What you need to know

Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening as it is happening (Kaiser-Greenland 2010). It's a method that, through research, has shown to be helpful in managing many conditions including anger, stress, anxiety and depression. Thinking about the present helps you to focus instead of worrying about things that have already happened or may happen in the future.

You can be mindful any time, anywhere, no matter what you are doing.....

Focus on your breathing... focus intensely on your breathing

Breathing is something you do not normally think about, it happens without your thoughts, so focusing on it...concentrating on breathing in slowly and breathing out slowly focusses your mind away from the things that are causing you stress or negative thoughts and gives you the space to be mindful of what is happening in that moment.

Belly Balloons

Calm breathing teaches you to slow down your breathing when feeling angry, stressed or anxious

  1. Turn off mobile phones & find a quiet place away from distractions
  2. Choose a comfortable position either sitting lying or standing & become still
  3. Breathe normally for at least 1 minute as you start to relax
  4. Close your eyes & try to concentrate on breathing
  5. Imagine that when you breathe in through your nose your stomach (belly) blows up like a balloon (you can place your hands on your stomach to feel the ‘balloon blowing up’)
  6. As you breathe out through your mouth you will feel your stomach flatten - imagine the air is coming out of the balloon 
  7. Repeat for 10 breaths in and 10 breaths out 

Adapted from Silverton,S.(2012).The Mindfulness Breakthrough.

Have a WOW moment:

  • Write WOW in the centre of a piece of paper
  • Think about all the things that make you want to say ‘WOW!’ and how you feel when you think about the
  • The WOWs are anything specific to you e.g. family, friends, nature, a place, a sport etc
  • Write or draw your WOWs around the word WOW on your piece of  paper
  • Use this piece of paper to discuss your WOWs with a friend, parent, teacher, school nurse or just as a reminder to yourself about the great things in your life and use them to give you positive feelings

Adapted from Hands on Scotland.


What are anchors?

Are there times when a particular situation or person makes you feel anxious or lose confidence? Anchors develop when we have had past experience of emotional reactions to particular situations, people or experiences. Particularly when we've repeated experiences, we learn to react in set ways.  

In this way, some things start to “push our buttons." It could, for example, be a particular person or group of people; a fire bell or being involved in a particular activity.

Sometimes these reactions can be positive, such as feeling happy or amused. Sometimes these feelings can be more uncomfortable, such as feeling anxious, unhappy or angry.

How to create a helpful anchor

Identify times when you feel really calm and confident. This may be when you're listening to music, stroking your family pet or enjoying time with friends. Perhaps doing something that you feel really confident about.

During these times, using one hand, place your index finger and thumb together. Notice the link between what you're doing with your hand and your calm feelings.


Really focus on this for about 30 seconds at a time and repeat once or twice a day for a couple of weeks. You'll begin to form a connection between holding your hand in this position and feeling calm and confident.

Helpful hint: Set a reminder on your phone to practise the technique at a set time once or twice a day.

How positive anchors can help you stay calm and confident:

When you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety place your hand in the position that you have practised.

Your brain will have learned to relate this hand position to a calm and confident state.

What's helpful is that you can then place your hand in this position under the desk, in your coat pocket or placed down by your side; so you don’t have to worry about people noticing or asking questions.

How can mindfulness help my child?

Children who are resilient are often healthier, happier in their relationships, more successful in school and less likely to become depressed.

What can I do to help my child?

Find five minutes quiet time during your day to spend with your child.

Practice with your child and encourage them to use some simple breathing techniques and exercises. Make this a habit and part of you and your child’s daily routine.

Helping your child to 'bounce back'

When children and young people are able to take a few moments before reacting to difficult situations, they can become more thoughtful, resilient and caring.

As parents/carers you are the most important people to help build children’s resilience. Building resilience can help children manage stress, feelings of anger, anxiety and uncertainty.   

Practicing mindfulness exercises can calm and focus your child’s attention. Practice every day for a few minutes until mindfulness is part of you and your child’s routine. 

Ways to build your child's resilience (developed by Michelle Bridges 2016)

Caring relationships Building a close, loving relationship with your child is the most important thing you can do. Attention and affection makes your child feel secure, loved and accepted .

Positive role models Your child learns how to behave by seeing how their parents behave. It's important to show your child through your attitudes and behaviours, how you'd like them to behave.

Daily routines Children often want routine and structure and can find it reassuring .

Safety Make sure your child has a place where they feel safe, whether that's at home or school or both.

Good Communication Talk to your children and answer questions honestly in simple language.

Encouragement By supporting your child to keep trying you can develop confidence in their ability. Set them realistic goals and focus on positives.