The days and weeks all seem to be rolling into one but we’re now coming to the end of our 6th week at home together. It seems incredible that we have been in our home for so long (with the exception of our daily exercise) however the days seem to fly by at the minute as we continue with the home routine we’ve created that’s working for us as a family. The online resources available from the Oak National Academy and BBC Bitesize have made it easier for my husband to take over some of the home schooling for my son this week. He’s enjoyed ‘playing teacher’ this week (on the whole!) and it has freed me up to get more of my work done during the day; a juggling act for so many parents working from home. We have continued our daily focus on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, with a particular focus on Take Notice this week.
I took part in my first online mindfulness group session this week. I’ve had limited experience of mindfulness in the past but when I have engaged in short activities within training sessions, I have found it really difficult to focus on the one thing I’m being told to focus on. I had a similar experience this week but I want to continue the course and see if mindfulness might be something that I can practice and develop over time to support my wellbeing. The evidence-base around mindfulness practice is growing and extremely positive. I was struck by the idea in the session that we may all be experiencing grief or loss of some kind during this pandemic; grieving the loss of our usual routine and possibly our sense of purpose. We might be grieving the loss of face to face contact with friends and family or experiencing anticipatory grief (fear of possible loss in the future) which can damage our collective sense of safety. This all resonated strongly with me and so I am interested to learn more about how mindfulness practice might be supportive at this time.
My other take-away from the session was the value of being more present in all aspects of life. The ‘busyness’ of everyday life means that I’m often doing several things at once and not really noticing what I’m doing, how I’m feeling or enjoying things because I’m just rushing through what seems like a never-ending to-do list. I have taken the time this week to sit in the garden and enjoy lunch with my family, not thinking about work or checking my phone or ringing a friend or relative. Just stopping for a few minutes, taking notice of the weather and my garden, the taste of my food and being really present in conversations with my husband and son has felt really important and I’ve realised that I need to make more time to do this.
This week, my son has had some difficulties getting to sleep. He wasn’t sure why and we didn’t dwell on ‘the why’ at bedtime but talked about it the following day. Over the last few months when his anxiety levels have risen for a variety of reasons, we’ve experimented with different relaxation techniques (not realising that some of them were mindfulness techniques) and we’ve incorporated them, mainly into his bedtime routine when he needs them. The mindful body scan (example from Headspace) can be used as a meditation for sleep. It has been an incredibly valuable tool for my son. After trying different things to help him to relax and settle with no success, we’ve been amazed at how helpful this tool has been and how much he loves it.
It’s a really simple technique to use. I ask my son to lie down, close his eyes and choose his favourite colour and imagine it resting just above his head. We focus on breathing and relaxing his body and then I talk to him in a really soft voice, describing the colour moving slowly down his body until it reaches his toes. After 3 hours of trying to settle my son one evening, I talked him through the body scan and 10 minutes later he was fast asleep; I couldn’t believe it! We thought it could be coincidence (at 11:30pm any 9 year old would be exhausted!) but we now regularly use the body scan to support relaxation and sleep for our son and it continues to work for him. I really believe that different things work for different people and there’s value in taking the time to experiment with relaxation techniques and sleep meditation to find out what might work for you and your family.
There are many useful websites with more detailed information about relaxation techniques and meditation for sleep. Healthy Minds Lincolnshire is continually updating their website with a range of resources to support children, young people and adults. Online workshops to support children and young people to develop strategies to manage worries, videos demonstrating relaxation/breathing exercises and a list of useful apps to support wellbeing for children, young people and adults can be found here: https://www.lpft.nhs.uk/young-people/lincolnshire/young-people/i-need-more-help/healthy-minds-lincolnshire
The Sleep Charity can offer FREE 1:2:1 telephone/video sleep clinic appointments to parents of children aged 1 and over with sleep difficulties, living in Lincolnshire. More information and contact details can be found here: https://mobile.twitter.com/TheSleepCharity/status/1248354705341681664/photo/1