The school community strives to encourage social-emotional-behavioral health (SEBH) practices within the school day to support and prevent stress related responses in our students. Stress affects all systems of the body, and while our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, long term stress can have serious effects on our bodies. Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being. (American Psychological Association, Nov. 1, 2018) .
Mindfulness practice can create a more positive learning environment, where kids are primed to pay attention. Students tend to take responsibility for their actions when they trust and feel supported through shared-social regulation. Linking thought and its resulting impact on emotion and feeling, strengthens the understanding of the mind and body connection. Kids are rarely asked to gauge their feelings (calm, neutral, anxious or restless). Bringing mindfulness practice to the daily structure and educating students to the potential cognitive, attention and memory benefits can empower them to self regulate. Incorporating yoga stretches and mindful breathing within a daily routine is a great way to blend healthy attitudes with effective study habits. Basic body stretches and body scans can be done anytime and anywhere. Body awareness and awareness of the classroom environment can be used intermittently along with moving to music as an effective energizer for the sluggish class or the grumpy kid. Healthy minds are happier minds.
Feeling tense? Frustrated or Stressed? Just Breathe…
Breathing techniques are proven methods to reduce stress. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and can assist in feeling less anxious. Practicing deep breathing reduces heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. Inhale fresh, oxygenated air and exhale stale air. (Scott Helgeson, M.D. Pulmonologist, Mayo Clinic) Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference as part of a daily routine. Integrating guided visuals, music and aromatherapy can add a level of relaxation. Learning to unplug, even for a few minutes, can make the difference between feeling stressed out or in tune with the world around you.
Try one of our classroom favorites:
- Sit upright in a supportive chair.
- Breathe in through your nose (mouth closed). Let your belly fill with air.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one on your chest.
- Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.
- Repeat & relax.