Research over the past few years has started to prove that teaching children a variety of mindfulness tools in school can bring calm, a better focus, understanding of different perspectives, boost self-confidence and significantly improve the level of learning.
Many schools now incorporate mindfulness classes into the curriculum with great success and the practice has shown that mindfulness techniques can:
- Increase focus and attention.
- Boost self-confidence and self-worth.
- Help to reduce the effects of bullying, stress and anxiety.
- Improve social skills and teach the ability to see situations with a different perspective.
- Promote mental health and wellbeing.
There are a range of mindfulness techniques, as well as apps, which can be taught to and used by children to help them deal with the stresses of school and life outside of the classroom, such as the Mindful Jar, the Smiling Mind, Mindful meditation and the Heartbeat exercise.
Many of the mindfulness techniques take 15 to 20 minutes, but in many circumstances, it isn’t possible to spend that length of time practising mindfulness. Children in schools need a set of tools they can use in just 60 to 90 seconds to help them to calm their minds, relieve stress and anxiety, reduce tension and re-focus their attention.
60-second mindful tips
Several mindfulness techniques can be just as effective over 60 to 90 seconds as they are over a longer period. Teaching children these tools will enable them to handle stressful situations immediately, and often defuse difficult engagements.
- Breathe – a highly effective mindfulness technique, this can be done in just 60 seconds. Close your eyes, place your hands on your stomach, breathe slowly and focus on feeling your breathing through your hands. Breathing helps to bring calm to your mind and relax your body.
- Visualise calm – whilst practising breathing, visualise a calming environment where your anxieties disappear, creating a peacefulness in your mind and body.
- Take a mindful moment – if this is done during a class, it’s possible your teacher will assume you are daydreaming. However, outside of the classroom, take a moment to watch the environment, the autumn leaves falling from trees or animals grazing in a field, and feel the air on your face or skin. It’s good to allow your mind to take a well-earned break from focusing on schoolwork.
- Scan your body – if you feel your mind is full of stress and can feel the tension in your body, take 60 seconds to scan your body with your mind from top to toe. Notice any discomfort or areas of tension, breathe and relax those areas to relieve the stress.
- 1-minute meditation – let go of all that stress and anxiety with a quick meditation. Find somewhere where you can sit comfortably, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, count your breaths or do a body scan to relax your mind and relieve anxiety.
Children today face a wide range of stressful situations not only in schools but outside class with friends and family. Arming them with quick and easy mindfulness techniques that they can carry out anywhere is a great step forward in helping them to deal with anxieties, boost self-confidence, re-focus the mind and promote mental health and wellbeing.