5 creative ways to explore mindfulness
Get crafty with these activities that will bring a moment of mindfulness and calm to your day
Mindfulness – the ancient art of being present in the moment and really noticing what you’re doing – is something everyone can benefit from, young or old.
At the moment, when things are so different for everyone, it can be a good idea to bring a moment of mindfulness into your day.
And with these calming activities to try at home, you’ll also be using your creativity and brightening up your day with colour and craft.
We’ve been inspired by the brilliant creative projects we’ve seen across social media, as girls in Brownies work on their Mindfulness badge and girls across the country use creativity to decorate their windows and bring a smile to their street.
So we’re sharing some of our favourite creative activities that will help your family slow down, relax and de-stress.
1. Colour (or doodle) yourself mindful
Colouring and doodling are a great way to introduce the whole family to mindfulness as part of their daily routine. Research suggests both can aid concentration, memory and problem solving, distract from negative thoughts or worries, provide a positive coping mechanism for anxiety, and boost mood overall.
If you don’t already have a colouring book, there are loads of great free colouring images online for you to print at home; we like these stress-busting designs from Cbeebies.
Doodling, of course, can be done anywhere. You don’t even need a paper and pen! Get creative with how you do your doodles – could you try using your fingertip in a sandbox?
Here are a few directions to help promote mindfulness as you go:
- Grab a smaller sheet of paper – no bigger than A5 – so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the space to fill.
- Put on some creative or relaxing music to help you get into the right headspace. Pick a starting point on your blank page, whether that’s placing a single dot in the centre and working out, or working from a corner to the middle.
- You could draw simple lines, spots, spirals, swirls or other shapes. Remember: you’re not trying to create a ‘perfect’ pattern or be exact – just draw free hand, going wherever your mind takes you, and incorporate any ‘mistakes’ into the design as you go.
- Keep going until you feel you have ‘finished’, and feel free to come back and pick it up again later if you lose focus. Each time you practise, you may find you can keep going longer and longer and create ever more detailed doodles.
2. Do some decoupage
Decoupage is a fancy collage where you take different coloured papers or tissue, cut out shapes and glue them to an object, creating patterns and designs. You can also add decorations like paint, gold leaf or glitter. Building up your design, layer by layer, can be an almost meditative practice.
An easy decoupage project to take on as a family is decorating a plant pot. Be as creative as possible: cut up old magazines or newspapers, experiment with adding different thicknesses of paper or card, and incorporate buttons, coins or other bits and bobs you might find round the house into the designs.
3. Make your own music
Playing a musical instrument is a great way to be truly in the moment, but not everyone has one at home. Here are two easy instruments you can make with common items found around the house.
Paper plate banjo
This homemade banjo will have you strumming away in no time.
What you’ll need
- Two paper plates (as thick as possible)
- Three thin rubber bands
- A stick (you could use a stick found outside, lollypop stick or old wooden spoon)
- A stapler and some glue
- Beads, paint and stickers for decorating
What to do:
- Staple two paper plates together.
- Decorate the plates with paint, stickers or whatever else you’d like.
- Glue the stick to the back of the plates and the beads to the end of the stick (to look like a fret with pegs).
- Stretch the rubber bands around the stacked plates to act as strings.
When you start playing, try closing your eyes and focusing on the feel of the strings and your heartbeat.
Rain sticks traditionally mimic the sound of rain, which many – young and old – find soothing.
What you’ll need:
- A sturdy cardboard tube (eg. from a roll of tin foil)
- Some scrunch-able paper (eg. from a paper bag)
- Two rubber bands
- Pipe cleaners, craft wire or stiff garden twine
- Beads, rice, beans, tiny stones or other materials to put inside the rain stick
What to do:
- Paint your cardboard tube and let it dry.
- Cut two circles, slightly bigger than the end of your cardboard tube, out of the paper.
- Attach one circle to the end of the tube using a rubber band.
- Experiment with different ways to fill your rain sticks – you could try twisted pipe cleaners with rice, craft wire with dried beans, stiff garden twine with small stones, or anything else small enough to fit!
- Give it a shake. Once you’re happy with the sound it makes, seal the other end of the tube with the remaining paper circle and rubber band.
- Why not decorate your rain stick by tying on coloured pieces of wool to each end?
- Now hold your rain stick in your hand, close your eyes and try slowly tipping it to see how the angle changes the sound. Focus on what you’re hearing – is it a rush of sound or a slow trickle?
4. Embark on some origami
Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding and commonly taught in Japanese primary schools as it helps children develop spatial skills, coordination, memory, concentration and patience. It’s also just loads of fun, turning a blank sheet of paper into a 3D model.
The key to origami, as with mindfulness, is letting go of being perfect and the urge to judge yourself. Some designs can be tricky, so start simple with paper planes, animals and fortune tellers to build your folding skills.
One of the great things about origami is that it isn’t just a solo practice; you can create something to gift to someone else. Particularly now, during social distancing, you can send your origami models to friends and family through the post.
When doing origami with children, remind them that that they shouldn’t strive for perfection or criticise their own or others’ mistakes.
5. Wave a magic wand
Okay, so this wand isn’t really magic, but it can be used to help you manage anxiety by focusing on your breath.
Breathing techniques are a key part of mindfulness; when we breathe slowly and deeply, we send a message to our brain that we are calm and safe.
What you’ll need:
- A cardboard tube
- Some lightweight streamers, ribbons or feathers
- Glue or sticky tape
- Paints or other decorations of your choice
What to do:
- Cut a small strip, about an inch thick, off the top of the cardboard tube.
- Stick this strip to the end of the tube in the shape of an arch, to make the tip of your wand.
- Attach your ribbons, streamers or feathers around the arch.
- Paint and decorate the handle of your wand, however you like.
- Breathe slowly and deeply through the arch of the wand, and focus on how your breath moves the ribbons, streamers or feathers.
- Now put a hand on your belly and feel the way it goes up and down in time with the wand as you breathe.
- Then do some star jumps and notice how your breath feels now.
- Our breathing also changes in response to our emotions – for example, we breathe faster when we’re scared or anxious, and slower and deeper when relaxed.
- Why not use your breathing wand whenever you feel a difficult emotion to help you to remember to slow your breath and calm down.
Explore more mindfulness
If you feel inspired to try more mindful activities and even try meditation, the Be Well theme in our programme is packed with to help girls of all ages find some calm.
Brownies can work on their Mindfulness interest badge, and younger girls can try the Healthy mind badge. Guides can get started with Meditation and Ranger can take it further with the Self care badge.
And don't forget to check out our resilience and wellbeing activities as part of Adventures at home.