The Importance of Self-Care

Importance of Self-Care

Sometimes managing work, family, and a multitude of daily activities can be overwhelming.  Our challenge is to maintain our resilience so that we can keep doing our vital work with care, energy and compassion. Self-care is an important

10 Things To Do For Yourself Everyday (Self-Care)

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Get enough to eat.
  3. Do some light exercise.
  4. Vary the work what you do.
  5. Do something pleasurable.
  6. Focus on what you did well.
  7. Learn from your mistakes.
  8. Share a private joke.
  9. Pray, meditate or relax.
  10. Support a colleague.

How are our counselors and staff taking care of their well-being?

Here’s a great activity to demonstrate the importance of self-care


Here are a few more helpful self –care resources:

Headspace-Think of Headspace like a gym but for your mind.

The Quiet Place Project– an online space with various exercise to help you relax and get away from it all for a bit.

Pixel Thoughts– to put your stressful thoughts in a shrinking star and watch them fade away for some temporary relief.

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Scientists prove it, there are benefits to being kind.

Scientists prove it. There are benefits to being kind. 

At STARS, we believe it doesn’t cost anything to be kind towards our fellow human brothers and sisters. According to research, it is scientifically proven there are benefits to being kind!! 

What’s the benefits?

Kindness Increases:

  • The Love Hormone
  • Energy
  • Happiness
  • Lifespan
  • Pleasure
  • Serotonin

Kindness Decreases:

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Blood Pressure

STARS Student Assistance Program Counselors provide a myriad of school-wide activities throughout the school year to promote kindness and encourages young people to be kind to one another. Hear from a few of them how they are promoting kindness!

What are a few ways you are encouraging your kids to be kind? What are ways you as an individual are being kind and setting a good example for future generations?

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Compassion: The Antidote to Trauma

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by negativity?  Turning on the news you see a stream of violence, drug abuse, scandal and scary statistics.  The weight of our social ills, mental health issues and rates of physical disease can make many feel helpless…or even worse, cynical.

Compassion: The Antidote to Trauma

One research study has begun to transform the way people think about these issues; instead of feeling overwhelmed, they feel hope.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control in the mid 90’s.  Surveying over 17,000 patients, they found a strong relationships between childhood adversity and later development of disease, disability and social problems.  From crime to cancer, from academic failure to alcoholism, high rates of childhood trauma was the common denominator.

Fifteen years later, scientists have found that toxic levels of stress hurt the developing brains and bodies of children.  Specifically, toxic stress from trauma changes the very architecture of your brain, kills your cells and even changes the way your genes are expressed. Getting deep beneath the skin and putting cracks in the foundation for lifelong health and wellness.

Why would this knowledge create hope?  Because now, we better understand how to meaningfully solve our most enduring problems with one approach.  Since ACEs are the root cause, we need to decrease and alleviate childhood trauma.

When a child is displaying negative behavior, it is often due to stress hormones surging through their bodies which put them in fight, flight or freeze mode.  This is a natural survival response.  When kids come from traumatic backgrounds, they frequently experience this survival reaction.

The CDC’s recommendations for driving down rates of ACEs are safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.  It may seem overly simple, but empowering coaches, teachers, pediatricians, parents and mentors to understand how childhood adversity impacts health and behavior creates a powerful response which is the antidote to trauma.  Suddenly these adults change their question from “what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?”

Science shows we heal child trauma and promote resilience through trauma-informed, or compassionate care.  When hurt and reactive kids are met with calm and safe adults, they can begin to learn these skills themselves.  The brain continues to grow and develop through 25 years of age.  This means adults can help kids build neural connections to combat trauma and improve functioning simply by modeling the behavior they want to see.

Many adults are highly motivated to help and support youth but they become burned out because they deal with challenging behavior, they don’t understand on a daily basis.

For example, when a child curses you, it is difficult not to take it personally.  When these same adults recognize what is happening in the brains and bodies of these children and adolescents, they can respond in a compassionate way that doesn’t worsen trauma symptoms but begins to heal them.

Programs that treat families and youth break the cycle of physical disease, health risk behaviors, addiction, violence and mental health issues.  Realizing the deep impact of trauma, recognizing signs and symptoms, and responding in a way that reduces symptoms are the keys to trauma informed care and a healthier society.  By doing what is morally right for children, we are doing what is logically and fiscally right for all Tennesseans.   This science provides hope that we can move from marginal to massive results in addressing our most burdensome problems.




