For Counselors: Anxiety

(Cutting & Self Harm)

Table of Contents

As you advance through each month of 5 Radical Minutes, additional content will become available.

Anxiety (Cutting & Self-Harm) 1-4

These prompts are for students who deal with anxiety, which can often show up through cutting and self harm.

Note: Be sure to read the introductory content to your students before jumping into these cutting and self harm prompts. It will help all know what’s coming, and what amazing things you’re going to accomplish together.

Week 1
Introduction

Introduction

Just like in your classroom, we’re using the five minute listening activities where we take turns listening to one another from a heart-centered, compassionate and caring place. We’ll also start with a moment or so of deep breathing and using the stress reduction techniques so we have ourselves in the calmest, most caring place possible as we share our group time together.  I’ll use the bell for when we begin deep breathing, I’ll ring it again when we can open our eyes and face our partner and again when it is time to trade from the listening to the speaking, and finally, when it is time to move to the time when we look for what we have in common.

Let’s begin by taking a moment of breathing deep into our bellies and, each time you exhale, relax a little more and just let go.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

With your partner today, during your time to talk, share one place that you can go that feels the safest place of all. You might talk about who is there that makes you feel safe, or what you have around you. Anything that describes that safest place.

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

Is there anything you can identify that you had in common when you described your safe places?

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

One Step Further

One Step Further

If you have more than 5 minutes, you might have all in the group contribute and make a master list of all of the attributes of what makes a place safe.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

We can all learn from one another a range of ways to better manage our stress. Today, think about your safe place. If you don’t have one, start thinking about ways you can create one for yourself.

Week 2
Introduction

Introduction

This week they’ll have a new partner. Use the bell to start the deep breathing, to start the prompt, for trading listening and talking, and for finding commonness at the end.

This week we’ll start with a few deep breaths.

Ring the bell after about 1 minute.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

During your time to talk, see if you can identify some of the ways that getting enough exercise can be helpful in lowering our stress. What kinds of exercise do you enjoy or are you most willing to do? How does it help? When does it help?

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

Was there anything you had in common in your thoughts about exercise?

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

One Step Further

One Step Further

What if we were to have either a little contest OR a way of being mutually supportive of all of us getting enough exercise? We have several more weeks left together… how might we put together a way of encouraging one another?

  • One option would be for students in the group to choose an exercise buddy. If the students in your group all have cell phones, they might want to text each other when they do exercise and give each other kudos.  Or they might send emails or message through FB?
  • You could have them keep track of what they do and fill in a chart you keep as part of the group.

One goal in this is to help all of them put exercise into their lives in a way that perhaps they’ll continue.  Ask them to help generate ideas!

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

We would all do really well to watch other’s mistakes with compassion, but also to learn things we don’t want to do ourselves. We can save ourselves a lot of heartbreak if we learn from what we see. Today, try responding with compassion when someone around you makes a mistake.

tip

Prepare

If you’re going to have your students post their lists next week using post-it notes, you will need flip chart paper or a place for the Post Its to be posted (blank wall or flip chart paper taped to the wall perhaps), and you’ll need ample post-it notes. Otherwise students need a way of writing their lists and then you need to be able to write their responses on the blackboard or flipchart.

The goal in this week’s session is to help youth see that they’re not the only ones who have extreme stress and that they aren’t alone. In keeping with the importance of not allowing students to “tell war stories” about how they cut or how deep their wounds, we want to focus on how to recognize it early enough to avoid it when possible, and then to find alternatives to cutting when the stress seems to be increasing. One helpful possibility is to have youth recognizing that there are many kinds of stressors, but also that none of us have all of them. So they can find some solace in realizing that we each have our challenges, and we’re not alone in that, but that there are many that each of us can recognize we don’t have, and appreciating that.

There are a couple of ways of doing this. 

  1. Have students write down the stressors they identify on post-it notes, then for the “connecting” portion, have a place for the post-it notes to be posted, divided into two categories. One list is “those we can anticipate” and the other list is “those that are unexpected.”
  2. Have students list their words on paper so they’ll remember them all, and then they verbally read their list one stressor at a time, you can ask the group to tell you what side it should be recorded.

Choose how you’ll do this so you know what you need for supplies.

Week 3
Introduction

Introduction

If you’re going to have your students post their lists using post-it notes, you will need flip chart paper or a place for the Post Its to be posted (blank wall or flip chart paper taped to the wall perhaps), and you’ll need ample post-it notes. Otherwise students need a way of writing their lists and then you need to be able to write their responses on the blackboard or flipchart.

