This time of year, most of us knee deep in holiday planning, prep work, and to-do lists! Today, I wanted to provide some tips on mindfulness during the holidays. Below, you will find a Christmas mindfulness activity and some coping strategies to address the holiday stress. This mindfulness tool goes along well with our Pumpin deep breathing exercise, and Thanksgiving mindfulness activity.
Christmas Mindfulness Activity
When we think about the holidays from the perspective of a child. Having a set of mindfulness activities for kids is a great way to fill their toolbox with strategies they can use each day. Essentially, the post urges us to be mindful of the child’s thought process, emotions, and coping strategies this time of year.
Kids are barraged by schedule changes, anticipation of holiday events, later bedtimes, holiday travel, parent/teacher stress, increased sugar…and more. They feel these big feelings and can “lose it”, seemingly at the drop of a hat. Children can melt down in front of our eyes. This time of year perhaps especially, there is SO much going on inside those little bodies and minds. Focusing on mindfulness and coping strategies can help.
Holiday Mindfulness for Kids
I mean, think about it this way: We as adults are totally stressed out by deadlines, shopping lists, travel, extended family, holiday budgets, and the never-ending to-do lists.
Our kids see that stress and anxiety.
Now, think about the kiddo with executive functioning challenges. They can’t plan ahead or prioritize tasks when they have a holiday letter to write, a classroom sing-along to practice for, and Grandma’s house to visit next weekend. It’s hard for them to function when their routine is off kilter and anticipation is high.
Think about our kiddos with sensory struggles. They are bombarded by lights and music, hustle and bustle in the grocery store, shopping mall, and even by the neighborhood lights. The later bedtimes and influx of sensory input is a challenge to process for them. It’s overwhelming and exhausting.
Think about our students with praxis or motor issues. There are crowds to navigate, auditorium stages to maneuver and they need to do it FAST. There are schedules to maintain and growing to-do lists!
And that’s just the beginning. All of our kids…no matter what their strengths or needs be…struggle with the change in routines, the adult stress, anticipation, holiday projects, gift giving issues, that extra sugar from holiday sweets, itchy holiday sweaters and scratchy tights, or mom’s stress from holiday traffic.
That “iceberg” of underlying issues and concerns is a holiday version that leads to emotional breakdowns, poor coping skills, and sensory meltdowns.
Christmas COping Tools
This holiday season, I wanted to fill your toolbox with the tools your little one (or client/student) needs to thrive.
These are the strategies and tips we can use to slow down, take a deep breath, and recognize the underlying issues going on behind behaviors, meltdowns, and frustrations.
Because when you have the tools in place, you have a blueprint for success in the child.
Here are some holiday tools that can help both YOU and a CHILD struggling with all that this time of year brings:
Use the Christmas tree visual graphic here and follow the arrows as you take deep breaths in and out. Pair the deep breathing with thoughts of things that remind you of peace and love (for example) for with each breath. For each layer of the tree, kids can concentrate on one thing, person, or aspect of the holidays. Thinking about whatever it is that you are grateful for is a simple way to pair the benefits of slow deep breaths with intentional thoughts.
This is a coloring page. Use it as a handout or home program. Kids can color it in and work on fine motor skills, too!
Use the Christmas mindfulness handout with kids as a group or individually. You can set this up in several ways. Ask them fist to list out some things they are grateful for. Then, quietly say an item with each breath break.
As a mindfulness group activity, use the Christmas tree graphic and explain that they will be pairing deep breathing with a focus on love or peace. Come up with a list of things the group loves about the holidays. As you work through he deep breathing exercise, the children in the group can focus on things that brings them peace personally.
Or, you could invite the child to think in their head about some things that remind them of the holidays and then with each breath in, they intentionally concentrate on that thing/person/idea.
More holiday mindfulness strategies
Here are more coping tools for kids that focus on addressing underlying needs so that kids can function. Use these strategies as part of a sensory diet or within the day.
Tips for Sensory Kids and Winter Clothing
Sensory Coping Strategies for Kids
Anxiety and Sensory-Based Coping Strategies
Sensory Diet Activities for the Classroom
FREE Outdoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards
25 Days of Christmas Occupational Therapy Activities
Wishing you a thriving, stress-free, and functional holiday season for you and those kiddos you serve!