A simple way to support mental health is to get outdoors. Just being outdoors 3 times a week for as little as 20minutes a time is shown to improve mental health. Today we suggest some mindfulness walks you can do either during your daily mile or set as homework tasks. These are aimed towards help calm busy minds and help centre children.
As you walk, take time to focus on each sense. Start by thinking about how your body feels, are your feet hitting the ground hard or gliding with each step? Are your muscles tight? What are your arms doing? Try and take time to focus but once your mind wonders move to the next sense. What can you hear? Is there a rustle in the leaves from the wind? A tip tapping of rain onto the pavement? Can you hear other people, traffic? Then we have smell, what smells are there? Can you smell exhaust fumes or the smell of snow coming? Lets not forget sight, what can you see? Try and take in every single little detail from around you. Taste is a trickier one, can you taste the air?
Slo Mo Walking
In this walk we slow things right down. We take each each step carefully, slowly, precisely. As we step, we think about what our bodies are doing, what muscles are working to help us balance? Try and breathe in and out in time with each step. Thinking about how these slow movements make the body feel.
A very activity that even the youngest can enjoy is a rainbow walk. Ask them to keep an eye open for something which represents each colour of the rainbow. Older children can be asked to spot as many shades of a certain colour as possible. Depending on where you walk, the local habitat and time of year it may be difficult to spot every colour but try your best.
For this walk, you simply start low and work up. You start at the feet. How do your toes feel as you walk? Your feet, your heels? Take time as you walk to really think about each part of your foot. Then move up to your ankles, your shins and calf muscles, your knees. How do they feel? Is there a rhythm happening in your body? Continue working up to your thighs, hips, back and so on. Once you get to your shoulders then work down your arms before finally working your way up your neck, face and head. How does each part of the body feel when walking? Do they synchronise? What is the pattern of your walk?
Just let the world wash over you on this walk silently. Children might struggle with this one so you can start short, just 60 seconds and build up. What did they notice on this walk that they never noticed before? How did they feel on this walk?
Each of these walks can be part of a walk or a full walk. It is up to you. As children grow more comfortable with mindful walking they will be able to focus for extended periods of time.