Riverdale News & Stories
How can one relieve stress, cope with emotional difficulty, and find a positive balance in life?
The Riverdale Upper School devoted its One World Day yesterday to the subject of health and wellness, exploring strategies to focus, organize, cope with anxiety, manage anger and frustration, and develop a deeper understanding of self.
Head of School Dr. Kelley Nicholson-Flynn told the students that the purpose of the day was two-fold: to learn strategies for staying emotionally and psychologically well and to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
A panel of students, administrators and teachers gave personal accounts of struggles with mental disorders, addictions, and family trauma and how they found help. Dr. Nicholson-Flynn noted that mental illness is not uncommon, with an estimated 20 percent of the general population experiencing a mental illness at some point in life. The panelists described how they found support to cope with their illness through medical treatment, therapy, and the support of friends.
The students received journals, and were asked to record their thoughts during the day. “Reflection in all of its simplicity is one of the most effective tools you have to know yourself and be happy,” Dr. Nicholson-Flynn said.
Among the speakers was Dan Harris, an ABC News correspondent and anchor, and author of 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story.
Harris told the students that after spending several years reporting in war zones in the Middle East, he developed depression and started using drugs. He suffered a panic attack on camera, which led him to seek treatment and ultimately to try meditation.
He said meditation had helped him to put his feelings in perspective. He said professional sports teams, major companies and the military are teaching employees about meditation because it helps to increase focus and resiliency and relieve stress.
Other speakers included Dr. James Gordon '58, the founder and director of the The Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC, and two parents, MaryBeth Sigler and Karen Elizaga.
Dozens of workshops were offered during the day including discussions about patience, gratitude, and philosophy, as well as sessions for dance, zumba, yoga, indoor rock-climbing, karaoke, comedy, curling, and other recreational activities.
One of the arts workshops asked participants to share and interpret dreams, and to create artworks inspired by their dreams. Some of their pieces can be viewed in this gallery.
The day closed on an exuberant note, with performances by a student comedian, guest comedian, the faculty jug band, and a flash mob of students and faculty dancing to Beyonce.