A Tool for Mental Health
Did you know that you can use mindfulness to increase joy in your life? For many people, family dynamics cause a good deal of stress. Therefore it is important to find ways to deal with those feelings.
Activities centered around your mind and being aware of your surroundings have many proven benefits to reduce stress. They also improve memory and focus while reducing feelings of body shame and lowering fears about different groups of people. This increased understanding of yourself and others helps reduce stressful conflicts. In these times, it is so important to find ways to curb the stress in your life. By doing so, you will have more energy to put towards being a positive influence on your family.
Here are some tried and true methods that you can try for yourself.
Create Gratitude Games
Gratitude is such a great place to start your practice. Feelings of appreciation have been shown to increase activity in the part of the brain which regulates empathy and social bonding. For example, even finding ways to say ‘thank you’ can really uplift your spirit and those around you.
- The Mirror Game: Leave a surprise message of appreciation for a loved one on the mirror before you leave for the day.
- Compliment Counter: Set a goal of giving a certain number of compliments to those closest to you.
- Gratitude Partners: Pair up with a friend and set out to spread good deeds to all you encounter today.
Take a Walk to “Plug-In”
This is a great activity for all ages. Younger children love keeping tabs on all the critters and nature. For teens, it can be fun to play a geocache game while being mindful to replace any “treasures” they find with something comparable. The calming effects of nature also help adults stay more present by reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify how you feel. This confusion can cause a sense of wanting to flee from being mindful. Listening to a guided meditation that focuses on each part of the body, or on sounds near and far away can help you relax back into the present moment in a non-threatening way.
You can use these techniques to increase joy in your life by including everyone in your family. For example, have a different person be the mind-leader each week. Whoever leads can pick one sense that everyone will focus on, such as the smells in the room, or the feel of the carpet on the body. You can even add some family fun to the mix by doing a blind “taste test” with delicious items you cooked. Then ask how the different foods make everyone feel. Do they evoke feelings of happiness, comfort, or certain memories? This is an effective way to jump-start a conversation about feelings in a stress-free manner.
If you’d like some helpful meditations to get you started and give you ideas to pass on to your family, take a look at this free list offered by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center.
Use Mindfulness When Cooking
One of the best ways to use mindfulness to create joy is to slow down. For example, savor your meals vs. being distracted by devices. Set aside one day per week to cook a “mindfulness meal”. Involve your family in the process, from choosing ingredients to preparation. This also ensures that each person gets to be part of creating cuisine that the whole family can enjoy. This is a great way to use mindfulness to increase joy in your life and your loved ones.
5 Tips to Increase Joy
- Take time to explain to your kids what mindfulness is and give them tips on where to start.
- Lead by example – start your own practice.
- Share your wins and challenges so that everyone understands that this is a process.
- Be consistent – this helps solidify a new, healthy practice.
- Engage everyone in your family – let everyone contribute to the new meditative flow.
We have a wealth of knowledge and experience to assist you to use mindfulness to create joy in your life. Contact Real Life Counseling today and we’ll guide you through the most effective activities and strategies for raising a joyful family.