Take a Break, Keep Perspective, Be Kind in Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a perfect storm of unknowns. Educators, parents, and students are experiencing anxiety and overwhelm in the face of school closures and uncertain timelines. Try these three mindful practices to ride the waves of this challenging time.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a perfect storm of unknowns from many different angles – including testing and treatment for the virus itself, school and business closures, and the uncertainty of how long this will last. It can be a lot to process and can make for a mind that is “greedy” – wanting to know everything it can in order to help us feel safe and informed. Staying updated with news can be really helpful, however, the urge and high frequency can increase the sense of overwhelm. Below are three tips to help you use your mindfulness practice in this moment.

3 Mindful Practices for Uncertain Times

1:  Manage Information Intake

Notice what happens inside of you as you take in and share information. Ask yourself: Is this bringing my anxiety up? Or calming me down? Do I already know everything you need to know at this moment? Do I need a break?

2:  Keep Perspective

Use perspective and try to hold multiple truths – “both/and.” Under duress, the mind starts to narrow in and grasp onto one thing – this tunnel vision can actually feed the overwhelm. But this is not the only thing happening in our day and in our lives. Try to find one good thing that is going well in the world around you, one thing you’re grateful for, a funny moment you remember, a delicious meal….something that is pleasant. Holding that in our attention can open us up to “both/and.” The mind can hold that both – the good things and the challenges that are present. For example, “I am having a thought that I should turn on the news again, and I am so grateful to be eating this delicious snack.”

3:  Don’t Forget Kindness

Be kind to yourself and others. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for how we feel. We are having biologically appropriate reactions to an unusual situation. We know that this will not last forever, so while this is here, can we offer ourselves some kindness and tenderness as we would offer a child who is frightened?

We’ll leave you with this poem by Ravenna Raven – shared by Jelena Popovic, a teacher in the Mindful Schools Mindful Teacher Certification Program.

Seasonal by Ravenna Raven

Look how quickly
the snow melts
into spring –
blossoming things
will cast long shadows
over the land
and summer is
coming again.

The seasons teach us
how to feel
at ease with
letting things go
just as soon as we get
used to the snow.

Alan Brown is the Lead Teacher of the Mindful Schools Mindful Teacher Certification Program. He is a longtime educator and serves as Director of Integrative & Co-curricular Learning at Grace Church School in New York City, where he leads mindfulness & positive education programs for students, faculty, and for parents.  Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in middle school, Alan came to mindfulness through yoga and a search for stillness in the body and regulation in the nervous system, so he has a keen interest in working with students with TS, ADHD, OCD, and other nervous system vulnerabilities. Over the past 15 years, Alan has taught in both public and private settings as a humanities instructor and dean, and has worked with many other schools and districts as a trainer for GLSEN (the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network), where he now serves on the National Advisory Board.

About Mindful Schools. Mindful Schools – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – has trained more than 50,000 teachers, school leaders, and education professionals who are dedicated to preparing students with critical life skills to positively shift the outcomes for an entire generation. Learn more about Our Programs.

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