Menchville’s Path To Mindfulness

The average student would probably tell you that school is stressful and exhausting. Who could blame them? Students go from class to class all day with only a five-minute break in between- if we can even call it a break with all of the chaos in the hallways. After the realization that student stress levels are at an all-time high, some schools have taken the initiative to add a relaxing technique to their day: mindfulness.

Student support specialist,  Terri Keesee, describes mindfulness as “focusing our awareness on the present moment; It involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them.”

Ceramics and 3D Art teacher, Patricia Clancy, also talked to all of her classes at the beginning of the year about mindfulness. Clancy detailed how “mindfulness is being taught schools in England; almost 370 or so schools have made it part of their curriculum.”

According to a New York Times article from February 2019, students in England “will work with mental health experts to learn relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and other methods to help them regulate their emotions.” This has proven to help students overcome the daily stresses in school, at home, and in their daily lives. After the New York Times article was published, schools in America began to include mindfulness in their daily ritual. This technique was also featured in Forbes magazine, and has proved to reduce stress, anxiety, and even some ongoing symptoms of depression. Slowly, it is combating the rise of student stress and negative mental health.

Clancy now includes this mindfulness technique at the beginning of all of her classes, taking the process seriously for her students. Every one of Clancy’s classes start off the period by quietly setting everything aside and sitting down. Students then begin the process by either setting their hands on their knees or on the table in front of them and waiting for Clancy to begin counting from one to ten, breaths in and out. Many students say this process helps them relax and de-stress. Ceramics student Sadie Hinson enjoys the exercise and now actively participates in meditation and mindfulness.

“This is a really good activity. It gives me a nice break in the middle of the day to just relax and let go of my worries,” says Hinson. “I think this is something we should learn to do in our daily lives, not just in Ms. Clancy’s classroom.”

Another way students at Menchville will learn about mindfulness is through Mindful Monday announcements by Keesee, who has also taken a role in Menchville’s path to mindfulness. Keesee says Mindful Monday is “an important, much-needed initiative with NNPS because our students are more stressed out now than ever. We will have Monday Mindful Moments- this means there will be a quick tip each Monday of the month that will aim to set a tone for the rest of our week and provide us with different strategies to mitigate stress.”

Even just five minutes out of the day to focus mindfulness and meditation can lead us into a life of lower stress and positive mental health.