The goal in this week’s session is to help youth see that they’re not the only ones who have extreme stress and that they aren’t alone. In keeping with the importance of not allowing students to “tell war stories” about how they cut or how deep their wounds, we want to focus on how to recognize it early enough to avoid it when possible, and then to find alternatives to cutting when the stress seems to be increasing. One helpful possibility is to have youth recognizing that there are many kinds of stressors, but also that none of us have all of them. So they can find some solace in realizing that we each have our challenges, and we’re not alone in that, but that there are many that each of us can recognize we don’t have, and appreciating that.

 

There are a couple of ways of doing this.

  1. Have students write down the stressors they identify on post-it notes, then for the “connecting” portion, have a place for the post-it notes to be posted, divided into two categories. One list is “those we can anticipate” and the other list is “those that are unexpected.”
  2. Have students list their words on paper so they’ll remember them all, and then they verbally read their list one stressor at a time, you can ask the group to tell you what side it should be recorded.

Choose how you’ll do this so you know what you need for supplies.

There are many reasons that students have stress. The better we can identify the sources of stress, the better we can be at either avoiding the stress by the choices we make, or we can at least possibly manage that stress more effectively. Today we’re going to change the timing a bit. We’ll take one minute each to identify stressors, then we’ll take the last three minutes to write them down into two different lists… those we can anticipate (and maybe avoid or be prepared for) and those that happen to us “out of the blue.”

We’re going to start again with the deep breathing so we can get as relaxed and focused as possible.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

You have one minute to talk with your partner about the sources of stress in kids’ lives today. It is great for you to identify your own, but it is also fine to talk about stressors you see friends or others having. As you identify each one, write it down.

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

If students have written their replies on Post-it notes, after they’ve each had their one minute to share their ideas and write them down, guide them posting them on one side or the other of the line separating stressors that can be anticipated and those that cannot.

Remember the goals of the exercise:

  • For students to recognize that everyone has stress and none of us is alone in that regard
  • Some stressors can be anticipated and some cannot
  • Breathing deeply into the belly and many other techniques can be helpful
  • Using those techniques as we approach a stressful situation can be helpful
  • Those same techniques are helpful even when we’re ambushed by an unexpected situation.

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

Help students recognize that the techniques of deep breathing are helpful any time we are struggling with stress.  It is helpful to begin to use them when anticipating a stressful situation, but if we have the wherewithal, we can employ them even when surprised by stress.

Note: Save these for next week or take a picture so the group can take the next step next week.

Week 4
Introduction

Introduction

Note: This week builds on what the group did last week by taking the stressors students listed and beginning to look at coping strategies.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

This week we’re going to generate the longest possible list on all the ways we can think to self-sooth or calm ourselves down. We’ll start with our deep breathing first, and then each of us will tell and write down the most ideas we can list for ways we can calm ourselves down.

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

  • Have students talk in pairs about what they have in common in terms of self-calming
  • OR Choose one or two stressors from the list from last week that could be managed by one of the self-soothing ideas they had. (This could be done in pairs or as a large group.)

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

This week, if something upsets you, try using one of the suggestions we’ve talked about.

Anxiety (Cutting & Self-Harm) 5-8

Week 5
Introduction

Introduction

Remind students about the value of deep breathing and focusing on internal calm, and give them a minute or so to do so.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

Today during your time to speak, talk about something you feel proud about having done. Something you feel good about in any way, from a skill you have to something you’ve accomplished.

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

What did you have in common?

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

One Step Further

One Step Further

If you have more than 5 minutes, you might have all in the group contribute to the times, places, and situations this practice could be beneficial.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

We can all learn from one another a range of ways to better manage our stress. This week, if you’re feeling stressed, consider trying one of the stress-busters we’ve talked about today.

Week 6
Introduction

Introduction

We know that students have a range of ways of being able to internalize coping mechanisms, so we want to try different ways of making insights and information available to them. This time instead of just talking about where they hold stress, instead of paired sharing, the pairs will do the “connecting” part of the exercise, but for the first 3 minutes you will lead them in a closed-eye exercise (also called guided imagery).   It is nice to have soft music in the background as you read the instructions for them.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

Today we’re going to get in touch with where we hold stress in our bodies by doing a relaxation exercise that is actually lots of fun. You can do this on your own, too, so you’ll be learning something you might do in your bedroom at night or even when you’re sitting in your desk during class. The first three minutes, I’ll be talking us through an activity where we close our eyes and pay attention to where we have stress in our bodies, and then we’ll work on relaxing in a very specific way. At the end of the closed-eye part I’ll ring the bell to signal that we can open our eyes, and each of you will have a couple of minutes to do the “connecting” part we do at the end of our sharing each time, where you just talk with one another about what you have in common…  how well it worked, what you learned, and maybe when you might use it on your own. I’ll ring the bell for us to close our eyes and again when you can open them.

