Breathing exercises and mindfulness can help your disabled child to sleep.
Place a teddy or soft toy on your tummy and watch as it rises and falls, as you rock it to sleep. Imagine you are breathing in love, peace and happiness. Feel it fill your body, then breathe it out into the room.
Imagine you are blowing up a balloon. Take in a deep breath. Slowly and steadily blow up your huge balloon. See your balloon getting bigger and bigger. Imagine writing your worries on the balloon. Now close your eyes and imagine the balloon rising into the air, taking all your worries with it. As you breathe out, watch it drift further and further away.
Massage can help relax the mind and body. It promotes the production of ‘feel good’ hormones, such as oxytocin. You can add massage strokes to stories and rhymes. You could make a story about the bedtime routine and put massage strokes to it. This can be particularly good for children who are non-verbal. Remember to ask for permission before massage.
Make awareness of your body, mind and feelings in the moment part of your daily routine. For example, when walking to school spend a minute being aware of everything you can see or hear. Try some mindful eating – how does the food feel, smell, look like, taste?
5 things you can see
4 things you can hear
3 things you can feel
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
One of the simplest mindful exercises is to spend some time focusing on your breathing.
Relaxation and visualisations
Create the right atmosphere. Play soft music in the background and make sure your child is comfortable and relaxed. Start with a relaxation exercise, tensing and releasing body parts from head to toe. Then read slowly in a gentle, relaxing voice. Leave pauses to allow your child to visualise the scene.
Relaxation starts with you
Find out what works for you and your child. Adapt exercises to your child’s interests. Have fun and keep it simple!
Sleep podcast on relaxation
Justine and Helen discuss the importance of us all relaxing before bedtime and talk through some exercises to help you and your child calm body and mind before bedtime.