A Message from the Division Head

by Ann Sulzer

On Tuesday, our Middle School counselor Cindy McEnroe offered a session for parents as a follow-up to the film Angst, which we showed to students and parents last week. For those of you who missed the chance to see the documentary, it is also being shown to the public at two other local schools in Beaverton and West Linn. You can find that information on the Angst site under “Find a Screening.”  

Cindy spoke about the importance of parents listening first and foremost and not immediately offering solutions and strategies. She talked about the role of social media, including video games, and how it has the ability to create stress for our students in ways we may not anticipate, even when kids tell us that it is a source of relaxation. Conversely, this technology can also offer meditation options at sites like Calm.com or Headspace.com. She also expanded on the broader message of the film by talking about the difference between the normal human experience of anxiety and an anxiety disorder that is debilitating or keeps people from living their daily lives.

Cindy offered some books as resources and also some basic techniques for helping your child find calm in a stressful moment. She recommended some of the following actions:

  • Physical grounding: Bring awareness to your physical space—feeling the ground beneath your feet and the chair underneath you to ground you in the moment and pull you out of the panic or stress you are feeling
  • Using breathing techniques to relax
  • Visualization
  • Putting feelings into words, either verbally or in writing, to name and process what you are feeling
  • 4321 Orientation: Look to see the four corners of the room, find three things that are one color, two things that have another quality, one thing that is nearby. The idea is that you are pulling yourself out of wherever your head is in that moment to orient yourself in the present moment and space.
  • Get outside and connect with the natural world without a specific purpose
  • Finding ways to express emotions and translate feelings through creating music, art, or some creative means

Here are some books that Cindy recommends as well:
Alone Together by Sherry Turkle
10% Happier by Dan Harris
Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser
Rewired by Larry D. Rosen
Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith
UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World by Michelle Borba
The Nature PrincipleLast Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
Celebrating You: A Mindful Coloring Journal for Teen Girls by Jinsong and Makana Burch (The authors are a current OES student and her mother.)
I am Here Now: A Creative Mindfulness Guide and Journal by The Mindfulness Project