After more than two decades working with children and youth in school, Simone Shears thought students could use a bigger menu of stress-reducing options and she started looking for recipes.
Shears, owner of Mend to Feel Good, became a holistic wellness practitioner and has channeled her energy into teaching energy, sound, meditation and breathing techniques to kids and youth to help them relax and recover from stress.
Shears works as a child and youth worker and brings some of the techniques into the classroom with her, and recently she’s started offering organic massage and holistic treatments such as Reiki in the evenings out of a spa room at Bishop Botanicals. One of her specialities is a back glow massage, which is used to treat acne-prone skin with a botanical brew she makes herself. She provides her services to children, teens, and adults, but hopes to reach out more to teenagers.
“There’s an influx of teens getting diagnosed with stress and anxiety related illness, and it’s increasing,” said Shears. “Teaching them how to relax and be calm is a way to build resilience because they’re learning how to bounce back from their feelings.”
It’s a method Shears is confident will help teens, because she’s tested and proven it for herself.
Shears was struggling with feelings of grief after losing her mother. She experienced stress because she was worried her grief was preventing her from being effective in her job.
“I wanted a more organic way of dealing with my physical and emotional symptoms,” she said.
She travelled to an Ashram, where she learned about meditation and connection with her physical and spiritual self.
“I met people from all over the world looking for the same sense of inner calmness and peace,” she said, adding it helped her connect with herself and others to know she was not alone. It was then she knew she wanted to bring that kind of connection to her hometown of Collingwood and she hoped it would help the youth she worked with on a daily basis.
Since the proliferation of social media, Shears has seen the impact of technology addictions and the comparative nature of online platforms. Kids in elementary school are showing signs of technology addiction, and the resulting stress is causing physiological symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, nervousness, isolation from peers, acne breakouts, and overactive fight or flight responses.
“Sometimes kids will just run out of a classroom because they’re trying to get away from a perceived fear,” said Shears. “Kids aren’t as resilient anymore. They’re afraid to fail and they’re very hard on themselves when they think they will fail.”
She said fear of judgement from their peers can drive a student to stay away from school entirely.
“They see photos on social media and they want the life that someone else has, but it’s not real, it’s not real time … it’s glorified,” she said.
In addition to talk therapy, Shears has introduced things like sound therapy, breathing, and meditation to her students at school, and she’s expanded that through Mend to Feel Good with workshops geared to teens.
A recent workshop she arranged with her sister Justine Sanderson, a sound healer, sold out. The workshop used sound, breathing, and meditation to teach kids about self-regulation. By using things like hand drums, Shears can help kids focus on the vibrations of sound and how they can use those vibrations to calm themselves.
“I want to support teens and adults to unplug and get in tune with your mind and body,” she said.
While holistic wellness has made a difference in Shears’ life, she said she does not aim to replace the modern medical system with holistic or organic treatments.
“It’s alternative and it’s complimentary, and it can be used in addition to what mainstream, Western medicine has to offer,” she said.
Shears and Saunderson are planning more workshops in the future, which will be posted on the Bishop Botanicals website.
She is also encouraging people in the community to nominate a teen who is struggling with stress or anxiety for a free service. Nominations must be submitted by email to email@example.com by the end of January.
Any minors receiving holistic treatments are required to have a parent or guardian present.
To book an organic massage or other holistic treatment with Shears, click here.