Why You Should Be Practicing Mindfulness Exercises

Article by: Beatriz C.

Edited by: Meg B.

Graphic by: Jerico B.

Let’s travel way back to elementary school. Half-hour long playtime, sports day, no homework, and… yes! Time outs. Countless times throughout our elementary school lives, when we were too agitated to concentrate in class, or to use our ‘inside voices’, our teachers would give us timeouts. They weren’t a punishment or an embarrassment- in reality, they were just time that we could take to ourselves outside, to breathe, and calm down before going back to class and tackle those math problems to the best of our ability. Ultimately those time outs really were helpful to us, and we always came back refreshed.

But why have we these stopped doing these? Why do high schoolers seem to have forgotten the importance of taking a breather? With the end of quarter assessments slowly approaching, mindfulness exercises are definitely something to keep in mind when the workload becomes too much. Mindfulness has been constantly scientifically proven to be a key element in fighting stress, improving self control, focus and emotional intelligence.

In 2010, the American Psychological Association conducted an experiment testing the reactions to different situations between two groups- those who did mindfulness exercises and those who didn’t. The results showed that the group that practiced mindfulness exercises experienced significantly less anxiety and responded more positively to unwanted and sad situations compared to both the second group and themselves before the experiment. The study concluded that mindfulness exercises alters people’s ability to use emotion regulation strategies and increases their emotional intelligence, much of which is key to being able to wisely manage stress (Mavis and Hayes).

High school teachers also support the idea of mindfulness practice. Mr. MacInnes says, “At the beginning of each of my classes, everyone does a short, 10 minute breathing practice. I put a soundtrack on, of a series of instrumental vibrations, because research has said that different vibrations connect with different parts of your body and help you relax in different ways. We square breath to this soundtrack, while focusing on inhaling and exhaling slowly, and breathing deep into your diaphragm. The reason behind this is that I find it really important for all students to get use to slowing down their breathing, as this has quite a significant impact on your nervous system. Science show that if you are able to slow down rate of your breathing, it sends a message to your brain and your heart that you’re in safe place and enters a state of relaxation (parasympathetic nervous system), that allows you to think clearly, relax and concentrate properly.”

Mr MacInnes recommends this square breathing exercise for stressed students. This is a four second inhale, four second hold, four second exhale and four second hold in a cycle. He also says that it is important to keep in mind shoulder, jaw and forehead tension while doing these exercises.

So, Bearcats? Are you going to join the ride of this new wave of science and enjoy its benefits?