Wellness Center

As the AHS Tobacco Use Prevention Education(TUPE) site coordinator I want to reiterate, one final time this year, the importance of talking to your students about the dangers of tobacco use and vaping. While teenagers have drastically decreased their cigarette and chewing tobacco use in recent years, vaping is still widely used among this demographic. Generally, the odorless, or sometimes even pleasantly scented, vapor makes usage among teens much easier to hide than cigarettes. With usage sometimes occurring in the home or at school without adults ever suspecting it, nicotine is more accessible to teens than ever before.
 
While vaping is often advertised as a safer alternative to smoking it should be noted that vaping is EXTREMELY addictive as nicotine levels of some popular products can be 50 times stronger than cigarettes. Since teen brains are still developing, nicotine addiction in teens has been linked to mood disorders and even damage to parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion regulation and critical thinking.
 
Through education and awareness it is possible to change tobacco and nicotine outcomes in teens! If you suspect that your teen may be using nicotine or tobacco, a heartfelt conversation about the dangers is a great place to start. If you are interested in quitting resources for your teen, or even for yourself, please visit Truth Initiative for more information.

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Wellness Center

Goodbye ACA community, I'm really going to miss you all. After 4 years at AUHSD, I will be taking a break from school and joining a group therapy practice where I can deepen my work with individual teens, adults, and families.

I want to pass along a successful problem-solving framework I've practiced as a therapist/ adult-peer interacting with teens for 8 hours/day and as a parent of a vivacious and opinionated 10 year old:

  • Allow your kid to re-regulate and find their calm when they are experiencing intense emotions. The techniques are countless (e.g., private space, box-breathing, fidgeting, going outside, music, venting/talking, hugs) and each individual needs to find what works for them.
  • Listen hard and acknowledge the truth in what your kid is saying. Even if you do not agree, there is always a kernel of truth in what they are saying. By identifying their truth, they will feel heard and will allow you to support them.
  • Help connect your kid to a core strength that they identify with and use that to problem-solve. Each person has their own "thing" that they are proud of and motivates them. Accessing this spark serves as an inner compass that they will heed more than any advice we give them.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to develop a space at school where our kids can find community, self-advocate for their mental health, and just be the unique individuals they are. If you would like to keep in touch, you can reach me at:  allen@eastbayanxiety.com

All the Best,

Allen Choi, MSW, PPS, JD
Wellness Coordinator

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Wellness Center

It seems as if the stressors of the world never stop coming. The pandemic and the fallout for the past two years have been at the forefront of our collective consciousness. Only three months into 2022 and we are now faced with issues arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even though it's times like these in which we feel out of control, I am here to remind you that no challenge in this life is permanent, no matter how daunting it may seem. Here are a few simple changes you and your AHS student can make to support your sense of control when times get tough:

  • Less screen time - while it is good to be informed of what is going on in the world, it is not healthy to be constantly connected to information. Consider the fact that you, personally, are not responsible for the woes of the world. Take  a break from your screen and do something fun instead.
  • Spend more time outdoors - sometimes the best way to ground yourself is with a shift in perspective. Tap into the times in which you are able to get in touch with your natural state by moving your body, breathing fresh air and basking in the beautiful landscape the world provides us naturally.
  • Take things one step at a time - by breaking challenges into smaller pieces they become a bit more manageable. Whether it is day by day or moment by moment, being present allows us the opportunity to face what is directly in front of us opposed to seeing things from an intimidating, larger scale.
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Wellness Center

It seems as if the stressors of the world never stop coming. The pandemic and the fallout for the past two years have been at the forefront of our collective consciousness. Only three months into 2022 and we are now faced with issues arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even though it's times like these in which we feel out of control, I am here to remind you that no challenge in this life is permanent, no matter how daunting it may seem. Here are a few simple changes you and your AHS student can make to support your sense of control when times get tough:

  • Less screen time - while it is good to be informed of what is going on in the world, it is not healthy to be constantly connected to information. Consider the fact that you, personally, are not responsible for the woes of the world. Take  a break from your screen and do something fun instead.
  • Spend more time outdoors - sometimes the best way to ground yourself is with a shift in perspective.Tap into the times in which you are able to get in touch with your natural state by moving your body, breathing fresh air and basking in the beautiful landscape the world provides us naturally.
  • Take things one step at a time - by breaking challenges into smaller pieces they become a bit more manageable. Whether it is day by day or moment by moment, being present allows us the opportunity to face what is directly in front of us opposed to seeing things from an intimidating, larger scale.
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Wellness Center

Tomorrow, Monday, Feb 28 at 6:30 pm in the Miramonte library Miramonte Wellness Center will be hosting an invaluable parent education opportunity for all of AUHSD. Join us to hear from Dr. Brian Clark as he discusses achievement pressure and the effect that it can have on students. Dr. Clark is a local psychologist specializing in achievement pressure and various other topics that affect young people today. By sharing observations from his clinical practice, Dr. Clark exhibits real life examples of how pressure to achieve can impact anxiety and depression in teens. Visit the @acalaneswellness Instagram for details.

