9 fun ways to introduce kids to Mindfulness in Ireland

Mindfulness is a great way to help your children to relax, concentrate and relieve anxiety. Here are some fun ways to get started.

Read time:     5 minutes

For one second, just imagine having kids that go to bed when you tell them to, who eat all their dinner without negotiating over broccoli and who NEVER throw tantrums in the middle of the supermarket that embarrass you to your core.

Although it sounds like the ultimate parenting pipe-dream, according to research, there could be one very simple way to make this happen…

Mindfulness For Kids

Mindfulness has been steadily gaining popularity across Ireland, as more and more adults engage in the practice which encourages us to pay attention to our emotions and live in the moment without judgement.

Although the research on mindfulness with children is not yet as extensive as with adults, the results are promising and show that mindfulness has an incredible positive impact on the physical, social, emotional and mental health of young people.

In a 2012 study, it was concluded that well-conducted mindfulness sessions can decrease anxiety, stress, reactivity and bad behaviour. It can also improve sleep, self-esteem and help young people better manage their emotions.

It can also profoundly alter cognitive function and help children concentrate at school, enhance memory and problem solving skills and help them sort their knowledge.

In adolescents it can help reduce negative emotions. In a trial carried out by Liehr and Diaz (2010) among 18 minority and disadvantaged children, those who took part in mindfulness interventions saw a significant reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms.

Tips For Practicing Mindfulness With Children

As children tend to be more open to new experiences, it’s easy to introduce mindfulness to younger people. The key is to keep it as simple as possible.

If necessary, try not to use the word mindfulness or bring it to them as a ‘concept’. Instead, focus more on practices and exercises that are easy for kids to get their heads around and integrate into their everyday life.

Ensure that mindfulness is already a firm and consistent part of your daily life. If you’re more confident with your practice, it will be easier to introduce it to your children.

Also, be conscious of your expectations. One quick mindfulness activity won’t banish the tantrums overnight but, over time, it will help children become aware of their emotions and how to deal with them.

9 Fun Ways To Introduce Mindfulness To Your Kids

  1. Practice gratitude

Mindfulness doesn’t have to consist of lengthy and intense meditation sessions or getting through a reading list of positive thinking books. With kids, you should always start small. One idea is to urge your kids to say what they’re thankful for at the end of every day and share your own thoughts to give them confidence in the act.  Gratitude is a cornerstone of mindfulness and can help enrich your quality of life. It can help teach children early on that there are positive moments in every day.

grattitude

2. Mindfulness colouring books

If your child has a flare for art, purchase some mindfulness colouring books to complete as a family in the evening. These books are filled with calming designs that get progressively more challenging. They often require a deeper level of thought than traditional colouring books and can help decrease stress and stimulate creativity.

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3. Feeling time

After a particularly hard day at school, take some time aside to talk to your children about their emotions. Ask them how they feel mentally and get them to describe how this makes their body feel. Understanding how your emotions impact your physicality is an important part of mindfulness, which helps you break down negative thoughts and understand that they are temporary.

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4. YouTube videos

When it comes to learning a new skill, our children often look to YouTube first for tutorials and information from their favourite internet personalities. YouTube has a wealth of great mindfulness videos aimed at kids, which the whole family can watch together.

5. Apps

With most of our little ones glued to mobiles and tablets 24/7 you can use apps to make mindfulness more appealing to technically minded kids. As well as online versions of mindfulness colouring books, there are loads of popular meditation apps.

Headspace is one of the most notable, with over one million downloads among adults. Headspace also have a kids version with breathing exercises and visualisations that help them relax and teach them the basics of mindfulness.

family-apps

6. Bed time body scans

For kids that have a little trouble falling asleep, body scanning can be extremely effective for making children feel much more relaxed and ready to drop off when their head hits the pillow.

At bed time, get your kids to lie flat on their back and guide them through their own body from their head to their toes. Ask them to feel every part of their body, squish it (tense the muscles) and let go. There are also many guided body scanning videos on trusty old YouTube to get you and your kids more familiar with the idea.

