Don’t Stress!

There are plenty of ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Ms.+Johnson%27s+room+is+located+in+K242+for+anyone+wanting+to+go+visit+her.+
Ms. Johnson's room is located in K242 for anyone wanting to go visit her.

Ms. Johnson's room is located in K242 for anyone wanting to go visit her.

Ana Hernandez

Ana Hernandez

Ms. Johnson's room is located in K242 for anyone wanting to go visit her.

Ana Hernandez, Staff writer

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When it comes to talking about stress, the first things that comes to mind are learning to stay organized and learning how to balance your time.  But sometimes staying organized and practicing time management can be huge, overwhelming tasks in and of themselves. Sometimes we just need some basic ways to remind ourselves to breathe and let go.

Relaxation is important  because it helps maintain a healthy body and mind. And no, we’re not talking about the binge-watching-all-the-Kevin-Hart-specials-on-Netflix kind of relaxation. We’re talking breath focus, body scans, yoga, and meditation. There are actual relaxation techniques that provide tons of benefits. In fact, one school in Baltimore is replacing detentions with meditation. In the article by CNN Health contributor Deborah Bloom, students at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School go to a room filled with pillows and lavendar in order to calm down and re-center. “Students stretch, do yoga, and practice deep breathing,” Bloom writes. “More important, staff say, they build an ability to be mindful and calm.”

While some may argue that it’s not a school’s job to worry about mindfulness and relaxation techniques, it might greatly benefit schools to help with stress. After all, every individual has a lot on their plate with work, homework, family issues, personal issues, and much more. According to the CNN article, Coleman Elementary School has seen a significant drop in referrals, suspensions, and overall bad behavior.

While a room specifically designated to keep students calm and 15 minutes of meditation may seem out of the question, there are some staff members trying to incorporate relaxation and mindfulness techniques into the classrooms here at RLHS.

“I think the meditation is really important,” said Ms. Sara Solheim, a social worker at Round Lake High School.  “There is a curriculum that is evidence based and has been proven effective called Calm Classroom. Social workers, teachers, and staff can do this for students. It helps students ground themselves so they are ready to learn.”

Calm Classroom’s techniques basically consist of a minute to three minutes of guided reading and mindfulness exercises. This “me time” helps students reduce the stress and really focus on the moment.

Ms. Aris Johnson, another social worker at RLHS is starting a mindfulness group. Mindfulness is a mental state where people stay completely in the present moment. Mindfulness is a practice people often use to lessen anxiety.  “Mindfulness is easy and free,” Johnson said. “You can do it anywhere. It basically is similar to meditation.”

Johnson explained practicing mindfulness by using the example of picking up a rock and staying focused on that rock, acknowledging any distractions and then gently letting them go. “This helps the body practice on focusing and living the moment,” she said. For any student interested in joining the mindfulness group, Johnson is located in K242 and can also be contacted through her email.

Another huge way to cut down on stress is to put that cell phone down. Not only are our phones hugely distracting (which leads us to missing out on crucial instructions in class and struggling with assignments), but constant exposure to social media causes lots of stress, too. “Usually, many think the biggest stressor would be school due to homework, jobs, and much more, [but it’s] actually social media,” Solheim said. “Teenagers are always worried with what’s going on, who’s posting what, and if it’s possible to take all of this away for just a couple hours, the amount of stress was drop.”

In general, getting your body up and moving helps too. Practicing yoga, exercising, and taking a walk for a couple minutes makes a huge difference.  Another great idea is to get a maori stones, which can be a tool for practicing mindfulness. The act of touching the maori stone and focusing on it helps individuals regulate their breathing.

Staying active and practicing mindfulness techniques helps us to remember to live in the moment and helps us keep focused on what is important now rather than thinking about what happened yesterday or what will happen in the near future, which ultimately cuts down on a huge amount of stress.

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