EMOTIONS: How teens can understand their emotions with mindfulness!
I have recently been teaching a mindfulness class through an amazing non-profit called Mill Village in Greenville, SC. It has been so rewarding to watch this group of kids more accurately understand their emotions and handle stress.
What is MINDFULNESS?! Mindfulness is simply the practice of being present, aware and engaged. We spend such few moments actually being present in our daily lives. We are racing from place to place, inhaling our food, and going on to the next thing. We are so often not aware of our surroundings, our bodies, let alone our emotions. Therefore we can carry stress around in our body and our minds. There are many different ways to approach mindfulness and practice it.
Sometimes I hear from kids, that they do not know what they feel anymore. Sometimes they are numb, sometimes they can’t identify it, and sometimes they feel a lot of emotions at once. Mindfulness is helpful for all of this. It helps people truly check in with their body. It gives them time and space to think and feel what is going on in their body. Often times people like to separate our minds and our bodies. But like it our not, they are all one. Our emotions impact our body, stress takes a toll on our body. Therefore, mindfulness has a lot to do with simply taking notice of various parts of our body and identifying tension, relaxation etc. When we do this, we able to more readily tune into our emotions, and have help sorting them out.
I like to start with teaching people how to simply breathe mindfully and take in their surroundings. Research shows that simply by doing this daily people feel more focused, attentive, upbeat, less anxious, less depressed, and sleep better. There a few apps I use to teach this in session- Headspace, Calm, and Stop Think Breath.
It is important to understand that you may feel like you are failing at first, trying to remain in the present is hard. Your brain is a muscle, and it needs practice to develop this skill of mindfulness. Therefore you may be trying to be present and aware, and what you are going to eat for dinner pops in your brain or a solution to a problem at work came to mind. That is perfectly normal and ok- simply bring your mind back to present moment and pay attention to your breath again. Simply noticing your breath will bring you back to the present moment. Here is an exercise I taught my kids a few weeks ago, and one you can try on your own time.
Also- check out mindfulness being switched out instead of sending kids to detention!
Check out more mindfulness in schools here.