Let's Talk Stress

With social distancing continuing through the end of the school year, many students, especially Seniors, are feeling the loss of important milestones and traditions, such as graduation, proms and class trips, as well as connecting with peers. To help ease these feelings of loss and disappointment, and promote mental health, we have compiled some creative ideas to help students process uncomfortable feelings, reflect on positive memories and build optimism for the future. 

Incorporate some of the activities below into the distance learning curriculum or encourage student engagement on social media so the entire school community can share in supporting your students.

For addtional ideas, technical assistance and support, please contact us at schools@mhanys.org or visit us at www.mentalhealthEDnys.org.

Create a Reflection Board Have you heard of a vision board?  MHANYS recently posted instructions to a create a Wellness Board. Using the same concept, support closure for the 2020 school year with a Reflection Board. Encourage Seniors to focus on their best memories, including events, club and their most meaningful relationships. Students can get creative using quotes, photos, 3D objects or digital media to express themselves.
Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is a simple way for students to stay connected with their friends, teachers, support staff, and other individuals who they have created a close connection with during their time in school. We've created a calendar with several weeks of actionable gratitude practices.  Consider this extension activity: use the calendar as a writing prompt to reflect on how these simple daily activities made students feel and how they might continue this practice on their own.

Create a "Senior Summer Challenge"

Using a strengths-based perspective, this activity can help Seniors understand that the current situation won't last forever. The natural tendency is to focus on things that are lost, but creating a "Senior Summer Challenge" will help foster hope for the future using a few easy steps:

1) Reflect on one's strengths and interests - think of 5 things you have always wanted to learn, see or experience.

2) Pick one idea that you can realistically complete this summer. This is the hardest part...things that require travel, extra money, etc. may have to wait.  You may need to get creative to experience your idea in a way consistent with social distancing.

3) Create a plan and identify someone who can support your efforts or maybe even join with you to fulfill your bucket list.   

4) After you have completed your plan of action, use reflective questions to identify potential barriers and alternative plans, if needed.

5) To maintain supportive connections, identify a few peers or adults who you can stay in touch with over the summer to share your progress or frustrations if it doesn't work out as you'd planned.