As adults we tend to be opinionated about how teenagers have become in the last decade or so. Playing the devil’s advocate here, what if the teens and students are under a great deal of stress and we are simply refusing to acknowledge it?
Perhaps teens and adolescents are ill-equipped to deal with the daily stress and pressures put upon them today, and they are simply reacting the best way they know how. Which is why mindfulness training for teens and students is getting more and more attention, and it’s working!
What is mindfulness you ask?
Mindfulness employs a series of techniques to help quiet the mind, create a focal point, and be in the present moment without freaking out.
Day to day life can bring in all sorts of circumstances begging for an emotional release, but when mindfulness exercises are employed and practices, even angsty teens and students can control their thoughts and respond rather than react.
Teen Stress is Very Real
What stress could an adolescent or teen possibly have?
They are under a great deal of pressure with tests and finals, college prep courses, learning how to cope with romantic relationships for the first time, and a lot of the time dealing with uncomfortable social situations. Often, these are firsts for them and they are feeling their way through it.
Often, when it’s relationship advice they need, they don’t come running to the parents… they ask their friends. The friends who are also dealing with sensitive things for the first time and making mistake after mistake, learning along the way.
Mindfulness for teens and students is profoundly effective in creating a safe place. A place where they can stop, focus on stopping their ever-running minds, and breathe.
Believe it or not, mindfulness is even being employed in many schools across the country.
Parental Help is Required
Here are some tips and tricks to think about when encouraging teens and students to engage in practising mindfulness:
- Practice what you preach. If you’re going to teach them how to make calmer, mindful decisions and encourage them to practice mindfulness, you should be trying to be doing the same. Set a good example and they are more likely to at least give this a try.
- Ready the environment. During chaos isn’t the best time to start a mindfulness exercise for a beginner. Create the proper environment for success, otherwise the likelihood of them continuing or trying this on their own will be nil.
- Terminology is vital. Make sure you aren’t using ancient Buddhist vocab or dropping Latin phrases that they aren’t going to comprehend. Keep it simple. Keep it clean. If you want them to engage, they must understand your language. Be sure to focus on the benefits.
- Talk about it. When you are finished, talk about the sensations and feelings and encourage interchange. If they see their peers getting into it, they might enjoy it more. You’ll also get a feeling on how you could switch things up based on their opinions and responses.
- Routine is everything. If you are going to incorporate mindfulness, go all in. Make it part of the weekly or even daily schedule. You’ll never get results if you try it once in a blue moon or only when things get out of control.
Mindfulness Techniques for Teens
Now let’s look at a few exercises you can try with these guys and gals to help them have a good mindfulness experience.
Have your kiddo do some jumping jacks for one minute and then have them sit down, close their eyes, place a hand over their heart and use their heart as the focal point. As the heartbeat slows, so does the breathing. Encourage them to focus on the heartbeat and to experience all that is happening to their body, using all their senses.
While lying down on their back in a comfortable spot, have them close their eyes and scan the body for tension. Tighten up every muscle group in the body while inhaling, hold it for a few seconds, and then breathe out any tension while letting their muscles relax. They could even try and do muscle groups individually for this one; arms, legs, head and neck, face… all during different breaths. Have them break it down even further and do hands and feet separately.
Fill up a jar or bottle with water and put about a tablespoon or so of any color glitter in it. Have the teen shake the jar up and watch the glitter swimming and swirling around. Use the glitter as the focal point in this exercise. Encourage taking controlled breaths in and out as the glitter slowly comes to a stop in the bottom of the jar. At the end, point out that they can see more clearly as the chaos in the jar has ended.
There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness for teens and students. The idea here is really to help these young people develop skills like self-control, a better focus and attention level during class time and testing, increased sense of well-being and greater social skills.
Consider using mindfulness for teens and students methods to establish a life-long impact on their psychological, cognitive and social lives.
Yasmina Casado González Reviewer: Denise RQ There are many days I hear my alarm waking me up for school, and I dread getting out of bed. I have more than I need.
I’m fed every day, I live in a wonderful house in a beautiful city, and I attend a good school, yet I still don’t want to go.
It is so easy to find the negatives in school.
Things like stress and lack of interest in my classes are just some of the negatives that overpower the good.
Yet, at the perspective of another, their opinion would be completely different. Imagine a 14-year-old girl living in an African country: her name is Adisa, and she is part of a family of six living in a one-room house.
She would give anything to have the opportunity to learn, but her family can’t afford it. To her, the school would not be the terrible monster that I see.
She would find the positives.
She would see school as a way to make new friends and learn about the world around her.
Thinking about Adisa and others in her situation made me feel very guilty.
Here I am, complaining about my life when I have everything I need and more.
What she would only dream of living a life like mine?
I’ve been told to be successful in life I have to succeed in school.
I’ve been told to get into a good college I have to make good grades and participate in as many school activities as possible.
The way I see it, putting that much pressure on yourself to make good grades and participate in every school activity is not the best high school experience.
For me, this just adds to the pressure and anxiety making it more difficult to learn.
I struggle with stress and the pressure of having the best grades is always present.
I was thinking about what the number actually means to me, and I stumbled to answer.
What does it mean?
It has to mean something if I’m putting myself through so much to get it. I am one who strives to do my best, and the pressure and anxiety are making me question why.
Why am I putting so much pressure on myself that I struggle to go to school?
Stress about the workload pressure on making good grades?
It’s a lot.
Even for me who has never found the school to be very difficult.
I don’t find myself struggling very often, but that doesn’t make it any easier; if anything, it makes it more difficult.
Many don’t see how that could be the case.
I’ve had several conversations where someone will say something along the lines of,
“if you are so good at school, why don’t you like it?”
This question and the many different variations I’ve heard continue to confuse me.
How does working hard to perform well at school take away the stress or dislike?
I know from personal experience: it just adds to the stress and dislike. I put myself through this so I’ll have more opportunities to live a successful life, and I’m trying to understand why.
When I hear my alarm waking me up for school,
I get ready for an entire day. I’m walking into day for those seven hours of learning.
Yikes. Seven hours of boredom, frustration, and judgment.
I’ve many classes that take so much energy to keep from falling asleep.
People that feel that, because it’s a group project, they don’t have to do any of the work.
Presentations that make me shake with nervousness.
Peers that feel the need to make others feel bad about themselves.
Add all this to the stress, and you’re looking at the definition of misery.
I look at the school and see a bubble of negativity, yet, at the perspective of another, their opinion will be completely different.
Adisa would go to school and be over the moon excited.
She would want to experience all the different classes and subjects.
She wouldn’t be so focused on the grades, because she’ll be so much more interested in the actual learning.
She would try her best to succeed and only see the stress as a small side effect of school.
I try to have this perspective about school, especially because I’m so incredibly lucky to have all that I do.
But it is a constant struggle.
I tell myself to think about school in the perspective of Adisa, who’d give anything to take my place. I find the positives because that’s what she would do.
She would work with the situation even if she doesn’t like everything about it.
And I feel this should be easier to do than it actually is, but it’s not.
I challenge you to think about your life from the perspective of someone who’d give anything to take your place.
Find the positives and encourage others to do the same.
Know that it’s only a portion of your life, and it’s not the worst thing you could be doing. I know it can be hard; trust me, I struggle with it every day.
Just remember: don’t take anything for granted and embrace the stuff you don’t like because there’s someone out there who’d give anything to take your place.