Exam Stress, Mindfulness and Child Mental Health

I used to look at mindfulness in a very sceptical way.

I had it in mind that mindfulness was lying down and chanting “Ommm”. However, the more I had to practice mindfulness in my own personal life the more I got to grips with being in the moment. This is something that I feel we need to teach children especially as we adjust to this new life – living during a pandemic.

So why teach children about mindfulness?

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. Taking a moment to ground yourself, take in what your body is feeling like, the sounds around you and your thoughts. Dealing with learning in lockdown is hard on any adult, let alone a child.

I really struggled completing my MSc last year when COVID-19 stepped into our lives. People would tell me, “Oh at least you have all the time in the world now to complete your dissertation!”. I didn’t need all the time in the world. I needed a space where I could separate work from life. I needed a library where I could physically look at books without spending hours straining my eyes on the laptop, I needed coffee and moan breaks with friends.

If I felt these things during ‘lockdown learning’, I’d hate to imagine what it is like for children these days. When you’re a child, your friendship group is everything. Going to school doesn’t just mean learning but it’s another chance to play and catch up with those that are closest to you. We are living in ridiculously tough times, learning or not.

Practicing mindfulness would give children a chance to not live in the past nor the anxiety of the future, but rather a chance to be present. If I close my eyes, what can I hear? Can I sit quietly for a few minutes? What am I really thinking about in this very moment?

Granted these questions may be hard for younger children and distractions will no doubt come. However, mindfulness is something that can be built on. Mindfulness is owned by the self; it is unique to the individual so children can make of it what they’d like. It gives children a chance to check in on themselves, a skill that will serve them well in the future. Practicing mindfulness most importantly gives children a space to not think about their next lesson, or the homework they haven’t quite got round to doing yet.

Mindfulness is something we should all be practicing as we get to grips with the new “normal”.

Mindfulness videos are a great place to start. YouTube is a great place to start!

 

For example:

New Horizon – Breathing for Kids

 

Cosmic Kids – Guided Meditation

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