Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Stress Reduction and Relaxation for Midterms

Dear Friends,

     Last week, I had the good fortune of working with the Ninth Grade Students in their Seminar Class.  Within the class we talked about some simple stress reduction and relaxation techniques for studying and for taking midterms.  Students shared many of the techniques they were already using for studying, taking exams, and for performance in other areas of their life too.  We talked about how breathing, visualizing, and thinking positively can enhance our performance not only in the classroom but on the athletic field and for our future.
     We also talked about how the more we practice these techniques in small ways, over a long period of time, the quicker they will become an automatic response for our bodies and brains.  We have the power to feel at peace quickly and to shift our response to a more positive one, the more we employ these strategies.  I am very grateful for their input, their stories, and their willingness to take part in these exercises for greater relaxation and resilience.  They are such an inspiring group of young people! Below are the topics we discussed:
  • How we learn - Understanding how the brain learns and why it is important to calm down the reactions of the amygdala so we can learn (with our prefrontal cortex) and remember and retrieve information (with our hippocampus)
  • The impact of stress - Understanding how stress can prohibit our learning, memory, and retrieval of information
  • The manifestation of stress - Stress what it is, and how it manifests itself differently in each of us
  • Stressful factors - How lighting, too much stimuli, poor posture, and negative thinking, poor study habits, and more contribute to stress
  • The importance of mindfulness - How mindfulness and learning to slow down can help us to have more awareness of our stress and empower us to manage it
  • Breathing slowly - We learned simple techniques for becoming aware of our breathing and learning to slow down the breath
  • Positive thinking - We learned how to notice what we say and think to ourselves and how to shift our language to exclude negative phrases and include positive ones
  • Visualization - We talked about visualization and how important it is to incorporate as many details and senses as possible when visualizing a positive outcome.  We even had the chance to practice visualization using the above stress reduction techniques.  We learned that practicing visualization often and in small moments - over a long period of time, allows us to have a more automatic response when we need to feel relaxed and encouraged.  Allowing the body to be relaxed is also important because we know that the mind responds to positive words and images when we feel at ease.
     Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about the above topics.  Best of Luck to you on your exams!

Kimberly Borin