HOW TO GET YOUR FAMILY TO BE MORE MINDFUL

Mindfulness Sign

Written by Jodie Evans from The Mindful Centre

Almost daily I get asked a question along these lines“ Are phones and ipads bad for my child?”, “Why is anxiety on the rise, particularly in children?”, ”Is social media the reason for all our modern day mental health issues?” The short answer is No. It is not a phone, work, stress or the kids, but the inability to take a mental break that causes the brain to overload. The brain is like a phone, you need to recharge and reboot it to keep it in good functioning order. We all know that sleep is so critical to our wellbeing, but so often unattainable if your only state of mind is “think, think, think.”

Despite our brains evolving and being capable of lightning speed, executive functioning still has a maximum capacity – “full point.” When we (and our children) are full, our brain loses the ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviours and to concentrate or focus. We then become more and
more addicted to the stimulation. It is like a switch that we can’t turn off.
This inevitably leads to a constant “stress state” and can increase the risk of
longer term issues with anxiety. 

It is not just electronic devices that stimulate the brain. High stimulus recreational activities/learning or social activities, busy schedules, ongoing reflections on the past, increased pressure to get organised, problem solving about the future – often with perfectionistic expectations and competing demands are all stimulating our thinking brain. These are all wonderful aspects of life but cumulatively without rest lead to a “constant stress state.” Latest research indicates that we are spending up to half of our life disengaged from what is happening in front of us – “mindless.” I personally think it is even higher – and increasing by the hour.

Mindfulness is a state of being that enables the brain to reduce the stimulation – at times. It is the focus on the present moment, without getting tangled in the analysis of it. You don’t need to be sitting crossed legged – you can still notice your emotions, thoughts or sensations in any of your current environments. You can be in the shower, enjoying a coffee or walking in the park – it is about noticing the experience rather than judging it.

How to get your family more mindful?

Please refrain from adding mindfulness to your “better do this or the kids will suffer list.”

Simply decide on 2-3 times in your day that you can practice mindfulness.

Pause to notice and be in that moment with your full attention. Times when you could do this are:

  • watching your children play
  • at dinner time
  • reading a book
  • whilst driving
Mother and Daughte Mindfulness

It sounds easy but you will need to practice, especially if you haven’t used that mind muscle before or for sometime!

If that seems foreign, start with some formal practice so you can get a sense of noticing rather than analysing – being rather than thinking. The Smiling Mind App is a longer-term place to start. Children are naturally Mindful when they are young and as they grow we train them to analyse, judge and predict future possibilities – all great skills. However, there is also a time to be in the now, with full acceptance and gratitude so that when they are “full” they can create some space within their minds to reboot. Without it, we give them little opportunity to be resilient in the face of life’s adversity.

Do you already practice being more mindful? If so leave a comment and let us know when and how you do this.

About Jodie

Jodie is a nationally accredited Psychologist and has been the Director of The Mindful Centre since 2006. At TMC, they specialise in the biological aspects of the mind/body connection to better explain how humans think, feel and behave. TMC offers monthly mindfulness practice if you prefer some guided support. You can see their full calendar of workshops and events at www.themindfulcentre.com.au/upcoming-events 

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