• Churchill School & Center

Your Mindset Is Key To Coping With Difficult Circumstances

Good morning, Churchill, faculty and families. Hi again, I'm Shannon Dressler, the high school social worker, and I'm here to bring you our Mental Health Monday video.

Currently, there are many uncertainties that exist around us, and it's easy for our minds to wander to overwhelming thoughts leading to stress, anxiety and feeling powerless. It can trap us into a downward spiral of what ifs and worst case scenarios about what tomorrow will bring. What will Summer look like? Will Camp's be canceled? What will school be like in the fall? Will we still be distant learning? The answers are unknown and as humans, we are not comfortable or used to living with so many unknowns. While many things remain outside of your control,

and facing the unknowns. We need to stay in the present as difficult as can be to not plan for the future, become overwhelmed by uncertainty and worry. You are certainly not alone.

There are steps you can take to remain in the present. Instead of trying to predict what might happen, switch your attention to what's happening right now. By feeling fully connected to the present, you can interrupt the negative assumptions and catastrophic predictions running through your mind. You can learn to purposely focus your attention on the present through mindfulness practice. Here are some mindfulness activities and I've included resources in the introduction text.

Try twenty seconds of mindful handwashing. Use those moments of taking action to also refocus on just being in the moment. Start the day with a pause. Take a moment to focus on your breath and you can even use Dr. Goldhammer's video to help work on breathing exercises. Even one to two minutes of check in with yourself in this way could allow you to begin the day more centered and in touch with the current moment.

Practice stop when you notice you're getting anxious. Stop what you're doing and take a moment to be still. Take a few deep breaths and just be aware that you're breathing. Observe any sensations in your body that's in your mind and emotions in your heart. Pause to come back to your breath, then proceed with your day with greater calm.

You can also download and use a mindfulness app. A mindfulness app is a great way to introduce yourself to guided meditations.

Read a book on mindfulness. There are many great books that help you understand what mindfulness is and how it can improve your life.

Use some mindfulness ideas for kids and teens. Take a walk outside with your kids and notice sounds, colors, etc., and look for things you've never noticed before.

Pause and take three deep breaths to reduce stress and invite calm. Eat one bite at breakfast or lunch and pay attention to what you're eating. Is it crunchy or soft, salty or sweet. Before dinner take a moment to go around the table and have each person share one thing they appreciate. Trust that this practice will likely become more meaningful to children and teens over time. Do some mindfulness stretching together with a few simple yoga postures. Before bed name one thing that went well today. A pleasant moment or a time that felt happy. Avoid judgment and criticism when you invite your child to engage in this activity. Just listen to whatever they share.

Using mindfulness to stay focused on the present can take perseverance. Initially, you may find that your focus keeps wandering back to your future fears and worries. But keep at it. Each time you focus your attention back on the present, you're strengthening a new mental habit that can help you breathe free of uncertainty.

Please remember you're not alone with all this uncertainty. We at Churchill are here to support you.

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