Brain Awareness Week: Staying Stress-Free at the Senior School

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Brain Awareness Week at the Senior School is always fun and educational, with lots of activities to do and see. From terrific and insightful guest speakers like Lynn Lyons (watch her great talk on SMUSTube) to a student-versus-staff Brain Bowl trivia challenge, there’s no shortage of ways to keep your brain healthy at SMUS.

Throughout the jam-packed week also comes great opportunities for students to slow down and relax. A campus visit by friendly therapy dogs mid-week helped students de-stress, and take their minds off any worries they had. And Senior School chapel during Brain Awareness Week focused on health and wellness, courtesy of the school’s Mindfulness Crew.

Mindfulness Crew students say it’s important to have a health and wellness chapel that focuses on mindfulness: “Mindfulness is the gentle effort of a person to be continuously present with experience. It is the non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on emotions, thoughts and sensations that are occurring. Mindfulness complements Brain Awareness Week because it is used to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions. It is a tool used to prevent relapses in depression, drug addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and many other illnesses.”

As part of chapel, Ms. Tiffany Evans led students in a short mindfulness meditation. Read each word below carefully and be inspired to subsequently sit back, relax, close your eyes and spend a few minutes focusing on yourself to the benefit of your brain.

Think about yourself. Be mindful. There’s nowhere else you need to be right now. Try to relax. Let go of all your thoughts or what you have left to do today. Try to go to that place in your mind that wants you to relax, that needs to be quiet. Try and be in touch with that part of yourself that wants you to be the best you can be. Relax.

This exercise is great for sport preparation, overall mind strength, academic concentration and complete body health. Your mind is powerful – learning to exercise and look after it is vital.

Sit back with your spine and neck straight. Keep your shoulders low. Your hands can rest gently on your lap. Block out the people and sounds around you. Close your eyes.

Try not to think about anything. Erase the many stresses that are going on in your mind. When thoughts or sensations pop up into your awareness, let them go. Your mind loves to be busy and make things up, but let them go.

Focus on your breathing. Allow your breath to go into a deep and natural rhythm. Detach your mind. Be patient and tolerant.

Relax the muscles in your face; now scrunch up your face and make the muscles tense. Now relax your face again. Pull your shoulders up towards your ears; now relax them. Clench your fists tightly; now release and allow your hands to relax. Clench your toes and flex your calf muscles; now relax them. Clench every muscle in your body; hold that tightness. Now relax your body.

Continue to keep your mind clear. Have nothing in your mind. Relax.

(Photos by Kyle Slavin)

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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