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What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention to and focusing on your thoughts and feelings, but not judging them as good or bad. Mindfulness can help to reduce the stress you may associate with certain patterns of thinking and feeling. By allowing us to see that we’re more than our thoughts and feelings, mindfulness promotes self-acceptance and a more relaxed life.

Ten hacks to start being mindful

  1. Breathing mindfully is the simplest stress reliever. It can act like an anchor, helping you to be in the moment, which is where your life is happening. To breathe mindfully, take time to notice how you’re breathing in and out. Begin with just a few breaths at a time, and don’t try to change how you breathe. As you breathe normally, focus on how each breath feels.
  2. Take note of what you are doing, and focus on each of your senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. For example, if you are outside, notice what you smell. Is there a breeze you can hear and feel? Is it sunny, cloudy or rainy? What else do you feel on your skin? Observing and reflecting on what you’re experiencing means that you are being mindful.
  3. If you are walking, take note of how your weight is shifting and your footfalls. Notice how your steps feel on the soles of your feet. Notice also how easily you become distracted. This is okay, because once you understand how you’re distracted, you can try to re-focus whenever a distraction happens.
  4. Mindfulness helps you to take a moment for yourself. Pause and focus on simply being in the moment.
  5. Expect your mind to wander. When it does, simply notice that it has wandered away and then re-focus on your breath, your senses or your footsteps. You can tell yourself to “come back” as a reminder.
  6. Try to think of your thoughts as just that – and remember they are produced by your busy mind. You don’t have to believe or react to every thought.
  7. Our minds like to judge things. When you find yourself being judgemental, try to accept it without taking it too seriously. Judging is just a human tendency and doesn’t have to be who you are.
  8. Practice mindful sitting. When you are just sitting and not actively engaged in anything, notice where you are, how you feel and what you are sensing. You can try to focus on the contact points between your body and the chair or floor you are sitting on. Notice places of ease, and places of tension or discomfort in your body. Try sending your breath into any areas of discomfort.
  9. Try just focusing on three senses. Use sound, sight and touch as the three senses you will focus on. Take a few breaths and ask:
    • What are three things I can hear?
    • What are three things I can see?
    • What are three things I can feel?
  10. Mindfulness gets easier and more enjoyable with practice, and can become a healthy way to help deal with stress.
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