the calm wash over them. When they are ready, they can open their eyes and draw a picture of their safe place.
Inside/Outside Your Control: Ages 19+
Supplies: Paper, pen, pencil, colored pencils, markers or crayon
On a sheet of paper, trace your hand. Inside the hand, write down those things which are inside your control (think through emotions, actions, attitude, behaviors). Outside the hand, write down those things which are outside your control (think through others’ actions, outside circumstances, etc.) You can decorate the finished product if you choose. When the chaos of the world gets overwhelming, it can be calming to look at what elements in your life you do have control over, and to attempt to let go of that which you cannot control.
Family Photography Walk: The Whole Family
Supplies: Smartphone or camera
Take a walk together as a family. This could be around the block, to a nearby park, or even just spend some time in your backyard. As you walk, have each member of the family take a photo of something they find beautiful. When you get back, have everyone take turns sharing their photo and telling why they chose to photograph what they did.