Guest blogger Heather Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P. discusses the many benefits of practicing mindfulness for parents and teens. "It’s important to take care of ourselves. Practicing mindfulness helps us to do this. It helps to reduce stress. We learn to pause, center, and better choose what is needed in a given situation.”
As parents we often feel we are not good enough. We have certain expectations for ourselves, and for our children. We feel pulled in many different directions. We fall short of our expectations. We can feel overwhelmed. We can be quick to judge ourselves—and everyone else around us, including our children. This adds to our stress! It’s important to take care of ourselves. Practicing mindfulness helps us to do this. It helps to reduce stress. We learn to pause, center, and better choose what is needed in a given situation.
Imagine being able to pause and choose our responses instead of reacting automatically with thoughts and actions that are not serving us and are not working toward our desired outcomes. Imagine being a grounded presence, not just for ourselves, but for our children. Imagine having more compassion for ourselves and those around us. This is possible. It is possible through an innate ability that we all have to bring attention to our experiences, nonjudgmentally, and with compassion. This is what mindfulness is. Practicing mindfulness can allow us to have a broader perspective. It allows us to really see our sulking or angry teen. We become better able to see beyond the behavior or attitude to the person. Practicing mindfulness allows us to better connect and communicate. It also helps us to be more aware of the joys we experience as parents.
These benefits, and more, do not come from just learning about mindfulness. They come from actually practicing mindfulness. My first real experience of the benefits of practicing mindfulness came from taking a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. Practicing mindfulness has been life-changing for me. For a small taste of a guided mindfulness practice, there is a link to my website resources page below. You will find a recording of a short mindfulness practice done for a Teen Health Matters podcast. You can also listen to an interview conducted by teens on mindfulness. It includes more information on the benefits of mindfulness. You can share it with your teen! https://www.livewellmindfully.com/resources/
It’s never too late to start practicing mindfulness. And, if you have your own mindfulness practice, you can model it for your children!
Heather Alexander, M.D. is a board-certified pediatrician and trained mindfulness instructor. She leads mindfulness workshops, courses, and retreats. Learn more about her by visiting her website!