Mindfulness and School Kids: The Need for Soothing SpacesCreated by:
Known the whole world over as The Enlightened One, Lord Buddha epitomizes calmness and serenity. Built on his very principles of peace of mind leading to the wellness of both mind and body is the concept of mindfulness in therapy. Having healing powers of its own unique kind, mindfulness is something that we all need to introduce in our lives, one step at a time. Imagine being transported to a calm space with soothing colors and pristine sounds all around you. It can have a lot of calming effects on you, especially at these fast-paced times when we are always living on the edge and when our only goal in life has boiled down to creating the perfect work-life balance. Studies reveal that about 78% of the people who have full-time professions and are living in the metropolises and towns are stressed out and lead a harrowing life due to its impacts on the body and mind. That is why, creating a space for mindfulness within our surroundings is the need of the day.
The effects of stress and the fast-paced lifestyle takes a heavy toll on the kids that we have at home, for they are growing up in an increasingly mechanized world constantly ravaged by war and rampage. With the refugee crisis and reports of terrorist activities all around the world being all that primetime television now features, the kids are at a danger of being exposed to a world that is full of hatred and violence. At such a tender age, their impressionable minds replicate all that they see outside. This gives rise to a lot of violent outburst and temper issues in them and that in turn leads to more and more perplexed moms queuing up outside the therapists’ chambers. But all of that can be avoided with innovative ways of tackling stress in youngsters of this super-fast digital age.
One such way is the introduction of mindfulness rooms or enclosures for children in the schools, following in the footsteps of a few educational institutions in the USA. Several schools and colleges in the USA have brought about a breath of fresh air within the confines of the educational institutions in the guise of mindfulness rooms that help the kids to unwind and prepare for the rest of the day in school and college. Featuring calming colors, fragrant air sprays, mats, plush beanbags, stress-busting soft toys, and serene background music, the mindfulness room is perhaps the perfect antithesis to detention rooms and their dreary prospects. The kids can use these places to relax, resolve a conflict, have a heart-to-heart with the school counselor, or just take a nap. The rooms in the schools and colleges are a hit with school-goers and first-year students alike. Some of the mindfulness rooms in the schools feature play tents and trampolines while the ones in colleges have motivational posters and inspirational books as added bonuses.
Why do we need mindfulness rooms?
Leading news channels report the growing rate of violence among the schoolchildren in the USA, with many kids' lives ending in school violence tragedies over the last two years. The increasing rate of violence is a matter of concern for the young and old alike. A leading national psychological survey conducted in the USA reports having revealed about 68% higher rates of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in schoolchildren of 6 to 11 years than in troops returning from war-ravaged zones. With such high levels of PTSD, it is quite natural for the kids to engage in violent behaviour and misdemeanour in schools. Coupled with the stress levels that are hitting the roof among school kids is the alarming increase of bullying in schools, especially among the ones in middle school. Hence, the need for introducing serenity in their lives through mindfulness rooms.
Another factor contributing to the need of mindfulness rooms in schools all over the world is the short attention spans of kids nowadays. Living in the fast age, they witness the quickened pace of life in everything around them – from instant messaging apps to super-fast pizza delivery services – and adapt their span of attention accordingly. Naturally, as they grow up, the span of attention is divided among a number of tasks, making them restless and temperamental. For solving issues like these, the calming effect of a mindfulness room is the way to go. Resolving conflicts and taking a break from studies when the coursework becomes too difficult to handle, kids come down to the mindfulness rooms in their school or college premises for having some time to themselves. The able aid of the campus counsellor is ready at hand in most of these educational institutions, and sometimes, when they are feeling up to it, the kids take their help to sort out their problems.
Generating a positive response in the children and educators alike, mindfulness rooms are gradually becoming a hit with the school districts in the USA. Educators nationwide acknowledge the need for a calm space for kids to de-stress, relax, rest, unwind, and rejuvenate inside the schools. Coming into this atmosphere of calmness and serenity, they can let that steam off, vent out their anger or frustration with parents, studies, classmates, teachers or anything that is bothering them, and turn over the page for a fresh start. We need to instil in our kids the concept of peaceful resolution of conflicts and finding a fruitful way out of the chaos that sometimes their brains meander into instead of looking to solve matters through engaging in violent behavior and misdemeanour. The mindfulness rooms are a step towards that goal of making our kids calmer and more sorted as far as their mental and physical well-being is concerned.
How to prepare for mindfulness around you
A room for mindfulness is a constant reminder of how important taking care of our mental health is and why we should fit in our schedule the need to devote some time to pause and unwind in between our busy day. The creation of a mindful space that you can immerse yourself into when distressed, panicked, anxious, sad, or angry is not too much of a difficult task at all. Simply allot a secluded room within your campus to be used for mindfulness purposes. It can be adjacent to the yoga studio or situated in a more or less calmer side of the campus so that the purpose of spreading serenity is served. The following are a three simple steps to creating a mindfulness room in your campus or home.
Ø Choose a secluded room. It should preferably be a cozy space in case of homes or moderately sized to make room for any number of children studying in your school. Having windows that overlook a lake, the mountains, or a meadow is ideal for mindfulness rooms.
Ø Decorating the mindfulness room is a cakewalk when you know who the rooms cater to. In case of schools, picking a light yet vibrant shade for the walls and decorating the room with comfortable seating and relaxing arrangements like reclining sofas, bean bags, soft throw pillows and mats are quite necessary for making it an instant hit with the kids.
Ø As for the aroma and sounds of the space, choose fragrant candles or air-perfume dispensers and a soothing soundtrack like the sounds of a waterfall or birds chirping in spring. Keep the lighting of the space mellow, so it has a soothing effect on the eyes of the ones who come to the space in search of solace.
The increase in the violence rates among schoolchildren all around the world is alarming indeed. Following suit of the schools in the USA, it is time to combat the matter of high stress levels and misdemeanour among school-goers in a constructive manner through the introduction of mindfulness rooms in schools. Learning can be fun too if you have a space to unwind, therefore, make way for mindfulness in schools and teach the future generations to be Zen in the face of adversity.
Ava Lee is a Minnesota-based child psychologist and part-time writer who provides essay help to the student. Her enriching blogs on matters of academia and child psychology continue to be a hit with educators and stay-at-home moms alike. Lee has been a part of the guest panels at psychology conventions in and around the country.