So far 2020 has been a ride, and it looks like we aren’t getting back to normalcy any time soon. We’re starting the new school year doing things more differently than ever before. We don’t know how long this will last, in fact the only real certainty is the lack of predictability. So how do we manage our own stress and support our kids during 2020, the year of COVID-19?

Managing Stress During COVID-19
Research, as well as our own experience, emphasizes that the most effective strategy for coping with the inevitable stresses of life is social connection and support. A friend or partner who is a trusted confidant, the feeling of being accepted and connected to others, even when we have worries or concerns, is critical to happiness, and becomes even more important during times of high stress. 

So, don’t withdraw or ignore this need for community right now. Find creative ways to continue to nurture and maintain your close relationships. Support this need in your child, as well. That may mean easing restrictions on social media or time online with friends. This is a unique season, and it won’t last forever. However, the detrimental emotional effects of lack of social connection can have a long lasting impact.  

What does stress-hardy mean?
Research also demonstrates that the following habits and qualities:

  • Mindfulness
  • Gratitude
  • Compassion
  • Resilience
  • Social Connections
  • Growth Mindset

are the blocks that build resistance to stress and anxiety, making us stress-hardy.

Because these things are simple and free--we tend to discount their effectiveness. We search for answers that are more glamorous or expensive or difficult to grasp or understand. In fact, however, the resilience of human beings to withstand stress and trying, challenging circumstances has been tested and tried over and over for generations - and these simple habits and qualities that sustained our grandparents will sustain us as well.    

So, intentionally focus on these habits and test out these time-honored practices. 

  • Schedule a few minutes of mindfulness into your day.  
  • Start or continue the habit of beginning or ending each day recording three things for which you are thankful. 
  • Once a week, reach out to someone in your life who has blessed you or helped you in some way and say thank you. 
  • Use email, zoom, a phone call or even a letter.  
  • Look around your neighborhood or social circle for someone in need during this season.  As a family, make it a project to reach out or help that person. Deliver groceries to an elderly family member or neighbor, take care of a neighbor’s lawn, pick up medications or other necessities for someone who finds themselves even more inconvenienced or harmed by the circumstances brought on by COVID than yourself. 

Amit Sood, M.D., M.Sc., a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, has developed an innovative approach to mind-body medicine,  incorporating concepts within neurosciences, psychology, philosophy and spirituality to promote joyful and less stressful living. His website is Resilient Option.

I’ve attached a favorite 2 minute video  

Dr. Sood’s 5-3-2 Plan for Happy Living
Each day, begin thinking of 5 people you are grateful for.  
Each day, when you rejoin your family after work or school, meet like long lost friends.
For 3 minutes, focus on them, enjoy them, with no judgment or offer of any improvement.
Each day, when you encounter a new acquaintance, take 2 seconds to silently wish them well. 

  • 5 people 
  • 3 minutes  
  • 2 seconds

Dr. Lisa Damour
, psychologist and best-selling author of Under Pressure and Untangled--both focused on teenage girls and anxiety--has prepared and made available several excellent educational resources.

Mindful Minute Videos
You may want to use these short videos to facilitate a one-minute mindful break during your day.  Many of our teachers will be using these to begin class. 

Mindful Minute - Island
Mindful Minute - Sunset
Mindful Minute - Raindrops
Mindful Minute - Beach
Mindful Minute - Waterfall
Mindful Minute - Forest Mist

Finally, let’s remember to be considerate and gracious with one another. Some in our community are very anxious, some are not. Let’s finish the year with stronger social connections, strengthened positive habits, and as more “stress hardy” individuals. Please feel free to reach out to me if I can help be of any help to your family.

Michele Cole, School Counselor