Last week, our previous students in Bridge came back to BHS for the first time to talk to our current students in Bridge about their life and experiences post high school. This "in-school" field trip is considered one of the final "modules" for this school year. The students acted as a panel for discussion regarding life post-high school including the skills they have learned in Bridge that help them in the real world, their experience after high school and which path they took, if life after high school is more or less stressful and which coping skills do they find themselves using in the real world. The alumni gave some great advice to our students including to complete assignments when they can, try to stay organized, and advocate for help when needed!
Teachers used sticky notes to set their intention for their students for the day. What is your intention for today?
~Adapted from DBT Skills Manual for Adolescents (Rathus & Miller, 2015)
This week, our students learned about a new acronym to support our emotions when they are at an extreme. This acronym is known as TIPP. TIPP can be used when emotional arousal is very HIGH!, you are completely caught in emotion mind, your brain is not processing information, and you are emotionally overwhelmed.
“TIPP” your body chemistry to reduce extreme Emotion Mind quickly with:
Temperature: Change your body temperature using cold water or ice. Hold a cold pack on your face or cheeks. Hold for 30 seconds.
Intense Exercise: To calm down your body when it is revved up by emotion. Engage in intense aerobic exercise, if only for a short while. Expand your body’s stored-up physical energy by running, walking fast, jumping jacks, dancing, stretching, wall sit, etc.
Paced Breathing: Slow your pace of breathing way down (to about 5-7 in and out breaths per minute). Breathe deeply from the abdomen. Breathe out more slowly than you breathe in (e.g., 4 seconds in and 6 seconds out). Do this for 1-2 minutes.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and relax each muscle group, head to toe, one muscle group at a time. Tense (5 seconds), then let go; relax each muscle all the way. Notice the tension; notice the difference when relaxed.
~Adapted from DBT Manual for Adolescents (Rathus & Miller, 2015).
When you are upset, it is important to have ways of coping with stress. There are many ways to relieve stress and among them are what we sometimes call "self-soothing" skills or techniques. These are simple things that you can do whatever you need to calm to your mind and body.
Why Are Self-Soothing Skills Important?Coping strategies are diverse, just like the people who rely on them. When stress and anxiety hit, it's a good idea to have a few skills ready to help you find relief.
Self soothing strategies help you to cope with overwhelming negative emotions or intolerable situations. They help us stay grounded and calm. They take a lot of practice, but as you get the hang of using some of these techniques, you will see your relationship to the negative emotions and intolerable feelings change. Some of us may recognize these techniques as things that we already use. But many of us have never learned how to self-soothe, or how to do those often simple things that makes us feel better. These are mostly very physical techniques, that use different body senses. Some of us have never had the feeling that we could do things to make ourselves feel better, calmer, feel relaxation or pleasure. I urge you to experiment with these techniques until you find some that are comfortable and helpful for you. And when you find these, practice them. Use them when you are feeling distressed, when emotions feel overwhelming, when situations feel like you can't stand them any more.
Effective coping strategies may be those that involve one or more of the “six” senses — touch, taste, smell, sight, sound and movement.
Putting These Strategies to Work When engaging in these strategies, make sure to focus completely on the task at hand. That is, be mindful of your senses and what you are experiencing. Anytime you are distracted, simply bring your attention back to what you are doing. Try to recognize the difference between using a self-soothing technique for distraction and avoidance as well as when you are using these techniques to just pass the time by and not for actually solving the problem or lowering your distress.
Examples are: Visual: Cut out pictures from magazines/print images (water, beach, friends)
Smell: Essential Oils, Coffee Beans, Lotions
Touch: Pipe Cleaners, Feathers, Felt, Putty/Playdough
Hearing: Make a playlist of music, guided imagery/meditation apps
Taste: Hershey Kisses, Mints, Chewing Gym
Movement: Walk, run, Jumping Jacks
A major component of the Bridge Program is weekly lessons on social emotional skill development and long period skill practice. During weekly modules, students learn and develop skills related to social competence, problem-solving skills, autonomy, and a sense of purpose and future as they become resilient and independent learners.
Additionally, toward the end of each long period, students practice coping skill exercises that enhance weekly coping modules. These long block activities were created in hopes to move from a guided weekly module to continuously practiced and internalized skills. Activities include, visualization, guided imagery, anxiety relief, sensory scripts, mindfulness, and other meditation practices. Students currently find space on the floor to lay down or sit at a table. We have in the past borrowed exercise mats from the BHS fitness center. Since meditation and guided visual practices have become an integral and daily component of the Bridge Program repertoire, we believe it is important to invest in seating/mats that would allow the students to feel comfortable and genuinely deepen their relaxation and calming practices.
Meditation has been proven to help ease somatic symptoms related to mental health diagnosis’ including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has also been shown to increase one’s attention span, allow a reprieve from outside trauma and/or stress, create a better sense of self-awareness and self-regulation, and create greater empathy, perspective-taking, and emotional control.
Today, we received our new meditation mats to utilize in our side room space dedicated to our students as a safe place to relax and take a break. The picture below shows our very own Scooter trying out one of the new mats!
Congratulations to the students of Simon Youth Academy in Burlington, Massachusetts on a successful year and graduation! We wish you nothing but the best and can't wait to hear about what you accomplish in the years to come!
Thanks to an amazing team of teachers for SY Academy as well! All of your hard work and dedication to the students do not go unnoticed!
To start wrapping up the end of the school year, our students in Bridge were asked write a "letter to self" as their weekly module. The "letter to self" activity is a low stress way for him to begin thinking about future goals and also spend some time reflecting on their school year. This activity also provides an opportunity to talk about the future without all of the urgency of SATs and college applications. The students sealed their letter to their future self. If they wished for our Bridge staff to read their letter, they were given the option to leave it open. Their choice! Our Bridge staff will mail the letters out one year from now and surprise the students when they least expect it! Our hope is for the students to see how far they have come and evaluate their goals and future path.
The Bridge staff and students went on their semi-annual Bridge Field Trip last week to the Boston Rock Gym in Woburn, MA! This was our first time going to the rock gym and it definitely will not be the last!! The goal of our field trips are to allow students to build rapport, challenge themselves, problem-solve, and of course, have fun.
Below are some pictures from the field trip last week. We are really proud of out students for taking risks, challenging themselves, and encouraging and supporting their classmates to push themselves!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
The Bridge Program: Burlington High School