Sometimes it helps to just breathe

SEL Committee creates Wind Down Wednesday to help students, teachers release stress


courtesy of Jane Farmer

On Feb. 7, the Social and Emotional Learning Committee launched “Wind Down Wednesday” to help combat stress and any negative energy. Dance teacher Natalie Uehara led the morning stretch and focus that started at 8:40 a.m. and lasted 10 minutes. Photo courtesy of Jane Farmer.

Abigail Salazar, staff reporter

The Social Emotional Learning Committee, led by Tamara Stone, launched a new activity in the library called Wind Down Wednesday that was created to help both the students and the faculty find new ways to de-stress and release any negative energy they might have.

“The adults here know how to de-stress, and we wanted to help teach students, as well as other adults, how to de-stress and take things down a level,” Stone said. “We figured that Wednesday would be the best day to do it because it’s in the middle of the week and that’s when things usually get stressful.”

Doing something as simple as taking a deep breath or even just standing up and stretching can really help de-stress you and make you not feel so tense about things.”

— senior Liliette Rodriguez

Wind Down Wednesday held its first session Feb. 6 at 8:40 a.m. in the library. Dance teacher Natalie Uehara, who is also on the SEL Committee, was the first person who helped lead the meeting.

“I decided to do a morning stretch and focus because it is something that I usually do in my dance classes on a regular basis anyway,” Uehara said. “It is something that I do for myself for my routine of mindfulness, so it was kind of just natural for me to do that.”

According to the union’s 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey, a poll administered to 5,000 teachers and staff across the country, 61% of teachers are stressed on a daily basis or for the majority of the time.

“Stress is a big thing that everyone deals with,” Uehara said. “Students deal with different kind of stress than teachers. Teachers are pulled in a lot of different directions, they have deadlines, lots of compliance things we have to do that are district-wide, and they have a lot of concerts and shows to put on. We just have a lot of things on our plate. Students also have a lot on their plate, when they are trying to manage personal life, social and emotional development, which is a huge thing in a teenager’s brain, as well as keeping their grades up and graduating.”

Based on NYU’s study on Top High School Student’s stress, it has been discovered that 49% of all students deal with stress on a daily basis and nearly 31% of students have felt somewhat stressed on a daily basis.

Students … have a lot on their plate, when they are trying to manage personal life, social and emotional development … as well as keeping their grades up and graduating.”

— dance teacher Natalie Uehara

Wind Down Wednesday is also accessible to students. Multiple students have joined in at least one or more Wind Down Wednesday session and many have felt that this activity and the exercises led have helped them relax and de-stress. It has been especially beneficial for seniors, as they are feeling pressure and stress from college applications and graduation.

Senior Liliette Rodriguez has been to some Wind Down Wednesday sessions and believes that they have helped her relax and minimize any negative energy she may be experiencing.

“I can say that I definitely feel more relaxed and not so tense,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes it helped me calm down my nerves in the morning if I’m worrying about a test that’s coming up later on in the day. I really enjoyed the exercise where we followed a path and breath at certain points. I enjoyed these the most because I think we sometimes forget to breath when we are stressed, and I believe that doing something as simple as taking a deep breath or even just standing up and stretching can really help de-stress you and make you not feel so tense about things or whatever is bothering you.”

A survey that students took back in October found that both students and staff feel overwhelmed and that there wasn’t much self-care, so a change needed to happen. Wind Down Wednesday was created to fight the stress multiple people were dealing with.

“After we had analyzed the surveys that everyone took back in October last year,” Uehara said. “We found out that self-care for both students and teachers was a big need on the campus, and so we wanted to provide an opportunity for students and staff to come and do mindfulness activities once a week to help combat stress and negative energy.”

Wind Down Wednesday allows both students and faculty to get a sample of many different ways there are to help a person de-stress and relax. It is just a small opening into a huge opportunity for everyone to find something that fits them and to help people realizes that they are not alone dealing with stress in their life.

“Wind Down Wednesday is just a little taste of what can be done to help a person de-stress,” Stone said. “There is a sense of community in realizing we are all having these issues and that we all get stressed out on occasion.”