3 Simple Mindfulness Practices for Back to School
Mindfulness practices are probably not the first “assignments” you think of when you think “Back to School.” Yet, parents and teachers alike could help make the transition so much smoother for everyone simply by sharing these simple mindfulness practices.
The first is a breath practice that seems so simple it couldn’t possible work: and yet, I’ve had client after client be amazed at how effective it is! It’s simply thinking “I’m breathing in” as you inhale, “I’m breathing out” as you exhale. Do this again and again with slow and steady breaths for about a minute or so and you be amazed at how much calmer you’ll feel!
Another very simple mindfulness practice that can be helpful in the classroom or at home is gratitude. Take a piece of paper and write down “I’m grateful for ______” and list three to five things you are grateful for can quickly and easily help shift from stress and irritation to feeling calmer and happier.
Robert Emmon, Pd.D, has done a lot of research on gratitude and found that “children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families.” (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008)
A third very simple mindfulness practice that can help ease the “Back to School” transition is another breath exercise called square breathing (one of my clients’ favorites!) Simply draw or trace a square, Starting in the upper left hand corner, trace your finger across to the right and breath in to the count of four. As you trace your finger down the right side of the square hold your breath to the count of four. As you trace your finger across the bottom of the square, exhale to the count of four and as you trace your finger up the left side, hold your breath again to the count of four. Do this three to five times and then allow your breathing to come back to its natural rhythm. You can repeat this as needed.
A little more complex mindfulness practice that I love for children is Emotional Freedom Technique/E.F.T. or “Tapping.” I used to have a teddy bear with buttons on the tapping points in my office to teach young kids how to tap. You can listen to this podcast to learn how to practice Tapping.