There’s a good chance that when you were a child no one talked much about stress. Especially not about stress in children.
But research shows that children are experiencing stress at levels that can affect their academic performance and their mental health – and parents are often not aware of it.1
Here at GEA, we believe that helping students succeed during high-stress times, such as sitting for entrance tests or the HSC, includes caring for the child’s mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as their academic success. Mindfulness is one tool we highly recommend.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness activities promote what’s often referred to as “presence”, or being fully present in the moment.
Most of our modern-day stress involves worrying about what might happen in the future, replaying stressful things from the past, or thinking about things that are happening somewhere else.
None of those exist in the present moment, so being fully here, right now, removes that stress.
Mindfulness exercises may include meditations, breathing exercises, sitting quietly and still, stretching or spending time being aware of what you’re experiencing through your senses.
We’ve included some resources on mindfulness techniques at the bottom of this article.
Why reduce stress?
The stress response in our body, often called the flight or fight response, is a series of responses our body goes through when we detect a threat, including changes to blood flow, heart rate and support for internal systems. This can save our lives when we face real, physical threat.
But modern life, busyness, financial stress, reduced sleep time, scary or tense TV shows, and even social media, can all trigger the stress response. For many of us, that means most of the time our body is in stress mode.
This exhausts the organs that work hard when the stress response is active (adrenal glands, heart) and creates issues with those systems not supported well during stress (digestion, repair).
On top of these physical issues, chronic stress can have a negative affect on our mental health, such as exhaustion, burn out, anxiety disorders and depression.
Clearly, reducing stress is important, for us and our kids!
Academic benefits of mindfulness
As well as improving health and well-being, mindfulness can have a positive impact on children’s academic performance.
A calm and clear mind more effectively retains information while studying.
Students experienced in mindful practices can more easily reduce anxiety during exams, performances or when giving presentations. It allows them to be less reactive and employ higher levels of thinking, focus, recall and presence in those moments.
It can also help them keep a balanced view of themselves and their lives, reducing the likelihood of spiraling into panic or depression if things don’t go well.
Resources to learn more
Here’s a great overview article about mindfulness for children
This website offers an app that can help create a daily mindfulness practice and may be useful for adults and teens, or families who do their mindfulness practice together.
This app is designed to help parents teach mindful meditations to their children