Evidence That It Works
In a study, undergraduate students who completed a 15-minute focused breathing exercise reported fewer negative emotions in response to a series of slides that displayed negative images when compared with students who didn’t complete the exercise. These results suggest that focused breathing exercises can help students’ improve their ability to regulate their emotions. Furthermore, a review of research on the benefits of mindfulness-based school interventions suggests that mindfulness may be beneficial for children and adolescents in building resilience and improving their cognitive abilities, such as attention and creativity.
Why Does It Matter?
Stress, anger, and anxiety can impair not only our health—but our judgment and attention skills. One way to navigate these difficult feelings is through the practice of “mindfulness,” the ability to pay careful attention to what one’s thinking, feeling, and sensing in the present moment without judging those thoughts and feelings as good or bad. Countless studies link mindfulness to better health, lower anxiety, and greater resilience to stress.
One basic method for teaching students mindfulness is through mindful breathing—focused attention on the in-and-out pattern of breath. After setting aside time to practice mindful breathing, students may find it easier to focus their attention on their breath in their daily life—an important skill to help them deal with stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. Mindful breathing can help students learn to cool themselves down when their tempers flare, and it can sharpen their skills of concentration, so they may make the most out of their time at school.