10 Mindfulness Activities for High School Students
- Why is Mindfulness Important for High Schoolers… and What is it Exactly?
- 10 Mindfulness Practices for High School Students
How am I going to figure out what I should study in college? Where can I get in? Are my grades and scores good enough? How will I pay for college? What career do I want to pursue?
While CollegeVine offers free expert advice to help high school students manage the college search and application process—such as essay writing guidance, community forums and livestreams—it’s normal for teens to feel some stress about the unknown path ahead of them.
Why is Mindfulness Important for High Schoolers… and What is it Exactly?
But there’s good news. Research confirms that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. It improves physical and mental health as well as cognitive performance. So now is the time to learn how to develop mindfulness.
Associate professor and director of Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, Eric Loucks, PhD, defines mindfulness as paying attention to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally with curiosity, friendliness, gentleness—accepting how things are in this moment.
In his book The Mindful College Student: How to Succeed, Boost Well-Being & Build the Life you Want at University and Beyond, Loucks explains the benefits of mindfulness, writing, “The better we get at being mindful, the more fluid life becomes and the better we become at responding skillfully to each moment. It becomes easier for us to choose healthy coping strategies in the moment, such as taking a break and having a cup of tea outside under a tree, rather than demolishing a bag of chocolate chip cookies. It can also allow for faster recovery from stressors when they arise, as they inevitably do.”
10 Mindfulness Practices for High School Students
These 10 practices help you develop a lifelong skill—to experience the present without worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. Mindfulness helps you consciously respond, not react, to the steady stream of stimuli in life. Find the practices that work for you:
1. Mindful Breathing
Breathing is something we do 24/7, but most often without thinking about it. There are many types of mindful breathing techniques, such as calm breathing or diaphragmatic breathing that slows down your breath to reduce anxiety.
- Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly (for about 4 seconds)
- Hold your breath (for 1 or 2 seconds)
- Exhale slowly through the mouth (for about 4 seconds)
- Wait a few seconds before taking another breath
You can practice mindful breathing virtually anywhere, anytime (seated at your desk, on the metro, or in the school auditorium…, standing in line at the checkout line, the cafeteria, or at the bus stop…, or lying down before you start your day or as you are going to sleep).
2. Guided Meditation
There are several apps for guided meditations, such as Calm and Headspace, but there are also free apps, including Insight Timer, which offers an array of meditations to start your day, to end your day, reduce anxiety flares, and more.
3. Body Scan Meditation
The body scan is a grounding meditation that helps you focus your awareness on each part of your body from the bottom of your toes to the top of your head. You can lead yourself or use a guided meditation to tune into your body and notice sensations without judgment.
Writing down your thoughts, worries, and emotions, can help you process difficult feelings. Some people choose to journal first thing in the morning and write down a stream-of-consciousness to clear their minds.
5. Mindful Movement
Dance, yoga, tai chi, running, speed walking, … all help you forge a stronger connection to your body and increase production of the happy hormones called endorphins that calm your nervous system.
6. Mindful Eating
Too often we finish our meal without truly tasting or enjoying what we ate. To practice mindful eating, pick an aromatic food, like a strawberry. Before putting it in your mouth, close your eyes, breathe in the scent, and feel the texture of the surface. Then take a small bite, and another slowly until it is finished, focusing on the taste and the feel of the food in your mouth.
7. Connect with Nature
Spend quiet time walking or sitting in nature noticing the feel of the air, sun, precipitation, and ground beneath you; the sounds of insects, birds, and the wind; the patterns and colors of vegetation, bodies of water, and passing clouds; the smell of the earth, trees, and flowers.
8. Appreciate the Little Things in Life
In positive psychology research, gratitude is associated with happiness. Practice observing and giving thanks to the seemingly insignificant occurrences in your life that deserve recognition: the driver that lets you turn into a lane of traffic, the custodian who cleans your lunch table, the parent who cooks your favorite meal, and the friend who offers to help you with homework you are struggling with.
9. Listen to Soothing Music
Focus on the sounds and vibration of music, the feelings the music elicits, and the sensations you experience as you listen.
10. Set Daily Intentions
Before you read your texts, rush off to school, open your laptop, … take a few minutes to center yourself and set an intention for the day.
CollegeVine offers an array of guidance that helps reduce the stress of the college search and application process. Use CollegeVine’s school exploration tool to keep yourself organized and on track and our free chancing engine (that uses quantitative data and qualitative factors) to predict your odds of acceptance at hundreds of schools. Remember to build a balanced school list including safety, target, and reach schools.