A balanced lifestyle sets the stage for optimal health and happiness, now and for the long term. Creating a lifestyle that is satisfying, maintainable, realistic, and supportive of all of one's personal values is balance. Use the steps that follow to help teens explore what balance looks like for them and how they can achieve it.
Ask how many people watched the Stress Test video and tried the belly breathing described at the end. If not everyone watched or it seems a refresher is needed, watch as a group. Talk about times since you last met when people felt stressed. How did their bodies react? Does anyone have any strategies they use to lessen the stress response when they feel that surge of adrenaline? After a bit of discussion, spend a few minutes doing some deep belly breathing or other relaxation techniques before getting started with the session.
The Achieve Balance section of the site focuses on becoming aware of how you’re balancing your life. Leading a life that isn’t in alignment with your values and priorities can be a huge source of stress. Do the two activities that follow.
Click “Try Meditation.” You will find videos on meditation along with guided audio recordings. Learning some easy relaxation and meditation techniques can help you think more clearly, make decisions and manage whatever comes your way. Give teens a few minutes to explore the different options that are here. Then lead them through each of the following activities:
Mindful Eating—Distribute one individually wrapped candy or other food item to each participant. Ask them to wait until instructed to unwrap the candy and begin. Then lead them through the step-by-step directions. End with a discussion using the following questions as a guide:
Introduce the idea of yoga as a way to reduce stress and achieve mind-body balance. Do these slowly and at ease taking at least five full breaths during each pose or timing each for one minute.
Lie on your stomach on the floor. If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on the floor under your shoulders. If you are sitting in a chair, put your hands on your knees or desk.
Stretch your upper body up high, with your arms straight and your stomach resting on the ground. If you are sitting, lean forward slightly, push your hands against your knees or desk and push your shoulders back to look up slightly, keep your neck as straight and in-line with your spine.
Keep stretching and breathing in and out as you breathe out slowly sigh. Tighten your abdominals to support your back.
If you are on the floor, breathe in and lift your feet up by bending your knees. Try to bring your head and feet close together. Can they touch each other?
Paint the World
Stand up. Bend forward with your arms hanging down.
Clasp your hands together, with fingers interlocked. Envision holding a big paintbrush.
Walk around the room. Keeping your elbows locked move the paintbrush high, low, and all around.
After a minute, take a deep breath in and stretch your ‘paintbrush’ higher up into the air. Lean back and with the ‘paintbrush’ high towards the sky, exhale fully as you sign your name through the air with a big slow sigh, bringing the paintbrush down with your exhale (sigh).
Relaxed Jack Knife
Kneel on the floor on your knees, and then sit back on your heels. If you are sitting in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor.
Lean forward and stretch your arms forward to the ground. Continue stretching as far as you can. Can you touch your forehead to the floor? If you are sitting on a chair, just reach down to the floor as far as you can.
Stretch your arms out as far as they will go, allow your body to relax.
Take in big breaths, feel your chest rise with each breath in and your chest relax toward the floor with each breath out, breathe in and out at your own pace.
Relax for a minute.
Supine Deep Relaxation
Lie on the floor on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your desk or lap.
The palms of your hands are facing up and resting on the floor, desk or lap.
Close your eyes and breathe gently.
Focus on your breath and allow any thoughts or distractions to come to you and just let them go, refocusing on your breath.
Sometimes you might need a word to focus on, or a favorite place to imagine like lying or sitting on a beach. Imagine the warm sand, the hot sun and the cool breeze off the water. Your breath sounds like the waves! As you breathe in, listen! It sounds like the waves coming up to the shore. As you breathe out, imagine the waves going back out to sea. Keep breathing with the waves for another minute or two.
From standing, step left foot back as far as comfortable, staying high on the fall of the left foot, keeping the right knee over the right ankle bring right knee to 90 degrees if you can, keep left leg strong and straight. Pull abdominals in and as you breathe in move straight arms from sides up to sky and meet them in the middle above your head, hold for a moment, then as you exhale move straight arms down to side, repeat 5 more times, then switch legs.
From standing, feet facing forward, spread feet apart as you are able. Bring straight arms above your head, palms together and look up at hands, tuck tailbone in, abdominals tight and focus on strong body, activating all your muscles in body to hold this pose. Breathe for 5 deep breaths in and out.
From standing, feet facing forward, spread feet apart as you are able. Slowly bend at the hips forward bring your head and elbows as close to the floor as possible, breathe deeply and fully as you relax for 5 breaths.
Encourage participants to spend some time between now and your next meeting checking out the Chillers in the Ways to Chill section. Suggest they choose one Chiller to share on social media or email to a friend or relative. Then close with a Rose and Thorn reflection. Ask each person to name one thing from the session today that they felt good about (a Rose) and one thing they didn’t like or didn’t feel good about (a Thorn).