10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness for Middle and High School Students (and adults too!)

I am a middle school teacher. I have three children, two of which are high school students. I feel for this age group so much. While this time away from school is difficult for everyone, I feel like these students are feeling it the most. Their life is being social. This time of year is the time that they are typically getting ready for so many fun things. In speaking with my children and my students, I know that there is a lot of stress and worry happening. The excitement of being able to sleep in instead of getting up early has worn off. If you are in middle or high school or know a child at this age, here are some suggestions for mindfulness activities that may help ease this time of uncertainty.

  1. Keep A Journal – writing our feelings can be so therapeutic. Sometimes sharing how you feel does not feel comfortable especially when everyone in the family is dealing with so much. Keeping a journal where you may write your feeling or just keep track of what you are doing during this historic time may be calming. You can use your journal to write or to draw. There are so many great and different ways to keep a journal. Check out this link with just a few ideas.
  2. Coloring – I know that coloring tends to be an activity for younger children, but there is a reason that adult coloring books are so popular. Coloring is an extremely mindful activity that can help to calm a busy mind. You can then decorate your windows with the artwork that you create to help neighbors who may be walking have something beautiful to look at. If you don’t have a coloring book, try doing your own doodles or sketches or google free coloring pages to print some yourself.
  3. Mindful Walking – Often we feel as though walks are meant just for exercise. However, taking a mindful walk can be very calming. Take time to take a walk when you are not in a hurry. Concentrate on how you feel while you walk. Notice how your feet hit the ground. Notice the sounds around you. Notice the signs of spring that around you. Pick up a stone or a flower and sit with it for a moment. Take time to take in nature after being stuck inside.
  4. Exercise – Exercise is one of the most mindful things some people can do. There is a great deal of good endorphins that are produced when you get your body moving. Listening to good music and going for a run may be mindful for you. Give it a try!!
  5. Breathing exercises – Being still and noticing your breath can be your anchor. It is different for everyone. Close your bedroom door and sit with your breathe for as little as a minute. Over time, this practice may help you to find peace and calm. I have lots of breathing exercises and videos on this blog so please check them out! For some people, this may bring emotions to the surface. That is ok and expected. If it is uncomfortable, work on a different method of mindfulness.
  6. Using your Senses – In situations where your mind may be going a million miles a minute, stop and consider this 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 activity. Find 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you hear, 3 things that you feel, 2 things that smell, and one thing that you taste. Focusing on your senses will help you to get out of your mind for a time and into the present moment.
  7. Write a Letter – Letter writing is a lost art that I wish more people took advantage of. In a time when we are all looking for ways to connect, sit down and write a letter to someone whom you have not spoken to in a while, someone you miss, or someone that you appreciate. The process of writing can be very calming and often will help to lift your spirits.
  8. Declutter – When we are surrounded with lots of things, it is hard for us to relax and feel comfortable. Decluttering is a great way to help ease the feelings of anxiety. If you spend a lot of time in your bedroom, take some time to make it a space that you love and feel comfortable in. If you spend time doing school work in another part of the house, make a space for yourself that you enjoy. It can be as simple as clearing off a space by a window with a nice view. Add a small flower or a picture of someone you love.
  9. Mindful Eating – When was the last time you really took the time to sit and enjoy the food that you were eating? I mean really enjoy the flavors. Often we are rushing to eat a meal only to barely remember what it tasted like. Take some time with a chosen meal and really savor it. Put the meal together on a nice plate and take your time really noticing the flavors. Enjoy the process of eating each bite. If you cannot do this with a meal, make a cup of coffee or tea in the morning. Take the time to feel the warmth of the cup. Savor the smell. Feel the steam. Enjoy each sip. There has never been a better time to slow down and enjoy the things that we often take for granted.
  10. Yoga – Yoga is such a wonderful way to be mindful. However, I know that it does not appeal to everyone. If you have never given yoga a try, now is a GREAT time to do it. There are so many yoga instructors and studios offering free online classes while we are all stuck inside. If you have done it before and enjoy it, take time to add it to your day. Check out ww.soulcandyproject.com for free online yoga and relaxation classes or do a google search to find others. If yoga is not something that you love, try this relaxation pose…lay on your back with your legs either bent over the seat of a chair or your coach. Another version is to lay on your back as close as you can to a wall with your legs straight up the wall. Put a pillow under your head and maybe a blanket on your belly. Do this for about 5-10 minutes. This exercise is the equivalent of taking an hour long nap. It is a great way to relax!

If you are a middle or high school student right now and have other suggestions on ways to be mindful, I would love to hear from you. Comment on this blog or email me at mekellymurphy@gmail.com. I hope that you can find a way to bring peace and calm into your day!

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