Antigo 6th Graders Use Yoga, Deep Breathing to Deal with Stress

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Stress can be a dangerous feeling, causing a host of problems that are physical, mental and emotional.

While stress is natural for all of us kids, too, suffer from stress. At the Antigo Middle School, a guidance counselor is teaching 6th graders healthy ways to cope with daily anxieties.

"When we become stressed we're not thinking as clearly," said Carrie Kubacki, the middle school's guidance counselor. "We sometimes let that stress and that emotional reaction take over."

People may not consider stress a problem for kids, but Kubacki says for many kids it can be.

Sixth grader Gabby Held acknowledges stress in her life.

"Just like getting extra homework and having to do it at home and then people teasing me or something on the bus and then I feel like I'm gonna blow up," Held said.

Classmate Tyler Schroepfer agrees.

"I think it's a lot of everything, homework, family stuff," he said.

Kubacki says students are dealing with stress from all levels.

"So starting with events that might happen at home, financial stress in the family, moving into school, the academic stress, homework stress, testing stress," she said.

Kubacki is hoping by teaching students healthy ways to cope with stress they will have fewer problems. She began a lesson Wednesday with yoga.

Studies have shown that yoga reduces stress and anxiety, so she's worked it into the curriculum. She also includes open discussion and deep breathing. Deep breathing also connects the mind and body, is relaxing, and can melt away stress.

"Students I don't think realize, just like adults, that we get stressed throughout the day and we're building that muscle tension which can really affect us in some negative ways," she said.

She says the middle school students enjoy the activities and are usually willing to try anything.

"Some of the things she's taught us I've actually used, like before I'd do a test," said Brett Farmer, a 6th grader.

Middle school is a prime time for kids to start partaking in negative behaviors to deal with stress, like smoking and drinking alcohol.

"I call it self-medicating whether its the nicotine in the cigarettes or the alcohol or other types of drugs - they're looking for a way to lessen that stress and lessen emotional pain," she said.

She says if we can encourage healthier ways to relieve stress, those bad behaviors will also melt away.

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