Mindfulness is everywhere. From meditation to colouring, people have discovered how mindfulness helps us to appreciate our experiences on a whole new level.
If you have a teen struggling with depression, you might have heard about mindfulness before. Mindfulness might have been recommended to you as a strategy for managing depression and intrusive thoughts.
Read on to find out more about why mindfulness is good for teens struggling with depression.
Why Mindfulness Helps With Depression
So, what makes mindfulness so helpful for teens struggling with depression? And what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment. It involves taking notice of the world around you, especially those things that would normally be taken for granted - the sensation of breathing in and out, the sound of leaves rustling on the breeze, the smell of hot coffee.
Mindfulness helps teens struggling with depression, because it acts as a healing stopgap to our thoughts. You cannot think of two things at the same time - and if your mind is focused on your external surroundings, it isn’t labouring over your internal thoughts and anxieties.
Mindfulness builds internal resilience. Through focusing on the physical world, intrusive thoughts and negative feelings are easier to fight. Mindfulness also helps teens struggling with depression to rest and sleep better, equipping them to deal with the day-to-day challenges of life.
How Mindfulness Helps Students
Whilst teens are often portrayed in the media as sulky and ‘difficult’, the school years are often a genuinely difficult time for teens. Anxieties over failing exams. Bullying. Peer pressure. The school environment provides many external stressors into young people’s lives.
Mindfulness encourages students not to overthink their anxieties about coursework or their peers, and refocuses their minds onto the here and now.
By focusing on the present moment, mindfulness helps teens with depression to place their feelings about schoolwork and their peers into perspective, improving their experience of school life.
When a negative experience occurs, such as a lower mark on a test, it can be easy to spiral into negative thinking patterns, with teens believing they have failed or are ‘useless’. Mindfulness helps students to think in a more balanced way, focusing on how to resolve the issues, rather than on negative feelings or thoughts.
5 Mindfulness Techniques for Teens with Depression
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, including through focusing on the natural world or paying close attention to physical activities. Building mindfulness into your everyday routines for even just 10 minutes a day is enough to feel the benefits.
- Mindful breathing - This is one of the most popular mindfulness techniques. Focus on feeling your breath entering your lungs as you inhale, and then leaving your body as you exhale.
- Mindful activities - Focusing closely on physical activities can also draw your mind to the present moment. This can be a creative activity, like colouring, or a practical activity, like cooking or exercising.
- Tai Chi - Physical activity can be very helpful for boosting mental health, especially when incorporated with mindfulness. As Tai Chi is a martial art, it can also be helpful to encourage boys to get involved.
- Guided imagery walk - This is a very popular mindfulness technique in which you imagine yourself walking through a garden. This mind garden can be your own personal space to return to in difficult times. Imagine yourself walking through forests, past streams, and through wildflowers. Try to picture your walk in as much detail as possible.
- Sending kindness - Another mindfulness technique can be to think of people who have been kind to you, and send them 'kindness' back. Picture them closely in your mind, think of the kind things they have done for you, and send them back thoughts of loving kindness.
When you have a teen struggling with depression, it can be a very difficult time. The most important step is to seek extra support and treatment from local services, and remember to continue looking after your own mental health.
Mental health recovery isn't always a straight line - there will be good and bad days. Utilising strategies like mindfulness to help with day to day struggles can guide you through the dark times.