Staying Healthy During a Pandemic
April 1, 2020
April 1, 2020
I often recommend developing a self-care tool kit to those students and parents who are experiencing stress and anxiety in their lives.
It is good to have a variety of different strategies to use, because you can't use every self-care skill everywhere. Some work better at home and some work better at school. The longer list you have, the more ways you have to cope in healthy ways.
Everyone's tool kit will be different, because what works for one person may not work for another person. The key is to keep looking for things that work for you. Be brave and try new things as you never know what will work.
My self-care kit during the COVID 19 Pandemic includes listening to 1970's music, writing numerous articles on the "You Know You Grew Up in Powell River If.... " website and trying to do a gratitude journal every day. I find writing, which includes this counselling blog, keeps me busy, distracted and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.
Once you have found items and ideas for your tool-kit, it is important to practice using them. Please keep in mind that these strategies may change over time and may need to be replaced.
There are many ways to deal with difficult situations and it doesn't matter whether your strategies are different than everyone else. The important thing is that you find effective methods that will help you to thrive and build resilience.
Next week I will elaborate on the use your tool kit, so stay tuned....
Looking forward to seeing some of you at school next week. Stay safe and stay smart!
Why is it so important for you to stay engaged with your classes during this time:
When you engage in remote earning, you will strengthen and maintain the relationships you have built with your fellow students and teachers. This continued connection will help remind you that you are not alone during this time.
I have previously mentioned the importance of establishing a routine during this challenging time. By taking part in your remote classes, you are helping to maintain a regularl routine. By participating in classes, you are continuing to do things that are familiar to you and this will help to improve your mental health.
What you learn in your remote classes will be built upon in future classes that you take.
Continuing to work on your courses now will help you to transition into the next school year.
Post Secondary and Career:
Continuing to work is great practice for future learning. Learning for a few hours a day can improve your self-starting skills for post-secondary and for your future career.
In summary, I always like to tell students that good things usually happen to people who work hard!
Keep working hard, and best wishes for staying healthy.
Have you ever thought about how helping others might also benefit yourself?
At a time when we are all experiencing a very high level of stress, a simple and effective way to bolster our own emotional health is by helping others.
Scientific research shows that having a sense of purpose, and helping others, has a significant impact on our well being. The great thing about showing up for other people is that it doesn't have to cost a lot or anything at all, and it ends up being beneficial to the giver.
The challenge today is how to give support from a distance. The fact that we need to be physically apart during the pandemic means that our normal way of volunteering in person is no longer possible. The good news is that support can be given in a variety of small and big ways. It can include giving time to a cause or it can be as simple as a phone call or just lending a listening ear.
What acts of generosity have you heard about in our community in which someone has helped others during the corona virus?
I encourage everyone to try and do an act of kindness every day, no matter how small, to help others during the pandemic.
Be sure to reach out to your teachers or counsellors by email if you need anything at all.
Here is another strategy that I would like to share with you.
When you are feeling anxious, you tend to take short, quick breaths or even hyperventilate.
Deep breathing is a great portable tool that you can use whenever you are feeling anxious. It is a simple, but effective technique that helps you slow down your breathing when feeling stressed or anxious. However, it does require some practice.
Like other anxiety management skills, the purpose of deep breathing is NOT to avoid anxiety at all costs, but to help you ride out the feelings. Deep breathing involves taking smooth, slow and regular relaxed breaths into your belly. For me sitting upright works well but you can also try it lying down. You can rest your hand on your belly and you should feel your belly rise and fall. The goal is to increase the capacity of your lungs to fill with air.
Practicing deep breathing with the interactive technique above, may not give you life-changing results the first few times you try. It is important to practice in the same way as you brush your teeth. As deep breathing becomes more natural, you can begin to incorporate awareness of your breath into everyday activities, like before going to sleep, when you wake up or when you leave for school.
Know that in the long run, practicing deep breathing on a consistent basis will be good for you.
With time you will discover the benefits of deep breathing when you need it most. I recommend practicing deep breathing twice a day for at least 5 minutes.
As always, take care and be safe.
During the past six weeks, I have often found myself doing just great one moment and then feeling completely out of sorts in the next moment. Mental health experts all say that it is normal to feel this way and it is to be expected.
Some of the best advice I have heard lately is to check in with your expectations of yourself and then lower them!
Added pressure from ourselves or others right now can contribute to the boiling point. We need to turn down the heat.
We know emotions are contagious, and it is important to find our calm and to pass it along.
If you didn't have your best day today, welcome to being human. Dust yourself off and know that tomorrow is a new day.
Do what you can to take good care of yourself, and reach out if you need some assistance. Talk to someone you trust, or you can reach a Kids Help Phone counsellor 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868.
Always remember that is a sign of strength is to ask for help if you need it.
Be well and take care!
Before starting this new post, my daughter Christy, invited me to take five deep breaths, so that we could be more present for out chat about Mindfulness.
With schools currently closed and not knowing for how long, and not knowing what things will be like when it's over, many are experiencing extreme uncertainty and anxiety.
Mindfulness is a wonderful tool that families can use to help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills. Being mindful is what it sounds like: taking time to focus on the present and being thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Trying to center your thoughts and be in the present moment sounds simple, but it takes effort, especially during these trying times.
Here are some simple activities to get you started:
Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Relax and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (which should expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
Pay attention to the smell, taste and look of your food. Take time to savor each bite.
Sit in a relaxed comfortable position. Pick something to focus on like your breathing. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.
Now back to my daughter Christy. When I asked her why she has practiced Mindfulness for the past ten years, she replied that Mindfulness has increased her well being and enriched her life.
"At first I was eager to learn Mindfulness to help combat anxiety and depression, but now my Mindfulness practice has become a daily routine which benefits all aspects of my life." When Christy practices Mindfulness, she is more aware of her thoughts, emotions and body sensations.
Christy feels that Mindfulness has taught her to be less reactive, and instead more compassionate and better equipped to deal with the challenges and stresses in her life.
Christy and I invite you to try mindfulness meditation online with a free app like "Insight Timer Meditation" or "Breathr".
Like anything in life, the more you practice the easier it will get and the more benefits you will receive.
"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," is a famous quote from the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. This quote is very appropriate to what we are currently experiencing during this pandemic.
It has been suggested that some people take suffering as an opportunity to build strength. When one undergoes an experience like physical distancing or being apart from friends and loved ones for a lengthy period-even though it is painful, it can still make you grow as a person.
Of course, simply surviving a challenging situation doesn't make you stronger, it is how you recover from it that decides whether you are strengthened or weakened by your experience.
I would like to suggest one idea you can use during this time away from school is to continue to figure out who you are in terms of your goals, interests, personality traits and skills so that you can begin to get comfortable with them. When this pandemic is over, you can continue to pursue a life that is congruent with your characteristics. www.myBlueprint.ca/sd47 has some interesting surveys under Who Am I, to get you started with this process.
In order to rise above a difficult situation you need a frame of mind; one that is willing to accept hardship and learn from it, adapt to it, and conquer it.
Brook's Secondary School Counsellors are here to provide support. Let us know how we can help?
Practical Tips for Learning at Home
Learning and working at home is a new concept for most teachers and students. Please remember to be gentle on yourself and others during this time of transition.Although everyone's experience will be different, here are some key things to keep in mind as we navigate through this process together....