There have been many responses to the recent government announcement and I’ve noticed a surge of anger, confusion and fear. This is a scary time for many and a time for us to continue to tend to our wellbeing.
In my experience, some aspects of the announcement that are causing anger, confusion and fear are the lack of information around seeing family members when social distancing can occur in a park with one friend. Another area is not seeing family members but Reception, Year 1 and 6 may return to school from June 1st. Fear and/or concern is another natural response for some whose children are in Reception, Year 1 and 6 (and for teachers too) and for those who have young people due to sit significant exams next year. These are a few examples and do not capture the many responses to the recent government guidelines.
What can we do to look after our emotional wellbeing in this situation? There are a few things we can do to help towards supporting ourselves and those around us. A theme of my blogs has been to promote communication and this continues to be important now. Talking is so important for processing our thoughts and feelings, receiving support and being heard. Being heard (listened to) by safe and trusted people is a cornerstone for supporting and moving us through emotions and promoting emotional wellbeing. Remember we don’t only communicate verbally, writing things down or drawings can also be ways of expressing ourselves.
Anger is a strong feeling that often comes along with hurt or the feeling of being upset or afraid. Your anger is valid. It can be an emotion we try to push away as society can tell us it isn’t a ‘good one’. However anger is a natural emotion that needs to be tended too without it being destructive. If you feel angry, recognise it’s ok to feel angry, talk it through with a trusted person, walk it out, run it out, garden it out, scream it out into a pillow to name a few ways to put movement to the feeling. Anger can be a ‘moving’ emotion, it can require physical activity to work through it, even more so when there is no immediate resolution to what’s making you feel angry. What non-destructive activity could you do to process this feeling without denying you’re angry?
It can be helpful to be mindful of the resources you’re using to inform your decisions in regards to the new government guidelines. Look for reliable sources for information, for example the school, the head teacher, the government websites etc. These sources are less likely to be clouded with the judgements or fears of others who may unintentionally trigger alarm, fear or raise anxiety. Check the facts and arm yourself with as much reliable information as you can from solid sources. Be mindful that teachers and schools may not have all the information right now as they await government guidance themselves.
If you’ve children who may be returning to school and are afraid or anxious then it’s important to talk to them as much as you can. Listen carefully to what they think and feel. Offer assurance and comfort using age appropriate language and explanations to any questions. Your schools may have counsellors, pastoral care, wellbeing teachers as examples, who can offer you support or guidance. Check out websites such as https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/anxiety-in-children/ to understand how to better support your child. The same for you as parents, or significant caregivers, or teachers. Find support if you need too whether that’s a friend, partner, your own parent or counsellor.
This is not an easy time for any of us. Whether we are parents, children, young people or teachers, we all face individual challenges and possible uncertainty at this time, with a whole mix of feelings to go with it. I am mindful that we don’t have all of the answers we may need right now which can leave us in a place of ‘unknowns’. Unknowns can be scary to us as humans as we don’t know if we are exposed to risk or how much of a risk we are potentially exposed too and we may feel out of control. In any ‘unknowns,’ self-care and support can be helpful for our wellbeing. You’re not alone in this, and if you feel you are please reach out for appropriate support.