School is all about spending hours sat behind a school desk
and stressing over just about everything, right?
Unless you have been living on another planet you will have noticed that mindfulness is everywhere: from social media to newspapers to doctors recommending it to patients. Mindfulness has been found to reduce blood pressure and help with mental health concerns such as stress and anxiety. In recent years, a campaign has begun to have meditation and yoga added to the national curriculum. For some, this feels like yet another thing for teachers to worry about. But could mindfulness in schools be the answer to the current mental health problem? Start by encouraging children to take a five minute break while still seated on their school chairs
and particapate in a body scan courtesy of Fablefy.
How do they feel now?
According to the NSPCC, there has been a 35% increase in the number of children seeking help for mental health issues and this number is only going to go up. The pressures of social media mean that any bullying happening in schools follows children home. Similarly, images of 'perfect' bodies are appearing all over the internet, leading to low self-esteem in boys and girls. With a constant stream of world news in most homes, children are increasingly affected by events such as terrorism as they struggle to decipher what is happening close by and what is happening far away. For children and adolescents of all ages, the world can feel like a scary place.
As educators, dealing with this problem can be challenging. Resources are stretched as it is. With so many children to help and so many problems that can occur, how is it possible to support all the pupils in our schools?
Mindfulness is a technique to help anyone cope with life's events, whether that's bereavement, study and work pressures, arguments or wider issues causing psychic dissidence on a daily basis. Mindfulness uses techniques such as focusing on the breath, or using touch points like the feet on the ground to help calm us down. These techniques are practised at times of rest and once they become normalised, can be used in times of stress to reduce the impact of anxiety on our bodies and minds. Mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy is being increasingly used by psychologists and therapists to help individuals of all ages deal with causes of stress - it has been found to not only help stress and anxiety but physical symptoms such as fatigue and pain.
In schools, mindfulness can be slotted into a few minutes each day. For faith schools, adding a few moments of focusing on the breath before or after prayers and for none faith schools, doing the same before break time or at the start of the day. Mindfulness has been proven to have so many benefits that the children in our schools deserve to have access to it and teachers and carers are bound to see its benefits in their students.