What is Mindfulness?

Life is busy and there is a tendency to rush through our day without stopping to notice what is going on around us.

Paying more attention to the present moment – to our own thoughts and feelings and to the world around us – can improve our mental wellbeing.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness".

When we take time to be mindful, it can help us relax and enjoy life more and understand ourselves better.

We can all take steps to develop this in our own lives; mindfulness and meditation practice can help us all change the way we think and feel about our experiences – especially stressful experiences.

Through mindfulness exercises, we allow ourselves freedom to pay attention to the present moment, using techniques centred on meditation and breathing.

Recent research from the University of Oxford shows that people who regularly practise mindfulness or meditation can achieve reductions of nearly 60% in their anxiety levels and 40% in their overall stress.

Additionally, research explicitly carried out on teaching staff who have adopted a mindfulness practice has indicated a reduction in ‘burn-out’ and an improvement in classroom performance.

Many of our partner schools will have experienced our mindfulness workshops for staff and, more recently, those for students too.

There has also always been a mindfulness element to our Exam Stress and Anxiety workshops for primary aged children.

If you would like more information, visit our Mindfulness section for more details of our in-school training for staff and pupils.

Can Mindfulness help at home?

Some staff, parents and children may find that using some mindfulness techniques at home may be helpful in this current situation of uncertainty.

We know that being mindful has a positive effect on our wellbeing, and helps us to manage anxiety and to promote a sense of compassion.

All these elements are particularly important for children, young people and adults at this time and can be particularly useful when we feel overwhelmed.

Some activities to share with your child

It may be a time for anxious thoughts right now, even for children who don’t usually feel anxiety.

Being creative is a good way of dealing with difficult thoughts or emotions; we can place them on the page and think about them in a different way.

Sometimes just the act of expressing confusing feelings through art can help us feel better, and of course it helps to distract your child and passes some time.

We have included some activities below, devised and used regularly by some of our school workers; you might like to try some of these at home with your child:

Click here to download our Art for Heart booklet - you could work through it with your child while they are at home. These activities are a mix of mindful and creative ways of exploring and expressing feelings of 'being in the moment'.

You can approach these activities in any way that feels right, use a variety of materials you may have to hand. Remember there is no right or wrong way of working on these - just enjoy the process.

You can use our Mindfulness Cards with your child to help talk about feelings, focus on breathing and to 'switch off' from anxious thoughts.

Choose a mindful time of the day, ask your child to pick an activity and have some fun together.

Childline's Calm Zone - There are lots of way to feel calmer. Visit the Calm Zone to try out some of breathing exercises, activities, games and videos to help let go of stress.

Susan Kaiser Greenland – an American mindfulness teacher, Susan was one of the first people to bring mindfulness into schools.If you have a look at her website you will find there is a wealth of information and resources for teachers and families including:

and an excellent FAQ section which deals with all sorts of questions on Mindfulness and Meditation for children: