It’s time to stop devoting so much attention to what’s going on out there and start tuning inward.
As a mom of two teen girls, a clinical psychologist, and a self-esteem coach, BodiMojo CEO and founder Tara Cousineau knows first-hand how practicing mindfulness and meditation can help teens deal with day-to-day life and build coping skills to take with them into adulthood. She recently collaborated with Dr. Christopher Willard, psychologist and author of Child’s Mind, on an article for the Dove Self-Esteem project.
In Raising happy teenagers: how mindfulness and meditation practices can help build coping skills for life, Cousineau and Willard discuss how far too many happy, carefree kids shift to self-conscious teens. It’s natural and normal for teens to want to fit in, but unfortunately, all too often this comes at the expense of their sense of self-worth, their hobbies, and their uniqueness. Fitting in can trump everything else. Teens often subscribe to the skewed idea that being different and straying from the norm is a flaw. Many believe-perhaps subconsciously-that they can only be happy if they meet a set of idealistic criteria, like being a skinny, trendy, straight-A student with a cute boyfriend and hundreds of ‘likes’ on their latest Instagram post. As Cousineau and Willard articulate, “It’s important to help girls realize that ticking items off a wish list isn’t the key to everlasting happiness.”
In fact, the notion of everlasting happiness is flawed in itself. It doesn’t exist! Life is messy: it’s got its ups, its downs, and its in-betweens. While it’s great to strive for happiness, it’s impossible to be happy all.the.time. The trick? When you’re feeling happy, remember to let yourself feel it. Take a minute to soak it in. As they say, “…the key is to savor those moments, appreciate them, remember them and reflect on them.”
And that’s where mindfulness, or non-judgmental awareness, comes in. We’re often so caught up in what’s going on out there–checking out Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what everyone else is up to, flipping through Photoshopped images in magazines, and watching other people’s lives in reality shows–that we’re too busy to take a moment and see what’s going on inside. You know, with us. Constant comparison can prevent us from becoming aware of how we are doing. Try these simple breathing exercises to start. They’re part of a body-scan technique, a practice that helps you stay connected to your physical state-of-being while calming your mind. It involves paying attention to where you are holding tightness (upper back, shoulders, jaw?) and deeply exhaling to release physical and mental tension.
How do you stay mindful?
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Check out the DOVE film, Legacy.
Parents can hand down their own beliefs about beauty to their children, so being mindful is a key way to avoid inadvertently handing down negative views about one’s own body and beauty. If you are a parent, mentor, or role model (as most of us are) think about who you #feelbeautifulfor.
Photo credit: Dove Self-Esteem Project