What to Know
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of your thoughts and feelings in a moment, without judging them or negatively reacting to them. Practicing mindfulness can help students manage everyday stress and emotions. It can also help them be more in control of their feelings and actions.
What Can Schools Do?
Deliver Classroom-Based Mindfulness Education
Mindfulness lessons help students be aware of the connection between their minds and bodies. Lessons might include:
- Learning about stress, including how it affects the body.
- Learning ways to manage stress, develop self-control, and build healthy relationships.
- Practicing mindful breathing, meditation, and movement, such as yoga.
- Discussing how to practice mindfulness in everyday life.
Some mindfulness lessons may be in a longer format, like in health or wellness education classes. Others may be brief sessions throughout the school day. Students and staff could practice mindfulness during morning meetings or advisory periods, after recess, or before the start of a regular class.
Learning about mindfulness in school can increase students’ use of positive coping behaviors and reduce anxiety, symptoms of depression, and negative coping behaviors.
Dedicate Time for Students to Independently Practice Mindfulness
Giving students time to practice mindfulness every day on their own can support their mental health and well-being. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and takes just a few minutes.
Giving students time to practice mindfulness on their own can decrease anxiety and increase resilience (being able to “bounce back” when bad things happen).
Offer Small Group Mindfulness Activities
Small group mindfulness activities give students an opportunity to learn more about mindfulness and how to use it to cope with strong feelings or emotions. These groups are often led by a counselor. Small group mindfulness practice can help students:
- Understand their thoughts and feelings.
- Learn and practice skills for managing emotions in a positive way.
Small group mindfulness activities can decrease stress, feelings of anxiety, and symptoms of depression for students.
Focus on Equity
- Explore mindfulness practice as a way to advance equity. Mindfulness activities can help teachers and students create a more inclusive classroom. For example, mindfulness activities can help teachers and students reflect on their assumptions and behaviors in ways that can help identify and reduce bias.
- Include students in the development of mindfulness activities. For example, ask students what visualization strategies they like best or let them lead mindfulness exercises throughout the year.
To support the implementation of mindfulness strategies, leaders can:
- Train teachers and staff on the importance of mindfulness.
- Train teachers and staff on strategies for building mindfulness into the day.
- Offer mindfulness opportunities for staff and teachers.
For example, leaders could give staff a mindfulness minute every morning or offer mindfulness projects, including student-led projects, at the district level.
Remember that mindfulness activities may not be useful for everyone. Invite teachers, staff, and students to incorporate mindfulness into their lives, but do not pressure them to do so.