“Psyched” Out: The Psychological Benefits of "Mindful Monday"
The EHHS health clinic’s Mindful Monday program has been linked to lower stress among the students who choose to start their Mondays off with these mind relaxing practices. Run by Ms. Mary Pat Lamberti, DNP, the program aims to promote mindful practices and is open to all students.
Ms. Lamberti intends to hold the program every Monday, beginning September 30th, from 7:05 to 7:20 in the school fitness room. As the organizer of Mindful Monday, she claims that her intention for it is to help students cope with stress in their day to day lives: “Mindfulness is a movement to allow people to regain centeredness in life, be present in the moment, and manage the ups and downs of the day without overreacting or shutting down.”
Practicing mindfulness has been linked to improved brain functioning as well. EHHS school psychologist, Ms. Kayla Torpey, says that, “Meditation helps with the connection between the frontal lobes of the brain [for decision making] and the amygdala [which controls how one reacts to triggers and stressors in their environment].” These connections are typically poor, causing people to react instinctively rather than pausing to reflect on their surroundings. “Mindfulness helps rewire connection to think through things better before reacting,” she adds.
EHHS social worker, Mrs. Jessica Gaudioso, believes that mindfulness should be practiced by everyone in an environment where anxiety is common - this includes both students and teachers here at school. “Mindfulness is a big umbrella for the idea of slowing down,” says Mrs. Gaudioso. Activities done in Mindful Monday focus on self-reflection and taking time to stop, think, and breathe. Lamberti reports that she incorporates activities such as mindful breathing and mindful walking into her program. She even uses the book, “The Mindful Teen” to guide her with this practice. Author, Dzung X. Vo, writes, “When you walk mindfully, you arrive in the present moment with every step, becoming deeply in touch with life in the here and now. Your steps are in harmony with your breath, and your body begins to feel more relaxed and at ease” (Vo 100).
Psychology teacher, Mr. Mark Tolla, provides some insight into the cognitive psychology associated with mindfulness. “Cognitive psychology has demonstrated that a significant factor in depression is the perception of the world around you; the people that get caught in that spiral get into feeling overwhelmed, and begin to blame themselves.” It is easy for people to get caught up in the various stressors in their everyday lives. Mr. Tolla then adds, “Anything that makes them take a step back and reflect upon life is an excellent way to keep people grounded.”
Mindful Monday is a great way for all EHHS students to unwind and regain balance in their lives. Kiara Morales, a previous participant of the program, agrees that it is, “A good way to focus bad energy out of the body.” Thus, with the Mindful Monday program, all students are given the opportunity to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
Vo, Dzung X. The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time. Instant Help Books, 2015.