Six Strategies for Being Well
1. STAY GROUNDED
SPARC members Zosia, Hannah, Blanca and Sasha share techniques they use to remain grounded during the day
One of the greatest ways that we can strengthen our own resiliency is through our ability to remain grounded and calm despite the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Staying grounded is a practice that is supported by continually (over and over again!) coming back to the sensations of the body. Our worries, fears, and regrets live in the past and the future, while the sensations of our body exist only in the present moment. When we connect with the present moment we help to regulate our nervous system and access an overall sense of calm and well-being.
Ways to stay grounded:
- Mindful Breathing. This is the easiest and most available resource we have for staying grounded. Focusing on your breath for even five cycles is enough to help to regulate your nervous system and to help you feel more grounded.
- Meditation 101: A Beginners Guide (Video - 2 minutes)
- Deep breathing exercise (Video - 4 minutes)
- Mind Control: Managing Your Mental Health During Covid-19 (Coursera - U of T - free course - 10 hours)
- Connecting with your senses. Similar to mindful breathing, when we connect to our 5 senses (taste, hearing, seeing, touch and smell) we reduce stress and connect to a sense of of calm and well-being.
- 5 minutes of mindfulness exercise - connecting to your senses (Activity - Psychology Today)
- Body Scan Meditation - Jon Kabat Zinn (23 minutes)
- Take a warm bath, get a massage, take a walk outside in nature, stand barefoot on the earth, smell the roses, create art, doodle, sew, cook, bake, sing a song! All of these things (and many many more) are great ways to engage our senses.
(you can use the meditation on these apps to help you to take breaks during the day, or to help you to wind down and sleep at night.)
2. PRACTICE SELF CARE
Taking care of yourself is VERY important right now. As Mr. Patel said in our assembly on April 2nd, this is a marathon, not a sprint. During this time, make taking care of yourself and your own well-being your #1 job. Replenish your energy often, take breaks, and be gentle with yourself.
Self care strategies:
- Reflect on your current stress levels and reach out to an adult for support. Sometimes just talking to another person about your fears or what you are anxious about can go a long way in helping you to feel better. Remember, we are ALL here to help -- your parents, guardians, advisors, teachers, house parents, etc. Let someone know how you are feeling. Reach out.
- Manage your time
- Make sure that you manage your time so that you are able to have chunks of time away from your computer. Schedule in family-time, outside time and time to be active.
- Care for your physical body (reduce stress and boost your immune system!):
- Prioritize sleep (regular is best!)
- Eat nourishing foods
- Half your plate - this is a great website (with recipes) that support veggie/fruit consumption and information on how to navigate grocery shopping during Covid-19 outbreak.
- Stay hydrated! This is so important to our overall wellness and can be overlooked. Fill a bottle with water and sip throughout your classes.
- Get exercise.
- Care for your mental, emotional and spiritual self:
- Create space for downtime, meditate, honour your emotions and connect to spiritual practices that are meaningful to you. This may also be a great time to connect with your family in ways that you usually don't have time to -- play a board game or card game, bake cookies, work on a puzzle, work in the garden together; a family who isolates together gets stronger together!
SPARC members Dylan, Alice, Summer, Jack and Abi share self care strategies that work for them...
SPARC Members Brenna, Stephen, Josh and Emilee have some tips on how to manage your time...
3. MANAGE YOUR THOUGHTS
If you have found that you have been caught up in the news and the uncertainty of this time, know that you are not alone! These are unprecedented times and all of us are trying to navigate the newness of our current situation. While there are a number of things that we can't change in our lives right now (the fact that there is a pandemic affecting humans (and human activity) around the world and that we are not all on campus together) there are a number of things that are under our control; we can control our mindset and our actions. Accepting what you can and cannot change is an important step towards caring for yourself right now. Also, practicing gratitude, positive self-talk and having compassion for yourself and others are ways to improve your own sense of well-being.
Resources to help manage your thoughts:
- Gratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg - a powerful film to remind us to be grateful (6:21)
- Challenging worries and anxious thoughts - Some great strategies for managing one's thoughts
- Kelty's Key - Self Help - simple and straightforward online courses on a number of topics: anxiety, insomnia, grief, depression and more.
- Kelty's Key - Online Therapist - includes useful tools for dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, grief and insomnia.
- How to defeat negative thinking (Video - 2 min)
- Happify - an app that will help you build your ability to be positive.
4. UNPLUG OFTEN
You are online all day with school, so be sure to be intentional about when you unplug from technology. In your schedule, allocated some time in your day when you are offline and off your phone. Also, now is the time to be intentional about how much time you spend reading, watching or listening to the news. Our brains have a natural negativity bias which means our brains crave the 'bad news' stories. Checking the news all day can have a detrimental affect on our well-being. So, limit your consumption of news to just a few minutes a day as well as actively seeking out good news stories.
Information on unplugging:
- Five ways to view coverage of the Coronavirus (Article - American Psychological Association)
- How to be intentional about consuming Coronavirus News (Article - Greater Good Magazine)
5. DO THINGS YOU ENJOY
Take advantage of our new situation to take time to do things you enjoy. Engage in activities where time seems to dissolve and your are totally immersed in what you are doing. Take up (or rekindle) a new hobby, laugh, watch funny movies, play a game with a friend, journal, read, colour, spend time with your pet.
Why quarantine can make you more creative (Article: World Economic Forum)
How to have fun in life (Video: 3:33 min)
6. NURTURE POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Nurturing connections with others is important to your overall sense of well-being. Reach out to friends and family members using FaceTime, SnapChat, Skype, Zoom, HouseParty or any other platform that allows you to connect. Keep connected to those that you feel good being around and let them know why they are important to you.