By Rebecca K. Oliver, SSWAA Executive Director
There is a Swedish saying that goes, "“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”
Most of 2020 has been full of anxiety and worry for many due to the unknown and serious impact of COVID-19. Certainly, the current pandemic is no small thing. Yet, the focus on it and the natural anxiety and worry that result, can and have cast an enormous shadow on our daily lives. The mental health and emotional health of many individuals has been negatively impacted by this worry.
Some of those individuals will be returning to school with you in the coming days or weeks. Perhaps you are already back in school and are seeing the negative impact of the worry and stress of the current pandemic. The worry may be affecting the students with which you work. But, additionally, that enormous shadow of anxiety and worry, may also be engulfing the families, teachers, and/or staff in your school community. Just remember, we are human! That worry and anxiety may be taking its toll on us as well!
How do we counteract that anxiety? What active steps can we take to combat the ongoing concern? You may find some of the following ideas helpful for addressing anxiety regarding COVID-19, but they could be applied to various reasons a person may have increased anxiety.
Adopt an attitude of kindness and grace. It is important to know and accept that each person has their own unique response to this situation and to any stressful situation. In regards to COVID-19, some will feel too uncomfortable to return to school. That is OK. Others may be ready to get back to the school building and to interaction with others. That is OK. It will be helpful for us to recognize and respect each individual's unique response.
Be considerate. In relation to the above, it is also important to be considerate of another's feelings and response to the stress. If you are comfortable with returning to school and being in close proximity of others, be mindful that others may not be as comfortable. Check in with others and do not assume their feeling are the same as yours.
Set boundaries. In order to manage anxiety, it may be helpful to limit watching the news and signing in to social media. Focus on reputable sources for information and use social media to connect with family and friends. Often, less news = less worry.