Spring break is right around the corner, and is a time for both you and your students to recharge. After the break, what can you and your students do to stay recharged during the rest of the school year?
In Ensouling Our Schools: A Universally Designed Framework for Mental Health, Well Being, and Reconciliation (Ensouling Our Schools), Jennifer Katz shares important lessons on mindfulness and mental well-being that help you create thriving, engaged learning communities.
Breathing exercises are a quick and easy way to combat stress, overwhelm, and anxiety on a daily basis. Here are some useful tips, straight out of Ensouling Our Schools to help your students (and you!) start the break off on the right foot. You can find these lessons on pages 133-134 of the book.
Breathing using imagery
Have your students sit comfortably in their chairs and imagine a time they were angry or anxious. Have them create an image of something that represents that feeling, such as a cat hissing or a dark cloud.
Have your students then inhale deeply through their noses while imagining something that makes them happy, like a bright colour or something that smells and tastes good, and breathe out the image of the bad feeling.
Have your students put a hand on their chests and on their bellies. Tell them that as they inhale, they should be pushing out the hand on their bellies without moving the hand on their chests, activating their diaphragms to help them re-centre themselves.
You can also alternate belly breathing and back breathing. Have the students put one hand on their lower backs and one hand on their bellies and focus on pushing out the hand on their backs while keeping the hands on their bellies still. This helps balance the body.
Have your students press their thumbs onto one nostril and breathe out gently from the other nostril. This is a technique used in some forms of yoga, meditation, and qi gong to regulate the breath.
Remind your students to refocus daily. Improved mental health and a greater sense of calm equip us to better handle the challenges in our day.
Ensouling Our Schools is a book in Jennifer Katz’s “Teaching to Diversity” series. This third installment focuses on mental health and well-being in the classroom, and is available now. Order your copy here.