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Be Mindful to Stress Less

Medically reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

Too Much on Your Mind?

Most kids have a lot on their minds. It can feel like you have so many things to do — and so many things to keep track of. Maybe there are worries or problems on your mind, too.

Did I do all my homework? Is that paper I need in my backpack? What time is it? I need to catch the bus! Is my friend going to meet me? Do we have practice today? Will I get picked for the team? Will I do OK on that test tomorrow?

Having too much on your mind can be stressful. When you feel this kind of stress, you might rush through things, get more distracted, be less patient, and not enjoy things as much. You might start to think, “I can't keep track of all this — I’ll never get it all done!”

If you feel like this, it’s time to stress less. Slowing down to be mindful can help.

What Is Being Mindful?

Being mindful means having your mind on what you are doing. It's the opposite of rushing or doing too many things at once. To be mindful, you slow down to take your time. You do one thing at a time. You focus on what you’re doing in a calm way.

Taking a few minutes to pause, breathe, and be mindful lowers stress. It calms your mind and your body. When you feel calm, take your time, and have your mind on what you’re doing, it’s easier to get things done. And it’s easier to do your best.

When you’re rushed, busy, and stressed, you might think, “I don’t have time to slow down!” At first, it can be hard to snap out of a stressful rush to s-l-o-w down and breathe. That’s why it’s good to learn how be mindful at a time when you’re not in a stressful rush.

Find a quiet time — and try mindful breathing. It is one of the best ways of learning to be mindful.

How Can I Try Mindful Breathing?

Mindful breathing is simple and easy to learn. You just pause to take a few slow and easy breaths. For these few minutes, you decide to let your mind be on your breathing — instead of letting your mind be on everything else. Try it like this:

  1. Sit in a relaxed way. If you want, close your eyes.
  2. Start to notice your breathing. Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your nose. Try to let your breathing be slow and easy. Breathe in. Breathe out.
  3. Notice how your body feels as you breathe. Can you feel the air tickle your nose as you breathe? Does the air feel cool or warm? Can you feel you belly, your chest, or your rib cage move as you breathe? If you want, put one hand on your belly or on your chest. Let each breath calm you. If you want, when you breathe out, you can sigh out some stress (you can make a sound like “hahhh" or “hmmm").
  4. Take your time. Keep your mind on your breathing. If your mind wanders (you start thinking of other things), gently guide your mind back to your breathing. See if you can take four slow, calm breaths. If you want, take four more.
  5. When you are finished, slowly open your eyes. Notice how you feel.

When Can I Use Mindful Breathing?

There are plenty of times mindful breathing can help you. The more often you practice mindful breathing, the more it helps.

Try mindful breathing:

  • in the morning to get your day off to a great start
  • at bedtime to help you get a peaceful night’s sleep
  • when you’re dealing with a big emotion — like feeling frustrated, angry, upset, or anxious

A few mindful breaths can help a big emotion settle. Try it when you’re stressed. Mindful breathing helps you cope in a calm way. If you do mindful breathing for a few minutes every day, it can help you train your attention and learn to focus better.

If you need more help with stress or have a lot on your mind, talk about it with a parent, teacher, or counselor.

Medically reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2023