In a word: yes. Though young people – and children – face different pressures than adults, they could be the segment of society that would in fact benefit from mindfulness exercises the most. Bombarded with information continually and facing a barrage of communications across different screens (often carrying multiple devices with them at any one time), it’s no surprise that children often find it hard to live in the present moment – which is what mindfulness is all about. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of mindfulness for children, as well as looking at some recommended exercises.
Forget exams or important goals (like getting into university): just attending school on a daily basis is rife with academic pressures. As a result, many children develop anxiety. Practising mindfulness exercises – such as meditating – has proved to be a powerful antidote to symptoms of work-related anxiety.
One of the key benefits of mindfulness is that it increases a sense of connection to the here and now, which makes it easier to concentrate and take in knowledge. Studies have shown that children who undertake mindfulness or meditation exercises see improvements in their short-term memory.
As mentioned above, an improved connection to the present sharpens a student’s ability to focus. It has also been shown to enhance attention span, meaning that they are able to ignore distractions more easily.
Four Mindfulness ExercisesHelping children practise mindfulness through breathing exercises, conscious relaxation, and sensory awareness is key to help them relax and increase focus when it matters. Find our favourite exercises below:
An oldie but a goodie, there’s a reason that breathing exercises have remained at the forefront of meditation and mindfulness. This simple exercise will help you calm down and focus your mind quickly, making it perfect to try at home or on the go. Place a hand on your tummy, close your eyes, and count to seven whilst breathing in; on the exhale, count to 11. Don’t change your breath; instead, increase or decrease the speed of your counting to match your inhalations and exhalations. Repeat at least five times.
A longer exercise that requires about twenty minutes to complete, and which needs to be undertaken whilst reclining or sitting comfortably.
It’s impossible to feel both anxious and grateful at once. Thinking of the things you’re thankful for is a great way to boost your mood and rid your mind of negative thoughts. Each day – perhaps before you go to bed – write a journal entry that consists of three things you’re grateful for about the day. It doesn’t need to be anything big: it could be something as simple as feeling a slight breeze on a hot day.
Okay, we’re not literally advocating a bout of rosebush sniffing (!): but there’s no more powerful reminder of the present moment than our immediate environment, and nature is all around us – we just have to remember to stop and look from time to time.
As well as being about the present moment, mindfulness is also about increased awareness of your senses. How does the sun feel on your skin?
How does that grass feel under your foot? Whenever you walk between classes, to the bus, or even from your car to your front door, try and pick something from nature to focus on, and explore what you notice and how it makes you feel.
Do you have any mindfulness tips or de-stressing exercises that you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter – and be sure to follow us, too, so you can keep up to date with all our news.