Stop over-consuming media!
Print media, social media, news media...all of it! Give your brain and body a break from it for the next few weeks. Here's the thing...I've been reading post after post and news report after news report and it doesn't make me feel any better. Reading all these articles, statistics and sensationalized stories is making me feel more anxious and it is not changing the outcome which is that schools are planning to open for in person learning in the fall. So take a break from the media and give your body a fighting chance at finding some calm!
Write down what is in your control and not in your control.
You know...you can't stop the storm from coming but you can prepare for it. So look at what you can control and do something about it now before the end of August. The stuff you can't control let it be. I know it's easy to say and hard to do but it's necessary right now if you want to have the energy to weather the storm.
Here's a few things that I have done and planning to do to prepare and let go of the things I can't control.
- I've written my letters to government officials and school boards outlining my concerns about the back to school plan and requesting 3 things (masks, smaller classroom sizes, additional staff to support mental health of teachers and students). Now there is nothing more I can do except wait for the plan to come out (in my province at least!)
- I've talked to my family about how we are going to keep ourselves and others safe which includes wearing masks out in public, frequent hand washing, physical distancing and limiting our gatherings with others. We also talk with our kids about how hard this is especially for them and the grandparents and family members who want to see them. But our priorities are to keep our more vulnerable community and family members safe. We are spending as much time as possible with grandparents now because when kids are back in school the only face time will be FACETIME for a while!
- We have a plan in place if/when someone gets sick in our house. And we have plans in place on how we will support others in our community if they need it due to illness. For example, having a conversation with a friend who is a single mom to let her know that if she or her child gets sick that we will drop off groceries for her.
- We also have decided to embrace the idea of flexibility. Now if you know my family personally you would know that out of the 5 of us (one being our dog) there is only one that is a go with the flow kind personality. I'll give you a hint - she has 4 legs and fur. The rest of us are fairly rigid and have varying tolerances for new and unknown. So we have talked about it as a family (adults and kids aged 9, 13) that we are going to make decisions on a day by day basis. Do we know if we will send our own personal kids back to school in September? Not yet. We will decide closer to the date. Do we know if we can do the small gathering with 2 families at the end of August? Not yet. Again that decision will happen the day before. Flexibility and fluidity and understanding. It's hard but absolutely necessary right now.
That's what is in our control. Now that I've done those things I don't need to read everyone's thoughts on what is going on in a school district in Kansas or Manitoba. It doesn't change what is here for me right now...it just stirs up my anxiety and fills my body with cortisol which makes me miss out on the opportunity to be calm now in the middle of summer break.
Let go of needing all the answers.
This by far is the hardest part for me. I'm a planner and a fixer and I like to know what is coming next. I hate...yes hate...surprises. Seriously you need to know this about me.
Here is what I also know to be true...I don't know all the answers and I will still be able to handle it. I am actually quite good in crisis situations. I don't want to be in them but when the sh*t hits the fan I have been able to remain calm and capable of problem solving. I have survived 100% of my worst days. I have grit and resiliency.
AND SO DO YOU! Hear me when I say this...you don't need to know all the answers and you will be able to handle whatever comes your way. Will it be pleasant? Maybe not. Will it be easy? Probably not? But you will find your strength and handle it! Write it on a sticky note or multiple sticky notes and remind yourself daily....
I don't need to know all the answers AND I will be able to handle it!
Decide how you want to be in the world right now and how you want to show up in your school.
Full disclosure I am an anxious person. I have a tendency to overthink things and as I mentioned before I don't like not knowing what is coming next. However, I have made a decision to show up as a calming presence in the world. I'm not going to put out ideas or words that fuel anxiety or conflict, I'm going to support those that are struggling with anxiety and I'm going to help others feel safe. Engaging in what if worst case scenarios right now is not helpful to anyone. All I have control over is myself and what I bring into the world with me.
You have this opportunity also to decide how you are going to move through the world. Even if you're anxious and scared like I am you can choose how you are with others and what you put out there. Share your grit, your positivity, your strength, your energy, your kindness, your patience and your resilience. It's contagious too!
Simplify what you can!
What can you take completely off your schedule to give yourself some more recovery time when you need it in the fall? Can you meal prep a bunch of freezer meals now for later? Can you write out a meal plan for each week so you don't have to think about what to cook for supper every night? Or better yet can you sign up for one of those meal delivery services like HelloFresh or Chef'sPlate (*no affiliation just throwing out a few examples)?
Of course you can! Simplify your life! Get it in place now before you need it and use the extra time before back to school to try it out and fine tune your plans.
In our house we have put together a monthly meal plan, we do online grocery shopping and have decided twice a month to order in. One extra thing I'm doing this summer before back to school is putting together some care packages with kleenex, cough drops, a book and some little goodies so if/when friends get ill or have to stay home in isolation I can drop it off on their step.