When life gets busy, it’s easy to focus more on knocking items off of the to-do list and less on what you need to do | for yourself. And this isn’t just true for parents; kids can get overwhelmed by life too. So, we asked Julia Sen, a registered clinical and counselling psychologist in Toronto, for a quick and easy mindfulness exercise to give every family member a much-needed moment of self-care. It takes almost no time and gives everyone’s oxytocin—the hormone behind the rush of warm and fuzzy emotions —a much-needed boost.
1. Come together in a room and have everyone find a comfy spot. Allow everyone a few moments to settle down.
2. Inhale for five seconds through the nose, and exhale for five seconds through the mouth or nose. Repeat three times.
3. Visualize holding a puppy or another sweet, small animal. (If puppies aren’t your thing, anything that makes you feel tenderness and love works. For small children, give them stuffed animals and ask them to pretend their stuffies are snuggling them.) Hold this sensation for 30 seconds.
4. Repeat whenever and however many times you find helpful, but at least once.
If you’re leading this activity with your family, remember to be in the moment too, so you get the same benefits as the others, or repeat on your own a few more times than the kiddos.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Spring/Summer 2018