Taking a “Breathr” - Mindfulness for Kids & Youth

Kimberley, Project Manager on June 26, 2015

In the increasingly fast-paced world that we live in today, we are starting to hear more and more about how much stress and pressure is placed on kids at young ages. Chaotic routines, higher expectations at school, and situations with friends and other peers can create very stressful environments for kids.

Since it’s unlikely that the world will slow down for us any time soon, it’s important to think about how we can build resilience in our children so that they can better manage and cope with situations which could otherwise become overwhelming.

The practice of mindfulness has recently received significant attention in the media for its usefulness in promoting social and emotional well-being and contributing to the ability to manage difficult or stressful situations. The practice of mindfulness is all about encouraging awareness of oneself in the present moment, without judgment. Examples of mindfulness practices include body scans, guided breathing meditations, and other simple exercises which can help us to refocus on the present, and calm the mind. When you are being mindful, you focus on keeping thoughts in the present moment, and noticing feelings as they come and go.

While initial studies on mindfulness focused primarily on adults, practicing mindfulness can also have benefits for children and youth.  As a result, mindfulness practice is increasingly being integrated into teacher trainings and school curricula. Many schools and school districts in BC have adopted simple mindfulness practices which become a regular part of the school or classroom routine.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it is flexible and accessible. It can be practiced in many different ways, and can be done at almost any time. For those who have truly embraced mindfulness, it becomes more than just a part of a routine – it becomes a way of life.

The Health Literacy team at BC Children's Hospital, along with a number of different experts and youth, is in in the process of developing “Breathr” – a new app to help introduce the concept of mindfulness and create an easy access point for those who are new to this practice.

The app will focus on providing opportunities to try out a range of mindfulness practices, while also drawing young people in teaching them interesting facts about the brain science behind those practices. For example, did you know that regularly practicing mindfulness can improve your relationships with others? Or that it has been shown to cause changes to the parts of the brain which affect memory, sense of self, empathy and stress?

Our aim is to show youth that mindfulness can be fun, easy to try, and that it can have very real benefits for their overall health and well-being. Stay tuned to learn more as we continue to develop this new resource!

For more information on mindfulness, visit:

http://keltymentalhealth.ca/healthy-living/mindfulness

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Teaching+kids+keep+calm/11047611/story.html

http://www.mindfulschools.org/resources/healthy-habits-of-mind/

Image courtesy of Mitchell Joyce

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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.