It is Mental Health Week in the UK and after two months in lockdown, it couldn’t be more timely. As people around the world experience increased panic, anxiety and stress related to Covid-19, it is important that we use strategies to remain calm and focus on positives – to be mindful.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about being in the now, noticing how you feel, what you think and what you want. It is about acknowledging all these things and learning how to cope with them, without criticism or judgement. It is learning to notice everything in your body, mind and environment. Focusing on the now allows us to remain calm, peaceful, improves concentration and reduces stress and anxiety.
But did you also know that maths and mindfulness use a lot of the same skills? Practices such as meditation teach us to manage distractions, notice what is around us, persevere, focus on the present, reflect, revise, make connections, reason and question. These skills are also used to solve problems in maths. Studies into children that practice mindfulness, have also found a 15% increase in maths score compared to children who do not practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be practised individually or as a family and there’s a huge variety of routines for everyone to get involved with. At Whizz we quite like mathematically-themed mindfulness activities (no surprise!). Here are four to get you started.
Get those endorphins going by calculating your exercise routines
One key way of keeping healthy is by ensuring we keep up with daily exercise and nutrition. Exercise is not just good for physical health; it has been shown to improve anxiety and other mental health issues. It relieves tension, helps you to refocus, improves self-esteem and cognitive function. During a time when it is even easier to lose motivation for exercise and when we’re being given every excuse to sit inside all day, it’s crucial to get those endorphins going.
It is sometimes hard to engage the whole family in exercise but there are many ways of keeping your sessions fun and engaging…even in self-isolation! Why not check out Joe Wicks’ workouts, which cater for all ages and fitness levels, from easy starter sessions to his famous high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.
Prefer dancing? Check out Go Noodle for lots of fun, family friendly dance routines. Or maybe you want something calmer? Why not take the time to really relax with some yoga? And what better way to teach your child about shapes than getting them to pose as them?
Food is medicine…so convert your fractions
Eating as healthily as possible is great for our wellbeing. At the moment, we are faced with the gnawing threat of food shortages and the temptations of panic buying and boredom eating. With all the extra time at home, now is a great time to get creative, try new recipes and have fun making meals from scratch.
Exploring in the kitchen also gives a great distraction when there’s limited things we can do at home. Keeping a balanced diet not only looks after our physical wellbeing but also improves our mood, stops us feeling lethargic and helps us focus. And cooking, it turns out, is full of numbers!
Reconnect with nature (and measure it!)
Being surrounded by fresh oxygen, feeling the sun on our skin, hearing the birds and seeing the greenery increases serotonin levels, making us feel happier and more content. Take a walk, and let all your worries clear, as you focus on your senses. What can you hear? See? Smell? What things have you started to notice that you previously did not?
And while you’re out there in nature, why not have some fun? Jump in puddles, climb trees, minibeast hunts, shape hunts, nature art; the possibilities are endless.
Don’t forget your measuring tape…
Counting towards stillness
Also known as meditation, moments of stillness help us to clear our minds and acknowledge what may be causing us stress. They are a chance to reconnect and take time to focus on ourselves. Switching off can be tough but even 5 minutes of stillness a day has fantastic benefits for our health. Meditation can be incorporated into our daily routines – taking a shower, eating breakfast, washing our hands, during a walk, during cooking, washing up, at bedtime.