Johnson’s Stress Buster Week Embraces Mental Wellness

Submitted By Lisa Williams

During “Stress Buster Week” at Johnson High School, students took a break from their studies and exam prep to spend time with six certified therapy dogs.

Johnson High School PTSA, Winner’s Circle and the Counseling Office collaborated the week of May 15-19 to introduce students to healthy techniques to offset the stress of AP exams, finals, and standardized tests. Activities were intentionally scheduled between the crunch weeks of AP testing and finals. Opportunities were planned each day featuring a positive “stress busting” coping skill to teach students ways to self-manage their stress and anxiety.

Monday, PTSA parent volunteers and students from Winner’s Circle staffed a table in the lunchroom highlighting supportive resources available in Johnson’s counseling center. Lisa Williams, STAN counselor, developed a Breathe for Relief card, a business-card-sized resource that lists anxiety-reducing breathing techniques. Students were drawn to the table by a drawing for free Fidget Spinners

Tuesday featured a campus visit by certified therapy dogs. Hundreds of students lined up at lunch for their opportunity to hug, pet or take selfies with one of the six dogs, whose usual clientele can be found at Encino Park Elementary School. Campus reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Multiple students were heard to comment this was the best thing Johnson had ever done.

“Everyone loves dogs!” said student senior Avery Linhart. “The dogs were really cute and soft and seeing dogs on campus was so unexpected, it made everyone happy.”

On Wednesday, students watched a Stress Buster segment on JagTV during flex class taped the week prior by Johnson journalism students. They also “socked-it to stress” by wearing crazy socks and bringing a new pair (or pack) to share with the NEISD Clothes Closet. Students were reminded how stressful it would be not to have clothing and were encouraged to pay it forward.

“May is Mental Heath Awareness Month,” explained Winner’s Circle member junior Jack Baughman. “I thought our NEISD clothing drive would fit in well with Stress Buster Week because not having clothing that you really 

need, like underwear and socks, could be extremely stressful.”

It was Jack, fellow Winner’s Circle member Diego Frazer, and PTSA ADEPT Chair Anne Frazer who developed the idea to tie in giving back to others with Johnson’s Stress Buster week activities.

Thursday, YogaFit instructors led a free, outdoor yoga demonstration during lunches. Health and fitness benefits of yoga were explained and student participation was encouraged.

Rounding out the week, “Chill Out” was Friday’s theme. Students and faculty joined together to walk away their stress on the track before school. PTSA then distributed a treat of free Paletas, fruit or ice cream bars, to participants.

Stress Buster week was designed for Johnson High School to observe National Mental Health Month in a fun, positive and interactive way.

“If we were able to brighten someone’s day – be it by hugging a dog or just eating a fruit bar – we have done a good thing,” said Williams. “And if we can leverage that experience with an opportunity to teach a lesson about healthy life skills and resources available for help, that’s even better.”