STARS Program Wish List

Due to the growth and demands of our services, our programs are always in need of specific items from our STARS family. We would love for you to consider donating to STARS the following items:

We’ve categorized the needs based on each of our programs:

Student Assistance Program

  • File Folders
  • General Office Supplies
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Stress Balls (for the students to use when prepping for tests)
  • Tabletop Zen Gardens (for the students to use for therapeutic sessions)
  • Story Books (centered on behaviors, feelings, manners, etc. – gently used is okay)
  • Kleenex
  • School Floor Mats 
  • 2016 Desk Calendars
  • Reams of Plain White Paper
  • Gift Cards to Office Depot

Kids on the Block

Services for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse

  • Non-perishable Snacks (including juice boxes)
  • Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text (gently used is okay and as many as we can get)
  • Art supplies (anything from construction paper to painting supplies)
  • $15 and $30 visa gift cards to use as stipends for speakers
  •  All-Day Youth Bus Passes  (As many as we can get)


  • (50) $10 visa gift cards to use as prizes during our MOVE2STAND trainings

If you have any questions, please contact STARS Development office at 615.983.8720 or email our Development & Communications Coordinator, Heidi Rogers.

Distinguishing Between Bullying and Discriminatory Harassment

In 1999, there were exactly 0 (zero) state laws in the United States dealing with bullying. Post Columbine, state legislatures began to develop laws and school districts began to implement polices to address the issue of bullying that was now on the public’s radar screen. Now, 16 years later, there are 49 states with laws; all but Montana have anti-bullying laws. More than half of these laws also address cyberbullying.

Bullying_STARSFor the last 7 years the Tennessee Department of Education through the Office of Safe and Supportive Schools, has provided training for school leaders on Tennessee’s laws and best practices to deal with bullying and harassment. I’ve always been interested in the legal complexities schools face in dealing with these tough issues. As a part of my work, I’ve had the privilege of working with some tremendous attorney’s with the Department of Education in joining them as a co-presenter in these sessions entitled From Policy to Practice. The attorneys have covered the law and I have attempted to help school personnel understand and implement best practices to improve school climate and prevent bullying. Under the leadership of General Counsel, Christy Ballard, they have helped schools understand the legal complexities of these challenging issues.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to participate in additional training designed to help schools address issues to determine appropriate responses to bullying. To start, defining bullying is complex in and of itself. When the issue of legal harassment is added to the conversation the complexity increases.

The Bullying and Harassment Solutions for Schools: A Comprehensive System to Educate, Investigate and Remediate, developed by legal expert, Mary Jo McGrath, is a powerful system for investigating bullying incidences. The system is designed to help schools drill down to the key issues of whether the issue at hand is conflict, bullying and/or harassment.

Throughout the training, Mary Jo reiterated that the same behavior(s) in question may actually violate one or more areas of law:

  1. School administrative law prohibiting bullying or harassment and justifying action under the student code of conduct and board of policy and regulations;
  2. Criminal law (e.g., hate crimes); and
  3. State civil statutes relating to anti-bullying provisions or even negligence; or under civil rights action if protected classification is involved and discrimination is found.

In short, a bullying complaint may come under any or all of these areas of law.

The McGrath system also helps schools understand when they are responsible for addressing bullying situations. Simply, a school is responsible for addressing bullying and harassment incidents about which it knows or reasonably should have known.

Mary Jo quotes Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “Every adult in the school from principals to custodians, cafeteria workers to teachers must intervene and act when they see bullying for whatever reason.” This is something that the Tennessee Department of Education has been stressing through the Policy to Practice workshops for many years. Everyone in the school must address bullying and harassment.

Schools face some formidable challenges when an act of bullying is reported. Not only does the school need to determine the context in which the act may have occurred, they also must determine if the act is more serious and is a potential civil rights violation, or discriminatory harassment.

Perhaps one of the most important distinctions discussed during the McGrath training is the primary distinguishing factor between bullying and bullying that is discriminatory harassment. If the behavior was targeted toward a member of a protected classification, other issues must be considered. Federally protected classifications include:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin as well as including English Language Learners.
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex, which covers sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, pregnant and parenting students, and athletics. Finally,
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability.

STARS is now able to offer training for individual school(s) and school districts that would like to go deeper in this challenging conversation. We will be able to offer the McGrath Systems approach to help schools be certain that they are doing all that they can to address the issue of bullying and harassment, implement clear investigative protocols resulting in a more positive school climate for both students, parents and school personnel. For more information about how your school/district can take advantage of this opportunity, contact STARS at 615-279-0058 or email Teresa Whitaker to discuss the possibility.