The themes that rule our lives today are, “I just don’t have time” and “I’m exhausted.” We are overbooked, overworked and overwhelmed. Just getting done what must be done fills our days. The notion of finding precious time to learn how to create balance and to reduce our stress, to soothe our aching souls seems simply out of the question.
The demands of our time never seem to end. Our jobs need us, our children need us, and, increasingly, our aging parents need us. We don’t get enough sleep, we eat too many meals on the run, we take too many pills and we don’t spend enough time with our children and the people we love.
What is Mindfulness?
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is learning to pay attention in the present moment. As a result, mindfulness increases joy, happiness, and calmness. Mindfulness stops your mind from racing like a runaway train. For example. we can find ourselves being “swept away” by the current of our thoughts, feelings, worries, fears, and stresses.
Mindfulness teaches you to “unplug” from your routine tasks. As a result, it is easier to be present, or “wake up” to your magnificent life. In other words, mindfulness is learning how to develop awareness in your life.
Mindfulness also asks us to return to nature. Children are not spending much time in nature anymore. For example, a recent study shows children only spend seven minutes a day outside.
The Current Challenges Our Children Face
Our children are overly stressed. Families, and especially children, are experiencing incredible levels of stress. Research on children and stress shows that violence, divorce, and health problems cause stress. Families, the nucleus of a child’s life, must address the problem of stress.
Our children’s stress level has a direct effect on the learning process and academic performance. Childhood stress leads to adult stress patterns as we mature into adulthood.
The Symptoms of Stress
- Neck, back pain
- GI problems: upset stomach, cramps, gas, diarrhea, and constipation
- Sleep disturbances
- Asthma or shortness of breath
- Weight gain or loss
- Skin problems
- Immune system suppressed: more flu, colds, and infections
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Depression or moodiness
- Memory problems
- Lack of concentration, can’t think clearly
- Anger, tantrums
- Increase in arguments
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Anger and tantrums
- Quite and no responsiveness
Mindfulness Research Shows:
- Reduces stress. Children learning mindfulness tools can reduce stress and lessen pain, Rozman and Pediatric Nursing Journal (2002) reports.
- Decreases anxiety and helps self-esteem. Mindful practices have shown to decrease anxiety and increase self-esteem. (Kabat-Zinn et al 1992)
- Decreases physical pain. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease physical pain in those with chronic pain. (Kabat-Zinn)
- Boots your immune system. Mindfulness practices increase your immune system, and as a result give you an immune boost. (Kabat-Zinn et al 1998)
Benefits of a Mindful Family Result In:
- Better physical and mental health
- Better resistance to stress
- Better communication skills
- More peaceful and relaxed family life
- Better social support; compassion, listening, and awareness for family members
- More intimacy and stronger social connection in the family