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Students reflect on benefits of yoga, family game time

Students in Shelby Denhof’s English 11A class at Rockford High recently wrote op-ed essays, as part of a unit on persuasion and argumentative writing. Students were required to pitch their pieces to three different media outlets. School News Network received a number of essays and selected two of them to publish, by Kaylie Leasher and Rachel Broekstra. Their essays follow.

Play Together, Stay Together

By Rachel Broekstra, Junior, Rockford High School

 “How was school? Did you learn anything new?” We’ve all heard these questions from our parents before at the dinner table, in the car, or as you’re walking to your room. They care about us and want us to succeed, but that doesn’t change how we are sick of these boring questions! 

Being a teenager myself, my parents ask about grades and all the other not-so-fun stuff. Brief conversations like this don’t make me feel any closer to my parents. Talking about grades and rules only creates arguments and tension. According to a survey done by the New York Post, “Children have over 4,200 arguments with their parents by the age of 18.” That is about five a week from age 2 to 18. That’s crazy! We should strive to turn that fact around. We need to connect with our parents on a different level.

Without having a good connection with your parents you may drift apart when you are older. The Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Science found that “more than 40% of participants had experienced family estrangement at some point – suggesting that in certain groups, such as U.S. college students, estrangement may be almost as common as divorce.” Seeing these high percentages is so sad. You are given a family to support you and help you grow as a person. 

I know how hard it can be to get along with parents and siblings. After all, I am the middle child with two brothers. It’s not always sunshine and roses between us, but in the end they help me be a better person, and creating these good relationships as a teenager will only have positive outcomes for the future.  

These boring relationships can change, and you can find a friend in your family.

Sitting down around the dinner or coffee table and pulling out some cards or a board game is a fun, great way to bond with your family. It may seem childish to play games, but it’s very beneficial! According to Kansas State University, a public research institution, “Unlike video games, board games promote face-to-face interaction. A key component to connecting with people is learning how to read body language and developing ‘social capital.’ Board games allow us to create a foundation for trust and long-lasting relationships.” 

 One of my favorite memories with my family is when there was a bad storm and our power went out. At first we were all bummed out because there was no Wi-Fi, and for us that meant nothing to do. Turned out we were wrong. We pulled out the candles, lit them and gathered around the great game of Clue. Our phones weren’t in our faces and we had no other distractions. We had such a great time just enjoying each other, we didn’t want the power to come back on. That night we realized how much we bonded through games and made a plan to play all together monthly.

When a game requires having to team up with family, it forces your brain to think with them and understand their thinking in a different way. Competition adds a new layer of excitement to the boring night and good memories as well. Game nights also take away a lot of stress. It’s a little break from reality.  

My family and I have a much stronger relationship because of family game nights.  Board games essentially force you to put aside your differences, forget about life’s distractions, and enjoy each other while having fun!

Families should sit down together a few times each month and play board games together. Build a deeper connection. Your family is with you for life, so why not dive deeper into these relationships?

Works Cited

K-State Research and Extension.” Bonding with Board Games

Ro, Christine. “The Truth about Family Estrangement.” BBC Future, BBC, 1 Apr. 2019

Haaland, Marie. “Kids Fight with Their Parents This Many Times before They Turn 18.” New York Post, New York Post, 3 Dec. 2018

Just Breathe

By Kaylie Leasher, Junior, Rockford High School

Everyone has felt stressed at some point, but have you ever felt so anxious that you thought you might break down right at that moment? Has this happened more than once? This might be because you struggle with anxiety. You may have tried many different remedies to help deal with it, but yoga is a great option for treatment that most people overlook.

 Anxiety is a serious problem that some people take too lightly; they let it control their lives, but you don’t have to live with a fear of the smallest tasks just because your mind says you do. A simple and healthy way of living the life you want is to do yoga. 

Kaylie Leasher

The first time I experienced a panic attack was in 8th grade. I had a science exam and I was really struggling with that class. My friend who was also in that class had said that I was going to fail, along with her and everyone else. I knew she was joking around, but something in her words made something inside me snap.

 I thought that if I failed, I would fail the whole class and have to take it again. My hands started sweating as we neared the school. My stomach was in knots and my heart felt heavy. I couldn’t get those bad thoughts out of my head. I went home early and didn’t take the test that day. I was crushed because I felt weak and thought I couldn’t accomplish anything. I let the anxiety win. 

Over the years I have experienced my fair share of anxiety and panic attacks, but recently that all changed. I signed up for a yoga class at school (a new elective counting as gym credit) and started to feel powerful. I didn’t let that anxiety get to me; I was confident in my choices. I finally felt free.

In yoga, you learn not to let anxiety weigh you down, but let it become the steps that push you forward.

Yoga is the type of exercise that doesn’t feel like work. You can be free in your mind, body, and soul. It helps relax the tension in your body from stress while relieving yourself from the troubling thoughts that happen throughout your day. 

One specific thing that helps all cases of anxiety is breath control. Certain yoga moves, called asanas, are perfect for this. Instructors move you through different yoga poses harnessing the power from your breath, all the while improving your body and mind.

 Yoga is also very simple to do anywhere. If you are having a stressful day at work, just take a quick break, sit back, and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on the feeling of your breath, how it feels to expand your ribcage, the feeling of the air coming into your nose. Think of every sensation regarding your breath and you will soon forget the troubling times in your day and focus on you. A few minutes of mindful breathing can help in any situation of anxiety. 

When you focus on your breath, you slowly connect through each exhale and inhale to become more in tune with your body. It can build a sense of control you might feel you are lacking in the situation. Losing control is one of the worst feelings you can experience. Don’t let yourself lose control.

In order for me to get more control over how I felt, I let yoga take me to a safe place where there were no stressors. It has helped me grow as a person and it could help you grow. 

If you ever feel stressed or anxious, just know you are not alone. So many people struggle with this daily, but you don’t have to struggle forever. The worst thing that could happen if you try yoga is that it doesn’t work for you. It might not, everyone is different, but there is no harm in trying it. It teaches you that anxiety isn’t a weakness. 

Moving throughout your day while dealing with anxiety is a strength. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. 

Works Cited

Publishing, H. (2020). Yoga for anxiety and depression – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health.

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