Dr Frédéric Benoit, psychiatrist and Catherine Malboeuf Hurtubise, PH. D., psychologist and teacher
Finding inner calm, taking stock of their emotions, listening to their body and thoughts, and even being aware of what others are thinking, can all help teens to nurture their mental health on a daily basis. Below are a few techniques that you can share with them, and perhaps use in your own everyday life as well.
Mindfulness: a valuable resource 🤝 for young people
Practicing mindfulness consists of focusing wholly on the present, on what is going on both inside and outside of yourself. When thoughts and emotions get to be a bit heavy, mindfulness techniques can help young people take a break and reflect upon their here and now, and their needs.3.
Teens can use mindfulness to:
- Better handle conflict;
- Stay calm when dealing with complex emotions;
- Manage stress on a daily basis,2,4 leaving them better equipped to face life’s challenges.
Mindfulness to the rescue at home 🏡 and at school 🧑🏫
Practicing mindfulness meditation at school can help teenage students be more attentive in the classroom, and it creates a positive work environment that is more conducive to learning.1 Adopting a daily mindfulness practice in the classroom or at home can help teens in a number of ways:
– It lowers depression and anxiety symptoms;
– It reduces aggressiveness;
– It helps them take on a positive outlook;
– It promotes increased self-awareness and fosters the development of social skills5.
Regular and prolonged practice of mindfulness meditation, which stimulates areas of the brain dedicated to thinking and planning, has been proven to have positive, lasting effects on behaviour. And practicing mindfulness is an effective way to tackle teen anxiety.
The how-tos of mindfulness meditation
Are you a teacher or parent interested in mindfulness meditation for the young people in your life? We’ve put together a few podcasts that can help them learn to practice mindfulness, whether at home or at school.
Listen to the podcasts (only available in french for now):
And to increase your odds of winning them over, make sure to take a look at how you can introduce young people to meditation and help them reap the full benefits of a good practice. Are you interested in developing your students’ self-esteem, optimism, joie de vivre or relationship skills? Have a look at our educational worksheets, which present simple, practical and fun exercises to do in the classroom.Learn more
Mentalization: a powerful way to practice self-love and love for others
Where mindfulness allows you to observe yourself, mentalization allows you to more effectively observe those around you.
Most of the time, we are practicing mentalization without even knowing it. When we notice an emotion surface, whether from ourselves or from another person, we automatically reflect it in our own behaviour by adjusting our posture, our expression or our tone of voice.
When we adopt an attitude based on mentalization, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to assess not only what’s on our mind, but what’s on the mind of other people as well. “Why am I thinking and feeling things the way I am? Why is my anger getting the better of me?”
Asking ourselves such questions gives us more context to analyze what other people are thinking and feeling. “They’re not acting normal today, and they seem to be in a bad mood. What’s going on? Maybe something’s wrong. Did I do something to offend them?”
Essentially, mentalization allows us to be aware of what others are thinking and feeling. And, in doing so, be more conscious of our own thoughts and feelings as well.
How is mentalization useful for teens?
Mentalization allows young people to interact more effectively with others, because they put themselves in their shoes. This in turn lets them:
– Influence others, and be influenced in turn;
– Take other perspectives into consideration ;
– Better understand themselves;
– Be more tolerant and open.
How to adopt an attitude based on mentalization?
For many teens, social interaction can be a source of anxiety or negative thoughts. When the teen in your life is faced with a difficult situation, you can invite them to take stock of the situation and take a moment to observe their thoughts, feelings and any physical sensations these may bring about.
They can ask themselves things like this:
• What am I feeling right now? Can I put a name to my emotions?
• How is my body responding to these emotions?
• Why am I reacting this way?
They can then look inside themselves 🧐 to find out why the other person acted or reacted the way they did, doing some real detective 🕵 work to come up with various possibilities.
MAYBE... MAYBE... MAYBE...
- The other person is going through some hard times themselves;
- The other person misinterpreted what I said;
- The other person was just tired, and in a bad mood as a result;
And now ?
It’s not important to find the answers right away. By getting creative and asking these few simple questions, we’ve already taken a big step toward improving the relationship with the other person. And sometimes, this technique can help us confirm any suspicions we may have had. It’s really the contemplation that matters—this is what will help teens improve their social skills and understand each other better.
1. SEMPLE, Randy J., et autres. « Mindfulness Goes to School: Things Learned (so far) from Research and Real-World Experiences », Psychology in the Schools, vol. 54 (1), 30 novembre 2016, p. 25. Également disponible en ligne : https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21981
2. CARSLEY, Dana, et autres. « Effectiveness of Mindfulness Interventions for Mental Health in Schools: A Comprehensive Meta-analysis », Mindfulness, vol. 9 (3), 23 octobre 2017, p. 693–707. Également disponible en ligne : https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0839-2
3. CANBY, Nicholas K., et autres. « A Brief Mindfulness Intervention for Healthy College Students and Its Effects on Psychological Distress, Self-Control, Meta-Mood, and Subjective Vitality », Mindfulness, vol. 6 (5), 18 novembre 2014, p. 1071–1081. Également disponible en ligne : https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0356-5
4. ZENNER, Charlotte, et autres. « Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—A systematic review and meta-analysis », Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, 30 juin 2014, p. 603. Également disponible en ligne : https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00603
5. Malboeuf-Hurtubise, Catherine et Éric Lacourse. Mission méditation : Pour des élèves épanouis, calmes et concentrés, Québec, Éditions Midi Trente, 2016, 95 p.