Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team
Teenage is a turbulent time in everyone’s life. With our bodies and lives rapidly changing before we even have time to process it, it can get quite cumbersome to keep up.
Mindfulness can save the day in these instances, giving you the time and capacity to just be in the moment. At that moment, all the worries about having to figure out your entire life, every single thing having the possibility to make or break it, etc. can be left at the door.
Mindfulness as a habit, if developed during teenage itself, can be useful at all ages and stages of life. It can bring clarity and peace in times of overwhelming turbulence.
In this blog, we highlight various activities that can be practiced with teenagers to foster mindfulness.
Activities to practice mindfulness among teens
Mindfulness as a skill and activity can help everyone in being more present in “the now”. Just like quotes can be motivational tools for teachers, similarly, for teenagers, this can be a useful tool to navigate and understand all the changes happening to and around them. Various simple and fun classroom activities can be used to inculcate mindfulness.
1. Color it yours
For this activity, you will need drawing sheets, paints, colors, and someplace naturally or architecturally scenic where the learners can sit and draw without being interrupted.
Every learner will get a sheet and colors or paints of their own choice. They will then be free to roam around on their own till they can find something they want to draw. Then they can sit their muse, drawing it and filling it with colors of their choice and imagination. It is important to tell the learners that this is not a competition but just their time to let their creative selves take over.
Immersing themselves in the activity and the scenery, may it be something natural like the clouds or the flowers or architectural like a lamppost or a building, the learners will step out of their thoughts for the moment. They will not only try to emulate the characteristics of their muse on paper but also in their minds. This will create a state of flow where they are so engaged that they don’t even feel the time passing.
2. Journal It
For this activity, the educator will need to prepare prompts that the learners can relate to. This can range from remembering and describing events that made them smile, feel valued, accomplished, loved, etc.
These prompts can be assigned to the learners at the end of every day or week. It is important to make sure that the learner sets about 15-20 minutes apart to journal and that this journal remains private unless the learner themselves wants to share something from it.
Journaling about pleasant or unpleasant things that happened throughout the day can help in getting a better perspective on them. Taking it out on paper can feel like a cathartic experience for unpleasant emotions and a nostalgic one for pleasant emotions. This will make the individual more in touch with themselves and their emotions.
3. Take a walk
For this activity, the learners will be required to go to an open or outdoor space with a notepad and pen. They will be given 20-30 minutes to just walk around and write everything they notice during their walk. This could include the colors or objects they see, the people they meet, the interactions they witness, the thoughts and feelings they have, etc.
This activity will encourage the individual to be more mindful and present in their environment. It will make them more cognizant of themselves as well as those around them.
5-4-3-2-1 is a famous meditation and mindfulness technique. It doesn’t require any materials. The individuals just need to sit in a silent room, observe, and name five things they can see, four things they can smell, three things they can touch and feel, two things they can hear, and one thing they can taste.
This technique helps ground the individual in their current reality. It brings the mind back from wandering to focusing and staying in the present moment, being more aware of themselves and their surroundings.
5. Immersive art
This activity will require going to a museum or an art gallery. Virtual tours using VR headsets would work just as well. The learners will get the chance to experience art made by various famous artists and also listen to the history and significance of the art as well as the artist.
Through this activity, learners will be able to step out of their minds and see the world from someone else’s eyes. Hearing about the famous artists’ lives and inspirations will also help them immerse themselves and find a perspective on their own lives.
6. Gratefully yours
This activity will require the educator to set up a gratitude board. Each learner can write one thing or person they were or are grateful for during the day. At the end of the day, the gratitude list is read out loud in the class.
This helps in setting an intention for the day, where the focus is changed from all the stressful situations to the little, joyful moments. Thinking about what they are grateful for also helps put things in perspective where the individual consciously sits and recalls everything good that happened to them during the day. This also makes the learners more cognizant of the need to be good to others so as to add to their list of things they are grateful for.
