Our focus skill for this week is taking breaks. Taking a break is a strategy to help calm our thoughts and feelings to be better able to attend to education, activities, social situations etc. Knowing when to take a break is a great skill to use in response to verbal conflicts between siblings, peers, or when feeling stressed with work. Breaks can be a brief mental break or an extended break away from the stressors. Breaks are intended to increase your participation in the expected activity by helping to return the body to a calmer state and then resuming the activity, rather than being used as an avoidance of work, chores, etc.
Suggestions for using this skill:
● Create a “break spot” at home to go to when feeling escalated. This spot should be a calm place a place where you can use strategies to help your mind settle.
● Taking breaks is something we should see as a positive choice, not a negative reaction.
● It’s also important to know what kind of break you need
o Calming break: a few minutes without stimulation: quiet reading, calming music, mindful breathing, etc.
o Distraction break: a break with the purpose of shifting negative thought patterns by thinking about something more positive or neutral. It is often helpful to be doing something with your hands on a distraction break like colouring in, a puzzle or a game etc.
o Movement break: sitting still and focusing can be very difficult especially for long time periods. Encourage movement breaks with exercises, dancing to a song or movements that stimulate both sides of the brain such as alternating right elbow to left knee and then left elbow to right knee. Stretching or yoga exercises can also be used.
● If you are struggling at school with concentration or feelings of stress and anxiety are feeling too big, it is important to ask an adult for help. You may need to discuss a time out card with your school. Time out cards can be used at school to take a short break to regroup yourself, allowing you to be able to focus when you return to the lesson. Time out cards can be a positive strategy for both yourself and school if used wisely, stop and think can I just do a quick body scan and move on with the lesson? or do I need to step out re group and come back to class?
● Set yourself a time limit on your break, this will allow you to have the time out you need without taking you away from completing tasks.
Information for this post is from Starr Commonwealth program Courageous Children: Daily Skills to Build Resilience.
If you would like further information or would like to connect with Highlands Youth Services, please click the contact us section of our website.