The beginning of the New Year is often a time of reflection. This yearly practice of looking back may feel different than perhaps previous years. The year was disrupted by COVID 19 and has brought change, unpredictability and for many a sense of loss. In the midst of this pandemic, some may continue to feel the pressure to keep up with our lives despite the new and unprecedented conditions. This pressure can be coming from work, school, family and perhaps, ourselves. During this time, it can be beneficial to exercise an increased amount of self-compassion and kindness, in the same way we would with a friend or a loved one. Kristen Neff, A Pioneer in the field of Self-Compassion Research affirms that self-compassion "can help if the virus is causing you unnecessary anxiety, limiting your ability to work or travel, reducing your income, or if you or someone you know has already contracted the virus". Self-compassion during this time might look like the following:
- Mindfulness - Pause and recognize how you are feeling during this time. Many of us operate on "autopilot," moving through our days without taking the time to notice and recognize how we are feeling. Ask yourself: "am I feeling anxious, disheartened, confused? Where am I feeling it in my body? What am I thinking?" Then try validating your thoughts and feelings in a kind and understanding way. Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling, knowing it's part of the current situation we are in.
- Common Humanity - Hearing others struggles can be a reminder that you are part of a global community and that you are not alone. When reflecting on your own emotions, remind yourself "others are feeling this way too" and "this is how it feels to be human right now".
- Self-Kindness - Try putting your hand on your heart or some other soothing place to help calm some of your anxiety. What words will comfort or reassure you right now? Talk to yourself in a warm, compassionate way. Try to take some pressure off yourself and work on accepting that some things are out of your control. Find your own way to be compassionate with yourself and perhaps engage in daily self-care activities, such as watching a funny movie or drinking your favourite cup of tea.
Despite the stressful circumstances that COVID has created, we continue to hear many stories of coming together and hope. This New Year can be a time to reassess our priorities, remind ourselves that we matter, and set a new year's goal of making our emotional and mental wellness and priority. Happy New Year!
If you're concerned about your child's mental health, or have questions about how to talk to your child about difficult topics, visit bit.ly/SupportingChildrensMH
for further information and links to school and community resources. The PDSB Mental Health Resource Team is made up of registered psychologists and social workers. Follow them on Twitter @MHRTPeel
to join the #WELLinPEEL conversation.