This practice will teach you and your child more about how they carry tension in their body and how to release it.bed-time-body-scans

7. Mindfulness walks

If you like to take a little family stroll every now and again, you can easily turn it into a ‘mindfulness walk’ by stopping to notice things you’ve never seen or heard before; whether it’s a tree or the sound of the town clock ringing.

Even walking in complete silence for a few moments can give your children the opportunity to relax and soak up their natural surroundings without even realising that they’re practicing mindfulness.

Family Walking Dog Through Winter Woodland

8. Mindful eating

Mindful eating can help children who have fussy tendencies or are picky with their food.  Mindful eating can begin with toddlers to instil a healthy and positive relationship with food from the outset.

Talk about food with your children and get them to touch the ingredients and get involved with meal preparation and shopping.

Show them that there is no right or wrong way to eat food but enjoyment and feeling nourished are the most important factors. Be patient and try not to have too many rules when it comes to eating.

Also, show your child that trying new things is fun in order to eliminate fear around particular ingredients – specifically vegetables.

mindful-eating

9. Mindfulness classes

To place much more emphasis on mindfulness, you can contact your local community group or search in your area for mindfulness classes for parents and children.

Not only will these help your children better understand the purpose of mindfulness, but seeing other children engaging in mindfulness will make them feel much more at ease and willing to immerse themselves in it.

And, if you’re especially passionate about mindfulness for children, you can also contact your child’s school, about integrating mindfulness into learning.

Killeen National School in County Mayo, was featured in the press in 2016 for being one of the first local schools to introduce the concept to its 68 pupils through the Mindfulness Matters programme. Children as young as ten from the school said they loved the activities which made them feel more relaxed and ‘in the moment’.mindful-classes

Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurance, pension and investment needs.

THE FIVE THINGS I HAVE LEARNT WHILST BATTLING ILLNESS

Avril McDonnell, an award winning blogger who has been battling illness for some time but her positive outlook in life shines through on her blog

Read time:     3 minutes

Illness is one of the most challenging events you will ever experience in your life. It doesn’t discriminate and impacts all ages, races and genders. Each and every day can bring about something new, something unpredictable. Everyone’s body is different so no two people with the same illness may experience the same journey. Illness really is an unpredictable journey full of peaks and troughs. A journey that can and does change your entire life. Instead of focusing on the negatives it may bring, I would like to highlight the five most important things it has taught me.

A time for personal growth

My journey through illness although ongoing has been a time where I have discovered my true identity. I would have never anticipated just how much I would grow as a person whilst feeling the world was passing me by. I have discovered new skills, new passions and new life goals. This has occurred mainly due to illness grinding my life to a complete halt and giving me the time to really look and evaluate it. I know I will be able to look back on this time not at the illness itself but the time in my life where I discovered my true place in this world.

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Loving yourself is not being selfish

Sometimes the personal traits of loving yourself and being selfish can become confused and warped thus leading some people to think that putting their own health and wellbeing first is a selfish act. This could not be further from the truth. To get the best out of you, you need to look after yourself both physically and mentally. If you look after yourself and are the best you can possibly be then everybody will benefit from that. It seems perfectly logical but can take quite a while to master. Learning to take a step back, to slow down and to listen to your body are some of the best and most valuable skills you can possess.

The importance of living in the moment

I was always one to cling on to the past and worry about the future. Whilst doing so I forgot to live in the here and now. Beauty is in the small details blink and you will miss it. Ask yourself, how often do I walk down the street so caught up in my own thoughts that I fail to see the beauty that exists around me? This is a bad habit we are all victim to unfortunately. I myself due to low energy levels have had to adjust and slow down my pace of walking. Not only has this caused me to be a lot calmer but I now see the true beauty that exists around me. For me personally this beauty exists in the intricate detail and colouring of plants and flowers, feeling the warmth of the sunshine on my skin, seeing animals bringing joy to the lives of their owners, observing couples locked in a warm embrace and hearing the sound of laughter from children playing happily together. These are all things that can be taken for granted but are each important and beautiful in their own way.

