It is going to be a long slog for all of us; young and old, families and classrooms, groups of all sorts and each of us individually. Anxiety often causes us to draw in, and with the contagion factors of the pandemic, to self-isolate. But there is a ribbon of hope that runs through life… through all of life. Since the beginning of humankind, we have faced remarkable challenges and bitter defeats, but humankind has always survived together, in community. Whether in small bands and clans of early centuries or the extended families, schools, towns and cities, nobody survives alone.
Our choices will make all the difference. The options for goodness are endless, even in the midst of the constant background noise of fear and anxiety. That fear and anxiety may well be in the backgrounds of our lives for some time, but don’t let it become the water in which we swim!
Have a partner and choose a practice of gratitude. Every morning the first words out of your mouth are the sharing of gratitude for something in this coming day. And every evening, a gratitude from the day. Live alone? Do a gratitude journal. Wake your kids up two minutes early in the morning and kneel down beside the bed. Wake them gently, smiling, sharing your gratitude and asking them about theirs.
Yes, the only way we get through tough times is together, so let’s begin now with conscious intention to begin a daily practice that connects us with that which sustains us. If you already have a daily meditation, prayer or practice time, add something specific that helps you remain aware throughout the day that we aren’t alone in this. We have countless researchers whose names we’ll never hear who are, this very minute, making a difference in our survival.
Even as some of us will have loved ones in the hospital, our gratitude can be immense for the health care workers at every level who provide the best care they can. Be conscious of thanking them often. Think ahead and bring small treats. They keep showing up. These brave people who continue to work in harms way for our benefit. How can we begin to repay them?
And as we look around us, we find people who, with small effort, we might help. One of the best antidotes to anxiety is taking action. Remember that for yourself, but also for children. Take action on behalf of someone who will benefit and help your children think of ways to give back to their teachers, bus drivers and others! Taking action provides a sense of agency.
We have a COVID-19 resource page on the website dedicated to activities and ideas for helping youth cope with anxiety about this, and certainly the suggestions would be easy to amend for other settings for those of any age. This is a time for us to draw together. Let us know how we can help.
Also, we are hosting Zoom calls for school counselors (11:00 T-Th) and school staff (1:00 T-Th) for an indefinite period of time. We will be adding time slots for parents and for clergy/faith-based groups soon. Check the new website for those links. There is a very quick process to register for the calls so we know how many to expect, and it has a feature that allows you to add the link to your calendar.
You can leave questions for us here on the blog. We’ll try to reply on a FAQ page or with new activities we’ll upload that address concerns you voice. We may not be able to keep up, but we’ll for sure keep going, continuing to bring you our best ideas for making it through this difficult experience.