A Refreshed Space to Decompress in Upper School

A Refreshed Space to Decompress in Upper School

The Decompression Room on the third floor of the Inn, supervised by the Upper School wellness team, enables students to trade a moment of struggle for one of respite. Decompression rooms can help with mood and behavior regulation as well as healthy stress management skills, and they also provide privacy and safety for difficult moments. The room has been available to students for two years, but it has been recently redesigned with a sunset-painted wall, live plants (complete with a watering schedule!), cozy furniture, sensory gadgets, and more.

“Today, with mental health and stress levels at an all-time high due to a multitude of issues, all students can benefit from calming resources when emotions are running high, or energy levels are depleted,” says Leslee Frye, Upper School psychologist. “Our goal with this room was to provide an additional quiet space that serves as a valuable resource for students to manage stress, improve mental well-being, and foster a positive school environment where self-care and relaxation are prioritized alongside academics.”

SCH continues to commit itself to creating a culture of wellness at SCH.

A glimpse at a few of the upgrades that have been made this year include:

“Plants and exposure to greenery have been found to have multiple mental health benefits, such as lowering stress, decreasing feelings of depression, increasing sociability, restoring focus, improving cognitive performance, improving mood, and increasing self-esteem,” according to Jamie Keaton Jones, LICSW, PhD—a psychotherapist and adjunct professor in Washington, D.C. as told to The Healthy.

Coloring Poster:
We’ve added a wall coloring poster similar to this one. We often dismiss coloring as a children’s activity, however, coloring can also serve adults by calming their brains and helping their bodies relax. A post from the Mayo Clinic explains that when “you’re focusing on color choice and staying inside the lines, you’re only thinking about the present moment. You can shut off the noise around you, and give your mind the gift of focusing on the movements, sensations, and emotions of your present moment.”

These unassuming, fake snowballs can go a long way to de-escalate someone who is feeling an overwhelming sense of frustration and anger. The Mental Health Foundation endorses this kind of cathartic release of stress as long as it can be done safely; physically throwing these snowballs at the wall could be a useful tool for some to help reduce anger/stress in the immediate moment. It could also prevent a student from internalizing their anger and wreaking further havoc on their own mental health.

Fidget Toys:
While there is plenty to be said about a fidget toy serving a purpose simply as a state of play, we are finding that it does so much more. While these gadgets and spinners are not intended to be the primary mode of treatment for anxiety long-term, they are effective in the moment to reduce acute symptoms of anxiety. Sarah James, a sensory specialist, reminds us, “Fidget toys provide an outlet to release nervous tension and energy, which can help calm a person's nerves, relieve stress, and serve as a distraction in an overstimulating environment. Fidget toys give you a place to channel this nervous energy. Fidgeting also creates a distraction for the brain from the boring and anxiety-provoking stimulus, which can in turn lower anxiety and improve focus.”

Light Therapy Lamp: 
With changes in seasons, the body experiences a lack of energy, trouble sleeping, anxiety,  and sometimes seasonal depression. Light therapy lamps help with the “winter blues” and milder mood shifts during the cold and darker months. The Mayo Clinic says, “Sitting by the light for 30 minutes is reported to cause a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood.”

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