Mindful Movement for the New Year
By Jessica Williams | The Little Gym of West Ashley
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, amidst the shorter and colder days, it’s not surprising that many of us parents are ready to hide under the covers and hibernate. As a mother to three little ones, I know how unrealistic that is. At the start of a new year, it’s important to not only give myself an extra push, but to also make sure my kids get moving.
The idea of using movement and meditation to boost wellbeing and mental health isn’t new – it has been researched since at least the early 1900s. Scientists discovered early on that our brain and body work together like a well-oiled machine. Movement stimulates the production of ‘happy hormones’ by our central nervous system, natural chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins act as mood elevators, triggering a positive feeling in our body. They’ve also been shown to boost optimism, reduce stress, help children sleep, and boost their self-confidence and resilience.
According to Harvard Medical School, almost any form of exercise will boost our happy hormones. That’s great news for our children!
Here are 6 simple tips to help boost and maintain your child’s wellbeing:
1. The daily routine: Make sure you have one and it’s realistic. Be kind to yourself and create a routine that gives both you and your children a little slack and a lot of fun.
2. “Must-do” movement: Ignore the cries of “No! I want to stay inside!”. They may dig their heels in at first, but once your child is out and moving, they’ll thaw like a morning frost. And as their ice melts, the giggles and silly questions will make you feel great too.
3. Start the day moving: Moving first thing in the morning or before school is great for boosting concentration, focus AND mood.
4. Let them do something daring and new: Climb a tree, teeter along a brick fence, find the deepest puddle and jump right in, wrestle with abandon. Let them do something that makes you GASP. They’ll love it, and you may discover they’re capable of more than you think!
5. Make it fun: The more movement and the wider the smile, the more endorphins flood your child’s body and brighten their day. Add some big belly laughs for some extra magic.
6. Relax before bedtime: Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises at bedtime, or anytime, promote concentration, self-awareness and can help children express themselves.