Author: Miss Chloe Yates, Year 11 Coordinator
As we reach the peak assessment period of the term, many students can become stressed and anxious about their building workload. It is imperative that students have appropriate and effective ways of managing stress and anxiety to maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. Recent research has shown that practising mindfulness can have positive impacts on reducing stress and anxiety and building students’ resilience. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and focussing on what is happening in the moment, which in turn can help to manage negative or anxious thoughts entering the mind.
Mindfulness refers to present-moment, nonjudgmental awareness and practice of the technique has increased over recent years as a stress management strategy for young children through to the elderly. Some benefits of practising mindfulness include improved sleep, stronger relationship and increased self-awareness and self-regulation. Research suggests that mindfulness is a much more effective stress management tool than playing video games, surfing the internet or hanging out with friends – some of the most common stress and anxiety outlets for young people. Mindfulness also helps students to recognise their negative feelings and emotions and let them go. Mindfulness practice is a great way for young people to escape from the over-stimulation of the modern world and the media saturation of their daily lives.
Three beginner mindfulness techniques that students can use to help manage stress and anxiety are:
One-minute breathing exercise
Sit with your back straight but relaxed. For the next minute, focus your entire attention on your breathing in and out, how air passes in and out of your nostrils, and how your abdomen rises and goes down with each breath. If thoughts start crowding in, gently let them go and refocus on your breathing.
Check in with yourself
Bring yourself into the present moment by asking yourself, ‘What is going on with me at the moment?’ You can label your thoughts and feelings - for example, ‘that’s an anxious feeling’ - and let them go. You may start to feel more of an observer instead of someone reacting to thoughts and feelings.
When you’re having a meal, focus on your eating. Don’t read or watch TV at the same time. Pay attention to how the food looks, smells and tastes. You may find you enjoy your food more, and stop eating when you’re full instead of automatically finishing what’s on your plate
There are also apps such as Reachout Breathe, that helps students to regulate their breathing and heartrate in moments of stress and anxiety and Smiling Mind which has guided mindfulness meditation exercises for teens. School TV has a range of valuable resources including interviews with experts and mindfulness relaxation techniques for parents/carers and children.