Why Should My Teen Start Practicing Regular Mindfulness?
OGDEN, Utah — In today’s fast-paced, technological world, it’s rare to find a spare moment to slow down, but experts say quiet, peaceful moments are vital to a teenager’s mental health. One Utah teenager deliberately creates those moments in her own way.
Like most teenagers, 15-year-old Kylie Guzman loves music, but she’s also a talented artist. She pours the emotions she feels onto the canvas.
“In my mind, I just kind of go to this blank space and I listen to my music… and I’m able to take in the words and I just process that while I’m drawing,” she said. “I like to put it into my artwork in a sense… and you just kind of take in the colors and expressing music in a color— in a picture.”
But her artistic talent is about more than just creativity. “It’s nice to just sit there and like you’re in the present. You’re really just you’re focused on one thing,” she explained.
Guzman practices principles of mindfulness. They’re skills she’s developed in a teen mindfulness class at McKay Dee Hospital for teenage girls.
Intermountain Healthcare’s Jennifer Davis instructs the class and said it’s designed to help teenagers manage their stress and anxiety.
“They learn to understand their feelings and emotions, as they’re paying attention to them,” she said, and to act appropriately, “without bottling them up until they explode.”
Davis said it’s an especially important skill to develop since teenagers can sometimes react impulsively.
She wants them to realize: ”This is a temporary hardship that they will be able to get past.”
At first, Guzman was unsure. “I showed up and I was like, ‘Okay, this is weird.’ Like, it was boring, it was different,” she said.
But now she relies on the skills she is developing in the class daily. “When stuff like that is going on… family or friends or situations are stressing you out, you can just breathe, take your body to the present,” she explained.
Guzman said it’s been especially important as she finished her freshman year of high school. “It was stressful. I mean, there’s a lot of like drama, and a lot of things going on. Schoolwork was different,” she said.
Guzman also uses what she calls mindfulness dots. She places a small round circle in common places she looks at each day, like her bathroom mirror or cell phone.
”When I look in the mirror there is this blue dot right here and it just reminds me to take a breath,” she said. She said it reminds her to refocus her attention.
Guzman’s mom, Rainey Guzman, said the class has strengthened their whole family. “She’s also been able to teach us some things to that. Just breathe, you know, breathe mom, or dad,” she said.
Today Guzman said she feels better empowered to take on the next day. “I feel like I have better coping skills,” she said.
Intermountain Healthcare’s teen mindfulness class will start again in October for girls and in November for boys at McKay Dee Hospital.
If you can’t make a class you can download a mindfulness app to start practicing at home.