Welcome to the new trimester! Or, perhaps we should say welcome to a whole new way of life? As we turned on our screens this week to connect with each other virtually, we cannot help but be in awe of how different the world looks at the start of T3 compared to how we ended T2 just a few short weeks ago. As we prepare to greet each other virtually, we wanted to offer a few words of encouragement as well as some resources to possibly help guide us in this unique time in which we find ourselves.
In the midst of a pandemic, it is important to recognize that our mental health is a vital component of our overall health. We need to attend to our emotional needs just as we do to our physical. Handwashing? Check! Covering our cough? Check! Deep breathing? Check! Each one of us is experiencing a myriad of emotions – this is normal. From disbelief, to grief, to anger, to confusion, fear, and loneliness – and yes, perhaps even joy that school has gone virtual – we are charting new territory that may be leaving us feeling adrift. As we work toward a more comprehensive “virtual counseling program”, we wanted to begin by sharing some of our thoughts and reflections on supporting ourselves and each other during the start of our virtual trimester.
- Keep perspective: It’s easy to have “microscope focus” amid adversity. We tend to home in on the negative and lose a broader perspective on life. Encourage children (and each other) to limit the amount of news that we take in each day. Learn more from the CDC about talking with children and teens about the coronavirus.
- Look for positives: Signs of hope and silver linings are out there – look for them! One of the best ways to fight depression and loneliness is to look for the good. Consider this article on the benefits of staying positive.
- Find new interests: With new routines comes the opportunity to develop new habits and interests. Perhaps this is a great time to start that new hobby that you’ve never had time for in the past. Here are some recommendations.
- Journaling: It’s a great way to process the feelings that we may be experiencing. Plus, think about how interesting it will be to look back at our writing in 30 years. After all, this is history in the making! The Mayo Clinic will be offering a virtual four-week daily journaling program called Discover Gratitude starting March 30.
- Routine/consistency: When life feels out of our control, we tend to feel more anxious. Finding routines that provide consistency and control over that which we do have control can help to limit anxiety and fear. This article has more information on coping with stress during infectious disease outbreaks.
- Continuing Relationships: We are social beings. One thing that we are looking forward to seeing come from the current need for “social distancing” is the creative ways that people will devise to connect and to support one another. We would love to hear about the ways you find to do this. For ideas, see these tips from the American Psychological Association for keeping distance while getting the social support you need.
- Find someone you trust to talk with about your feelings: It helps us all to be able to “process” our experiences. Self-care is as important as always. This article has more information on taking care of our behavioral health.
- Use us as resources: We are still here (albeit virtually) and happy to help students and parents navigate this new reality. Feel free to reach out to either of us via email: Kelly_wiebe@caryacademy.org or Twanna_Monds@caryacademy.org