The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” Although there are several disciplines and practices (e.g., yoga, tai chi, qigong, etc.) that can cultivate mindfulness, most of the literature and empirical data illustrating the benefits of mindfulness for teenage mental health has focused on mindful meditation. Meditation is defined as “a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.” Scientific evidence highlights several benefits of mindfulness for adolescent mental health, such as:
- Research has shown that teaching teenager’s mindfulness can impact their cognitive skills, particularly the executive functions (i.e., a person’s ability to pay attention, switch focus, organize information, remember details, engage in planning, etc.) performed by the brain.
- Clinical findings indicate that the tranquility effects of practicing mindfulness can be directly correlated to a reduction in one’s stress levels, producing a positive effect on one’s immune system, and boosting one’s mood.
- Research indicates that mindfulness practices lead to an increase in the production of theta and alpha waves, which are the brain wave frequencies associated with enhanced learning abilities and overall mental well-being.
- Another study concluded that mindfulness practices are linked to augmented “changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”
- A 2017 study suggests that mindfulness training can cause significant increases in teenagers’ life satisfaction and significant decreases in depression and anxiety.
- According to a 2019 study, mindfulness-based interventions can help treat or reduce symptoms associated with certain teenage mental health disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, insomnia, etc.) and/ or common teenage challenges (e.g., sleep issues, stress related to playing competitive sports, effects of bullying, etc.).
- Results from one study indicate that participants who regularly practiced meditation throughout the study had lowered the thickness of their arterial walls, and further concludes that “meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure levels and reduce cardiovascular disease risk in adults and adolescents.”
- A 2010 study shows that mindfulness training can also improve classroom behavior by honing student focus and reducing disruptions.
Mindfulness is associated with a wide range of emotional, physical, and psychological benefits, all of which can improve a teenager’s mental health and enrich one’s quality of life.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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