Helping ourselves, helping others during holidays

This blog post is part of a series of #WellnessWednesday tips. Upper School Counselor Richard Curtis shares how to care for self and for others during the holiday season.

As great as it is to have a break during normal times, the holidays can be a stressful season. With the pandemic this year, it is even more challenging. Coronavirus numbers continue to spike throughout the country, and we continue to grapple with how best to care for ourselves and our loved ones.  In this week’s Wellness Wednesday post, we highlight some recommendations for how we can best support the mental health of the Landon community during the COVID-19 crisis.

During this time, you and your family may be experiencing different reactions to what is going on in the world and how best to cope with the current landscape.  In order to be your best self and to be able to help others, you must first ensure that you are taking care of yourself.  Remember the old adage from safety briefings you hear prior to flying, “Put on your oxygen mask prior to helping your child?"  This is an important reminder for everyday life for our own well-being, so that we can help cultivate the well-being of our family and loved ones. Think of self-care as having three basic aspects:

Awareness. The first step is to seek awareness. This requires you to slow down and focus inwardly to determine how you are feeling, what your stress level is, what types of thoughts are going through your head, and whether your behaviors and actions are consistent with the who you want to be.

Balance. The second step is to seek balance in all areas of your life including work, personal and family life, rest, and leisure. You will be more productive when you’ve had opportunities to rest and relax. Becoming aware of when you are losing balance in your life gives you an opportunity to change.

Connection. The final step is connection. It involves building connections and supportive relationships with your friends, family, peers, and community. One of the most powerful stress reducers is social connection.

Once we as adults are in a good place, we then can best support the boys to help ensure their safety.  We can do this by helping them to establish healthy routines and clearly communicating with them.  Please review this list of recommended activities you can do with the boys at your leisure. The boy’s relationships and well-being are critical to their success.   

There are some concerning trends that we are starting to see among children and adolescents  that are being compounded by the pandemic.  When people are faced with constant stress and difficult life circumstances, it can cause them to feel discouraged or angry. 

Adults and students may feel a sense of loss for activities and rituals that are not able to take place as usual.  2020 has been a particularly challenging year, but there is hope that 2021 will be better.  At Landon, we are stronger together, and this pandemic has given many a reason to appreciate things that we took for granted and/or find the silver lining in our current predicament.  To help encourage a sense of hope for our boys you could try some of the following suggestions:

  • Share some of the many stories of hope and helping that have come out of this current crisis.
  • Let the boys know that people find help in different ways, including through spiritual beliefs and practices, and encourage students to discuss things that bring them hope.
  • Facilitate and encourage students meeting virtually or by phone with a trusted adult who can show them a different perspective, help to identify their talents and strengths, list their options and resources, and encourage and support them.
  • Encourage the boys to get fresh air and to be physically active when possible.

As always, if you are worried about a boy’s well-being, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the wellness team or any trusted adult at Landon to share your concerns. 

Part of this blog adapted from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.