Why High School Students Should Practice Mindfulness

A site I follow, Hey Sigmund, recently posted a piece on mindfulness and why it is so popular, and it made me think about the importance of cultivating this practice in high school. You can read it here, and I suggest you do! Reading it also reminded me of an organization I admire, Mindful Schools. I took their Mindfulness Fundamentals class and really enjoyed it; they have great resources for educators and parents, too.

Anyway…I wrote the post below last year, but thought I would re-post as this topic is always in-season!

Since I’ve been practicing mindfulness for many years, I’ve enjoyed reading more about it everywhere from psychology journals to the wellness and lifestyle blogs I (embarrassingly) follow. If I can do it, I am certain anyone can, and it seems that everyone is.

What’s mindfulness? There are lots of variations of the definition, but I’ll use this one from UC Berkeley’s Great Good, The Science of a Meaningful Life website:

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

What I think is so extraordinary about mindfulness is that it can literally change your brain. Research has found that it increases the density of gray matter in the brain that is linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy. Give this a listen:

Decreased stressed.

Less likely to respond to one’s own negative thinking.

Reduces risk of depression and anxiety.

Mindfulness is important because students today often feel all of these emotions and more—but especially stress, negative thinking, anxiety and sometimes even depression—during the college search and application process. It’s the ability to regulate these emotions, just to name one important benefit, that mindfulness supports. Mindfulness helps students not feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions and allows them to create space between emotions and responses so they can think first and then react. Over time, students become better listeners, feel more present, and less distracted.

Students can’t change everything that happens to them—from losing the big game to not doing well on an important test, and especially where they end up getting admitted or not getting admitted to college—but they can change the way they experience life’s ups and downs.

Contact us to talk about how mindfulness can help!

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