December Mental Health Campaign: Mindfulness
Enjoy the Holidays More With Mindfulness
Slow down and get more out of this busy season
Contrary to common belief, one effective way to cope with the holiday madness is to SLOW DOWN and take a little time each day to cultivate and practice mindfulness. Perhaps you’ve heard about this concept, which is rooted in Zen Buddhism, and has recently become more popular in Western society. Research has demonstrated that practicing mindfulness is associated with improvements in well-being, physical and mental health, relationship satisfaction, and attentional focus. In addition, the practice of mindfulness has been shown to help reduce stress and associated negative emotions such as anxiety and sadness.
You may be asking, “Okay, so on a practical level, how can I be mindful?” In reality, there are infinite opportunities to practice mindfulness during each day. Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Find a quiet place for just a few minutes (e.g the bathroom, as for some people this is the only quiet spot!). Get yourself into a comfortable sitting position with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing only. Do this for a few minutes. Listen to the sound of your breath and notice how your body feels during this time. When thoughts of other moments come racing into your mind, acknowledge them and let them go by as if they are on a conveyor belt, and refocus your attention on your breath again. Do this over and over.
- Spend a few minutes each day writing down five things you are thankful for that day.
- When you are walking outside, focus on one of your senses. For example, for vision, notice the colors of objects around you or for hearing, listen to the sounds around you and label them nonjudgmentally (eg “That building is gray,” or “I hear a horn honking”).
- Get the kids involved! One favorite thing I like to recommend is good old fashioned bubble blowing. Make a game out of it and instruct them (and yourself) to silently watch the bubbles float around the room. Resist the urge to pop the bubbles and see where they go.
By taking a few minutes each day to be mindful, perhaps even more than once a day, we can give ourselves the space to get in touch with ourselves, to fully experience the meaningful moments that often pass us by, and to take time to practice gratitude for what we have in our lives. Instead, we can experience gratitude daily, reduce our stress, and be more in touch with the little things that make all the difference.
November Assemblies: Internet Safety
This month your children are learning about Internet Safety during our monthly Guidance Assemblies.
Some things they will be learning are:
- What personal information is and what not not to share strangers online
- What netiquette (online etiquette or good manners) is and how to use it
- What to do if they see or read something inappropriate
- What to do if they are being cyber-bullied
- What a virus is
Always monitor what your children are doing when they are using phones, tablets, laptops or gaming consoles. Talk to your children about what they are doing and seeing during this time. A lot of our tips tell students to speak to their parents or trusted adults when something is making them uncomfortable online so be sure to keep this communication open.
Check out these resources:
November Mental Health Campaign Topic: Calm Voices, Calmer Kids
Check out this month's read on the benefits of staying calm and not raising your voice when communicating with your children.
This new school year the Guidance Department is bringing social-emotional learning to the whole school. There will now be monthly assemblies presented to each grade once a month. Here students will learn through discussions, role plays, books, video clips and more. Our area of focus in September was on Communication, both verbal and non-verbal. The lower grades focus was understanding the relationship between feelings and body language. For instance, someone who is happy may smile, while someone who is mad may frown or cross their arms. The upper grades were able to go further and reflect a bit on how their body language is impacting their communication with others. They discussed miscommunications that have happened based on their facial expressions or body language not matching their words.
Next month we will take this idea of communication a bit further and work on building strong friendships.
Ms. Kump and Ms. Callender
School Mental Health Campaign
Our school School Mental Health Campaign will continue this year thanks to our school Mental Health Consult Latiana Wilson. For those of you that do not know, this means that once a month I will be sharing resources from Ms. Wilson. These resources may be about bullying, study tips and healthy habits. Be sure to check back each month to see what is new. The first resource has 7 Bullying Intervention Tips for Families
- Increase Communication
Begin discussion that has to do with the social and online lives of your children as often as possible. Ask specific questions that can create important discussions (e.g., instead of “How was school?,” try “What was lunchtime like at your school—who do you sit with, what do you do and what do you talk about?”). You have to ensure your conduct shows how genuinely interested and open minded you are, and must not in any way see you as trying to control or invade privacy.
- Monitor Behavior
You can get to see your children under different situations by being watchful during social gatherings, volunteering at school and participating in extracurricular activities. If in any case you realize that your children are overly aggressive, vulnerable to peer pressure or show other behavior that gives you cause for concern, talk to them about your concerns and correct the behavior. Keep watch on the warning signs associated with bullying behavior (e.g., fear of attending school, social withdrawal, avoidance of or preoccupation with technology) and you can always believe that your instinct will intervene when you feel like your children are deviating.
Click the link below to check out the rest of these useful tips.