15 Simple Things That Inspire A Sense Of Well-Being
The saying, “The best things in life are free” rings true when it comes to well-being. Getting out into nature, practicing kindness, playing, dancing, listening to music and reading together are just a few of the things you can do with your child to ignite a feeling of joy, wonder and connectedness.
August is Wellness Month, a time to practice self-care, find joy, manage stress and develop healthy habits. The good news is that creating a sense of well-being is neither costly nor time-intensive. If anything, it’s about being present and recognizing the magic of the moment.
Here are 15 simple things you can do with your child to inspire a sense of well-being:
Walk in nature
A walk to the park, a stroll in the woods, a visit to the beach… Nature has a way of instantly calming your mind, stimulating your senses, and evoking a sense of wonder. “Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings…,” writes Louise Delagran of University of Minnesota.
Pet a dog
Simply put, dogs make humans feel good, and there’s science to back this up. Oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates social bonding, relaxation, trust and stress reduction, increases in humans and dogs when they’re pet. “Dogs have somehow hijacked this oxytocin bonding pathway, so that just by making eye contact or by playing and hugging our dog, the oxytocin in both us and our dogs goes up,” says Brian Hare, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at Duke University.
Play a game
Electronic gaming might be all the rage, but there’s a trend back towards board games, and with good reason: they’re really fun. Plus, they offer opportunities for learning, taking turns, strategizing, focusing and teamwork, as well as dealing with frustration and resilience. In the end, games help forge an emotional connection.
Whether you read a book to your child or each read your own side-by-side, this activity offers a relaxing respite, an opportunity to spend time together and share the joys of escaping into new worlds, meeting new characters and exploring a range of emotions and experiences.
From dancing to yoga, throwing a ball or tossing a frisbee, exercise is great for both body and spirit. Exercise boosts people’s moods in as little as five minutes, helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and promote a sense of happiness and well-being. Plus, taking the time to play with your child shows you care enough to take time from your busy schedule to be together — a powerful message in itself.
Listen to music
Not only is music entertaining, it also makes you happier. Studies have shown that music lowers stress, improves concentration, reduces pain and improves memory. Plus, it provides a welcome emotional outlet.
Cooking with your child inspires relaxed conversation and collaboration as you work together to produce something delicious, nutritious and satisfying. Let your child use real tools to help peel, stir, whip, blend, and even chop if they’re old enough. Not only will cooking boost their self-esteem, it will also build warm, lasting family memories.
Meditation has long been revered as a way to increase a sense of calm, relaxation, improve overall health and even illness. More and more, children are beginning to practice meditation, reaping both mental and physical benefits as they learn deep breathing, mindfulness, cultivating positive emotions and concentration.
“Interacting with nature, especially with the presence of water, can increase self-esteem and mood, reduce anger, and improve general psychological well-being,” says Charlie Hall, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticultural and economics specialist. Kids love getting their hands dirty, planting seeds and watching them grow. Gardening provides a welcome outlet to keep the hands busy and let the mind to relax.
Laughter truly is the best medicine. It releases endorphins, the “feel good hormones,” improves your mood and immune system and your overall health. Follow your child’s lead on this, since the average adult laughs 17 times a day while a child typically laughs 300 times a day. Inspire laughter by sharing a joke, listening to or watching a comedy show, reading funny books or even practicing laughing!
Draw, Paint, Color
Whether you’re coloring, painting, sketching or shaping clay, you’ll almost instantly gain a sense of well-being. Holding a paintbrush, for example, triggers your mind to start imagining, while doing any form of art allows you to express your thoughts, feelings and experiences while relaxing both mind and body.
Hugs not only feel good, they do good by releasing the mood-elevating hormones dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, while building a sense of trust and safety. A 10-second hug helps ease depression and lessens fatigue while a 20-second hug relieves blood pressure and reduces the harmful effects of stress.
Explore someplace new
Recharge and relax by getting out of your comfort zone and venturing someplace new with your child. You don’t even need to go far! Explore a new park you haven’t been to, a local museum or a nearby town. If you have time, take a road trip together. Traveling boosts happiness as you learn, discover and get a welcome break from your everyday routine.
Enjoy a hot bath
Give your child a relaxing bath, and add some toys to make the experience even more enjoyable. Not only does warm water clean and moisturize, it also calms the nervous system, making it a great option before putting your tot to bed. Afterwards, treat yourself to a stress-reducing bath, too. The addition of mineral-rich epsom salts helps soothe both mind and body while drawing out toxins.
Simply put, giving thanks makes you happier. According to Harvard Health, gratitude “helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.” Try Greater Good In Action’s “Three Good Things” exercise with your child and tune in together to the positive things in your life.
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