Mindful Brain Breaks - Building resilience through mindful(ness) and expressive-arts activities.
Each Mindful Brain Break activity combines relaxing expressive arts projects with mindfulness insights and exercises in three parts.
The Setting: Set up your space, gather supplies from around the house, and use mindfulness tools to build an inner space of quiet, contented focus.
The Doing: The creative project.
The Shining: We share what we've created. We shine on by weaving mindfulness through our daily lives. We celebrate and support other courageous creators.
Drawing Your Happy Place
Think of a time and place where you felt really happy and relaxed. Did you feel calm? Cozy? Safe? Quiet? Did you know you can visit this place whenever you like?
You can if you practice engaging your senses to make this place vivid in your mind. You could even create a new daydream place to go when you feel worried or upset. What would it be? A high perch in the mountains with a gorgeous view? A grassy spot under a tree? A bright towel on a sandy beach? Wherever and whatever your Happy Place may be, the goal of this activity is to give you the power to bring a smile to your face and peace to your heart, whenever you visit this happy place.
To add to the calming experience, try holding this snuggly hand fold while you watch these videos.
Reach your arms out straight forward.
Crisscross your wrists.
Flip palms facing each other.
Flip your hands downwards.
Tuck under your chin.
Finding your Happy Place...
Before getting started with the activity, here’s a short video to get you into the Happy Place mindset AND to get you thinking about what your own Happy Places might look like. If you find you like this short video, repeat it a few times for the full effect.
Have a look at these beautiful places. Even if you've never been somewhere like this, you might see a place that makes you feel happy.
Or does your Happy Place look kind of like any of these places?
PART ONE. THE SETTING. Supplies, Space, & Mindspace
Paper, pencil. Something for adding color: crayons, markers, pencils, paint.
A hard surface for drawing on.
Willingness to let your imagination WANDER.
Physical Space. Settle yourself into a spot where you can feel comfortable and free of distractions. If you can, tidy up your little space. Clear it of any clutter that doesn’t make you happy. Take it a step further and find a little object that does make you happy, and set it there with you.
Mind Space. As this is both a creative and a mindfulness brain break, take a pause to bring your thoughts into the immediate moment. Grant yourself permission to take this break from your responsibilities, your to-dos, and even from your worries. Don’t worry. They’ll still be there for you when you finish.
Think of a time and place where you felt really happy and relaxed.
What did you like about it? Remember some of the details. What could you see and hear? What could you smell in this place? When you close your eyes and imagine these things, you can bring that feeling you had of calm from that place.
Use the below checklist to guide yourself to your own happy place you can hold in your heart and visit whenever you want.
Roadmap directions to your happy place…
5 – SEE – Visualize 5 details you can see in your happy place
4 – HEAR – Hark back to 4 sounds you can hear in your happy place
3 – FEEL – Remember 3 things you can physically feel in your happy place
2 – SMELL or TASTE – Savor 2 things you can smell or taste in your happy place
1 – FOCUS on that calm, cozy, safe, soothed feeling you can have in your happy place
Be there and just, breathe.
Here is an example of what your checklist might be if your Happy Place were sitting under a tree, on the grassy shore of a mountain lake...
5 SEE details – distant mountains, smooth water, trees, blue sky, birds flying
4 HEAR sounds – breeze through the trees, songbirds, call of a soaring eagle, crickets
3 FEEL things on your skin - sunshine, tree bark, breeze
2 SMELL or TASTE – grass, fresh air from the mountains
1 FOCUS on feeling good inside – calm, relaxed
Be there and Breathe.
When we breathe slowly and deeply it helps our brains to notice that all is well in the moment. And that allows us to focus more calmly and deeply on what we are doing in that moment.
PART TWO. THE DOING
STEP ONE - Imagine it. Picture your happy, relaxed place.
What do you see? Are there trees? Is there water? Blue sky? What color crayons or markers will you want to color this place? Are there other living beings here – trees or birds, people or pets? Look around in your mind. Think about the things that came to you in your Roadmap to your Happy Place. Are there butterflies? Is there sunshine?
STEP TWO - Sketch it out. Let your creativity loose.
Don’t worry about drawing things perfectly.
Create a visual of your Happy Place for yourself. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t even have to look like a real place that could actually exist. It just needs parts that mean something to you. Parts that represent features in your Happy Place – the one which will take up space in your own heart... and make it feel even roomier.
Drawing perfectly is a lot less important than putting pencil to paper and creating something that means something to you.
STEP THREE - Use some drawing tricks.
If you want some ideas on how to get a little fancy with your drawing, have a look at the videos below.
STEP FOUR - Finishing touches... and VOILA!
As your drawing begins to take shape, remember to LOVE it for what it represents to YOU.
Give it a few finishing touches that make you happy - maybe a bird flying in the sky or the wavy lines of something in the air that smells wonderful to you.
This thing is not meant to look like REAL and perfect vistas. It is meant for you to see, and be reminded of a peaceful place that you have claimed for yourself and exists in your heart just for you, every minute of every day.
Drawing a landscape with foreground, middle ground, and background.
This simple video might give you ideas on how to draw some features of your own Happy Place.
For simple ways to draw mountains, lake, and trees.
PART THREE. THE SHINING. Share and Shine
SHARE – Show someone your creation.
Point out the bits you especially like. Tell them about your Happy Place and your experience drawing it. Help them to start thinking about their own Happy Place.
Your experience is the special thing of this activity. The finished product is secondary to your quiet moment creating it, and what it means to you. The finished result can be a reminder of that first on-purpose trip you took to the spacious and beautiful places you can find in yourself.
SHINE – As you do things that help connect you and your senses to the moment, you are building mindfulness muscles.
These can serve you throughout your day, particularly in moments when you start feeling overwhelmed by everything, or worried about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Even in moments in which you’re feeling relaxed and calm, try doing the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise towards that beautiful place you can hold inside you just to see what you notice, and whether you feel any difference from when you started.