Adolescence is a challenging time in any person’s life. Not only do teenagers have to perform well in school, they also need to fulfill family obligations and responsibilities, form meaningful relationships with their peers, maintain a healthy social life, and develop their identity, as well as cope with the changes in their body as they undergo puberty. With these in mind, they are likely to develop a tendency to brood, ruminate, and show angst which could be triggered, or exacerbated by different sources of stress, such as from their family, friends and peers, school, organizations, and even themselves.

Last year, the Ateneo Bulatao Center held two Mindfulness workshops for teenagers. These were the “Mindfulness Camp”, and the “Stress Hacks” workshops, and were held during summer and the first semester of the school year respectively. These workshops aimed to help manage and regulate emotions better, improve relationships, and focus attention and awareness to make more purposeful choices and behavior.

The workshops began with an orientation, which discussed the goals, events, expectations from both the parents and the Ateneo Bulatao Center. This also gave an opportunity for the parents to ask any questions and concerns that they may have had. Each workshop consisted of nine (9) 2-hour sessions; two (2) sessions were held per week during the summer workshop, while the school year workshop had weekly Saturday sessions. These sessions were packed with enjoyable activities fit for the participants’ age, as well as insightful and purposeful processing sessions, held after each activity. These included, but are not limited to, learning important life skills such as attention focus, staying at the present moment, and developing a support group among one’s peers.

These testimonies showcase how much of a success the workshops were:

J has improved in the way he relates to me and my other son.  He is more relaxed and does not  seem to be stressed after going  home from school. His relationship with people in the house has improved a lot.  I guess attending this has prepared him better for his teen life.

I really appreciate all your help with the workshop. I have seen marked changes in her coping style. T is a very private person and I thank you for respecting that… Looking forward to more workshops in the near future.

The Bulatao Center also included an assessment of the participants before and after the workshop. The results indicated that the workshops helped improve the teenagers’ ability to observe, notice, and attend to their different sensations, perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, which can act as signals to pause amidst all the different forms of stress they are experiencing. This is considered the necessary first step in managing stress and its varying sources.

The participants also enjoyed their experience with the workshop. Their highly positive feedback showed how much it helped them in managing their stress, as well as its sources, most especially in school.