A Thanksgiving craft that is also a relaxation technique.

Conquering Cognitions

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Every November in elementary school, I did an art project that involved tracing my hand and turning it into a turkey. The thumb became the turkey’s head, and the fingers were feathers. 

I liked using a lot of colors, so my turkey looked more like a peacock, but it did have a pilgrim hat on its head. 

You might have done this craft project too. 

So, what does this holiday craft have to do with stress management? If you slowly trace your fingers and add deep breathing, you are outlining a turkey AND using a popular relaxation technique called five-finger breathing.

Five-Finger Breathing

  • Sit or stand comfortably with your back straight.
  • Place one hand out in front of you, palm open, with your fingers spread wide. You can also place your hand on the ground or the table in front of you.
  • Using the pointer finger of your opposite hand, start at the outside of your thumb and trace upwards. As you move up, breathe in.
  • Pause briefly at the top of your finger, holding your breath.
  • Breathe out as you trace down the inside of your thumb.
  • Repeat with each finger remembering to breathe in as you move up, pause briefly, and exhale as you move down.
  • Switch hands.

This technique is helpful in many situations. You can do it while waiting for a medical appointment, before a plane takes off, or prior to an exam. When my kids felt nervous before a test, I encouraged them to trace their fingers (without a pencil!) on the desk while waiting for the test to arrive. 

Five-finger breathing is a calming activity that helps you focus your attention on visual and tactile senses as well as controlled breathing. If you strive for a long exhale as you breathe out, you stimulate the vagus nerve which activates a relaxation response.

For added fun, trace your hand on a piece of paper. Then, turn it into a turkey! 

I recommend adding lots of colors and maybe some uncooked macaroni noodles and glitter for flare. This art project is sure to bring a smile to your face, and smiling also helps your mood!

Please follow me for more articles on healthy living, self-care, and personal growth. This article was originally published on Medium.

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Clinical psychologist turned writer | PsyD | Outdoor enthusiast | Museum lover | We are stronger together | ConqueringCognitions.com - healthy cognitions can conquer almost anything

Colorado Springs, CO
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