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The important things in life aren’t fame and fortune but beautiful memories

As someone once said to me, if now this very moment was your last, what would you be thinking about? Would it be the money in your bank account or the many pairs of shoes in your wardrobe? Although these things are nice they aren’t what’s really important and valuable in life. I know personally all the beautiful memories I had in life, faces of my loved ones and happy events detailed in beautiful colour would be what was in my thoughts. Life is not all about trying to be the best at everything. It is enjoying what you have and who you have. No value can be put on warm hugs, happy tears and belly laughs. These memories are your true treasure.

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It is okay not to feel okay

Whether it is through physical or mental illness, know that it is okay not to feel okay. The important thing is to learn to listen to your mind and body and note how you are feeling at any given time. Mental and physical health exist in conjunction with one another. If one suffers so will the other. I have learnt through my own experiences to not be ashamed of how I am feeling or what I have gone through. The hardest words you can possibly say to another person are “please help me” but once you do you will never regret it. From there on in is a powerful journey of development and growth. You may fall along the way but the pain gets less and less as time goes on. You will see just how amazing you are and the true strength and beauty you possess inside. It will also teach you just how valuable and important your very existence is and you will experience true happiness again. I too have been there and I understand. I’ve been in the depths of despair, suffocating in the darkness unable to go on. I never thought I could experience happiness again but I have. This happiness is much stronger and better than ever before. Even whilst battling illness I see the positives it has brought me. By experiencing everything I have, I am happy to admit that I feel happy in my own skin and am proud of who I am and what I have achieved.

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Avril is an award winning blogger and her excellent blog A Paler Shade of Beauty is a very safe, supportive and fun environment for people going through or recovering from illness. Avril has been battling Lyme disease for a few years but her positive outlook on life shines through on her blog.

You can also find Avril on Facebook, TwitterInstagram and Snapchat

Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurance, pension and investment needs.

Ireland’s Top 15 Bloggers – Health, Wellness, Food & Fitness

If you’re new to the Irish blogging scene of if you want to find a few more people to follow, here are 15 of our favourites, tackling themes of health, fitness, food and wellness.

Whether you’re in the midst of a fitness journey, starting a new healthy lifestyle or simply trying to make a few smarter choices day-to-day, finding motivation can be tough.

Often the greatest source of inspiration comes from other people. By hearing their stories, finding out what pushes them and seeing their results, it helps us keep focused and shows us if someone else can do it, you can do.

Over the past few years, Ireland’s community of bloggers and digital influencers has been growing at an unstoppable pace; which you’ve probably noticed with the abundance of articles and news stories about our local YouTube celebrities and Snapchat stars. For many, these bloggers and influencers serve as an excellent source of motivation.

As most of them are real people with real lives, families, jobs and similar responsibilities to the rest of us, their channels are a great place to go to get some ideas and tips for taking steps towards a healthier Irish life…

If you’re new to the Irish blogging scene or if you want to find a few more people to follow, here are 15 of our favourites, tackling themes of health, fitness, food and wellness.

1. Joanne Larby – The Make Up Fairy

joanne-larby

Joanne is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s biggest blogging stars. She is author to a bestselling book, she presents regular guest fashion and beauty slots on Xpose and, of course, she manages her website and social media channels which rack up hundreds of thousands of followers.

Joanne is an excellent source of fitness inspiration and has completely transformed her body over the past few years. She’s an extremely positive role model for young women, endeavouring to promote body confidence on a daily basis.

2. Rosemary MacCabe

rose-mccabe

Rosemary MacCabe has been a journalist for many years, writing for The Irish Times and Stellar Magazine. Over the past year, Rosemary has really been on the rise – especially on Snapchat where she has amassed tens of thousands of followers.

Rosemary embarked on a fitness journey last year and is known for her no-holds-barred honesty about the peaks and troughs of her experience – letting her followers know that it’s hard to stay motivated but the pay-off is worth it.

As well as this, Rosemary talks very openly about mental health and in particular about her own experience with depression, medication and therapy.

