Madeira recognizes the importance of integrating robust mental health and wellness programming along with our ambitious academic program. Adolescence is a time of growth, but it can also be a time of great stress. So much about this unique year feels out of control, and teens are particularly affected by the challenges and shifts that the past few months have brought. “It is critical during this time where so much seems out of their control that adolescents focus on things they can control, like taking care of themselves and each other, their attitude, free time choices, etc.,” notes Ms. Tracie Epes, Director of Counseling.
Madeira’s counselors, in conjunction with the Health Center and Dean of Students Office, have incorporated three themes into advisory meetings and our weekday and weekend activity options for students, both on campus and remote, this year: Self-Care, Connection, and Gratitude. The themes and programming focus on the goal of cultivating connection and calm to support emotional and social health.
Each week, the Dean of Students (DOS) office offers a variety of daytime and evening activities that help promote our themes of self-care, connection, and gratitude. Some examples include stress ball making, writing kindness notes, making gratitude journals, yoga, and taking a walk around campus. The purpose of these activities is to provide opportunities for connection, relaxation, and fun.
Madeira’s hybrid learning schedule was purposely designed to include time to develop and maintain self-care routines, strengthen our connections to each other and to our school community, develop a sense of control and grounding in our lives, and cultivate compassion and gratitude. Ms. Epes and Dr. Nicole Carey, Counselor, gave an outstanding presentation during the Parents Connection Series where they spoke at length about the science behind the adolescent brain and ways to help nurture healthy growth. The brain activity during adolescence is similar to a large construction project. The development activity in the brain is enormous, which often results in mental and physical challenges, such as uncertainty, insomnia, and emotional distress.
The Counseling and DOS offices share a “Weekly Wellness” video or link to encourage Madeira community members to take a moment for self-care. Here are some recent examples:
Window Swap: https://window-swap.com/
Window Swap is a place to allow you to travel without moving and to look through someone else's window, somewhere in the world, for a while. You can submit your own 10-minute video of a view from your window or simply check out different window views from around the world. Many include the sounds from inside and outside the window.
Sounds of the Forest Soundmap: https://timberfestival.org.uk/soundsoftheforest-soundmap/
Wild Rumpus, a UK group that focuses on providing experiences that combine the arts, culture, and the natural environment, asked nature lovers from around the world to record local woodland sounds to create a Global Forest Sound Map. The result is a sonic mini-vacation. With one click you can hear lemurs in Madagascar, the relaxing birdsong of Daintree Rainforest in Australia, or the gentle rush of the Jaguari River in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Everyone benefits from intentional moments of self-care, connection, and gratitude practice. Madeira students, adults, and families have access to the Self-Care Resources PowerSchool site that contains tips, articles, and links to use for stress management, relaxation, mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude practices. Continuing focus on academic, social, physical, and emotional well-being remains an important priority for Madeira.