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Meditation Is Happening in School

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Wednesday, April 8, 2015

By Amy Ballin, LICSW, Ph.D.

In college, I first tried meditation with the hope that it would ease my stress. I went to a workshop and learned how to meditate.  It seemed easy enough.  I understood that all I had to do was repeat a word or phrase over and over again in my head and that was mediation.  So, I started a meditation practice.  After two weeks, I decided it did not work and never thought about meditation again until seven years ago when I attended a workshop at the Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine.  It was at this workshop that I understood what did not work in my previous attempt and how meditation can be life altering.

After learning the science of how meditation changes cell structure and gene pathways and reading the research that reports dramatic changes in stress levels, increased focus, and improved health and relationships,  I started meditating with a commitment to do it every day for at least ten minutes for a minimum of eight weeks before I judged it. I kept to my commitment but after about four months I stopped my daily mediation.  What happened after that was amazing.  I noticed a change in the way I responded to people and events.  I was more on edge than I had been when I was practicing meditation.  Things happened in my day that got me more upset.  I was less able to let bad things go and move on.  I went back to the Benson center and started my practice again.  I am more patient with my children and husband and I feel overall better able to handle disappointments, anger from others and other stressful situations.  In addition, some chronic health problems have disappeared.  So I now know from first hand experience that the research is true.

My colleagues in the counseling department and I are introducing the practice of the relaxation response to Landmark students.  We know that students with LBLD tend to have higher rates of anxiety compared to the typical education population.  It is with this information along with the high level of anxiety that we see with our students that we are implementing this practice.

Recently I got a call from the nurse saying a child had a stomachache.  He has been practicing meditation at home and wanted to come to my office to meditate.  We did a ten-minute meditation. He went back to class and stayed in school for the rest of the day.  The stomachache disappeared.

The science on the benefits of meditation is clear and from my own experiences and those of others that have tried it, it seems that a daily practice of the relaxation response is highly beneficial. We look forward to bringing this program to our students.

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Tags:  Benson Henry Institute of Mind Body Medicine chronic health problems counseling dyslexia focus health Landmark School Landmark School Outreach Program language-based learning disabili LBLmeditation mindfulness mindfulness education mindfulness workshops stress in education

Tips for Coping with Anxiety

Blog Type:  Social and Emotional Issues Date Posted:  Tuesday, May 8, 2018 Byline:  By Kaleigh Mangiarelli

 

Whether diagnosed or not, anxiety is something many people deal with on a daily basis.

The word "anxiety" gets tossed around a lot in millennial culture, but those of us who have or feel anxiety know the great weight of the word, of the disorder.

Anxiety is an elephant sitting on your chest, shortening your breath, egging your sternum to break.
Anxiety is the sweat before seeing someone you’re nervous around or have feelings for or just need to talk to.
Anxiety bites your nails, picks at your cuticles or eyebrow hairs, grinds your teeth.
Anxiety never responds to text messages, or tells people “I don’t feel well.”
Anxiety is procrastinating all afternoon until suddenly it’s 11 p.m. and there's an entire assignment to complete.

I’ve had anxiety for my entire life, but I wasn’t diagnosed until three years ago. Through therapy I learned coping strategies for dealing with my anxiety as both a graduate student and as a teacher. I also came to realize that the cause of my anxiety was the constant feeling of “stuff.” There’s always so much “stuff” to do and never enough time to do it all. I felt like I was never in control of what was happening in my life.

Here are five tips I’ve learned to cope with anxiety that have helped me turn my life around and feel like I am in control.

1. Keep an agenda/planner that keeps track of everything.

Keeping an old-school agenda where you write down everything that needs to get done helps you see it all in one place. As students, we focus all day on writing down our homework, which often leads us to forget about other things we need to get done, making it harder to manage our time. It’s important to write down homework (or to-do lists for work), but also note when you’ll do each task. It will be easier to plan your day if you keep track of your tasks in one place; you can see when you'll be free to spend time with friends or relax, for example.

2. Make yourself to-do lists when you’re stressed.

You can maintain a to-do list on most phones, but having a physical list you can cross out or check off as you complete tasks can help you find a sense of accomplishment, even for the most menial tasks.  I make a to-do list each and every day my in agenda, and when I’m really stressed, I make a separate one for each different area of my life. For me, that means I usually have three to-do lists: work, school, and play. For a student, this might look like school, extracurricular, and friends.

3. Wake up early to practice self-care.

This is probably one tip that a lot of people will scroll right past or roll their eyes at. When I say wake up early, this doesn’t mean you need to get up at the crack of dawn. However, if you’re someone who barely has enough time to get up, shower, get dressed, and run out the door to school or work, you’re starting your day in a frenzy. The morning is the time when we could be our calmest if we let ourselves.

Try waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual—and don't hit snooze—and give yourself some time to drink a cup of coffee or tea, eat a healthy breakfast, and enjoy the silence before the day begins.

4. Eat healthy.

Eating healthy doesn’t always necessarily mean avoiding ice cream and candy. While this is a huge part of it, eating healthy also means eating regularly.  A lot of times, anxiety can cause us to have a loss of appetite or nausea. If you’ve followed steps 1–3, you’ll allow yourself time to have a healthy, revitalizing breakfast in the morning.  Make sure you eat lunch when given lunch break, rather than cramming in more work.  When you eat good, you feel good.

5. Put the phone down.

Phones have become a huge part of our lives.  Most people wake up to the alarm on their phone, and immediately start scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., without even thinking about it.  Similarly, many of us fall asleep scrolling through social media as well.  Instead, save your scrolling until your morning cup of coffee and breakfast. This way, you can get into the routine of getting up and out of bed and taking care of you, before you even think about your connections to everyone else.

Remember, anxiety isn’t something you can just make go away.  It takes hard work to develop a routine and coping strategies that work for you. It's even harder work to stick with these routines and strategies. But you are important. Your mental health is something that you need to be mindful of, and take care of yourself.

About the Author

kaleigh

Kaleigh Mangiarelli is a Language Arts and Tutorial Teacher and the girls varsity soccer coach at Landmark School.

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Tags:  anxiety coping strategies health stress time management
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