How do we find peace and joy in this time?

Focusing on the positive things that we can do to make a difference is not only good for our communities and our planet, but it is also really great for our mental health and wellbeing. Delve into these activities to ease your mind and rest your soul.

Activity: Feel the feelings

Identify the emotions that run in our bodies.

Sometimes when we think of big ideas, like justice and fairness, we can also get really big emotions. Our big feelings show us that we care about our world and the people around us. They are not wrong or something to squash down.

One of the very best things we can do with our big feelings is to acknowledge them. You might want to close your eyes and notice the emotions that are running inside your body. You might want to say to it, “Hello, sadness” or “Hello, anger” or “Hello, worry” or “Hello, hope”.

Once you have found one of the feelings running in your body, you might be able to find words to describe its energy and what it is doing. You may be able to draw the energy line onto paper and share your ideas with a friend.

  • Has it balled itself up tight inside your throat?
  • Is it running around fast in your tummy?
  • Maybe it is buzzing all over your skin!
  • Emotions are very wise, as they provide signposts to show us what we need. In what ways do you think this emotion is helpful? What is it trying to tell you? You might have some ideas about what the emotion represents. Add symbols or icons around your energy line to show what your feeling represents. Share what you have drawn with a friend.

After this process, you may like to repeat the exercise. Has the energy in you calmed or changed? Often in recognising the feelings that run inside us we can help them to pass.

Activity: The stories from the land

Listen and tell the stories from the land.

  • Pūrākau are powerful stories that inspire and guide us. You may already know many pūrākau – such as the creation pūrākau of Rangi and Papa. They are much more than ‘just’ a story – pūrākau often give us spiritual signposts and guidance for living a meaningful life. They blend philosophy, whakapapa and mātauranga Māori into oral storytelling.

Darren George, Atua #4, 2011, oil on canvas. Te Papa (2013-0011-1)

  • Every rohe in the country has unique pūrākau. They will reflect the story of the land and the history of the people. In a way that is appropriate to the relationship you have with mana whenua, learn more about the pūrākau of your place and the tūpuna of mana whenua.

  • Pūrākau gives us insights into what it means to be alive, what it is to be human, our relationships to each other and to place. Choose a pūrākau and divide it into a series of scenes to tell. You may like to:

    • use a stopmotion tool to create stop motion scenes, either with simple paper cutouts, with figurines, clay, or LEGO

    • record kaumatua telling the pūrākau and then use that as the guide for the stopmotionwrite and record your own understanding of the pūrākau and overlay this as a voiceover on the stopmotion

    • consider using other audio to help to tell the story – taonga pūoro and sounds from nature could help to ad ambience and effect

    • make sure you emphasise within your stop motion the lessons to be had from the pūrākau.

Activity: Grateful me

Practising the art of gratitude.

Simply being aware of all that we already have is one of the most effective ways to increase happiness and contentment.

  • Feeling grateful makes us feel more grateful. It is a loop that feeds itself and increases over time, if we put the effort in to consciously feel grateful for what we have in the present.

  • Decide on what gratitude habit you would like to cultivate. You may like to:write notes to your ancestors or future descendants about who you are and what qualities you are grateful fortake a five minute walk in nature and notice everything there is to be amazed by within te taiaowrite a name every day of an important person in your life and the ways in which they are there for youvoice one thing each day that you are happy to have. Try not to focus too much on belongings, but on the relationships, experiences, special places and memories that you have.

  • You might like to think about the ways in which gratitude practices and habits can be shared more widely with your school community, neighbourhood, or whānau through the development of something like a gratitude wall.

Extra links for the extra curious

Go down amazing wormholes with this curated suite of links.

  • How do I feel? A Dictionary of Emotions for Children – 60+ definitions to help improve emotional literacy. This HUGE hardcover book with over 140 pages is all about children learning to recognise and label emotions and feelings.

  • M3 Mindfulness – at M3, the power of Māori pūrākau and whakataukī is used to share mindfulness and movement with school communities.

  • Nobody is Normal – short, simple, and powerful message from the UK’s Childline that no matter how you feel inside, you are not alone.