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From the popularity of the “Headspace” app to the proliferation of “Mindfulness Colouring books”, it is fair to say that Mindfulness has gone mainstream.

But, is this rise in popularity justified?

Most importantly, is it an intervention worth considering when working with traumatised children or vulnerable adults?

We believe the answer to be a whole-hearted yes, so, in this article we seek to develop your understanding of the practice by answering the following questions:

What is Mindfulness?

Have the benefits been proven?

How can it benefit the children in your care?

How can you easily get started?

Where can you find out more?

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being fully aware of and accepting of the present moment. This includes being accepting of any feelings, thoughts and sensations occurring at that moment. It is a mental state that can be developed through the practice of various techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation. Originally developed from ancient Buddhist practises, it is now widely used by a huge range of people and is becoming increasingly recognised as beneficial to mental health generally and for specific mental health conditions.

‘Mindfulness-based interventions have now been acknowledged as an effective approach to improving health and wellbeing and performance, including looked after children.’ Now Unlimited

Have the benefits been proven?

Recent neurobiological and neuropsychological evidence shows that practising mindfulness positively affects areas of the brain related to our executive functions and emotion regulation. These structural brain changes help to enhance qualities such as:

  • Kindness
  • Patience
  • Compassion
  • Attunement to others
  • Increased executive function
  • Better impulse control
  • Longer attention spans

Mindfulness helps to create space between a situation and our thoughts about it. The mental health charity Mind explains:

‘In mindfulness, you work to become more aware of how you’re thinking and feeling. Mindfulness suggests that if you’re able to understand your thoughts and feelings more clearly, it can help you: 

  • notice how you typically think and react to feelings and events
  • notice that thoughts come and go and don’t define who you are or your experience of the world
  • notice when you get caught up in negative thoughts and take steps to change how you’re thinking
  • feel able to make a choice about how you respond to your thoughts and feelings’

(more article links can be found at the bottom)

How can it benefit the children in your care?

There is increasing research showing the benefits of mindfulness for children and adolescents, with a number of schools starting to incorporate it. A recent mindfulness in schools research project concluded:

‘Well conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people who take part. It has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, reactivity and bad behaviour, improve sleep and self-esteem, and bring about greater calmness, relaxation, the ability to manage behaviour and emotions, self-awareness and empathy.’ (Mindfulness in Schools)

For looked after children mindfulness could be extremely beneficial in helping them to manage the difficult emotions and experiences they may encounter throughout their care experiences and beyond.

‘The practice of mindfulness has the potential to help looked after children learn to focus on their feelings and thoughts without judging their experiences i.e. to be more accepting of thoughts and emotions. This helps to promote a psychological state in which they are aware of who they are, how they are feeling, and what they are doing. This helps them to build their capacity to recover quickly from difficulties by improving their tolerance of stress and conflict, and by enhancing their social and problem-solving skills [6].’ (Now Unlimited – An Integral Mindfulness Approach for Looked After Children)

How can you easily get started?

Given the beneficial applications of mindfulness for looked after children, Social Care Training Solutions have developed training in ‘Mindfulness for Children and Young People’.

Our E-learning Course can be accessed for as little as £5.

This course will help you develop the skills to offer Mindfulness techniques to children and young people and will provide useful resources to support mindfulness practice.  At Social Care Training Solutions we offer this course alongside 7 mandatory courses and a broad selection of other training as part of our Foster Care & Youth Engagement prospectuses. All courses can be viewed HERE

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at admin@socialcaretrainingsolutions.com

Where can you find out more?

Further reading & useful links:

https://www.socialcaretrainingsolutions.com/product/mindfulness-for-children-and-young-people/

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx

https://mindfulnessinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MiSP-Research-Summary-2012.pdf

http://nowunlimited.co.uk/mindfulness-looked-after-children/

www.bemindful.co.uk

www.headspace.com

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/#.WHeharaLSV4

http://www.mindful.org/how-people-learn-to-increase-their-resilience/

https://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/archive/caring-for-foster-parents-so-that-they-are-better-placed-to-care-for-the-children-12642

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/m/mindfulness

http://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/role-mindfulness-adoption

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