Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Catching our breath.

When Brooklyn gets excited she whimpers. When she see's a cat, another dog, children, or anyone over the age of 40 her whimper quickly turns tragic. It's loud! Then the whimpers get faster, she starts pacing, and before you know it she's panting. I love her, but man is she an anxious little girl.

So today I put together some of my favorite resources for those in our lives and schools (or maybe even for you yourself) that are anxious:

            Strategies For Relaxation

5-Star Breathing: This simple breathing technique includes a good visual for students. It's easy to follow, remember, and use. I created a full scale sheet for practice and smaller stars for students to take with them/tape to their desks.

Belly Breathe with Elmo- This video from Seasme Street is still one of my favorites to show! The song is catchy and my first graders always make me play it over and over again. We watch it together once first, then I play it again and ask them to join in the belly breathing. They always want more, so I tell them as a reward at the end of class we will play it one more time.

Good ole fashioned stress balls! I love having stress balls around my office and so do the kids. They also tend to disappear, so I try and stock up whenever I can. You can get some cute stress balls on Oriental Trading (about $15 for 24),  you can make custom stress balls for about $1.15 each at Office Depot, and you can find several versions (some hysterical but not school appropriate) on Amazon, including this silly one.  I have also used play dough and attempted to make my own at school (it was fun but messy). Lastly, whenever there is a career fair, an armed forces information day, or free event with business prompting themselves I try and stop by because often I can
get one or two free stress balls.


Breathe 2 Relax-  This app allows students to follow along as they take deep inhales and exhales and learn how to belly breath. You can lengthen or shorten the counts of each inhale and exhale, so I think it's interesting to talk about how my inhale my differ from others, how long is too long, how long is not enough to calm down, etc. Ideally each student could have it on their own iPad, iPhone, etc. When I used it I only had one iPad so it was pretty funny to watch us all sit around the iPad like we were around a campfire and practice. The students got a kick out of it through. In high school this is a good resource for your students to put on their own phones.

Squeeze and Shake Stress Relief- When I was a high school counselor I remember letting many students "borrow" stress balls. The longer I am in this job, the more I realize there is no "borrowing."This would be a great app for middle school age through adults. It's a virtual stress ball! It also vibrates the phone which is great for any kids with sensory issues you might be working with. I am going to recommend this to our SPED department. Be warned though, it's not a free app (it's 99 cents) so you want to make sure students aren't buying it on their phones and then have the parents send you the bill.

Read about more apps here

Websites This website provides a list of links for kids relaxation techniques. It's a great page to bookmark and share with parents.

Huffington Post review- The Huffington Post reviewed a list of new-age relaxation resources and and apps. It's a lengthy list and many of them I would recommend to parents and high school students. Check it out here.


What To Do Series- the "What To Do When…." series of books by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. is my go to series when working with small groups and individual students. You can read a chapter each time you meet and practice the strategies as  you go along. I recommend it to parents all the time, because I think it's a great workbook for parents and students to work through together. All of the strategies are spot on and I love what kid friendly terms they put them in.

Stress Can Really Get On Your Nerves- This book by Trevor Romain
and Elizabeth Verdick is really good for kids in grades 4-6. It's not an overwhelming chapter books so kids can read it easily not their own. It's funny, yet honest and practical. In the book they give several "stress mess" situations such as "stress is the boss of your life," and follow it up with a solution, for example "cutting stress out of your life." What I love is on page 76 and 77 they have "Relaxation in 10 easy steps." If your library doesn't have a copy, I would really encourage your school librarian to order one.

See more books on my GoodReads Page.

What are your favorite tips, tools, and tricks for relaxing?

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