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Mindfulness: Enriching Young Minds

by | Aug 2, 2020

Mindfulness: Enriching Young Minds

Mindfulness is the act of focusing on the present moment. It is the ability to be present and fully engaged with whatever you are doing free from distraction or judgment, and the ability to be aware of your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. Mindfulness comes with a number of benefits, which include increasing focus (especially in children with ADHD), improving mental health and well-being, and can reduce bullying with children according to studies.{1,2,3} Mindfulness can also be used to manage a number of feelings such as anxiety and stress, and may also help with post-traumatic recovery {4}

For school-aged children, studies have shown that there are numerous benefits to practising mindfulness, such as an increase in planning and organisational skills, and the ability to remember details and meta-cognition (understanding of one’s own thought process){5}. Developing mindfulness with regular practice at a young age can have long-lasting effects. It can be practised in a number of different ways, and, with anything in life,  the more you practice, the easier it becomes to engage in it. An example of a mindfulness exercise which even children can practice is drawing your emotions. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how you are feeling. Regularly drawing your emotions ( and not only when you are upset), can help to better understand yourself.{6}. The practice of mindfulness is recommended for people of all backgrounds and ages due to the wide range of benefits and therapeutic effects which come along with it.

Mindfulness may be difficult to achieve for children and even some adults because training our brain to focus on one thing such as with a breathing exercise is often difficult,  and requires a lot of practice. That is why playing  appropriate games and puzzles can be a great solution!.Part of mindfulness practise is being aware of the present moment. The act of focussing on a puzzle and attempting to solve it, gently forces you to centrate on the problem at hand, and requires you to be present at each step and solution. This is because most puzzles require undivided attention which is similar to the practising of mindfulness. Puzzles are a great way for our mind to practise focusing on one thing at a time. 

Completing puzzles can also affect a person in a similar way to practising mindfulness exercises , and can also relieve stress. The reason behind this is that both these activities give us great satisfaction and release endorphins as a reward for achievement of focusing on one thing at a time. When we finally complete a puzzle or win a game, it can bring a good reward buzz. Receiving a reward buzz is when our brain releases happy chemicals called endorphins or dopamine, which makes us feel good. Receiving these endorphins from mindfulness and puzzles is a great way to stay healthy and strong. 

References:

  1. Zhou, Z., Liu, Q., Niu, G., Sun, X., & Fan, C. (2017). Bullying victimization and depression in Chinese children: A moderated mediation model of resilience and mindfulness. Personality and Individual Differences, 104, 137-142.
  2. Zhang, D., Chan, S. K. C., Lo, H. H. M., Chan, C. Y. H., Chan, J. C. Y., Ting, K. T., Gao, T. T., Lai, K. Y. C., Bögels, S. M., & Wong, S. Y. S. (2016). Mindfulness-based intervention for Chinese children with ADHD and their parents: A pilot mixed-method study. Mindfulness, 8, 1-14.
  3. Crescentini, C., Capurso, V., Furlan, S., & Fabbro, F. (2016). Mindfulness-oriented meditation for primary school children: Effects on attention and psychological well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 805.
  4. Daigneault, I., Dion, J., Hébert, M., & Bourgeois, C. (2016). Mindfulness as mediator and moderator of post-traumatic symptomatology in adolescence following childhood sexual abuse or assault. Mindfulness, 7, 1306-1315
  5. Flook, L., Smalley, S. L., Kitil, M. J., Galla, B. M., Kaiser-Greenland, S., Locke, J., … & Kasari, C. (2010). Effects of mindful awareness practices on executive functions in elementary school children. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 26(1), 70-95.
  6. https://www.mother.ly/child/ease-your-anxious-child-6-simple-mindfulness-exercises-to-try-today
  7. Norris, C. J., Creem, D., Hendler, R., & Kober, H. (2018). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 12, 315. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2018.00315
  8. Ward, B. (2010, Mar 28). Mindful games: Can playing games and solving puzzles help baby boomers down the road? well … it can’t hurt. McClatchy – Tribune Business News Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/458381026?accountid=12528
  9. Harte, J. L., Eifert, G. H., and Smith, R. (1995, June). The effects of running and meditation on beta-endorphin, corticotropin-releasing hormone and cortisol in plasma, and on mood. Biological Psychology, 40, (3), 251-265. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/030105119505118T
  10. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/feeling-good-yet-seven-ways-to-boost-endorphins-022014#:~:text=Simply%20relaxing%20and%20focusing%20the,calm%2C%20happy%2C%20and%20content.
  11. https://www.masterpiecesinc.com/in-the-news/things-you-do-that-you-didnt-know-were-meditation/

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