It might sound like child’s play but blowing bubbles or playing the harmonica can actually have a calming effect on your body and mind. According to occupational therapist, Dr. Angie Harisiadis, “toys and activities that tax the oral motor system, such as blowing, sucking or chewing will help center the mind and regulate the body.” When you think about it, this concept makes sense since blowing bubbles or playing a wind instrument requires deep breathing, which we know is a sure fire way to slow down your heart rate, quiet your mind, and quell nerves. For more added fun while relieving stress, try these easy to do games and recipes that you can enjoy alone or with your children.
This is a wonderful activity I learned from Dr. Harisiadis, It has a calming effect on me as well as my very active 3-year-old son who loves to do it while in the bathtub.
1 large bowl
2 ½ cups of water
½ cup of hand dishwashing soap
Using a straw, blow into the water until you have created enough foamy bubbles to simulate an overflowing volcano.
Crunching ice also has a calming effect on the body as it uses the oral motor system with every crunch. To add variety, try these yummy variations:
Freeze as usual.
This is a great game to play with your kids. Be sure to play on a wood surface for optimal speed.
For this game, each person gets one straw and one ping-pong ball. Starting at the starting line, each person must blow through the straw in order to make the ping-pong ball move. The person who crosses the finish line first wins!
If blowing bubbles or harmonizing with the harmonica is not for you, try reducing stress with weight. Dr. Harisiadis suggests wearing snug undergarments or slinging a neck pillow over your shoulders to help ground the body and center the mind. The heft of the pillow and the snugness of the clothes help engaging the muscles and give your body a sense of awareness in space. Playing with play dough or silly putty has a similar weighty effect as they engage the muscles in your hands, which often get jittery when stressed. Don’t have a neck pillow? Try making your own with this easy to make recipe.