Gratitude is being thankful or grateful. It's more than saying thank you, it is an attitude and a way of thinking. It will change the way you feel about anything in life, for the better. Even in difficult times, there is always room for gratitude. Experiences and adversity make us stronger and build character. Finding and recognizing the positives even when it is not easy helps mental health, relationships, mood, and wellness. Research shows that "gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships." Harvard Health Publishing
"Gratitude and attitude are not challenges, they are choices." -Robert Braathe
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." -Epictetus
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Awareness of our own mental health and the mental health of others is as important as ever. Taking care of our mental health can be as vital as taking care of our physical health. Being aware of ourselves, our feelings and wellbeing, and knowing where to turn in difficult times is essential. Talking to a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, counselor, or turning to a mental health professional can be more helpful than realized. Adopting healthy habits and learning to manage emotions, actions, and coping skills can build our mental health and improve emotional well-being. We have many resources on our Guidance page, and below are some specific to Mental Health Awareness Month that you can click for more info.
Learn a New Skill from Home
This is a great time to take up a new hobby or expand on an interest that you have. Maybe you'll discover a new talent! So many opportunities exist online to teach and guide you, but the most important thing you need to use is your time and commitment. Kids and adults alike are taking this found time to learn something new or to grow an existing interest. Here are a few examples and some of the many links to try:
Cooking or Baking
Learn a Language
Missing the beach? Bring the beach to you!
Locus of Control / Resiliency
Feeling that we have a sense of control or power in a situation can be empowering and reassuring. Feeling we have no power can be frustrating and cause a loss of confidence. It can even lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. In normal daily life, and even in uncertain times like this, it is important to realize what is within our control and what is not. This helps us be resilient and keep things in perspective.
The chart below is a good visual of things we can and can't control. By focusing on what we can control, what we CAN DO, we will feel empowered and more positive. This is true in any situation. Try it. For example, you can't control if your friend is being mean, but you do control how you respond. You control your tone of voice, your words, and your own actions. For more info, read this Article about Internal Locus of Control
Puzzles are another great acitvity to do at home with family or by yourself, allowing you to exercise your mind. People of all ages enjoy puzzles and if you think puzzles are something you left behind with childhood, I challenge you to give a good jigsaw puzzle a try. Doing puzzles can be therapeutic as well as a fun bonding experience with family or friends.
See this link for more info: Surprising Benefits of Doing Jigsaw Puzzles
and another one with great puzzle ideas: 18 Best Jigsaw Puzzles That Will Make You Put Your Phone Down
You can even make your own puzzle out of your own photos on the Shutterfly website.
1000 piece Phillies puzzle done by Mrs. Cammann and her family last week
Staying physically active and mentally engaged is always important, but being home for an extended period of time, it can be challenging to find ways to consistently do this. We need to find ways to be active and healthy. This is a great time to incorporate yoga into your routine, but it can also be practiced throughout your life at home, or via online or live studio classes. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise and wellness that has various benefits for health, mind and body. Practicing yoga can build strength, flexibility, and balance. It can improve mood and reduce stress, while being both energizing and relaxing. Click the links to articles and yoga instructional videos below.
According to Marlynn Wei, M.D., in this article, "7 Ways Yoga Helps Children and Teens," yoga has the following benefits:
- Improve fitness and physical health
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve optimism
- Improve focus and school performance
- Improve self-esteem and body image
- Encourage creativity
Develop discipine and self-regulation
- Yoga Videos:
- 5 Minute Morning Yoga
- 10 Minute Morning Yoga
- 30 Minute Yoga Workout
- Yoga for Stress Relief (basics)
Today's mindful approach to try is Mindful Art. You don't have to consider yourself artistic, you just have to open your mind. The focus is not to create a masterpiece, it is simply to CREATE. Mindful art and coloring can be relaxing and has been shown to reduce anxiety and reset your mind in times of stress. Check out this short article for an explanation about Mindful Art. Also see this link for Zentangles to learn how to draw your own cool creations. These are so much fun and can help generate feelings of calmness, while expanding your creative mind. If you don't want to make your own drawing, you can try a coloring page here, Mindful Coloring Pages, or search online for endless pages to color, print, or even finish on the computer.
To continue with the previous entries about mindfulness, the following article expands on one way to practice being mindful through something called Mindful Walking. This is an easy exercise which can be practiced regularly, but during this time of quarantine, when many people start to feel "stir crazy" or "stuck inside", mindful walking is a perfect opportunity to get out of the house (while keeping your distance from others), getting some fresh air and some exercise, while using mindful practice to create feelings of calm and self awareness. Click on the link to read the article and try it. This is more than just taking a walk. It is a conscious effort to notice your surroundings, appreciate nature, and be aware of your own experiences as you move through the exercise. Regular mindful activities such as this have been shown to be beneficial to mood and health. Take note of how your feel physically and mentally, both before and after your walk. Do you feel a difference? Does your mood change? What would happen if you made this part of your daily routine?
One of the most fundamental strategies of mindfulness is deep breathing. Taking slow, long, deep breaths is a great way to calm feelings of anxiety and to allow yourself to think about physically relaxing. It calms your body and your mind. Deep breathing can be used anywhere, anytime, but it often takes some practice to do it correctly and feel calming effects. Practicing is important so you are able to properly use it when you need it, such as in times of stress.
Square breathing, or box breathing is one breathing technique you can practice to physically feel calmer. This requires you to breathe deeply, into your diaphragm (you know you are doing this when your belly rises with your breath). Count silently as shown below:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Breathe out for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
I have attached an article which explains more in depth about Square Breathing or Box Breathing. When you read the article, be sure to try it yourself and practice. Try to get in a routine of using deep breathing so it can be a "go-to" strategy when you are feeling anxious or nervous. It is the first thing I tell people when they are upset or anxious.
Mindfulness is a way to relax and to be present in the moment. It is a method of practicing calming strategies, reducing feelings of anxiety and increasing emotional wellness. Click on this brief article about mindfulness for an overview and related links. There are many ways to practice being mindful and yes, it does take some practice! I will visit many strategies of mindfulness in the coming days, here on our Distance Learning Page.
Below, I have listed some FREE apps which can help you learn strategies of mindfulness, such as breathing techniques, guided meditation, or reflecting on one's own feelings. Check out some of the apps to see which ones work for you. It can be a fun way to learn about yourself and to learn and practice healthy habits.
- Stop, Breathe, and Think
- Relax Melodies - Sleep Sounds
Activities at Home
- Play a board game
- Exercise Free online workouts at Planet Fitness You Tube Channel
- Make an art/craft project
- Go outside and get fresh air
- Take a walk or jog
- Catch up on your schoolwork.
- Read a book https://time.com/100-best-young-adult-books/
- Plan a movie night with your family
- Paint or draw a picture or do some Mindful Coloring pages
- Cook or bake a new recipe
- Organize your closet
- Collect items in your house to donate to a pantry or shelter