May 15, 2016

Supportive Friends

Last week a number of Year 11 students completed the Senior Supportive Friends program with Jen Muir and myself.  The allday training taught students how to support their peers and care for themselves during the senior school years.  Students learnt how to identify when a friend may be experiencing difficulties, how to provide effective listening skills and when to seek help from an adult and/or professional.  Students in the later school years typically experience issues around relationships and stress from increased responsibility and work demands particularly during exam time.   Students were made aware of the features of stress and its function in enhancing their performance during critical times of competitive sports and during exams.  Prolonged stress however is detrimental to health and, for adolescents, long term chronic stress can cause burnout and other mental health concerns such as anxiety.  Students would benefit from balancing their study for SACS and exams with periods of relaxation such as walking, listening to music, watching entertaining TV, playing sport, having a bath and mindfulness activities.  Mindfulness activities and meditation have profound effects in controlling stress and cortisol levels but it needs to be practised regularly.   Research shows that 10 minutes a day of mindfulness activity reduces stress and emotional reactivity as well as enhancing immune function, focus and mental performance (working memory).   Some mindfulness apps for yourself and your family include: Stop, Breathe & Think (great for beginners),  The Mindfulness Training App, Headspace – Good  for students , Smiling Mind – great for younger  children, The Mediation Experience App, Buddhify – have to purchase, Omvana and Calm.

Lana Paten