3 Ways Mindfulness Can Benefit Gifted Girls
3 Ways Mindfulness Can Benefit Gifted Girls
PUBLISHED: Thursday, December 12, 2019 by Catharine Hannay

Unfortunately, many gifted girls struggle with depression, anxiety, emotional reactivity, perfectionism, and low self-esteem. 
Did you know that mindfulness can help? There are three ways practicing mindfulness can be particularly beneficial to gifted girls.
 

Benefit #1: Redirecting Attention

Mindfulness can help girls with depression and anxiety to consciously choose where to focus their thoughts. Rather than getting caught up in rumination, they can redirect their awareness to an anchor, or point of focused attention. 

An anchor can be any neutral point of reference. The breath is a common anchor, and there are many types of mindful breathing practices. However, some girls find that focusing on their breath makes them feel more anxious. In that case, it would be better for them to choose a different anchor, such as focusing on the bottoms of their feet.  


Benefit #2: Nonjudgmental Awareness

Mindfulness can be a powerful antidote to perfectionism because of the emphasis on nonjudgmental awareness. We don’t fail at mindfulness whenever our attention wanders. We just gently bring it back to the anchor we’ve chosen. 

The term nonjudgmental is sometimes misunderstood. It doesn’t mean we tolerate bad behavior from ourselves or others. It means we try not to be judgmental. Rather than immediately labeling every experience as good or bad, we observe it through a calm, compassionate lens.
 

Benefit #3: Emotional Regulation

While I was writing Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, I surveyed teen girls about how they most benefited from mindfulness practice. Linneth said, “Mindfulness has helped me . . . think before speaking . . . to stop from saying things I would later regret.” And Mengyue said it helps her “when I’m doing homework but my sister disturbs me . . . I take a deep breath and tell myself, ‘it’s OK,’ ‘don’t be angry,’ ‘be kind,’ and so on.”

There are several different acronyms for taking a mindful pause, including PAUSE, STOP, or PEACE. My favorite is TAP, which was developed by my colleague Dr. Sam Himelstein, the director of the Center for Adolescent Studies.

  • T: Take a breath. Pause in the midst of a tense situation.

  • A: Acknowledge. Think about what’s going on. How are you feeling? How is the other person likely feeling?

  • P: Proceed. Say or do whatever seems the most appropriate and effective response.


How Parents and Teachers Can Help

There’s a plethora of resources at MindfulTeachers.org for practicing and teaching mindfulness.
Here are a couple of quick tips:

  • The most important factor in successfully sharing mindfulness is to be a good role model. In fact, the best way to help your daughter or students might be through practicing TAP yourself!

  • It’s also important to provide a lot of different options. Mindfulness can help everyone, but it isn’t one size fits all. I like to think of it as a toolkit rather than a blueprint.  

 

Gifted girls are smart and creative. With the right set of tools, they can build their own personal mindfulness practice to help them thrive. 

Catharine Hannay is the founder of MindfulTeachers.org, an internationally-respected resource on mindfulness in education. She is the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance.