Mindfulness for Teens and Why it’s Important for Mental Health: Part 1

Posted May 31, 2019

Every day, teenagers are experiencing a multitude of emotional and mental struggles, particularly as they navigate an increasingly complex world influenced by factors such as social media, academic pressures, family dynamics, and more. Adding to the weight of these constant pressures is the still-in-progress development of your teen’s ability to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and balance responsibilities.

In the face of this array of unique challenges, the ability to practice mindfulness is one of the most impactful and valuable skills any teen or young adult can develop.

What is mindfulness and why is it important?

The concept of mindfulness is centered on the idea of thoughtfully responding to a given situation or emotion rather than impulsively reacting. For teens, who are often easily overwhelmed by intense emotions and seemingly high-pressure situations, mindfulness makes it possible to notice each experience without judgment in an effort to make an effective choice when responding when in the moment.

What does mindfulness help with?

Because mindfulness allows your teen to take a step back and think before acting, it’s helpful for a number of everyday situations, and for all types of temperaments. Teens that may find mindfulness particularly helpful include those dealing with:

  • Mental health symptoms including anxiety and depression
  • Significant responsibilities associated with school, extracurricular activities, and/or family
  • High-pressure expectations from themselves, family, and/or teachers
  • Social and relational situations such as arguments or break-ups

 

How does mindfulness affect your teen’s mental health?

Mindfulness techniques help teens improve overall mental wellbeing by building awareness as it teaches them to thoughtfully process emotions and situations, rather than ignoring uncomfortable feelings or reacting spontaneously. This skill can promote positive mental health and help your teen build skills to last a lifetime.

What does mindfulness do for students while at school?

Recent literature from Vanderbilt University describes the benefits of mindfulness in a teen’s academic environment, noting that the various strategies can be highly valuable in helping teens balance the effects of everyday distractions. Additionally, when teens are better able to manage their emotions and thoughts in the classroom, they can be more productive and successful academically. Various studies show that mindfulness can provide an impressive boost to students’ attention spans and focus as well.

Can mindfulness help teens with behavioral challenges?

Yes! Because mindfulness encourages teens to take a thoughtful pause before reacting impulsively, many parents find that their teens are able to increase positive behaviors at home and school.  Teens are less likely to react and more able to use skills to respond effectively in the moment.

How can I help my teen improve their ability to be mindful?

You may be surprised to learn that there are a wide variety of easy, everyday exercises that can help your teen strengthen their mindfulness skills. Most of these exercises can be completed in just a few minutes, with many having the added benefit of promoting relaxation and healthy stress management. Try encouraging your teen to try one or more mindfulness exercises a day on a consistent basis, having open conversations about how mindfulness can benefit their everyday life.

Learn More about Strategies for Mindfulness for Teens from MHS

Mindfulness exercises are a practical, concrete method for building mindfulness in teens and supporting their mental health. MHS has created an easy-to-use guide with more than 70 simple ways to practice mindfulness, helping teens develop strategies for use in everyday life. In addition to online resources, MHS also provides a range of professional mental health services for both adolescents and adults, including assessment, outpatient treatment, therapy, and a highly-tailored DBT program. For more information about mindfulness for teens and how professional services can support your teen, contact MHS to schedule an assessment today.