While physical activity, good nutrition, and routine medical and dental care all remain fundamentally important to our overall health and well-being, it is just as important that we tend to our emotional health. As we begin to see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in terms of the coronavirus pandemic now that there is an effective vaccine available to an increasing portion of the population, attention will be turning toward the status of our mental health–both as individuals and collectively. One person recently described the current situation as emerging from a “global trauma.”
How have you and your children fared during this past year? Most families have experienced at least one of many difficult emotions–grief, anxiety, isolation, fear, or even anger, just to name a few. For some, it is relatively easy to manage and move past such emotions. For others, overcoming these emotions may be a steeper climb.
Resilience is a term that describes the quality that enables us to pick up and move on in the face of difficult events or circumstances. Research shows that there are activities we can do to cultivate resilience. These include meditation, connecting with nature, and nurturing relationships with other people (especially those with a positive outlook). Of course, our schedules do not always allow for a long session of meditation or a hike in the woods. But in the same way that performing short stints of exercise throughout each day can improve our physical fitness, we can improve our emotional well-being with small but intentional activities.
For example, taking a moment to appreciate a thing or event which might otherwise seem routine and inconsequential (“expressing gratitude”). Or taking several minutes in the middle of the day to simply stop and allow yourself to close your eyes and have a moment of “quiet” (this is not quite the same as “meditation,” but a quiet moment can have a similar effect in helping to calm the nervous system). And treating yourself as you would treat a good friend–allow yourself grace and space. In the same way, we would not speak harshly to a friend who didn’t meet every goal or do everything perfectly on a given day, we can also be gentle and encouraging with ourselves. Speak to yourself in an encouraging manner. “You got this” is a good one. Or “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Children are most prepared to learn when they feel safe and loved and cared for. Parents and caregivers are best prepared to provide that love and care when we ourselves feel grounded and supported. There will be a lot of readjustments to be made as we resume going back to school and picking up our lives where we left off. If you think strategies such as the above suggestions may fall short in helping to manage the difficult emotions you might be dealing with, there are many resources available in the community that can help. If you have a trusted health care provider, that person may be the one you want to reach out to. There is also the county “211” service–you can dial this number from anywhere in the county to obtain information about services including mental health resources, legal assistance, support for housing/tenant issues, domestic violence support, food banks, senior services, and medical and dental clinics as well as substance abuse and suicide support hotline numbers. The 211 service operates in many other counties as well.
If you or your child(ren) have a need for social-emotional support please do not hesitate to reach out to your school social worker or you can contact us at 408-522-8200 x1012.
To support your family with transition to hybrid, continue in virtual school, COVID-19, & anti-racism- please access this user-friendly document of Family Resources created for you.