Mindfulness and Inner Resilience

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity caused by hardship and stress. Of all the ways students can build resilience, mindfulness is an often overlooked but effective way. Mindfulness builds resilience by enhancing emotional self-regulation and promoting mental flexibility, which are both very important components of inner resilience. In this week’s lesson students will learn what mindfulness is and how to use it to help them overcome stressful situations.

Elementary and Secondary Lesson


Read/review the information below to students:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
  • Stress: The feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.
    • Here is a video that explains stress for younger (elementary) students and/or for students who may not be as familiar with the term.
  • Resilience: Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity caused by hardship and stress.

Have students type or write two to three sentences about a recent time they felt stressed out or upset about something and then answer/discuss the following questions/items together: 

  1. How did you know you were stressed or upset? Could you feel it in your body? Did someone comment on your behavior? Were you having negative thoughts? 
  2. What did you (or someone else) do to help you to deal with the stress or what made you upset? 
  3. Read the following list of mindful activities and choose TWO that you would be likely to try the next time you feel stressed:
    • Deep belly breathing 
    • Closing your eyes and imagining different, calming scenery (e.g., near a peaceful waterfall)
    • Use “positive self talk” or affirmations to change any negative thoughts
    • Take a time out in your room or with a trusted friend or family member
  4. Why do you think these mindful activities build resilience?

Follow Up Activity/Additional Resources

Have students create a free hand drawing of something they feel represents resilience to THEM. This can be an abstract picture or something specific that speaks to them. How the picture looks does not matter. Remind students that it is helpful to have a visual representation of this very important skill available to them to encourage them. 

Teacher Tips

We have a tendency to think that resilience is a skill that we either innately have or don’t have. This is not the case. Resilience is something that can absolutely be developed and built within students, with the help of a caring adult. Help students build resilience by teaching them skills and giving them tools to regulate their emotions and thoughts. Mindfulness is a great tool to do that! Here are five additional ways you can help students build resilience: https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-ways-build-resilience-students