Mindfulness: Outdoor Activities for You and Your Child
Mindfulness is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Mindfulness is all about being aware of your thoughts, senses, and emotions. Because many of us and our children live in a world saturated with technology and digital and social media, mindfulness becomes more of a challenge. When we spend most of our time watching TV, playing video games, or scrolling through social media, our senses become dulled, and we begin to lose our ability to think critically and be self-aware of our thoughts and feelings. Taking the time to practice mindfulness, especially outside in nature, is important not only for mental health, but also for physical and emotional health. It allows us to become more self-aware and even helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Below are five practical outdoor activity ideas to help you and your child practice mindfulness.
Gardening: Maintaining a garden is a great way to engage your senses and appreciate the nature around you. As you and your child work in the garden, take time to use all your senses and encourage your child to do the same. Feel all the different textures of the soil or the plants, smell the flowers around you, and admire the beauty of life growing before your eyes.
Scavenger hunt: Creating a nature scavenger hunt for your child is a fun way to get them away from the TV screen and outside. Create or find a scavenger hunt that will help your child use all their senses. This can include things like finding a tree branch and feeling the texture of it, listening to see if they can hear a bird sing, looking to see if they can find a certain color or cloud shape, or smelling any flowers or plants around them. Another way to do this would be to create a list of things for your child to find under each of the five senses. For example, under the touch category, you could have them try to find something soft, something cold, or something wet. This activity will help you and your child to connect with nature in a unique and fun way.
Create art: There are many ways to create art while out in nature. Buy some sidewalk chalk and draw pictures or write positive messages. Find some rocks and paint pretty designs and hide them for other people to find. Take some paper outside and paint or draw the things you see around you. Find different items like leaves or branches and try to create a picture or design out of them.
Blow bubbles: This activity will help you and your child focus on breathing. As you blow bubbles, take deep, purposeful breaths and teach your child to do the same. Tell them why it’s important to be able to control their breathing and that it will help them be able to calm down if stressed or anxious.
Go on a walk: Taking a walk out in nature is a simple way to be active outside with your child. As you walk, look around for any wildlife and be mindful of the scenery around you. Think about how the wind feels against your skin or how the sun feels on your face. Listen to the birds sing. Stop and smell any flowers you might come across. Practice being mindful and encourage your child to do the same.
Pick at least one of these activities to do with your child this week and enjoy spending time with them in nature. Doing these activities with your child will help them to learn the ability to be self-aware and to manage their feelings and emotions in a healthy way.
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