As 83% of young people with mental health needs have said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, and anxiety is a major issue, our art therapists have compiled some breathing, relaxation, grounding, and mindfulness techniques to help ease and calm. When paired with art therapy techniques and activities, they can help children and young people form positive coping mechanisms for heightened emotional times. 

Grounding Technique  

How it Helps: This technique will help you to focus on the present when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Helping to ease your state of mind. 

Getting Started:  Find a space you are comfortable in and take some deep breathes.

Guidance: 

  1. Start by taking some deep breathes. 
  2. Look around you, acknowledge 5 things you can see and say them out loud. 
  3. Notice 4 things you can touch. This could be your hair, clothes or the floor under your feet. Again say them out loud. 
  4. Listen to your surroundings. Say out loud 3 things you can hear.
  5. Say 2 things you can smell. This could be the perfume you are wearing or the food you have cooked for lunch. 
  6. Finally say 1 thing you can taste. It could be your toothpaste or chewing gum. 
  7. To finish off take a few more deep breathes.

Relaxation Technique

How it Helps: This technique helps to reduce the muscle tension that is caused when someone feels stressed or anxious. Parents and children can practice this relaxation technique together or on your own. 

Getting Started:  If possible, find somewhere quiet and comfortable where you won’t be interrupted. 

Guidance:

  1. Uncross your legs and place your feet on the floor and relax your shoulders. Alternatively you can lie on the ground. 
  2. Place your hand on your chest and take a few deep breathes, in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should be able to see your hand rise and fall as you breathe. 
  3. Start by scrunching up your toes. Notice the difference between the feeling of your muscles clenching and then relaxing. 
  4. Move up your body. Start with your legs clenching and relaxing, noticing the tension. Move up to your stomach, tensing and releasing. Travel all the way up your body to your shoulders and hands. Notice the tension leaving your body through your hands and your shoulders as you relax. 
  5. Repeat, where you can still feel tension.
  6. Once you've felt the tension leave your body take a moment to breathe and enjoy the lighter feeling. 

Mindfulness in Nature 

How it Helps: Mindfulness is all about being aware in the present moment, and something our art therapists employ regularly to help young people ground themselves. Spending time in nature has been found to calm and bring your attention to the present. This activity can be used daily to overcome stresses related to everyday life. 

Getting Started: Find a green space that you feel comfortable in, whether that's your back garden or your local park. 

Guidance: 

  1. Start by taking a deep breathe. 
  2. Look up at the sky can you see clouds? Are there any shapes in the clouds? Do the clouds change shape? Whilst taking deep breathes, take a moment to watch as the clouds move in the sky.
  3. Now move your attention to the ground. Can you feel the grass between your feet? Notice sensation of your feet on the earth. 
  4. Listen to your surroundings. Can you hear birds or insects? Can you hear the wind moving the trees or grass.
  5. Now focus on your body. Is it a warm or cold day? Can you feel the wind against your skin or the sun on your face? 
  6. To finish take a moment to sit and breathe. 

Variations: If you aren't able to go outside try this exercise from your house with the windows open. What can you see, smell and hear from the street outside? 


Immediate Calming Tip

Distracting ourselves from things that worry us can reduce negative feelings. Allowing ourselves to focus on something else by picturing a specific image in our head, can help quickly distract from overwhelming feelings and allow us to refocus our emotional state. When feeling extremely anxious, think of an image in your head and think about what it looks like, what it smells like, what you can hear, etc. To calm down quickly, here's a few things to do:

  • Imagine your favourite place
  • Think of your favourite things 
  • Think of what would be your best day ever 
  • Think of the things that make you happiest