Summer is here and it is a perfect opportunity for you to spend a different kind of time with your kids – a stress-less time filled with laughter and fun. Of course, this is always good advice, but my intentions go deeper than that. I am suggesting that you intentionally maximize the kind of pleasures that are healthy. I recommend that this summer Moms and Dads make time for the kind of healthy activities that will stimulate endorphins.
Why would you do this?
We want to stimulate endorphins because this brain chemical gives us a sense of comfort, wellness and happiness. With high endorphin levels, we don’t feel the negative effects of stress.
How can we stimulate these feel-good endorphins?
Well, to begin with you need to truly believe that this is a gift you can give your children and then make a conscious effort to include some or all of these 12 activities below.
Laughter is a miracle drug. Intentionally create activities that will cause you and your children to laugh out loud – the deeper the laugh the better. The kind of laugh that comes from the belly. Research shows that laughter reduces stress hormones by triggering the release of endorphins, and can even boost immune function. Teaching kids to tell jokes is a great idea. Buy joke books and see who can tell the funniest jokes. Watch comedies or hilarious YouTube videos. Be creative and find ways to laugh long and loud every day.
2. Keep a smile on your face.
When we smile, we release endorphins which can help us keep a positive attitude – even if it is a fake smile! So here’s what I suggest. Stretch your smile muscles each morning when you wake up or when you brush your teeth. You think this is silly? Try it now and see what happens. (Did my video get you smiling?) Actively look around for things that make you want to smile. Before you go to sleep recall images or thoughts from the day that make you smile. And teach your children to smile, smile, smile!
3. Be cheerful and happy, have positive thoughts and conversations.
Be a role model of positivity. Encourage the kids to tell you happy positive things. Intentionally tell them happy, positive things. If they begin complaining or whining, tell them you will listen carefully to what they are saying, if they say it in a cheerful, positive way.
4. Listen to music that you and the kids love – and dance together.
Better still, if you or the kids play a musical instrument create a sing-along. What healing fun!
Create times when you can do ‘silly’ fun things like have pillow fights, play charades, or just be goofy.
6. Build exercise into the day.
Be sure that the kids have lots of exercise.Exercise is a vital support for our biochemistry, regulates our brain chemicals and stimulates the happy neurotransmitters. Doing any kind of exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the spirit. Buy yourself and the kids each a pedometer and see who can take the most steps each day.
Don’t forget to play with your pets. There is much research showing the chemical benefits of spending time with your pets.
8. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy.
Positive interactions with others is a great way to reset your chemistry. Spend time with upbeat people who are fun. Steer away from people who complain and are tense and stressed.
9. Meditation, Massage, Yoga
Find a yoga class for kids; teach your kids to meditate or treat yourself and the kids to a massage – all wonderful activities for kids and parents that have endorphin boosting benefits.
10. Use the scent of Vanilla and Lavender
Certain aromas can lift our mood by influencing the production of the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals. The scent of vanilla is one of these. To get the endorphin-boosting benefits of vanilla, light some vanilla-scented candles, or add vanilla essential oil to the bathwater. Lavender oil is another. You can also dab lavender oil on wrists and temples or diffuse it in the air.
11. Visit a Nature Reserve
Being in nature is an excellent way to de-stress.
12. Practice gratitude.
Every member of the family finds 3 things to be grateful for and shares this with each other at the end of each day. Better still, write them in a gratitude journal before you go to sleep.
Do you have any endorphin releasing activities that you can share with us? I would love to add these to this list.
Here’s hoping you decide to have a very special, endorphin-filled summer!