Welcome to Worry-Less Wednesdays!
We are all going through this challenging time together. We have come together to support each other when we feel the stress of the times. Groups are creating videos to spread hope, teach self-care strategies, connect with students and celebrate happy events. We are still waiting to see what the future holds. We are here to provide support and encouragement to Worry Less. Please send us ideas to share with our colleagues and families across the district. (WellnessWednesdays@Lawrence.k12.ny.us)
How to Help Teens Shelter in Place
Excerpts from article by Christine Carter March 2020, Published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
Start with their motivation to get out from under our control
We can work with this existing motivation by treating them like competent young adults rather than little kids. For example, we can:
- Expect them to contribute to our household in meaningful ways. They can help with meal prep and household cleaning. Our kids assist with the cleaning by vacuuming and wiping down the counters. Keeping conflict low amid tight quarters is a meaningful contribution. Planning fun activities for the family to do together might be the most essential contribution of all!
- Allow them to manage themselves, their own schoolwork, and their other responsibilities without nagging or cajoling. This does not mean that we will not be engaged with them. It does mean that we give them space to operate freely within the limits we agree to as a family.
- Ask them to help us with our work to the extent that they can. “My kids keep interrupting me on Zoom calls for stupid shit,” a friend texted me, frustrated to the brink. Even older teens (and spouses!) need us to be clear about how their constant interruptions affect us. Explain rather than accuse: “I feel embarrassed and stressed when I’m on a video call, and you keep poking your head in to ask questions,” rather than “It is inconsiderate and selfish of you to keep interrupting my meetings.”
- Use non-controlling, non-directive language. For example, ask questions instead of telling them what to do. My all-time favorite question is “What’s your plan?” As in: “What’s your plan for getting some exercise today?” This makes it clear that they are still in control of their own behavior, and it helps put them in touch with their own motivations and intentions.
- Acknowledge that all of this is so hard. Many students coming home from school are experiencing significant losses right now. Their feelings of grief, anxiety, stress, and isolation are hard to cope with. And also: One of the great lessons of adulthood is that they can do hard things.
These are structures you can apply to your life right now. Whether you are in generally good health or struggling with chronic physical or psychological conditions, we believe that every person needs these four things, every day!
1. Move. Our bodies need to move. They need to stretch, reach, twist, bend, step, sweat, to whatever degree works for our unique shapes and constitutions. They do not care if it is at the gym, out in the neighborhood, or in your living room—they just need activity. It is not just about “staying in shape.” It is about your immune health and your mental health, as well! Build movement in your structure, at least 20 minutes per day! YouTube exercise videos range from three-minute workouts to more than an hour, and many of them are family-friendly, too.
2. Nourish. You might have a sense of what foods make you feel lively, focused, resourced, and sane, right? And there are certainly those that are just for fun (hellooo, chocolate) Do not ban or outlaw the small treats that bring you joy, but rather setting up a daily structure that (mostly) fills you with nourishing, healthy foods. Always wanted to make a dietary change, learn to meal prep, teach your kids to cook, or sample a new cuisine? Now’s the time! Structure one or two 30-minute chunks of cooking into your days.
3. Connect. This one, more than ever, is key. Humans need to feel connected. We need to feel seen, heard, and understood by another human—and to extend the same in return. And since it will not “just happen” throughout your day, you’re going to need to schedule it. More to the point, you will need to ask for it. To get vulnerable enough to say, “I really want to connect with you. Can we talk?” Tell the truth about how you are feeling, what you’re experiencing. Invite them to do the same. Listen with kindness. Offer your support with generosity. High-quality human attention may feel like a scarce resource right now, but you can generate an infinite supply of it.
4. Be. Amid all the “doing”—the preparing, protecting, adjusting, coping, responding, providing, procuring—humans need moments to simply BE. It is not necessarily about serenity, or warm fuzzy feelings. It is about pausing long enough to let your nervous system come back to baseline after prolonged activation. Experiment with what works for you. If meditation or guided relaxation works for you, great! If watching a mindless TV show while snuggled into the couch helps you to just BE, that is good, too. And if painful emotions get too loud or overwhelming when you try to slow down, that is OK, too. Perhaps start with a little inventory. Of the four aspects of this “Universal Prescription,” which ones are you strongest in? Which ones do you incorporate effortlessly, as a part of your routine? Which ones might need a bit more attention, more practice, more cultivation? Then, pick one to focus on first: How might you structure it into your days? In short, this is an opportunity to get really intentional. To choose rather than to drift. In the absence of everything that normally dictates our days, we are called on to create the structures that will support our health, physically and emotionally, in a time of profound uncertainty. Try out weaving Move, Nourish, Connect, and Be time into your days, and let us know how it goes for you! And in case the term “social distancing” bums you out as much as it does for me…try on “expansive solidarity.” We are right here, in this together…spaciously.
Headspace offers free access to all K-12 teachers, school administrators, and supporting staff in the US. https://www.headspace.com/educators
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