Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166


Controlling our Stress Response

Hilltop principal John Erickson reminded us this week that breathing exercises such as Breathing Ball and simple movements like Chair Cat Cow can activate our parasympathetic nervous system. 

This system, designed to calm the body and prevent it from overworking, stands in contrast to our sympathetic nervous system that prepares us for “fight or flight.” When our calming parasympathetic system is activated, this helps reduce a stress hormone that can have immediate and long-term negative impacts on our ability to think, learn and concentrate, as well as increase our risk of anxiety, depression, heart disease, weight gain and other serious health problem (Mayo Clinic, 2020).

John makes a powerful point in emphasizing that our stress response system is something we can have increased control over, even during stressful situations. We all face stressors throughout our workdays, and how we respond to this stress before, during and after, has huge impacts on ourselves, families and students. 

The #HPSWellness strategies, along with other SEL and emotion regulation strategies such as the RULER tools, give us an opportunity to learn and practice new ways of interrupting our harmful stress responses. 

Below is a quote that we always use during our training on the RULER Meta Moment, and it reflects the heart of John Erickson’s powerful message. For additional context, the quote’s author, Viktor Frankl, was a holocaust survivor and award-winning neurologist and psychiatrist.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor Frankl

As always, Highline’s SEL team is here to support you with additional professional learning, curricula, or implementation coaching. The team is sharing weekly adult wellness strategies, offering virtual SEL sessions for both certificated and classified staff, and providing resources on the SEL Distance Learning Canvas page.

Continue to use #HPSWellness on Twitter to show us how wellness is showing up in your life and to highlight what regulation strategies you are using!