Mindfulness rehumanizes ETHS experience

In recent years, anxiety and stress levels among teens have been skyrocketing, and the isolation and uncertainty that came with the COVID-19 pandemic made matters even worse. According to the Child Mind Institute, stress and anxiety in teens can cause irritation, trouble concentrating, physical illness and poor coping skills. This does not only affect students mentally, but also affects their performance in school. Using mindfulness is one way in which teachers can assist students who may struggle with anxiety or difficulty concentrating.

Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment and accepting your feelings and thoughts. It has been a proven method to help combat stress and anxiety, according to Mindful Schools.

  Implementing mindfulness into one’s daily life has a variety of positive impacts, such as better focus and improved health. Many students struggled in the last year, so changes that were implemented this year were designed to support everyone.

This year, ETHS switched to 10-minute passing periods and encouraged teachers to implement mindfulness into their daily lessons. The goal was to rehumanize the school and make it less stressful and overwhelming. Teachers and students have had many opinions about all of the changes being made and the effects they have on students during the busy school days. 

Assistant Superintendent and Principal Marcus Campbell agreed that mindfulness can be very helpful, especially after such a tough year. “It’s just learning how to breath, being conscious of where you are,” Campbell explained. “Taking a break during the 85 minutes to just breathe and rest in a way is good.”

Mrs. Ehmke, a civics and AP psych teacher at ETHS, had similar opinions to Campbell about mindfulness in school. She often uses meditation in her classroom and encourages students to practice mindfulness by taking a second to breathe. 

“For myself and maybe for other teachers, I think the intention is to try to slow things down,” Ehmke explained.

It is also important to discuss the changes in the school year with students, because of the effects they have on their days. Some students thought that the 10-minute passing periods and practicing mindfulness in school were both very helpful. 

“The 10-minute passing periods give me extra time to prepare for my next class. In that time I have time to socialize and see my friends but also take a breather for a second and just really calm down,” sophomore Frances Heldt said. 

When students get stressed, it can be hard to unwind and calm down. This leads to a buildup of stress, causing students to become even more overwhelmed. Using mindfulness in school provides a good time and place for students to release stress and stay more in the present moment. The longer passing periods give students time to breathe and relax before their next class. 

“Using mindfulness in school helps me relieve my stress,” sophomore Lexi Lennon said. “And it’s really helped me calm down and stay on top of all of my school work.”