Johns Creek High School Wellness Week 2017
Johns Creek High School Wellness Week 2017
“Do What’s Right For You,” the theme of this year’s Wellness Week at Johns Creek High School, is a much needed reminder that self-care is completely unique to each individual. With the world offering up a buffet style of never ending choices for everything from hybrid schedules and which classes to take to what color to dye your hair, an ongoing flow of social media, news flashes from around the world that are often disturbing, fierce competition in both sports and academics, financial concerns about paying for college and choosing a future career, not to mention the “old-school” typical worries like whether to go to the school dance or not, and who to go with, there is no lack of things to create stress and anxiety for our teens. Don’t get me wrong. Stress is not always a bad thing. We all have it, and it can help us be productive. Pushing through something challenging can help create resilience and meeting those hard-earned goals creates a sense of pride and confidence that is life changing! The key is learning to pay attention to the signals within ourselves that tell us when our stress levels are getting too high to be effective anymore. Knowing strategies to use during these high stress times, or to use regularly as a means of maintaining balance in this fast paced, often crazy world can help us all keep a fresh perspective, appreciate life more and be more productive.
This all may sound simple, but it’s a concept that one must place some mental effort on at first, until eventually (hopefully) it is as second nature as breathing. We teach our kids to use good manners, so that they aren’t even thinking about it when they say “please” and “thank you.” Why not instill self-care the same way? Strategies can be simple, inexpensive and don’t have to take up a lot of time to be effective. Learning to know and accept one’s own strengths and weaknesses, both kids and parents, is key. If you know it will take you longer to process reading, for example, then taking AP World History might not be a good choice for you along with another AP course. This does not mean that you are not smart! It means your focus and time will be placed on something that makes more sense for you. If you absolutely love history, take AP world, and cut down on something else. Your friend might seem to handle five advance courses in one semester with ease, but is that the right thing for you? If it is, go for it! If it’s not, make different choices and be okay with it. Ask yourself, what are your passions and gifts, and how can you best cultivate them? What do you have to offer the world, and how can you best create opportunities to do that? Sometimes knowing when to just “take a minute” and knowing some ways to manage stress can help us better tune in to who we are, where we want to go, and what would work for us to move in that direction.
Research shows that doing RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS can decrease social anxiety and increase overall happiness. On Monday, students were encouraged to find opportunities throughout the day to show kindness and help others. Simple acts of kindness, like saying hello, inviting someone alone at lunch to sit with you, thanking a teacher or school staff member, complimenting someone, or leaving a positive note to brighten someone’s day.
Students could also color during both lunches, or take coloring sheets for later. Did you know research for over 100 years have shown benefits of coloring detailed images can relieve stress and anxiety, while promoting focus and creativity? Healthy eating was also featured to help both mind and body to manage stress. Yogurt parfaits were kindly provided by the JCHS cafeteria services.
Tuesday, hot tea was served during lunches. Studies show that the ritual of making and drinking tea has a calming effect and can promote a good mood. Listening to music has been shown to have a tremendous relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. The JCHS chamber orchestra played for students in the cafeteria and students were also encouraged to make a relaxing playlist to use when starting their day or when things start to feel overwhelming.
Wednesday, Jon Adams (http://sonicyogi.com/) was interviewed on JCNN (Johns Creek News Network) about how the vibrational sounds of Tibetan Bowl music can calm anxious minds, and helped him overcome crippling anxiety. He performed Tibetan Bowl and acoustic guitar music in the school courtyard during lunches. FCBOE food services also offered a sampling of Kale and fruit smoothies for students to try something healthy and new.
Thursday Melody Smith, owner of Ballet 24, led students in the media center in a combination of ballet, yoga and cardio exercise. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood, self-confidence, decrease anxiety and stress, improve concentration and help with sleep. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAZ5sV550abhRDOnLXyv6xg)
Sharon Becker, Clinic Aide, organized a parent drug talk with Matt Meyer of the Insight Program (http://theinsightprogram.com/) and Officer Meberg with Johns Creek Police that took place Thursday evening. A Johns Creek family shared their personal journey with their son’s drug abuse and Head Counselor Jay Mercer summarized a heartfelt and informative session, including tips on spotting serious behavioral changes in teens.
Students were led through six mindfulness stations in the media center by therapist Karen Tantillo (http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapists/profile/karen-tantillo-20140913) including unwrapping chocolate kisses in a mindful way, blowing bubbles and breathing exercises on Friday. Robyn Vogel, media specialist, also created a calming mindfulness room in the media center. Students and staff were amazed at the impact just ten minutes of zen in this soothing space provided. Wellness does not mean everything in one’s life is perfect; it is a sense of confidence in being able to make the best choices for oneself, communicating that confidence in a respectful way, keeping in tune with one’s self enough to know when self-care is needed, and having the skills to do so. We wouldn’t just tell our kids when they are little to “use their manners” and not explain what manners are. Taking care of yourself in a 24/7 fast paced world sounds easy enough, but without putting a little effort into building your skill set, it can be neglected, resulting in attempts to cope that may not be so healthy. Individuals are like snowflakes, made out of the same stuff, but completely unique in design; not one is the same. Let’s help create a world where we can all find “What’s Right For you!”
Rachel Kitchens-Cole, LCSW
Johns Creek High & Dolvin Elementary School