The TIC December Tip of the Month is from the Take Five to Thrive: Strategies to Manage Stress in Challenging Times.  The holiday season is stressful for students and families who may struggle with finances, family dynamics, food insecurity, housing issues, amongst other things. Then there is the added layer of experiencing the holidays through the lens of Facebook and social media, which may glamorize holiday rituals like baking cookies, extended family meals, and gift giving, rather than the reality.  December 2020 has the added stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic.  What can you do?  Schedule time in your day for the Five to Thrive, and teach the strategies to your family, friends, and students.  

5 Steps to Better Breathing

  1. Lay down, stand up, or sit up straight. Is your back straight? Are you comfortable?

  1. Breathe in.  Inhale slowly and deeply, filling your lungs completely.  Breathe through your nose if possible.

  1. Hold it for as long as you are comfortable.  The idea is for your lungs to pause movement.

  1. Breathe out.  Push the air out of your mouth, pursing your lips.

  2. Repeat.  Do this at least 3-5 times.  3-5 times a day!

5 Senses Grounding:  Slow Down & Calm Down

First. Take 3 slow belly breaths!  

List the answers in your head or out-loud. Name it!

List 5 things you see…

List 4 things you feel (with your hand)…

List 3 things you hear…

List 2 things you smell…

List 1 thing you like to taste…

Finally, take another 3 slow belly breaths.

5 Minute Stress-Relief Scavenger Hunt

You can do this activity with students, friends, or family, even during a Zoom get-together or class.  Have fun!  You can make a list of items for everyone to find, or ask a question and challenge participants to find an item that represents the answer.  Each participant can share why they chose the item(s).  If it is a nice day, make it a nature scavenger hunt!  Participants can take and share pictures of the items they found on the list. 

5 Foods that De-Stress

  1. Foods high in choline, such as fish, salmon, lean chicken, lean pork chops, and eggs.
    ~ Choline plays an important role in brain health, protects against stress, and boosts our mood.

  2. Foods high in antioxidants, such as herbal teas (e.g., green, chamomile, lavender, peppermint), spices & herbs (e.g., mint, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, oregano, basil), and fruits (e.g., dried fruit, berries, plums, pomegranate).
    ~ Antioxidants have been shown to prevent stress, decrease anxiety, and reduce inflammation (which is often high in individuals with chronic stress).

  3. Foods high in vitamins B & C, such as leafy greens, salmon, liver, eggs, and milk (which are high in B vitamin), and sweet peppers, broccoli, parsley, citrus, and Brussel sprouts (which are high in vitamin C).
    ~ B vitamins, especially B12, B6, riboflavin, and folate, are essential for stress control. B vitamins produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate our mood.

    ~ Vitamin C helps our stress response, elevates our mood, and lowers our levels of depression and anger.

  4. Food high in magnesium, such as nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, black beans, edamame, spinach, leafy greens, broccoli, quinoa, and yogurt.
    Magnesium plays an important role in our body’s stress response and lowers our risk of anxiety and panic attacks.

  5. Foods high in potassium, such as bananas, white beans, potatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, spinach, Swiss chard, tomato sauce, and orange juice.
    Potassium is important for a healthy stress response and lowers our risk of anxiety.

The information for this month’s TIC TIP is from a webinar created by EnvisionEdPlus (Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success) & Miami University Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs, December 2, 2020.