3. Rozanna Purcell

rozanna-purcell

Rozanna Purcell is one of Ireland’s best known models and triathletes and, in recent years, she has turned her attention to food, with her blog Natural Born Feeder and debut book of the same name. Rozanna advocates a plant based diet and on her website and social media channels, she’s always sharing delicious healthy recipes.

Website: Naturalbornfeeder.com

4. The Happy Pear

the-happy-pear

The Happy Pear started off as a modest little veg shop in Wicklow but has expanded to become a fully-fledged brand. The business now includes a natural food store, two wholefood cafes and an evening restaurant in Greystones as well as a superfood sprout farm in Kilcoole.

The twins behind the brand also have their own label food production and distribution business, an online shop, a bestselling cookbook and can boast a huge social media following.

Website: thehappypear.ie

5. Ursusla Walsh – Momfitnessdiary

ursula-walsh

Ursula Walsh is an Irish blogger who originally hails from Mexico. She’s a wife and mother to little boys and, as a qualified Health and Nutrition coach, she’s always giving her followers the best health advice and healthy recipes to try.

She started off by documenting her five stone weight loss journey, but as her channels grew in popularity, she used them as a platform to help others needing to change their lifestyle.

Website: Ursulawalsh.com

6. Stephanie O’Quigleystephanie-o-quigley

Stephanie is a multi-award winning blogger who previously worked as the marketing manager for Irish tan brand Cocoa Brown Tan. She is now working and blogging in New York. Stephanie writes about a range of topics but is hugely popular for her posts about her 4 stone weight loss and for sharing her healthy discoveries which motivate her thousands of online followers.

Website: Snappedup.ie

7. Rosanna Davison

rosanna-davidson

Rosanna is one of the most recognisable names on this list, as one of Ireland’s most celebrated models. Over the past few years she has added more strings to her bow, launching a health, fitness and nutrition business.

She has written two books and on her website she brings a tried and tested, scientific evidence-based approach to food, health and wellness, with recipes, articles and tips to enable her followers to reach their highest health potential.

Website: Rosannadavisonnutrition.com

8. Rob Lipsett

rob-lipsett

Dublin based nutrition and fitness coach is a bit of a YouTube sensation with more   than 80,000 subscribers.

On his channel he posts loads of excellent workouts, as well as Q&As, food and lifestyle tips.
Website: www.lipsettfitness.com

9. Chef Adrian

chef-adrian

He might be young, but Chef Adrian is a force to be reckoned with in Ireland’s culinary scene. He’s trained at some of the country’s most renowned restaurants. He holds a culinary degree from the School of Tourism Killybegs and regularly hosts cookery demos up and down Ireland.

He often appears on TV3’s The Seven O’Clock Show and in 2014 he had his own show “Chef Adrian the Craft Butcher Chef”. In October of this year, his new RTE show “Chef Adrian Eats Ireland” debuted.

Chef Adrian has an enormous social media following and his own website packed with recipes and articles to help inspire Irish people to cook real food.

Website: Chefadrian.ie

10. Donal Skeehan

donal-skeehan

Donal Skehan is an Irish food writer, food photographer and TV presenter who grew up in Howth but is currently making waves in America. He first started making a name for himself with his hugely popular blog “The Good Mood Food Blog”. Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength and he has a number of hugely successful cook books under his belt.

Website: Donalskehan.com
11. Pat Divilly

pat-divilly

Pat is an Irish fitness expert, author and entrepreneur. He too has a notable social media following, exceeding 250,000 and has even been acknowledged by Facebook C.O.O Sheryl Sandberg for his use of social media. After struggling with his first personal training business, Pat started a small fitness bootcamp on his local beach in Galway which soon grew to become the largest fitness community in the country.

Website: Patdivilly.com

12. Nicola Halloran – The Wonky Spatula 

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Nicola is the name behind the popular food blog, The Wonky Spatula where she shares delicious paleo, gluten free, dairy free and vegan recipes.

