Mindfulness: a way to help anxiety and depression

Located in room B21, Robin Lilly, English and philosophy teacher, can be found doing daily mindfulness, or wellness, activities with her students. It started last school year, when Lilly noticed a rise of anxiety and depression in her students.

“Because I, myself, experience anxiety and depression, these were tools that I had been taught and had been practicing with some positive benefit for my own well being,” Lilly said.

Though she noticed the majority of her students’ anxiety in her IB classes, she also saw symptoms in her CP students as well. Lilly had also joined a group called the International Positive Education Network, which emphasizes a better state of well-being to be capable of learning in a healthy, positive manner.

“I didn’t see anywhere else where wellness, or any kind of focus on wellness, was happening in education,” Lilly said.

Lilly’s mindfulness exercises vary everyday. They range from Three Good Things, where students will write down three good things that have happened to them, to yoga, meditation and screaming out their frustrations in the quad.

Each of these exercises is conducted either within the confines of her classroom or around the quiet campus during class time. They do not normally take up more than five-to-ten minutes in the beginning of class, with the intent of creating a healthy and calm environment.

Gus Wachbrit, senior, is enrolled in Lilly’s IB Philosophy class. Before starting the class, he had previously heard of some of these mindfulness activities from his friends.

Wachbrit says that, personally, he loves the meditational, mindfulness exercises because they always puts him in the mood to work, and it also helps to build a sense of community in the classroom.

“I definitely feel a lot more connected to everyone in philosophy as opposed to my other classes,” Wachbrit said.

Even before entering Lilly’s class, Rebecca Gabra, also a senior in IB Philosophy, enjoyed mindfulness exercises, saying that they are a great way to de-stress. Because IB Philosophy is a year-long class, a goal that she has set for the rest of the year is to meditate or participate in mindfulness activities as part of her daily routine– and hopefully continue them after this current year is over.

“I definitely recommend them to anyone who needs a way to relax or alleviate any stress they might have,” Gabra said.

Lilly realizes that she may never know exactly how she is affecting her students, yet still she believes that she can perfect her practice in order to reach her goal of seeing her students thrive in both their studies and happiness.

“I think, as teachers, we have to rely on faith, because we don’t really know how much of an impact we’re having– a positive or negative,” Lilly said. “I never want to have a negative impact on somebody.”

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