Wellbeing – Counsellor Guidelines & Resources
Help in Case of Immediate Need
Sometimes emergencies arise outside of school working hours or when school staff is on holiday. The Counseling Team has shared a list of resources that provide immediate support should a crisis within families arise during such time.
Should you be concerned for yourself, your family, or your child’s wellbeing, please reach out to one of these immediate supports available to you. Resources are listed for both adults and children:
Our School Counselors (school term office hours):
- Kelli Holm, Primary Counselor (email@example.com)
- Amanda Vogt, Secondary Counselor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Kalli Walker, Secondary Counselor (email@example.com)
It’s important to recognize some of the emotional patterns we’ve all been experiencing over the last few months. This recognition alone can help us understand our feelings, and to practice greater self kindness and connectedness with others.
We are all experiencing loss and grief during these times. We will go through these stages differently, and will react in different ways. The stages of grief are:
- Denial (this is not a thing, why are people making such a big deal?)
- Anger (everything is canceled, I’m scared and things have changed! I’m so mad -- I hate Coronavirus!)
- Bargaining (maybe if I continue to social distance for 2 more weeks, it will go away)
- Depression (deep feelings of sadness)
- Acceptance (this is just how it is right now, and we will make do)
- Finding Meaning (What are some lessons I’ve learned about myself? How will I make positive changes in how I treat myself and how I treat others?)
Another kind of grief we are encountering during this time is called anticipatory grief.
- We are grieving the loss of normal life.
- We don’t know what life will be like after this, and we might imagine the worst.
It’s important we find a balance (yes, it will be different, but some things will go back to how they were) and come to the present (I’m healthy now, I can go outside, I can appreciate the small things, practice mindfulness and breathing, etc.). If we can name and acknowledge it, we can manage it!
If you feel you need additional support during this time, please let one of the Counselors know. We have many English-speaking resources in Bonn we can recommend for your emotional needs.
How to Emotionally Support Children During this Time
We’ve heard from many of you about strategies that you are using at home to help support your child(ren) to manage and thrive during this time. Here are a few things you have shared and a few new tips that you might try to help make this time easier.
- Take frequent breaks during the day (natural breaks occur between completed work in various subject areas)
- Eat lunch together as a family
- Organize times to virtually socialize with friends through Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.
- Create new family routines (going for a walk every day or cooking special meals together, “Pancake Friday,” etc.)
- Recognize that some children may be experiencing feelings of grief during this time, due to the loss of time with friends, not being able to see relatives and grandparents, canceled school events and the changes in daily life. Let them express these feelings, and let them know that it’s ok and “normal” to feel that way right now.
- Hug your child (even the teenagers)!
- Go outside together as a family, if you are able to. Sit on your balcony or in your garden, walk along the Rhine, or go to a park.
- Practice gratitude. Acknowledge what you are thankful for during this time, even if it’s just a small moment of joy in your day!
- Be kind to yourself, and look after your own wellbeing. Juggling your child’s distance learning, family life, possibly working from home and an uncertain future is very challenging. Take care of yourself. This will also help your children.
- Reflect on the specific strengths unique to your family, and know that you will get through this together!
- Seek additional support if needed. We all have ups and downs, and in time our mood, feelings, and thoughts usually change toward a more positive outlook. However during times of crisis and isolation some of us are more vulnerable to feelings of worry, sadness, anger. Sometimes we may not use healthy coping skills to adjust. If you notice this in yourself or your child, speak to your doctor, mental health professional, and/or your child’s school counselor.
During these times, we are all learning new ways to be resilient that help keep a balance of school, relationships, family, work, self, and other areas of life. We might also find ourselves struggling at times with frustration, feelings of uncertainty, motivation or other challenges.
Check out our Top 10 Strategies to Survive!
(Several of these have also been shared with students.)
Tip #1 Just Breathe
Taking small moments to focus on your breath and notice, without judgement, your thoughts and feelings in that moment will help you to be in a calm, thinking state. Ready.Set.Breathe.
Tip #2 Share your JOY through kindness
Kindness during crisis brings us all closer together. How can you show kindness to your family, your neighbors and friends, your community?
Inspirational video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdw7WEMe9AI
Tip #3 Practice Positivity
It’s all about perspective and practicing a growth mindset. What are the positives from this experience? How can you reframe the difficulties?
Inspirational video: https://youtu.be/sgm9E_cmvWA
Tip #4 Recognize Resilience
How have you “bounced back” from being home for four weeks? What skills are you developing now and how might this help you in the future?
Tip #5 Self-Care
Kids model parent behaviour and it’s hard to take care of others when you are not taking good care of yourself. Make sure you are practicing good self-care habits like eating healthy, exercising, balancing work and play, and getting a good night's sleep. Be kind to yourself - you are worth it too!
Tip #6 Stay Connected!
We all need the connection of others and it can be challenging when we are deprived of our normal habits of relating to others. Look for creative ways to connect and reach out to others whom you haven’t heard from in a while.
Tip #7 Talk it Out
Change can bring on added stress - if you are having uncomfortable feelings (overwhelmed, sadness, frustration) talking to someone can help.
Name the FEELING(S): I’m feeling __, because__.
Venting, problem solving, both? Make your intentions of talking clear to the listener.
Be open to feedback and new perspectives
Tip #8 The New Norm
In the last month your family has probably seen drastic changes to your daily life. You are not alone! There is no easy recipe for juggling all family members’ needs in one place at the same time. However, you might find that establishing routines as well as designated spaces for different activities and family members helps.
Tip #9 Have Patience with the process and Flexibility
Remember to be kind to yourself (and others) when things don’t go as planned. Take a moment to recognize the small steps forward and readjust if necessary. Even when things don’t go as you had hoped, there’s a lot to learn from any mistakes and will probably be something to laugh about in the future. Which brings us to the last tip...
Tip #10 - LAUGH!
Laughter is the best medicine. It reduces stress hormones and pain, boosts the immune system, improves the heart, sleep quality, alertness, creativity, and memory!
New situations bring about a lot of change in the way we live and the way we think. Our Counselors have been working alongside administration and teachers to make sure our staff and students look after themselves during this challenging period.
We know that this change in school routine also impacts you.
Here are some helpful tips for you and your child during this time:
- Establish a routine
- Take “brain breaks” - movement, mindfulness activity, go outdoors - Brain Break Activities
- Remember to eat wisely - pick snacks and meals that will sustain your thinking and keep your energy levels up. This may be a good time to add some more fruit and veggies to your diet or drink a bit more water.
- Connect with others, in person if possible. If you are in quarantine, make time for “face time” online with family and friends.
- Be a model of healthy self-care and well-being. What’s good for your children is good for us:)
- Practice Mindfulness
- When it comes to completing online lessons, have a “growth mindset” mentality. It’s ok if something (namely, technology!) doesn’t work as expected and plans have to be adjusted. Time together as s family, time outside, and time with friends is as important, if not more so, than completing work online.
- During periods of change, normal daily activities can be more tiring. You may need more sleep than usual, and your breaks may need to be more often and longer.
- Perhaps work in a different environment other than at home, or designate one ‘work/school’ space that doesn’t flow into other parts of your residence. This can help build a useful boundary between home and school/work.
- Take a look at this useful guide about what to expect age by age around anxiety can be found.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the Counselors should you need our support.