29 Jul How to Help Teens Embrace Mindfulness
The Girl Guides recently hit the headlines for announcing the largest shake-up in its 110-year history. Among the 100 new badges and 700 new activities announced to form part of the new programme, a ‘Be Well’ section offers the chance to work towards badges in mindfulness and self-care. Around 50,000 girls were involved in shaping the new badges and activities.
This movement highlights both a shift towards better awareness of the importance of self-care by young people themselves and the promotion of positive mental health by those around them. Digital mental health has been at the forefront of this conversation. The Good Childhood Report 2017 found that moderate use of social media was associated with higher levels of wellbeing. However, the same report also recorded strong links between excessive social media use (over four hours per day) and low wellbeing. Quoted in The Guardian, Sarah Brennan, chief executive of the charity Young Minds, highlights, “the rise of social media means they need to always be available, they may seek reassurance in the form of likes and shares, and they are faced with constant images of ‘perfect’ bodies or ‘perfect’ lives, making it hard not to compare themselves to others.”
As adults turn to mindfulness to find better balance in the digital world and combat stress, we discuss how this practice could too help teenagers as they navigate some of the most challenging years of their lives under increasing digital pressure.
How to Help Teens Embrace Mindfulness in 3 Steps
1. Explain How Mindfulness Can Help Them
When considering how to go about getting your child off their phone, lamenting how much time they spend online is probably going to backfire. To prove why it’s a good idea to have some tech downtime, it’s key to outline how mindfulness can help your teen. For example, studies have shown how mindfulness practice can reduce the symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Explain how acknowledging negative thoughts without judgement allows you to identify that they are not always true reflections of reality. You can also make mindfulness very relevant to the current chapter of their lives, their education. Other studies claim that students who meditate before tests and exams perform better than those who do not.
2. Make Mindfulness Normal
After explaining the benefits of embracing mindfulness, you need to practise what you preach. Take breaks from your own devices through digital detox and use meditation and mindful practices to deal with stressful situations. If you’re not doing it, why should they?
3. Acknowledge That Mindfulness Isn’t Just About Meditation
While mindfulness is commonly practiced through meditation, there are other ways to feel present which may be more appealing to teens. A great example is the recent trend for bullet journals. The bullet journal system is a way to rapidly record events, tasks and feelings in a dotted notebook. It was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from New York. Here, you’ll notice a trend with Silicon Valley’s elite. Some of the most tech-minded folk are the ones that feel the need to disconnect the most. Carroll has dubbed his system “the analogue system for the digital age.”
Since he unveiled the concept in 2013, a community has blossomed, and many young people have run with the idea. On Instagram, #bulletjournal or #bujo will surface hundreds of images of impeccably neat and beautifully decorated dotted pages. It’s an offline hobby which allows users to enjoy creativity while being more aware of their day-to-day feelings. For teens, it could be a great way to express creativity while still taking part in a seemingly ‘trendy’ activity.
Through explaining mindfulness, see your teens discover a better balance with their digital devices and improved digital mental health.