One of the simplest things we can do to take care of our minds is BREATHING.
Regular practice of breathing exercises can change the way we think and feel; it can affect our heart rate, lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels and combat anxiety.
Whether it’s taking a few deep breaths to help regulate when a child’s experiencing some big emotions, taking some time to wind down before bed time, to help feel ready for school or just to build some mindful rhythms into your routine, breathing intentionally can really help.
The following activity makes deep and mindful breathing engaging and accessible to young children (although will benefit people of all ages!). This is rainbow breathing.
Make sure you have space around you to stretch your arms out wide and high.
We’re going to imagine that we’re painting a huge rainbow in the sky – and your fingers are the paintbrushes!
Start by stretching your arms out wide to each side of your body – like this:
Perhaps you want to give your fingers a little wiggle to wake them up!
Take a deep, slow breath in, and as you do, raise and curve your arms to make an arch shape – just like a rainbow.
Breathe out slowly, and lower your arms.
That’s our red layer of our rainbow painted – how many other colours shall we do?
Repeat this breathing exercise as many times as is helpful and engaging for your child. You could do seven repetitions, one for every colour of the rainbow. You could simplify it with just their favourite three colours. Or you could draw the activity out, and ask your child to think of as many wacky colours as they can!
(If you’d like to learn more about the positive effects of breathing exercises, we like this episode of Just One Thing with Michael Mosely on BBC Sounds!).