Posted on April 17 2017
Remember worry stones? These were smooth, flat stones that had a thumb-sized groove carved into the middle that you could place in your pocket and use as a way to self-soothe when you had worries or anxiety. They were placed at the counters of many stores and were always so tempting to purchase because once you tried them out, it was easy to melt into the calming effect it had as soon as you placed your thumb into the shallow space.
What I liked about the worry stones, is that once it was in your pocket, it was a constant reminder to check your emotional state. Of course, at that time, I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. I just like the way it felt and the way it made me feel. I remember carrying one for many weeks and each time I reached into my pocket, I could rub my thumb across it a few times, and it automatically made me feel better, even if I wasn’t upset or angry. No one had to know I had it, and since so many people had them, no one would have cared. Now, I know worry stones can still be purchased and I still love them as a way to self-regulate. However, as a teacher, I don’t have the funds to purchase these stones for my students who need a mindful reminder to carry in their pocket. I have found the next best thing though and it’s practically free. A rubber band!
Giving students a small rubber band to carry in their pockets can be a great reminder to breathe. To breathe when they need a break; to breathe when they are anxious, worried, overly stimulated or need to re-focus. I like to use it two ways. First, if you have practiced breath work using a Hoberman Sphere, the rubber band can be used in the same way. Practice this by taking the rubber band out of the pocket and grasp it between the index finger and thumb of both hands. Guide the child through breathing with it by inhaling as they stretch it out to the sides and exhale as they bring the rubber band back together. Guide them through two or three rounds like this and have them check in to see how they feel. Since the rubber band is already in their pocket, once a child knows how this is done, they can guide themselves through several rounds when they feel the need. Even though the rubber band needs to be removed from their pocket, it can still be done discreetly if a small enough rubber band is used.
Another way the rubber band can be used, is once the child had practiced using the rubber band outside of their pocket, they can graduate to not even taking it out. They can still carry it in their pocket as a reminder, however, once they reach in and feel it, they can visualize themselves inhaling and exhaling with the rubber band without actually taking it out. Once they’ve mastered this, they don’t even need to carry the rubber band! What a great progressional learning tool for emotional regulation!!