Ring the bell.

Take a few deep breaths, and just let yourself relax as you exhale. [Pause.] Now, start at your toes and your feet and feel whether you hold any stress there… and now tighten all the muscles in your feet… [say this slowly]  tighten, tighten, tighten and relax.  [Pause.]  Move your awareness up into your calves – your lower legs.  Notice what you feel.  Now, just in that area of your body, just your lower legs, [say this slowly] tighten, tighten, tighten and relax.  Now, your thighs. Your upper legs. What do you feel there?

[Continue on naming these parts of the body:]

  • Feet
  • Calves
  • Thighs
  • Tummy
  • Chest
  • Bottom
  • Lower back
  • Upper back
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Face [when you mention the face, suggest they squinch it up into a tight little ball or circle and then the relaxation part]

Ring the bell.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

Now, with your partner, share anything you wish about what you noticed. Maybe where you think you hold the most stress, maybe where and when you think you will use this on your own… You don’t have to take turns like the first part of our usual activities, this can be like the last minute where you just have a conversation about what you felt and realized and see what you have in common.

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

One Step Further

One Step Further

If you have more than 5 minutes, you might have all in the group contribute to the times, places, and situations this practice could be beneficial.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

If you’re feeling stressed this week, try this technique that we learned today.

Week 7
prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

With today’s partner, your two minutes of sharing is about what circumstances in the future could make it possible for you to have less stress such that you didn’t have to really worry much about how to feel calm inside.

Note: If you are talking openly about cutting or self-harm, you could say “… could make it possible for you to be so calm most of the time that you really didn’t even think about doing any self-harm.”

Ring the bell to start their sharing time. Ring it after two minutes so they can trade roles from listener to speaker. Ring the bell at the end of sharing time.

Note: Two-minutes is the goal, but these first few prompts may go quite a bit more quickly. Remind them not to respond to one another during their two-minute talking time. They’re to just respond to the prompt directly.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

What did you have in common?

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

Everyone has many stressful things happen then over their lifetimes. Some of them we can prevent by the choices we make. But whether we can anticipate them coming or not, how we handle them can make all the difference. Take some time this week to jot down (or draw, or write a poem or song, etc.) some ideas to keep in your back pocket for the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation.

Week 8
Introduction

Introduction

Note:  This is a great time to  have music behind your words as you guide them through the one-minute guided imagery. This one takes a couple of extra minutes.

prompt

Prompt

Have students break into pairs. If there’s an uneven number, the teacher is paired with someone. If the number is even, consider seeing whether there is an adult in the building that could join you (a secretary?  an administrator?  the custodian?) If the teacher is not paired with a student, the teacher could sit in with a pair to listen, to model the body language and eye contact of active listening. Continually look for ways to reinforce that adults in the building are genuinely interested in the perceptions and needs of students.

During our time together, we’ve talked about what makes us stressed, what we know about getting calm, what kinds of places are safe places, how we can relax stress that is in our bodies, and we’ve imagined life in the future with manageable stress.  [If it is your last time together for group…. For this last time together…]  we’re going to take one full minute of relaxation time, and while you listen to the calming music, let yourself remember how you envisioned a future time when you were more able to manage your stress. As you imagine that, also let the answer to this question come to your awareness: What is one step you could make toward that less stressful future?  I’ll right the bell to start us in the closed-eye part, and I’ll ring it again in a minute when you can open your eyes and begin your sharing.  We’ll be doing the paired sharing where only one person talks for two minutes and then you switch.  We’ll take time at the end for seeing what you have in common.

Ring the bell.

Take this first moment to remember what you envisioned about a less stressful time in the future. [Pause for 30 seconds.]  Now let yourself become aware of one thing you could do to take one step toward that future.

Ring the bell when they are to begin their paired sharing.

Connecting

Connecting

Do this in pairs during the last minute.

This time, we’ll take just a little extra time. Each of you share one thing you think you could do now, and then together, come up with a way that this group could encourage or support you in taking that first step.

Ring the bell to mark the end of one minute.

challenge

Weekly Challenge

This weekly goal is based on our daily prompt, and lays the groundwork for more intentional mindfulness. If possible, have someone touch base with the students on this challenge throughout the week.

It’s great that you can think about next steps, but also give yourselves credit. Being in this group, you’ve already taken many steps toward that future. The key is how to keep this momentum going. The next time you’re feeling stressed, remind yourself of how much progress you’ve already made when it comes to handling stress!