7. Affirmations for the day
For this activity, the educator will have to prepare 2-3 affirmations for the day. These could be written on the board or just said out loud during class. The affirmations could also be personally made by each individual for themselves. The idea is to repeat these affirmations before starting the day.
Writing affirmations and saying them out loud helps in getting intentional about what the individual wants out of their day. It brings their mind back from the worries of the past and the future and to the present, the day that is in their hands, waiting to be seized.
The educator will be required to either write or find a story suitable for this activity. The story will be read out loud in the class, either by the educator or by a learner. The reader can even do various character voices and add sound effects wherever required.
Listening to a story virtually transports an individual to a different life and reality. They actively create this reality using their imagination as they get more and more engrossed in the story. This does not only enhance their awareness of the current surroundings but also of the fictitious ones the stories have built in their minds.
9. Back to nature
This activity would require a visit to a natural setting. This could include something as small as a park to something as exceptional as a mountain. The learners will be sent into a natural setting like a garden, a riverbank, a mountainside, etc. with no task at hand but to just be. They will not be given a checklist or something they could compete over; they will just be told to observe themselves and their surroundings.
Immersing oneself in nature, just dipping your toes in the water, looking at the vivid patterns of butterfly wings, or smelling the fragrant flowers can do wonders for your mind. It doesn’t only help the individual become more present but also rejuvenates and energizes them to refocus their priorities and become more mindful.
10. Dancing and stretching
For this activity, the educator will need an empty room or outdoor space where the learners have enough space to dance. They will also need a sound system with speakers on which they can play music.
The idea behind this activity is simple. The learners are brought together in the room and asked to dance. This dance can be of any type the learners are comfortable with, hip-hop, breakdancing, traditional and folk dances, etc. The steps can either be directed by the educator standing in the front, or the learners can be free to dance however they please.
Physical activities like dancing and stretching focus the individual’s attention on their body. Instead of thinking about everything and everyone in their environment and worrying about different things like what they need to complete today, individuals can just have a moment to breathe and focus on themselves.
Mindfulness today, benefits in adulthood and teenage?
Mindfulness is being increasingly adopted in therapeutic practice as well as in regular lives by people who recognize its potential for countless benefits. Mindfulness has been known to be helpful with daily life stress as well as psychological and physiological concerns.
For our emotional and psychological lives, a study found that mindfulness can help counter, mitigate, and better cope with several unpleasant emotions like habitual worrying and rumination.
Mindfulness-based meditation techniques have also been successfully used with teenagers to help with and counter inappropriate behavior. A study in 2021 study found that mindfulness-based interventions increased self-control and reduced bullying behavior in teenagers. Another study revealed that higher levels of mindfulness are correlated with low self-criticism, social anxiety, and test anxiety among teenagers. Researchers also revealed that mindfulness could aid in increasing graphic creativity among Latin American teenagers.
The benefits of mindfulness cannot be overstated. Both for adults as well as teenagers, mindfulness has an immense capacity to enhance well-being. It is a skill that can be learned and should be taught. Several activities that can help with learning and practicing mindfulness in daily life include Color it yours, take a Walk, 5-4-3-2-1, story time, dancing and stretching, etc. Mindfulness helps enhance an individual’s physical as well as psychological health and should be inculcated in the daily routine as early in life as possible.
- Arch, J. J., & Landy, L. N. (2015). Emotional benefits of mindfulness. In K. W. Brown, J. D. Creswell, & R. M. Ryan (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 208–224). The Guilford Press.
- Liu, X., Xiao, R., & Tang, W. (2021). The Impact of School-Based Mindfulness Intervention on Bullying Behaviors Among Teenagers: Mediating Effect of Self-Control. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. https://doi.org/10.1177_08862605211052047
- Cunha, M., & Paiva, M. J. (2012). Text anxiety in adolescents: The role of self-criticism and acceptance and mindfulness skills. The Spanish journal of psychology, 15(2), 533-543.
- Justo, C. F., Mañas, I. M., & Ayala, E. S. (2014). Improving the graphic creativity levels of Latin American high school students currently living in Spain by means of a mindfulness program. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 132, 229-234.