Mindfulness exercises for children (adults can do them too)

Mindfulness has been all the rage with CEOs, in the workplace, and in startup scenes, but people of all ages can (and should) benefit from this popular movement. Especially considering the fact that children are facing higher levels of stress at younger and younger ages… which may be taking a significant toll on their health.

In fact, children who experienced three or more stressful events were six times more likely to have physical or mental health problems or a learning disorder than those who had no stressful experiences, says University of Florida researchers who analyzed data from nearly 96,000 children across the United States who took part in the National Survey for Child Health.

“The kids who have the highest number of adverse experiences have the highest likelihood of having multiple conditions. It is not one poor health outcome; it is a whole slew of poor outcomes across the board,” study author Melissa Bright, a research coordinator at the University of Florida’s Institute of Child Health Policy, said in a university news release.

Chronic stress can even trigger changes in a child’s developing neuroendocrine and immune systems that lead to poor control of the stress response and a reduced ability to resist disease.

Suddenly, taking 5 minutes out of a child’s busy school day to de-stress and come back to earth seems like a pretty good idea. Here’s how;

Take a break from moving
Stand up tall and do 10 jumping jacks.
When you’re done, place your hand on your heart. Feel it beating fast.
Ask: What happens once you’ve stopped moving? Does it slow down?

Focus on breathing
Lie on your back and with your favourite stuffed animal* on your stomach.
Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Another. Keep breathing deeply.
Ask: What’s happening to your toy as you breathe? Is it moving? Why?
How does it feel when you take a deep breath?

*For adults simply substitute your favourite stuffed animal for a pillow – or stick with the stuffed animal! No one will know 🙂