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What is mindfulness and how can we use it?

This blog post is about mindfulness, but let’s put a pin in that idea for a little moment and start off by saying that providing full and proper care to children and young people in out of home care is a greatly rewarding role, but one which can physically and emotional exhaust not only the children and young people in care, but also the carers.

 

Often providing care for others does not leave enough space and time to provide care for oneself; which for people who have provided care for so long may not even come naturally. Lately there has been a significant push towards the topic of mindfulness (let’s pick it back up here 😄) and the benefits which this mindset can provide children and young people in care, and their carers!

Firstly, what is mindfulness? 


As mentioned, the phrase is getting thrown around a lot at the moment, but locking down a specific definition can be difficult. Mindfulness often gets lumped into the same idea as meditation, however meditation is an act of mindfulness. Now that sounds confusing but look at it this way: mindfulness is an overarching mental state which focuses on the present moment, not the past or future, in order to bring upon a sense of calm through being aware of ones thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgement of these things. Easy right?

 

So how can this benefit children? 


Well studies have shown that acts of mindfulness are proven treatments for PTSD sufferers as it enables the brain to repair trauma and break cycles of negative thinking. It is also proven to improve mental health and well-being, improve social skills, and enhance focus. Children and young people may not find this practice particularly fun, but Matthew from the William Campbell Foundation clinical team says


“For children, helping them to learn and practice mindfulness will help them self-regulate and reduce anxiety. The clinical team encourages the practice of mindfulness into weekly routines as part of the ARC therapeutic framework”


And this could start as something as simple as setting simple daily mindfulness tasks or getting them to concentrate on what they’re doing and nothing else. Like anything the more practice one gets the more benefit they will receive and there is a plethora of resources (specifically the ARC therapeutic framework), apps, and age-appropriate YouTube videos to help if you get stuck and need help. 


How can mindfulness benefit carers? 


Well, we don’t often identify our own needs, and a large cornerstone of mindfulness is finding what leaves you feeling recharged, again something that will not come to us instantly. Matthew states; 

"Our team has an informed and experienced understanding of the benefits of mindfulness on well-being. By non-judgmentally bringing more awareness to our present experiences we are able to better regulate our feelings and think more clearly. Practicing mindfulness can also be very relaxing and helps to recharge our batteries after a difficult day." 


This practice will take trial and error, and it will take experimenting; and whilst this sounds increasingly overwhelming and further from calming and relaxing, it is important to remember to try to keep everything simple and achievable. We’ve put together a handful of simple tasks that you can download and print! These tasks, for the most part, are pretty simple but could prove to be hugely beneficial!