Stress and Well-Being: A systemic case study of adolescents’ experiences in a mindfulness-based program Schussler et al., Journal of Child and Family Studies, November 2020
The students selected represented similar backgrounds, e.g. race/ethnicity, family structure, number of extracurricular hours, grade point average, advanced placement courses, and hours worked on a job. Teachers were supported and coached during the process as they provided twelve 45-minute lessons over 8 weeks. Each lesson included a theme, activities, and a mindfulness practice.
Students were given pre and post assessments as well as follow-up interviews three months later. The most commonly reported benefit among the nine students was their ability to mindfully tune into the moment with awareness. The use of mindful breathing allowed them to become more aware of their particular situation or surroundings. One student summed up this experience, “When you are mindful, it’s easier to think things through. It’s like a thought process that helps you with the ordinary things in life.” Engaging in mindful breath awareness also proved beneficial for those students who expressed symptoms of anxiety, rumination, depression, or difficulties with emotional regulation. Two of the students who might be considered high-risk, tended to benefit most from the L2B interventions. As is the nature of schools, pressure in academics increases during different parts of the year: seven of the students reported being able to recognize the increased stress and implore strategies to manage the stress such as mindful breathing.
While this study only focused on nine students, the findings are consistent with other studies of its benefit and the program evaluation conducted by MC4ME using this same curriculum with 375 middle school students. Mindfulness breathing cultivates present-centered awareness of emotions, body, and thoughts in a way that adolescents can access for themselves and use as a strategy to cope with everyday life issues.