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Wellness Center

If your student is irritable, lacking focus, having difficulty remembering things and is acting out more than usual, they may be tired. The effects of sleep deprivation can be seen almost instantly. Teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night to aid in healthy development and daily functioning. In reality, a staggering number of teenagers are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night.
 
Research suggests that impairment caused by lack of sleep is consistent with impairment caused by drinking alcohol. Not only does sleep deprivation affect immediate wellbeing but there are also links to long term health issues such as heart problems and depression. To be sure that your student is getting enough sleep,
get them into a consistent bedtime routine and limit their technology use before bed. Blue light from TVs, computers and phones will keep teens from getting their crucial rest.

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Wellness Center

If your student is irritable, lacking focus, having difficulty remembering things and is acting out more than usual, they may be tired. The effects of sleep deprivation can be seen almost instantly. Teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night to aid in healthy development and daily functioning. In reality, a staggering number of teenagers are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night.
 
Research suggests that impairment caused by lack of sleep is consistent with impairment caused by drinking alcohol. Not only does sleep deprivation affect immediate wellbeing but there are also links to long term health issues such as heart problems and depression. To be sure that your student is getting enough sleep, get them into a consistent bedtime routine and limit their technology use before bed. Blue light from TVs, computers and phones will keep teens from getting their crucial rest.

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Wellness Center

While the five senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell are common knowledge to most, there is a “sixth sense” that is often overlooked. Interoception is defined as the perception of sensations from inside the body including physical sensations related to internal organ function as well as autonomic nervous system activity related to emotions. By definition, it is easy to understand how this sense of self can contribute to our mental and physical health. Scientists suggest that disruption in interoception is reported in many mental health conditions.
 
Talk with your student about the importance of tuning into their own bodies and minds. With practice, someone can receive messages that may be below the conscious threshold of perception. Some ways to develop interoception skills:

  • a mindfulness practice
  • noticing and labeling body language or sensations
  • thinking about how these physical sensations relate to our emotions

 Here is a link to a short video explaining how interoception works.
(source: sciencealert.com)

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Wellness Center

While the five senses of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell are common knowledge to most, there is a “sixth sense” that is often overlooked. Interoception is defined as the perception of sensations from inside the body and includes the perception of physical sensations related to internal organ function as well as the autonomic nervous system activity related to emotions. By definition, it is easy to understand how this sense of self can contribute to our mental and physical health. Scientists suggest that disruption in interoception is reported in many mental health conditions.
 
Talk with your student about the importance of tuning into their own bodies and minds. With practice, someone can receive messages that may be below the conscious threshold of perception. Some ways to develop interoception skills:

  • a mindfulness practice
  • noticing and labeling body language or sensations
  • thinking about how these physical sensations relate to our emotions

 Here is a link to a short video explaining how interoception works.
(source: sciencealert.com)

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Wellness

Please welcome Kiara Thomas, our new Wellness Intake Specialist! Kiara, already affectionately called “Kiki” by our students, brings to Acalanes 10 years of experience in youth development with kids in a variety of ages. Her passion and hope is to support young people in being the best version of themselves. In the next 2 weeks, Kiki will be joined by three graduate school level Wellness Interns (Elana Maslow, Amy Pernick, and Marisa Travalini) from local Marriage & Therapy and Social Work programs.

We have already hit the ground running in the first week and a half with approximately 140 student visits to the Wellness Center (not including larger outreach events). Students are showing up for a variety of reasons including: feeling overwhelmed and social anxiety from transitioning to in-person classes at a full school campus; conflicts with friends and social circles; stress about academics and college; and simply needing a welcoming and comforting place on campus. In the next 2 weeks, we are hosting lunchtime mixers and a Wellness Carnival to help students get to know us and each other and  increase their sense of belonging at school.

With all of this in mind, please take the time to check in with your kids and help them unwind from the stressors of school when they are at home. This could mean providing them their favorite snacks, encouraging them to engage in relaxing activities, or simply leaving them alone. It’s only Week 2 of the school year and we need them to have the stamina to make it to Week 43.

For updates, tips, and advice, follow Wellness on Social Media: Instagram @acalaneswellness
Allen Choi, Wellness Coordinator

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