By Kristie Popa
We have been hearing about mindfulness more within the past couple of years, but what does it really mean and how does it apply to 4-H?
Mindfulness by definition is a mental state of full awareness and full acceptance of the present moment. When being mindful, someone should pay attention to their thoughts, emotions and experiences in a particular way or on purpose. This should be done in the present moment and without judging.
- When engaging in the practice of mindfulness, it is important to do the following:
- Be intentional by doing things on purpose. Don’t leave things to happen by chance.
- Don’t worry about the past and/or the future. Focus on the present and what you are experiencing now.
Be kind to yourself. Negative thoughts lead to the opposite of what should be happening. With negative thoughts, you will often give up trying to do better. Don’t be so hard on yourself!
When thinking about mindfulness as a 4-H project, it can be categorized within the health and wellness project. If focusing on a mindfulness project, the 4-H youth should engage in activities related to being mindful. These activities can range from setting goals and being intentional, awareness and attention, self-care through stress reduction and relaxation, to communication and relationships as well as gratitude and acceptance.
Are you ready to start being mindful now? Start out with some of these simple exercise or activities to get started.
- Breathing exercises
- Imagery exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Yoga, tai chi or other physical activity
- Mindful eating
By engaging in mindfulness, you can not only improve your mental health and well-being, but it can also help youth pay attention. Increased attention can essentially lead to improved school grades and reduced stress levels. Practicing mindfulness exercises on a regular basis can lead to forming a habit or routine as part of a healthier lifestyle.