Mindfulness Benefits Teens Academically

Posted by M C on Saturday, April 13, 2013 Under: Adolescents
A recent study done by the University of California Santa Barbara shows that just two weeks of mindfulness practice can improve the cognitive abilities in teenagers.
"Mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory."

Mindfulness is the ability to manage your attention in the way that best serves you, and allows you to let go of internal or external distractions.  Teenagers are often inundated with distractions, thoughts, and worries that get in the way of being able to perform at their true potential academically, which is often a source of stress and angst for them and their parents.  By learning ways of harnessing their attention through mindfulness practice, teenagers can not only learn and absorb new information more effectively, but retain it and use the information in ways that can help them at school and in their daily lives.  

Just think of times when you were in class or at a new job where you were trying to learn new material.  If you were able to be fully present and engaged in the moment, you probably noticed how much more you got out of that experience.  If on the other hand, you were preoccupied with a worry, or if there was a lot of distractions going on around you, you probably felt like you didn't absorb much of the information being taught.  The ability to quiet the mind and to fully participate in these types of moments is crucial in comprehending new material.

When children start school, the first things teachers often tell them is, "Pay attention.  Focus.  Concentrate"  But they don't often get taught HOW to do that!  It's easier for some, but for many children and teenagers in this day and age, there are so many distractions and stimuli both inside and around them, that their attention is often scattered, and they often feel like there isn't anything they can do about it.  Plus, the distractions inside their minds like, "is the guy I like going to talk to me today" or "I hate the way I look" can often be more compelling than the material being taught, since our minds naturally pay more attention to emotionally charged thoughts and images than to neutral or less stimulating material.  

Mindfulness teaches us HOW to focus and concentrate on what is important at that moment, and how to better determine what is important or effective.  It teaches us how to notice distractions, and to table the thoughts that we want to get back to later.  For instance, when we are trying to fall asleep and we start having thoughts of items we need to do the next day.  An untrained mind will often get caught in these thoughts without realizing it, which then leads to anxiety and stress, which hardly is helpful when trying to relax and fall asleep.  If you have been practicing mindfulness, you can better notice those thoughts with some distance, and realize they are not going to be helpful to get into right then.  Once you set the intention around not getting into those thoughts, you can more successfully shift gears and move your attention towards things that are less emotionally stimulating, and have an easier time falling asleep.  

It just takes practice, like with anything new, before you can start using mindfulness to concentrate and perform better.  DBT is based on mindfulness, because of its importance in regulating emotions and reducing problematic behaviors.  Mindfulness skills are so important in so many ways, for people of all ages.  It's never too late to learn them, either!  Come in and see me if you'd like you or your teenager to learn these valuable skills. 

In : Adolescents 


Tags: mindfulness  teenagers  adolescents 

Mindfulness Benefits Teens Academically

Posted by M C on Saturday, April 13, 2013 Under: Adolescents
A recent study done by the University of California Santa Barbara shows that just two weeks of mindfulness practice can improve the cognitive abilities in teenagers.
"Mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory."

Mindfulness is the ability to manage your attention in the way that best serves you, and allows you to let go of internal or external distractions.  Teenagers are often inundated with distractions, thoughts, and worries that get in the way of being able to perform at their true potential academically, which is often a source of stress and angst for them and their parents.  By learning ways of harnessing their attention through mindfulness practice, teenagers can not only learn and absorb new information more effectively, but retain it and use the information in ways that can help them at school and in their daily lives.  

Just think of times when you were in class or at a new job where you were trying to learn new material.  If you were able to be fully present and engaged in the moment, you probably noticed how much more you got out of that experience.  If on the other hand, you were preoccupied with a worry, or if there was a lot of distractions going on around you, you probably felt like you didn't absorb much of the information being taught.  The ability to quiet the mind and to fully participate in these types of moments is crucial in comprehending new material.

When children start school, the first things teachers often tell them is, "Pay attention.  Focus.  Concentrate"  But they don't often get taught HOW to do that!  It's easier for some, but for many children and teenagers in this day and age, there are so many distractions and stimuli both inside and around them, that their attention is often scattered, and they often feel like there isn't anything they can do about it.  Plus, the distractions inside their minds like, "is the guy I like going to talk to me today" or "I hate the way I look" can often be more compelling than the material being taught, since our minds naturally pay more attention to emotionally charged thoughts and images than to neutral or less stimulating material.  

Mindfulness teaches us HOW to focus and concentrate on what is important at that moment, and how to better determine what is important or effective.  It teaches us how to notice distractions, and to table the thoughts that we want to get back to later.  For instance, when we are trying to fall asleep and we start having thoughts of items we need to do the next day.  An untrained mind will often get caught in these thoughts without realizing it, which then leads to anxiety and stress, which hardly is helpful when trying to relax and fall asleep.  If you have been practicing mindfulness, you can better notice those thoughts with some distance, and realize they are not going to be helpful to get into right then.  Once you set the intention around not getting into those thoughts, you can more successfully shift gears and move your attention towards things that are less emotionally stimulating, and have an easier time falling asleep.  

It just takes practice, like with anything new, before you can start using mindfulness to concentrate and perform better.  DBT is based on mindfulness, because of its importance in regulating emotions and reducing problematic behaviors.  Mindfulness skills are so important in so many ways, for people of all ages.  It's never too late to learn them, either!  Come in and see me if you'd like you or your teenager to learn these valuable skills. 

In : Adolescents 


Tags: mindfulness  teenagers  adolescents