“How are you feeling today?”

By Bridget Yoko

“How are you feeling today?” It’s a question we often ask others. Our societal responses are usually a casual “good”, “fine”, an occasional “ok” followed by the usual follow up “how are you?” with the same ingrained causal responses.

In my first session as the Wellness Specialist at The Village School, the goal of answering that question has been to take a deep dive into our emotions and the feelings that correspond with those emotions. What are emotions? How do they feel? What is your body telling you? How do we handle our emotions when they become uncomfortable? How can we identify those emotions in others?

Each studio is filled with different perspectives, developmental levels, and interpretations about emotions. In Spark Studio, the learners had discussions around anger, sadness, disgust, happiness, surprise, and fear.

Spark learners are working together to match emotions with facial expressions.

Learners were eager to share how they identify these emotions in others by the facial expressions and body language of their friends and family. Experiences that were common amongst the learners were anger and frustration with siblings, sharing toys, or when others do not listen to them when they are talking. They also had strong reactions of disgust when it comes to eating vegetables they do not like. We then explored where in our bodies we feel our emotions. When we are having a strong emotion, what does that feel like?

Learners reflected on times that they experienced emotions and what it felt like in their bodies.

Learners shared sentiments such as “I feel happiness in my chest”, “I know I am happy when I have an overwhelming feeling inside”, “I keep all of my feelings in my brain, my brain tells me how I feel”, and “when I feel angry, I feel it in my arms and legs, I have to do something with it!” Spark learners are eager to act out these emotions and share stories. Next, learners will be exploring what to do when they have an uncomfortable emotion. What should I do when I am angry? Sad? Disgusted? Or fearful? We will be exploring these together soon!

Discovery Studio has dived a bit deeper into emotions. They have been using an emotions wheel to identify what they look like in others, how they know when someone is feeling a certain way, and what to do when you notice someone is feeling lonely, sad, overwhelmed, angry, happy, excited, or afraid.

Discovery learners discussing emotions, facial expressions, and body language.

Learners have explored what emotions meant to them through illustrations and shared experiences. Themes that have emerged are the joy that they feel with their families and friends, with special desserts, and while playing sports. Uncomfortable emotions such as feeling worthless, invaluable, and angry have been identified as hard to describe. Many learners made connections with each other when describing feelings of fear. They comforted each other through different suggestions and strategies for how to find comfort when you are afraid. What do you tell yourself when you are afraid? What does fear feel like inside of you? What is that feeling of fear telling you?

Adventure Studio has begun the process of journaling. Journaling has been shown to help adolescents process their feelings and emotions in a healthy way (check out this article on teen journaling). We can often be overwhelmed by many emotions at once. Learners discussed how our bodies are giving us signals like feeling hot in our face or beginning to sweat when nervous.

Adventure learners creating collages representing who they are and how they feel.

Discussions around what it means to feel joyful, pressured, overwhelmed, and fragile dominated our conversations. Learners were eager to create collages about emotions they have experienced lately. Some of these included what it means to feel content or overwhelmed with happiness. Pressure was also an emotion that many learners have had experiences with. Which emotions are uncomfortable? Which are comfortable? What do you do when you are having an uncomfortable emotion? Learners will be discussing these emotions, how we identify them within ourselves and others, and strategies for what to do in the future.

These exercises are for more than use in the classroom. They provide learners with tools to name and process how they’re feeling at a deeper level. What is your body telling you today? What do you need? What is uncomfortable for you? What is comfortable? With these tools, your learner can challenge themselves to discover more about who they are, what they are feeling, and why. Have a conversation with your learner today and see what unfolds.

So, how are you feeling today?

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