Student Lounge: Coping and Self-Care

Examples of Wellness Wheels completed by 12th grade students, who were asked to fill out each slice of the wheel based on how much they agreed with corresponding prompts.

Although we are more than midway through the academic year, the future can still look a little hazy for many seniors. Whether they were admitted to their dream school, taking agap year, or are facing a rejection or deferral, uncertainty and instability looms in the near future. While leaving the nest can be a time of immense excitement and opportunity, it can also be very anxiety inducing for adolescents, especially when many have not had experiences adapting to this level of change before. Growing research on adolescents living and going to school in affluent environments suggests a link between high levels of sustained stress (such as maintaining academic excellence or adapting to newfound independence) and an increase in negative mental health outcomes (such as depression and suicide). Young people do not always have the necessary tools to adequately address overwhelming emotions or daunting challenges, and it is crucial that the adults in their lives support their positive development by encouraging the practice of positive self-care and coping strategies.

To that end, Hallways recently worked with a group of seniors at one of our partner schools to deliver a three-part workshop series that asks students to examine their current self care and coping practices. Throughout this series, students developed and practiced positive coping skills, specifically in terms of addressing how to deal with transition and change. During one of these workshops, we asked a group of seniors to assess their current experiences of wellbeing in regards to different dimensions of social and emotional wellness. The dimensions, as identified by the Center for Disease Control, encompass emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, social, and occupational wellness and are all thought to contribute to a person’s general sense of wellbeing. Students were instructed to fill out each slice of the wheel based on how much they agreed with a set of prompts that describe wellness. For example, if the prompt was “I have a sense of fun and laughter in my life,” a student might only fill in the corresponding slice a little if they felt this statement wasn’t very true for them.

We have featured some of their responses above. As you click through, we invite you to consider the young people in your own life, how they might respond to this activity, and ways in which you might be able to learn more about their realities and needs.

If you would like to do this activity on your own or with your child, you can download the prompts here, and a blank wellness wheel here.

Directions:

  1. Each domain on the wheel will be represented by a different color

  2. Read through each statement and fill in the corresponding pie-shaped section of the wheel to the degree that you feel you are achieving this. For example, question #1 is: “I eat a balanced nutritional diet”; If you feel you are doing this 100% of the time, color in all of section 1. If you do this 60% of the time, color 60% of the section.

  3. Complete this for all 36 sections of the wheel

Questions for discussion or consideration:

  1. What was it like to consider self-care through the lens of these various domains? Is this similar or different to the way you’ve thought about self-care in the past?

  2. What sections did you have a lot of color in? Less color? What information might this provide you about yourself?

  3. What did you identify as your first step toward finding a greater life balance?

  4. How will you hold yourself accountable to your own self care? Who will help you?

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