Nicola is passionate about teaching people how to feed themselves healthy, wholesome and nutritious food, taking her readers on a journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Website: Thewonkyspatula.com

13. Indy Power 

indy-power

Indy has a passion for food which she channels and shares on her blog The Little Green Spoon and in her cookbook of the same name.

She studies Nutrition and Health Coaching at IINH, so she knows what she’s talking about and her recipes are easy to replicate for you and the family.

Website: Thelittlegreenspoon.com

14. Melanie Murphy 

melanie-murphy

You might not have heard of Melanie Murphy, but if you have teenagers in the family, they’ll know exactly who she is.

Melanie is a full-time YouTuber with almost half a million subscribers to her channel. She creates and uploads videos on a wealth of topics from beauty and fashion to sexuality and relationships, but she’s become known for her very popular ‘What I Eat In A Day’ videos where she promotes a balanced lifestyle and attitude to food, after overcoming her own struggles with eating disorders.

YouTube Channel: Melanie Murphy

15. Alison Canavan

alison-canavan

Alison is another model turned health guru. After a gruelling 18 year modelling career and a battle with postnatal depression, Alison turned her attention to finding happiness and mental health. She is now one of Ireland’s foremost parenting, health and wellbeing specialists.

She also has a qualification in fitness nutrition coaching and has just graduated with distinction in Nutrition and Health Coaching from Irish Institute of Nutrition and Health (IINH), where she is continuing her studies in Nutritional Science and Therapeutics.

On top of all that, she found the time to write a bestselling book, ‘Minding Mum’ which encourages mothers to practice self-care.

Website: Alisoncanavan.com

Who are your favourite Irish bloggers and influencers? Let us know on social media by using the hashtag #myIrishlife

18 Ridiculous Health Tips Your Mammy Probably Told You

Mammies really are the fountain of all knowledge. They know everything there is to know about everything and they don’t hesitate to give you their opinion.

Mammies really are the fountain of all knowledge. They know everything there is to know about everything and they don’t hesitate to give you their opinion – regardless of whether you ask for it or not.

The topic of health seems to be a particular area of expertise among the Irish mother. Our mammies know every symptom of every illness and they can tell you the cure for any kind of ailment. Somehow they know more than even the most seasoned GP.

However, as you get a little older and learn a bit more about the world, you start to realise that your mammy’s advice isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and doesn’t seem to be based on any actual science…

Here are 18 of the most common ‘health tips’ your mammy probably told you as a child:

1. “Ah sure, a glass of flat 7up will settle your stomach.”

 

2. “Would ye take your coat off you or it’ll be no use to you when you go outside.”

 

3. “Don’t be sitting on that cold ground or you’ll get a chill in your kidneys!”

 

4. “You have to starve a fever and feed a cold….Or is it the other way around? Oh, it doesn’t matter. Eat some toast and you’ll feel better.”

 

5. “Are ye mad? Don’t go out in the cold with wet hair, you’ll catch your death.”

 

6. *To a pregnant lady* “Oh, heartburn eh? He’s gonna be a hairy one!”

 

7. “Sit back from that TV or your eyes will go square.”

 

8. “Put a hat on. Don’t you know all your heat escapes through your head?!”

 

9. “Don’t read in that dim light. You’ll ruin your eyesight.”

 

10. “Teething baby? A drop of whiskey on her gums will stop the howling.”

 

11. “Don’t eat cheese before bed. You’ll have nightmares!”

 

12. “Eat some carrots. They’ll help you see in the dark.”

 

13. “Eat your crusts. They’ll give you curly hair.”

 

14. “You wouldn’t be going swimming after eating. You’ll get a cramp! Wait half an hour sure.”

 

15. “If you swallow that chewing gum it won’t come out for seven years.”

 

16. “Don’t make that face. If the wind changes, it’ll stay that way.”

 

17. “Would you stop cracking your knuckles, it’ll give you arthritis.”

 

18. “Ah now. It’s nothing a cup of tea won’t sort out.”

Irish Life is one of Ireland’s leading financial services companies with over 1 million customers. For over 75 years, we’ve been helping people in Ireland look after their life insurance, pension and investment needs.