Today at lunch, my daughter came downstairs after finishing her morning of online school.
She was nearly in tears, her mental capacity had been reached. We started our day with a conversation about how much doing school online sucks, which has been the ongoing subject around here for a week, well, maybe off and on now for almost two years. Some days the pandemic, the restrictions, the concern for loved ones, and missing our friends is a lot to process and then be expected to be fully present and engaged in learning, is too much.
To all the teachers out there, thank you for doing your best, from the bottom of my heart, you are appreciated! But I’m sorry, online learning doesn’t hold a candle to in person learning when you’re a kid.
I see for a lot of people, 2022 has not started with a big bang, at least a positive one. For some it has started with anxiety, worry, sickness and more stress. For my family, it was more of a “meh”. No complaints, we’re just missing some of that energy that we’re used to having at the beginning of a new year.
It’s these days that self-care is even more important. I suggested to my daughter that she finish up her lunch and take the dog for a walk in the time she had left. Walking is great for stress relief! It also helps to improve self-esteem, lightens your mood and contributes to a better nights sleep. And something I’ve just begun to explore are the health benefits of spending time in a forest - to begin with, trees increase the capacity of the brain by oxygenating our blood, which turns on the tap of intelligence and health!
As we finished up lunch, she made a comment about surviving school in a pandemic that is really what motivated me to write.
My other daughter was working on a project and mentioned “getting good grades” as one of her responsibilities at school. For the record, I am not the kind of parent that insists on straight A’s but I do insist they do their best. My other daughter retorted, “I think our only responsibility in a pandemic in school is to not fail.”
Hey, wait a minute! I don’t know about that. I said to them, “listen, the pandemic isn’t going to last forever and you don’t want to make choices today that could affect your future once all of this is behind us.” Less than year from now, my oldest will be choosing universities to apply to and some of the programs are very competitive. What I heard behind her tears and her words was resignation. I’m tired, this sucks, I don’t want to do this anymore… me neither! But…
Covid doesn’t get to win.
When we’re under stress, our levels of cortisol and adrenaline go up and as these levels go up, our judgement is impaired and we begin to make poor choices. Choices that can affect our future and create more problems. And in case you didn’t already know, every single person is functioning with heightened levels of cortisol and adrenaline these days and have been for two years. Everyone.
We need heaps and heaps of grace for one another. And we need to do everything in our power to do the things we need to do to support our mental health and encourage those around us to as well.
For my family, the quickest reset we engage in is getting out into our backyard and playing in the snow. New Years Eve, we didn’t feel like it at all. My sister was supposed to join us, but she got Covid. We always have a bonfire, it’s a Scottish family tradition but I had to do a lot of convincing to get my family out the door. A few days later, we needed something more, so we drove to Algonquin Park to skate at Mew Lake. It helps!
I admit I am pretty stubborn but I refuse to let Covid win. It doesn’t mean I don’t lament for the loss and the suffering, it doesn’t mean I am not concerned for my kids, for hospital staff, those who have lost jobs and businesses… Lord have mercy. Covid just doesn’t get the last word.
When my daughter got back from her walk, she admitted it helped. She’s upstairs, in class right now, even did a load of laundry on her break.
Be kind to yourselves. Keep your eyes fixed on a future where Covid is no longer the main topic of conversation. If you’re struggling, talk to someone, please. Go for a walk, get into nature. Make some art. Stubbornly decide not to let today’s struggle take away your hope or your future.
"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18