Staying Calm, Cool, and Creative: Three Things I Learned About Stress
Last Friday marked the end of GEN’s first summer camp, Calm, Cool, and Creative (CCC). As an intern for GEN, I had the opportunity to work with girls entering grades 4-7 as they engaged in an array of stress reducing activities. Calm, Cool, and Creative participants created their own stress balls, calming jars, and practiced Zumba. Girls openly discussed what causes them stress, and the actions that they take to manage it. Our action-packed week was filled with learning, laughter, and discovery.
As I reflect over our experiences at CCC, I realize that I took away just as much as the girls. That said, if you did not have a chance to attend Calm, Cool, and Creative, I’ve compiled a small list of stress relieving tips that have helped me to put stress into perspective:
1. Find something you love to do.
It may be something you already enjoy doing. It might be something new. Throughout our camp, I found myself engaging in activities that I normally wouldn’t. I practiced yoga. I practiced finger weaving. Stress can be a harmful emotion to harbor if you don’t find some healthy way to channel it and let it go. It is easy to become frustrated with another person when you’re stressed out, or to stay locked up in your room when you feel angry. Doing so often makes situations more stressful for yourself and your loved ones. Whether it be a creative outlet such as painting, or a physical outlet like going for a walk, there are several ways that you can channel stress, anxiety, and negative energy into something positive.
2. Recognize that everyone copes differently.
I noticed there were several girls at CCC who reported that when they are stressed, they tend to talk about their issue with someone they trust. I tend to do the exact opposite. Instead, I will keep to myself, and go out for a run. I find that this stress reliever works best for me. When I am ready and have cleared my thoughts, I will talk to someone I trust about an issue that I am having. Realize that this is okay. Everyone copes with stress differently. If you notice that a loved one has something on their mind, offer to listen if/when they are wanting to talk. Emotional support is appreciated, and will provide your loved one with comfort.
3. Learn to breathe. Literally.
One of the most interesting activities we took part in dealt with breathing. I was surprised to discover that I have probably been breathing incorrectly for the last 22 years of my life. When we are stressed out, we tend to take shallow breaths, restricting ourselves from both oxygen and blood flow. Learning to breathe with our diaphragms can help relieve tension in the body, and is a quick way to relax and recharge. Here is a simple exercise that you can do at home to help you practice! http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Breathe-From-Your-Diaphragm-16748149
At GEN, it’s incredibly important to us that we help girls gain positive and productive stress management skills. If you’d like to sign up the girls in your life for our next summer camp, Strong, Bold, and Assertive, or simply want more information, be sure to check out http://genaustin.org/what-we-do/camps/