photo credit: Heidi Forbes Öste

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr

Before winter break and the holidays there is so much happening. Students have homework to complete. Projects are due. Tests are happening. Family events are scheduled. Athletes have games to attend. Oh and let’s not forget about one’s social life. Whew! It is overwhelming for teens. How are they supposed to handle it all?

Mindfulness can help students in a powerful way. It allows them to take time for themselves, quiet time that they don’t normally get. Even if it just a minute, every minute counts! See the effects of mindfulness on students in this video. Check out the video, Arrive, by Mindful Schools. It shows how just taking a small bit of time at the beginning of class can help relieve stress for students.  While in the video a teacher is guiding students, you don’t have to have a teacher to initiate mindfulness. You can do it on your own!

So how can you incorporate mindfulness into your schoolwork? Let’s do a quick exercise.

  •      Get into a comfortable sitting position. Put your hands on your lap or beside you.
  •      Start by taking one breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  •      Now, close your eyes (if it’s comfortable) and take one deep breath.
  •      Now, take three  normal breaths. Don’t try to change your breath.
  •      Now, take three breaths, this time noticing what you are feeling, hearing, touching, tasting, seeing (in your mind).
  •      If you feel any kind of stress take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  •      Notice where you feel your breath. Your stomach, your chest… Follow your breath in this spot. If you want to put one hand on the spot where you feel your breath. The place where you feel your breath is your anchor.

 Picture this in your mind

  • You are getting ready to take a test and feel relaxed because you are well prepared and know the material. You pick up your pencil and with a positive attitude you write your name at the top of the paper. You read and understand the directions. You work through the test easily completing each question. You answer the last question and have enough time to check your answers. You hand in your test and are confident that you will get the grade you want. Imagine rewarding yourself for your hard work and feeling satisfied with your success.

The goal with this exercise is for you to feel confident and relaxed to start studying, take a test, or take on any task. It is an easy and great exercise to do before a test, beginning a study session, or at the beginning of class. If at any time you lose focus during this exercise just take a deep breath and re-focus.

Helpful Tips

  • Follow your breath. If ever you feel off task or unfocused just come back to your breath.
  • Let thoughts enter your mind. Don’t let them distract you. If your mind chatter bothers you, use keywords to acknowledge it and return to your breath. For example you could say, “Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.” and come back to your breath.
  • Mindfulness may feel weird, but that’s because it is new. Like anything else it takes practice. You have to do it regularly to experience the full benefits.
  • If all else fails and ever you are having one of those days where you feel like you are going to break just breathe. Ride your breath. If you can add a little stretch up to to the sky and down to your toes that’s helpful too.

FREE Mindfulness Apps

  • Headspace
  • Breathe
  • My Smiling Mind
  • Insight Timer
  • Mindshift

Was this helpful? Find more help like this in the book, Don’t Worry Be Happy, a student’s guide to less stress and more success. Learn strategies that help you keep a positive mindset, defeat your inner critic, practice mindfulness, persevere, and much more. Obtain the motivation and inspiration you need to reach your goals. Discover a new mindset for success while searching inside yourself.

Melanie Black is a trained Academic Life Coach and mindfulness educator. She is passionate about helping others and learning all she can in the process. With ten years of experience in the field of education, she is determined to help students succeed in school and life. “ One of my goals is to continue to be a humanitarian who helps our local community. I am passionate about my relentless pursuit of knowledge and desire to help others.“