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The Importance of Mindfulness in the Lives of Teenagers: An Expert's Point of View

Recently, we had an interview with Safina Hirji, a high school educator and founder of Stillness Hub. From her experiences as an educator and as a mindfulness expert, we wanted to share her point of view and pointers on how to remain mindful in the face of self instilled stress, particularly in the lives of high school students. We hope this can inspire you to pursue healthy and mindful methods of stress management.


1. Tell Canadian youth a bit about you, your company, and what it stands for. 

My name is Safina Hirji and I am the founder of Stillness Hub (www.stillnesshub.com) - a hub for honing our skills in the area of Mindfulness to become our best version, our best self. Stillness Hub was borne out of a desire to help people with discovering who they truly are, and overcoming their fears and obstacles.  The need to be fully present, aware of oneself, aware of others and of the environment are all integral to one's success at school, home and the workplace. I am also a French teacher and have been a consultant for the York Region District School Board focussing on Well-Being and Resiliency.  


2. As an educator, and a wellness specialist, what do you notice in teenagers and their reaction to academic success?

As an educator, who has recently returned to the classroom after 5 years, I have noticed a spike in student anxiety and the pressure they put on themselves.  Students are struggling with their emotions and are being triggered by marks, or comments by others much more easily.  Some students seem to be holding so much stress and anxiety inside them that they seem like volcanoes, waiting to erupt.  The need to practice Mindfulness, to be heard, to realize their own triggers and their reactions are all becoming more and more important.  


3. Why is it important for teenagers to effectively manage stress?

It is paramount that teenagers have the tools to manage their stress effectively or it can become a barrier to themselves.  Their confidence and self-esteem start to plummet as do their coping techniques.  This can result in a drop in marks and feed a cycle of negativity within themselves and others surrounding them.  It can also lead to other ailments, including worsening mental and physical health.  All of this can be prevented by student being more mindful and practicing Mindfulness techniques on a regular basis.



4. Any words of advice and mindfulness tips for young people in Canada? 

Start a Meditation or Mindfulness practice.  It may just be for 5 minutes a day. My own students, after having learned these techniques in class, have started to use Mindfulness to relieve their stress and start the day in a peaceful way.  Plan for the future but don't stress over it.  The next generation of graduates are likely to have 4-5 different careers in their lifetime.  Be fully present as much as possible and appreciate all the good in your lives.  Help each other by practicing loving kindness and compassion, knowing we are all going through similar struggles in life.  Be YOU!!

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