Anxiety is on the rise, in adults, and especially in children.
It’s a new pandemic of sorts. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 15% of youth globally experience a mental health disorder* before they are 19 years old.
Depression and anxiety are two of the leading causes in this startling, and very upsetting statistic.
Mental health disorders are no longer affecting adults and teenagers. Approximately 1 in 6 youth in the US have a mental health condition. Little ones, as young as preschool, are now facing mental health challenges, some which require hospitalization.
According to a study done in part by Dartmouth Health Children’s Hospital, pediatric mental health hospitalizations rose 26% between 2009 and 2019.
Many factors contribute to this alarming data. Mental health challenges were exacerbated during the pandemic, and still remain high. Added to this are risk factors like the rise of social media and the anxiety it causes, lack of proper sleep (which social media also negatively impacts) and conflicts between kids and their peers and within their families.
Parents, too, are struggling, and may not have the bandwidth or ability to help their little ones. Even when they have the ability to afford mental health counseling for their children, it isn’t always available. Access to community based mental health treatment is not always available. Not all areas have mental health professionals, and there are not enough mental health professionals to meet the growing demand for services.
Meditation Can Help
The good news, amidst all these scary statistics is that mindfulness meditation can help. Countless research studies have proven, time and time again, that meditation can ease psychological distress.
Meditation is proven to:
- Reduce anxiety
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Decrease depression
- Boost immunity
- Improve restful sleep
- Diminish a negativity bias
- Foster feelings of positivity
- Increase empathy and loving-kindness towards yourself and others
Up until quite recently, scientists have thought that meditation must be done for at least 30 minutes a day to achieve the above benefits.
For most people, children included, a 30 minutes a day meditation practice seems unrealistic, and so many scrap the idea of meditating altogether.
But here’s the good news: now scientists are saying that you don’t need 30 straight minutes of uninterrupted meditation time.
Introducing Micro Meditation:
Enter the new practice of micro meditation.
Like its name implies, micro meditation is a shortened form of meditation that is done in quick and easy 2-10 minute increments, throughout the day. The key is that the practice is repeated a few times a day, thus building a repetition of these micro boosts of meditation.
Even more good news: micro meditation can be any kind of meditation you or your little one likes to do. Some examples are:
- Affirmation Meditations
- Body Scans
- Drumming Meditations
- Guided Story Meditations
- Mantra Meditations
- Moving Meditations
- Walking Meditations
Why Does Micro Meditation Work?
One of the reasons micro meditation is so effective is, because it is done in short bursts of repletion, it quickly becomes habit forming.
Anyone who has tried to adopt a healthy habit, like working out, or making healthy food choices knows, repetition is the key to success.
It usually takes at least 30 repetitions to make something part of your daily routine.
Researchers are discovering that these short bursts of micro meditation are just as beneficial as longer meditation practices.
Even better news, a recent study found that doing only 10 minutes of meditation a day was a beneficial as a 20 minute practice. This same study found that even 5 minutes of meditation was enough to improve heart rate and negative affect.
And just like the benefits of traditionally longer meditative practices, micro meditation offers participants the same benefits like:
- Increased Immunity
- Decreased anxiety
- Better sleep
- Increased Focus
- Less negative affect
Micro Meditation and Anxious Kids
Most kids love to meditate because they enjoy using their imaginations and feeling the calming effects in their mind and body. Researchers are learning that kids who meditate experience many of the same benefits as adult meditators.
What’s even better, research is showing that a consistent meditation practice can help prevent children developing chronic mental health disorders.
Micro meditation is a perfect way to introduce children to meditation.
They can try a variety of meditation practices, in small bites, and become comfortable with and begin to experience all the benefits of meditation.
Once kids start feeling the reduction in anxiety, and the calm meditation brings them, they will want to practice it more and more.
Ways Kids Can Practice Micro Meditation
There are countless ways kids can practice micro meditation.
Remember, any type of meditation practice can be used, and it is easily adaptable.
Many kids gravitate towards the following types of meditation:
- Moving meditations
- Drumming Meditations
- Visualization Meditations
- Guided Meditations
Little ones especially enjoy guided micro meditations that they can do while listening to an audio. They can follow along and use their imaginations.
You can easily combine a simple breathwork meditation, like using a bubble wand or imaging their breath blowing clouds across the sky. Every time you combine physical practices with imaginative ones, little ones engage their minds and bodies.
Our Recommendation for Teaching Micro Meditation:
Wee Mediate has a collection of mini meditations designed to help young kids experience the benefits of meditation in a short amount of time.
Wee Meditate uses research based practices to teach meditation to children in a magical, imaginative and soothing story-book world.
In this fairy tale world, kids learn to meditate with an adorable Dragon and his forest animal friends.
They have mini-meditations, longer meditations, bedtime stories, music and more.
By signing up for their free newsletter, Dragon’s Meditation Club, you’ll receive mini meditations, short stories, and poems that are written for, and meant to be read to kids.
You can also read more about micro meditation and why it’s a great practice for kids here.