This post is part of Twinkl’s Children’s Mental Health Week campaign, and is featured in their 5 Steps To Improve Children’s Wellbeing post .

Feeling in need of some cheer? 

It’s February 2021 and we’re in our third lockdown. With so much doom and gloom in the news and cold, wet dismal weather it’s hardly surprising if we’re feeling a bit low.  The good news is that we can train our brains to notice the positive and so lift our spirits. Here’s a few tips to add some cheer to your lives.

Adopt an attitude of gratitude

Encourage your children to think of 3 things every day that they are thankful for, and you can do this too! These things could be as simple as having clean water to drink, food on the table or a roof over your heads. Your kids might express thanks for their favourite toy, book or pet. They might even be grateful for their sibling….you never know! These might be the same every day or you could use your imagination and come up with different things. Note these down and pop them in a jar. Start the week with a smile by opening the jar on a Monday – setting out as you mean to go on!

Boogie on down

Listening to music can have a positive effect on dopamine, the brain chemical associated with reward, and oxytocin, the love hormone. Science aside, the success of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s kitchen discos as featured on social media, where her kids are involved in in having a good old dance to her tunes, is testament to the feel good nature of letting your hair down and having a boogie to your favourite tunes. My favourite is disco, you can’t beat a bit of Night Fever or Dancing Queen to get me tripping the light fantastic! Get the whole family involved, choose a track each and strut your funky stuff! You’ll feel all the better for it.

Go on a media diet

Be mindful of your family’s media feed. How’s your social media feed? What are your children looking at online? Do you often have the news on in your house and do you discuss it? Do you leave newspapers lying around? If so, make sure they are age appropriate for your child(ren) and then have a think about how the news makes you feel. Is it cheery and positive? Well done if so as most of the news I see is quite negative. This is largely due to the human brain’s negativity bias. Early man’s survival was dependent upon the ability to scan for and spot signs of danger. However in modern day we don’t tend to meet any sabre toothed tigers as we go about our daily lives. Unfortunately our brains have not caught up and tend to be on the alert for threat and bad news stories make up the majority of our media reports. I have massively reduced the amount of attention I pay to the news as I found it was affecting my mood. I catch the odd radio bulletin or see a headline. My mother informs me that the fourth Doctor Who, Tom Baker, once stated that he never watched the news, referring to it as “tales of woe!” I wholly concur.

Fill up on fresh air

Try and get out as much as possible and it is a bonus if the sun is shining. There’s nothing better than a walk on a crisp, winter’s sunny day to put a spring in your family’s step and a great way to build some exercise into the day. Whilst on a walk you could be on the lookout for different types of tree, or cars, or breeds of dog, whatever takes your family’s fancy. Feeling the breeze on your face and listening to the birds singing adds a more mindful element to the activity. You could get involved with the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch if you have a garden, this might be useful if your child does not like walking.

Get your aprons on

Have fun in the kitchen by making something simple. Cooking/baking is very mindful in that it requires our full attention in measuring out ingredients, mixing them together, observing cooking times, instructions and temperatures. It’s always fun sampling your hopefully delicious culinary delight at the end.

Balloons away

One of my favourite instant mood boosters is very simple. Blow up a balloon and then let it go! This is one of my mother’s favourite games to play with her granddaughters, causing shrieks of laughter from all concerned. She does this with a balloon pump. However if you can inflate the balloon yourself you can turn it into a mindful breathing exercise, blowing any uncomfortable emotion, for example anger, into the balloon then witnessing the neutralising of this emotion as you inevitably laugh as it flies around the room.

If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness and meditation skills which  can help support children’s mental health …

help them to manage their uncomfortable feelings such as anger or anxiety and to help them to self-regulate their behaviour then please get in touch. I offer two levels of training which you can read about here. I also work directly with children, for more information on how I work directly with children to help them please see here. For contact click here

On a final note…

please don’t worry if you or your children are feeling under weather, we can’t always be upbeat and rain can turn to sunshine in the twinkling of an eye. However I would seek advice if the low mood persists despite taking measures.

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