Last Thursday in the upper commons of Rolla High School, students could be seen meditating on yoga mats, petting poodles, and making sculptures out of play-doh. The peculiar scene was part of the AP Psychology class’s unit on stress and health.
AP Psychology teacher Amanda Engelke calls the event “destress stations day.”
“We talk about different sources of stress and how people have different responses to stressors that they have in their life. We’re working on stress management techniques, so there’s stations set up throughout the commons and each one is based on some proven method to manage stress,” Engelke said.
The destress stations included yoga, therapy dogs, guided meditation, a sensory station with Plato, coloring, a gratitude journal station, reading, and exercise.
“The feedback I’ve been getting so far has been really positive. I think the variety of stations is helpful too. Some students will really like one activity more than others. The therapy dog station is really popular,” Engelke said.
During psychology class periods on Thursday, students rotated from station to station trying different stress management exercises. The two therapy dogs, in particular, always had a crowd of adoring students around them.
“It’s one of my favorite days, and the kids all seem to really like it as well. They all tell me we need to do it more often,” Engelke said.
By experiencing different stress management techniques, Engelke hopes students can not only gain more in-depth understanding of their coursework but also find what technique benefits their own mental health.
“I think some of us don’t realize that how we process stressors in our life is a skill that we can get better at. Usually when we’re overwhelmed with stressful events it’s either because we’re processing them as a threat instead of as a challenge that we can overcome and a growing opportunity,” Engelke said. “We’re all going to have stressors, those are not going to go away. Learning how to navigate that and figure out a technique that works well for them–that’s what I hope they can walk away from this with.”