The Wellness Center at Merrick Avenue Middle School has been offering after-school activities that focus on teaching coping mechanisms by using the five senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.
School psychologist Kristine McKiernan and guidance counselor Brittney Peterson aim to assist students through the thought process of dealing with stress and/or negative emotions and strategies to help them “calm down and think clearly.”
Each session begins with a mindfulness activity to assist students in “being here in this moment.”
“Thinking about the future or the past all of the time could lead to feelings of stress or anxiety,” McKiernan explained. “We can only control the present moment. And when we are not mindful, we are not able to give our 100 percent effort.”
On Nov. 18, students crafted their own stress ball, which incorporated the senses of touch and sight to assist with coping skills when feeling overwhelmed. On Nov. 25, students gathered to learn how to make a “calm down” glitter jar.
“When we let the glitter settle, we see everything clearly again,” explained McKiernan. “The glitter isn’t moving very fast and that can represent slowing our thoughts and settling our emotions.”