Does your teen seem to be overwhelmed or overly preoccupied with the responsibilities of day-to-day life? In the midst of our incredibly fast-paced world it can be difficult or seemingly impossible to take some time out of your day for yourself. Mindfulness is an ancient therapeutic practice which is a relatively forgien concept to teens and even adults in our society. For some, when you hear the world “mindfulness” you think of someone sitting still with their eyes closed deep in meditation. While this can be a form of mindfulness, mindfulness is much more than just sitting in meditation. Mindfulness works to keep your focus and attention on the present moment so you are best equipped to handle the now and not worry about the past or future.
So, What Exactly is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s full attention on the present moment. When practiced correctly mindfulness works to keep your attention focused on the present, avoiding ruminating thoughts about the past or stress and anxieties about the future. Often times when we think too much about the past negative or painful situations are brought up, and when we think too much about the future feelings of worry and uncertainty may arise. Mindfulness works to combat over thinking, keeping your attention on the sensations and feelings of the present moment, allowing thoughts to arise without interpretation or judgement.
How You Can Practice Mindfulness
Meditation can be an important piece of your mindfulness practice, however if meditation is not quite your speed, there are many other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day life. Taking the time to slow down and really focus your attention on even the most common and simple activities such as cooking or cleaning is a form of practicing mindfulness. Imagine yourself in the kitchen preparing something for dinner. Pay attention to the ingredients you are using and the aromas and sounds they make when they’re cooking. Take a moment to take in the smell of garlic simmering on the stovetop, the sounds vegetables make when you are chopping, and the mixture of colors and textures of all the ingredients combined. Think about how all these ingredients come from the earth to nourish your body. Cooking can be an incredible practice of self-care and mindfulness aids in bringing your awareness to all aspects of this practice.
Mindfulness Goals and Benefits
In general, mindfulness seeks to develop these 3 key characteristics:
- Intention to cultivate awareness (Mindfulness seeks to improve attention and awareness and be able to return to that awareness again and again.)
- Attention to what is occurring in the present moment (Mindfulness aids in focusing your attention on the present moment by simply observing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the body as they arise.)
- Attitude that is non-judgmental, curious, and kind (Mindfulness works to create an attitude that is accepting and non-judgmental of your own thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps us to foster self-acceptance, self-kindness, patience and understanding within ourselves and to others.)
Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to be a key element in stress reduction and happiness. Not only do mindfulness practices bring positive changes to emotional wellbeing, but they can help improve physical wellbeing too.
Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
- Mindfulness improves wellbeing
Regularly practicing mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a feeling of happiness and satisfaction with life. Being mindful makes it easier to enjoy the pleasures of daily life, helps you to become more engaged in your activities, and increases your capacity to handle adverse events. By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness are able to become less preoccupied on the material world and are better able to focus their attention on forming deep connections with others.
- Mindfulness improves physical health
Mindfulness helps to foster the mind-body connection, meaning many of the benefits mindfulness has on emotional health translates to physical health as well. Mindfulness helps to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone in the body. The reduction of stress helps to lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and reduce your risk for heart disease. Additionally mindfulness has been shown to help with chronic pain and alleviate gastrointestinal issues.
- Mindfulness improves mental health
In recent years mindfulness has shown such positive results in improving mental health that even therapists are beginning to use it in treatment. Mindfulness meditation has become an important element in treating a number of problems including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, and even relationship conflicts.
How Mindfulness Can Help Teens
Adolescence can be a very stressful time in one’s life. Modern-day technology and social media can make life feel even more fast-paced and it can be hard to find a healthy escape. Many teens experience mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression making adolescence an even more challenging time. This is why mindfulness can be an incredibly helpful outlet for teens dealing with stress or if they are beginning to feel overwhelmed.
In fact, a study by the Cleveland Clinic found that practicing mindfulness meditation for 15 minutes a day helps to make the brain more responsive and less reactive to stress. This means that regularly practicing meditation for only 15 minutes a day can make you better equipped to handle stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety, which is so commonly found in teens.
Additionally, mindfulness is a great way to improve memory and focus. For teenagers, this can be particularly helpful so they can focus better in school and perform better on tests. This can also lead to improvements in self-esteem and helps to reduce school-related stress.
Mindfulness On The Go
Mindfulness is a great tool with amazing benefits that all teens should give a shot at. However, if finding the time or resources to practice is a barrier for you or your teen there are many on the go apps and websites to practice guided mindfulness sessions on. Apps such as Calm or Headspace are incredible resources you can download to your mobile device to practice mindfulness at any time, and they are free!
How Red Mountain Colorado can help
Many teens struggle with understanding their own stress and mental health and oftentimes this means that their mental health is neglected. Oftentimes, modern-day medications designed for mental health only help to treat the symptoms, while mindfulness aims to address the root cause of stress and mental health struggles thus creating more lasting results.
At Red Mountain Colorado we strive to create a holistic approach to healing and emphasize the importance of the mind-body connection through our mindfulness-based approach to treatment. While traditional therapeutic techniques may help to uncover some of your teens’ stressors, our approach helps teens to understand and find healthy ways to cope with their stressors. Practicing mindfulness helps teens to create healthier thought patterns and find ways to cope with stress. If you think mindfulness may be an interest to your teen, please call (970) 316-7594 for more information about our mindfulness-based programs.