Mindfulness in Schools Program Update

For the last 14 years we have been delivering evidence-based programs that have shown to prevent mental health and substance use disorders.

And of all of them — our “5 Minute Mindfulness” program for classrooms is our #1 seller.  With a special thanks to the Anne L. Bernstein award which launched the Mental Fitness Resiliency Fund at the Spartanburg County Foundation, we are able to offer these programs to schools across the country.

• 2015, 2016 and 2017 we deployed mindfulness trainings at the Compassionate Schools / Resilient Schools initiative at USC Upstate.

• In 2018, we integrated the program into Spartanburg County Schools in Districts 3, 4 and 7 including Whitlock Learning Center.

• Dr. Jada Kidd Robinson invited Mental Fitness to present as Keynote for the 2019 Alternative School Educator Conference in Columbia, South Carolina, where over 150 educators were trained on the model.

• As a result of the above, Lexington and Richland County schools will deploy the model in 2019-2020.

• In 2019 we led trainings for 90 SC Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors in Columbia, SC to launch a new mindfulness focused job skills training program using our curriculum.

• In 2019, District 7 Schools will roll out an after school program at Mary H. Wright Elementary School as part of the first mindfulness after school program, led by Colin Bauer and Dr. Carson.

Check out the data here.


Managing Stress This Holiday Season!

10 Quick Tips for Managing Stress This Holiday Season (and Always)!
by Robyn Hussa Farrell, MFA, E-RYT
With the holidays upon us, life can quickly become stressful.  Though it is a positive stressor for some people, the holidays can also be a time of great turmoil for others.  This holiday season, try staying on top of large and small stressors alike by implementing any (or all) of the below techniques!


  1. Understand that you are not alone — we all have stress!  In 2016 the American Psychological Association published their survey on “Stress in America” and found that (a) 25 percent of Americans concede that they wish they managed stress more effectively; (b) 7 in 10 Americans say that they have someone they can ask for needed emotional support, but they still need more; (c) Millennials and Gen Xers do not feel they are doing enough to manage stress.
  2. Practice and teach self-care to your friends and family.  Self-care can be done through large and small ways — from taking five minutes to make sure you have a peaceful, nourishing meal to spending 30 minutes walking outside – there are simple self-care strategies that can be incorporated into our daily lives.
  3. Get a full night’s sleep.  According to the 2014 Sleep Health Index report: (a) 24% of women reported they woke up feeling well-rested ZERO days out of the past 4 days; (b) 35 percent of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair;” (c) Only 15% of teens reported sleeping the recommended 8.5 hours on school nights. 
  4. Practice journal writing each day or each week.  According to studies by Dr. James Pennebaker at University of Texas, journal writing for 2 minutes has shown to reduce anxiety, improve our immune system and manage stress.
  5. Connect with community!  Be a mentor, role model or volunteer.  Dr. Ginsberg from University of Pennsylvania has found that – despite extremely adverse childhood experiences – having just ONE solid role model in the life of a child can make a positive difference in their life.
  6. Take brain breaks each day:  10 seconds.  One minute.  Five minutes.
  7. Download the free Sharpen App and try the mindfulness, stress management and resiliency builders!
  8. Share your feelings!  Often a good amount of our stress relates to mixed feelings and emotions associated with family gatherings or interpersonal relationships.  Research has shown that the more you are able to talk about your feelings, communicate through conflict, and put your feelings into words … the more you improve your social and emotional health and make sadness, anger and pain less intense.
  9. This holiday season, get in the habit of turning off electronic devices at least one hour prior to bed time.  This will assist in decreasing the stress caused by social media and news activity, it will allow your mind to wind down and decompress, and will decrease the blue light rays that have shown to suppress melatonin levels (melatonin is a hormone that helps control your sleep levels).
  10. Write down one thing for which you are truly grateful each evening before bed.  Try to reflect on that gratitude and write about it for at least two minutes.  Repeat this activity each day and enjoy the many benefits of practicing gratitude.


Mindful Teachers Interview Our Founder Robyn Hussa

Robyn Hussa sits down with Mindful Teachers to discuss how yoga and mindfulness can increase the quality of life for those struggling with mental health disorders and substance abuse.

You’ve taught yoga and meditation to people with addictions and eating disorders. How does this help in their recovery process, and how do you integrate it with other aspects of their treatment program?
Mindfulness is at the root of many evidence-based treatment interventions for individuals struggling with mental health disorders and substance use disorders.  For example, CBT, DBT, TF-CBT, etc. all share mindfulness (deep breathing, meditation, gentle movement) as their core.  To highlight the mindfulness work separately, then, is assistive for those in recovery in that it helps individuals build the protective factors that mitigate risk for some of their symptoms.
Mindfulness exercises like deep breathing (called pranayama in yoga), for example, have shown to calm anxiety and depressive disorders, while improving the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Other mindfulness activities such as journal writing help an individual to share their feelings and regulate emotion – skills that have been shown to improve resilience and support the recovery process.

When I work in a treatment setting (or in a support group setting for those in recovery), I integrate the mindfulness techniques in practical and engaging ways so the participants have a toolkit of resources to take home and use with them that evening.  For example, I will teach them a series of evidence-based breathing or journal writing techniques that they can choose to use when they are having difficulty sleeping late at night.  In this way, the work is extremely practical and useful – and something that can engage an entire family into the process of mindful living.

 Click here to read full interview and to find out more about Mindful Teachers.


MindfulTeachers.org — 8 Principles of Trauma Informed Mindfulness

Graciously re-posted from MindfulTeachers.org, this post was written by Mental Fitness Founder, Robyn Hussa Farrell, MFA, E-RYT.

arztsamui for FreeDigitalPhotos.net

These principles are excerpted from an online course for educators who wish to learn how to teach mindfulness in the classroom setting. For details or more information, please feel free to email the author at rfarrell[at]mentalfitnessinc[dot]org.

Because of recent research like The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, creating a trauma-aware environment is becoming more the norm in the education community. It’s particularly important when teaching yoga and mindfulness, as there are many potential triggers when students are meditating or when they’re engaged in certain physical postures and movements.

Continue reading the entire post here.

Robyn Hussa Farrell, MFA, is an award-winning New York City theatre producer as well as an E-RYT Certified Yoga Teacher and an accredited Continuing Education Provider through Yoga Alliance. She is the creator of Resiliency Technologies / Sharpen app, NOURISH Recovery Yoga, and founder and CEO of Mental Fitness, an award-winning nonprofit organization that collaborates with national researchers in developmental psychology, resilience and neuroscience to create and deliver evidence-based arts and mindfulness programs to K-12 schools.