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Kids Help Phone service client, aged 14-17
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What is mindfulness? What are its benefits? How can I practise it? Here, Kids Help Phone shares information about mindfulness and tips on how you can practise it in your daily life!
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is giving your full attention to the present moment. We do this in an open and non-judgmental way. Practising mindfulness can help you notice what’s going on for you on the inside. This can include your thoughts and feelings. It can also help you recognize what’s around you in a relaxed way. This can impact how you respond to stressful situations.
Mindfulness mainly originates from Buddhist meditation. People practising mindfulness don’t need to be spiritual or religious, although sometimes they are. You can practise mindfulness formally by dedicating a regular time and place to it. You can also practise it informally by adding it into your daily routine.
What are some benefits of mindfulness?
Sometimes we feel strong emotions like being anxious or overwhelmed. We might feel like our attention is being split between too many things (e.g. school, stress, relationships, etc.). Mindfulness can help you:
regain your calm and/or relax
improve your focus
ground your attention in the present moment
choose how to respond instead of reacting right away
build a self-care routine
connect with how you want to be in the world
Mindfulness is not about forcing yourself to feel a certain way. It is about accepting how you feel in the moment with kindness. Mindfulness can be helpful for people who have experienced stressful or upsetting situations. It can also help people who are feeling triggered by certain sensations.
If you feel comfortable, it’s important to connect with a safe adult and try it together. Practising mindfulness can be new, exciting and/or confusing. It can cause you to feel other emotions, and it’s OK to reach out to ask for support to feel safe.
How can I practise mindfulness?
It can take time to train the mind to focus on the present. Some days, mindfulness activities can feel easy. On other days, they may feel trickier. But with practice, mindfulness can help us recognize our thoughts and feelings.
Some people may ask, “Do I need to sit still, close my eyes and meditate?” You can meditate if you want to! But there are actually many different ways to practise mindfulness. If you haven’t tried mindfulness activities before, it can be helpful to try them out with a safe adult. You can choose activities that work best for you. Here are some ways you can practise mindfulness in your daily life.
Try breathing exercises: breathing exercises can help you visualize your breathing. Focusing on how your breath flows, from your belly through the nose or the mouth, can connect with your breath. This can help you learn how it responds to your thoughts and feelings. For example, if you feel nervous and tend to hold your breath in without realizing it.
Practise every day: training your mind to practise mindfulness can be like exercising to strengthen your body. You can look for opportunities to be mindful each day. For example, if you’re brushing your teeth, try to bring a gentle awareness to how it feels. Notice how the bristles of your toothbrush feel against your gums, teeth, and tongue. Pay attention to how you’re holding your toothbrush handle, how cool or warm the water feels, etc.
Connect with nature: head outside and notice how your senses tune into your environment. Do you notice the texture of a tree trunk? Can you smell something unique in the air? Do you hear the crunch of snow underneath you? Does the sun feel warm on your skin?
Consider a hobby: whether it’s playing a sport or doing a creative activity (or something else you enjoy!), try to be aware of your focus. If you’re scoring a goal or taking a photo, how do you feel, and what do you observe in the moment?
Explore grounding techniques: mindfulness can help you have a gentle awareness of the present moment. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or triggered by past experiences, try grounding techniques. They can help you connect to parts of your surroundings that feel safe in the moment.
Where can I get support with mindfulness?
If you’d like support with mindfulness, you can reach out to a safe adult (e.g. a parent/caregiver, doctor, etc.). You can also check out the following resources for more information!
Apps and games
These apps and games are related to mindfulness, stress, anxiety, problem-solving, meditation, and more and can help you keep track of how you’re feeling:
“Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films) (Mindful Schools)
How to Create a Glitter Jar for Kids (Mindful)
“If you can shift out of autopilot and into a deep present-moment awareness, you can discover how extraordinary every moment of life can be.” — Dzung X. Vo
If you’d like to learn more about or explore mindfulness, you can talk to a safe adult.