Whoo! We made it through the holidays! But with all that hustle and bustle, we tend to forget to take time to check in on how we are feeling. If we, as adults, forget to check in on ourselves, imagine how hard it may be for our 4-H Cloverbud members to express how they are feeling. January is a hard month because it tends to be cold, dreary and all the holiday fun is over. This is a great time to talk to our members about ways to take care of their mental health and well-being.
Mindfulness is a way to bring connection between the brain, mind, body, and behavior. It is easy for many of us to fall into the trap of worry and having our minds run a mile a minute and that can happen to our youth, too. There are so many demands on our children these days that it may be difficult for them to take time to be calm and quiet, and their bodies need that rest.
Find some activities that your Cloverbud members like or challenge them to come up with their own mindful activity. Maybe they will suggest coloring, writing in a journal, if they are a little bit older, or just taking deep breaths. Any of these activities are a great start to practice mindfulness.
When we can host meetings again in person, try adding one of these activities at the start or the end of your Cloverbud club meeting. If you are meeting virtually, you could take time to read a book or start the meeting with a few deep breaths. As stated in previous Cloverbud Connections, it is important for our younger members to take time to acknowledge their feelings and begin learning how to process those feelings.
A favorite activity for our members, which is easy to do and does not require any additional items, is a grounding exercise. Grounding allows us to reconnect with our surroundings and take a moment to refocus and relax. Try the following activity with your members.
Grounding Activity for Cloverbuds:
- Advisors or Adult Volunteers can read the following script:
- Sit in a way that is comfortable for you. This may be on a blanket on the floor, in a chair at a meeting, or outside if the weather is nice.
- Once you have found a good spot, close your eyes, and take a deep breath in and out.
- We are going to sit as still and as quiet as possible, take another deep breath in and out. Use your listening ears to identify all the sounds you can hear. Make a list in your mind of 3 things you hear. Maybe it is a buzzing of a fan or it is so quiet you do not hear anything.
- Now while we are still sitting still and quiet – take a big breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Take a minute to see if you smell anything. Maybe there is a smell you did not notice when the meeting started like flowers or crayons. Make a list in your mind of 3 things you smell.
- One last time still sit as quiet and still as possible – take one more big breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Now we are going to use our sense of feel. You can put your hands on the ground next to you or out on the table. What are some things you feel like the cold floor or a rough table? Make a list in your mind of 3 things you feel.
- Remember if you are able to model or demonstrate what you are doing that may help some members – Sometimes kids like to open their eyes to see if they’re doing the right thing or to make sure they aren’t alone.
- Once you have read through the Mindfulness script, ask members to share what they heard, smelled, or felt. This is an effective way to reflect on the activity and create a connection between youth if they noticed similar things.
- This is a great activity that can be modified as needed for the meeting location, group, etc. You could also offer those older members an opportunity to read the script or create their own relaxing story to share.
We hope you are learning new ways to take care of yourself and your members during Ohio 4-H’s Mental Health Month. Be sure to share any new ideas you have learned or tried so that others can use them in their club meetings or with their members. We hope you are using your health for better living this January!
For additional resources visit go.osu.edu/MentalHealthMonth or Coping with COVID: go.osu.edu/CopingWithCOVID (“Just Breathe!,” and “Guided Relaxation”)
Powers-Barker, P. “Introduction to Mindfulness”. 05/10/2016. Retrieved from: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243