Mindfulness for Teens and Why it’s Important for Mental Health: Part 2

Posted June 27, 2019

In Part One of our discussion regarding the value of mindfulness for teens, we discussed exactly what mindfulness is, how it can benefit teens, and how to help your teen improve their ability to be mindful. Now, in Part Two of our series on mindfulness, we’ll be diving deeper into the science of mindfulness, why more experts are recommending mindfulness exercises as an alternative to traditional treatments, and a variety of suggested mindfulness exercises to help your teen. [Read Part One]

Mindfulness: What Science Says

Most people that have incorporated mindfulness exercises into their daily routines will tell you of the positive difference they’ve made in their everyday lives – but what does science have to say about the efficacy of mindfulness?

According to a 2010 paper published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers have discovered that practicing mindfulness through meditation actually changed the brain’s concentration of gray matter. The biggest increases in brain matter concentration were noted in areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, perspective taking, and learning processes, all extremely critical skills. This theory was reinforced by another study conducted by Harvard Medical School, which showed that not only did meditation increase those areas of the brain, but it also reduced the size of the brain’s amygdala, the center of fear and stress.

It’s becoming increasingly common for experts to recommend meditation as the first line of treatment for teens facing mental illness, including anxiety and depression. One study even showed that meditation was just as effective in resolving the symptoms of anxiety and depression as prescription medication.

Mindfulness Exercises for Teens

MHS has created an in-depth guide to mindfulness exercises, featuring close to 75 different activities that can help teens improve their ability to be mindful, strengthen emotional regulation, and decrease reactive behaviors. Here are just a few examples of the included exercises:

  • Get creative with clay or play-dough. As it turns out, playdough isn’t just for young children – interacting with it can be a highly therapeutic and relaxing experience. From simply kneading and rolling it to attempting to create something sculptural, using playdough for even a few minutes a day is an excellent way to boost mindfulness.
  • Tune in to a specific sound or song. Encourage your teen to close their eyes and focus on listening to a relaxing song, nature sounds, or even white noise, focusing solely on the sound or song and ignoring distractions.
  • Take a mindful nature walk. Have your teen leave their smartphone behind and go on a short walk through nature, observing the sights, sounds, and smells with a clear, focused mind.

Let MHS Support Your Teen in Navigating the Challenges of Everyday Life

Mindfulness exercises are a powerful tool that can help teens change their lives for the better, transforming the way they view the world and how they handle even the most difficult of situations. But for many teens, practicing these strategies alone is not enough – in these cases, professional support is often the key to making a positive difference. MHS facilitates a variety of professional mental health services for both teens and adults, offering assessments, individual therapy, and expert-led DBT programs. If your teen is having difficulties coping with anxiety or depression, maintaining safety, keeping friendships, or regulating emotions, MHS is here to help.

For more information about how MHS can provide the help your teen needs, contact our office to schedule an intake today.