Whether students have been online, in-person or hybrid, young people are dragging themselves to the finish line of an exhausting school year. Just like physical strength takes time to build up endurance so does psychological strength. Each individual student has different needs around this recovery. Some students have the emotional resilience to do this independently or with a little care from those around them while others may need some therapeutic support.
Here are a few strategies for embracing psychological recovery:
- Allow students to process what they have experienced - They have experienced many losses this year. Whether it has been a missed sports season or school dance, missed celebration of a birthday or holiday with a loved one, maybe even a loss of an important friendship or the death of someone they loved. Each one of these losses come with some level of grief and need for processing.
- Remember that everyone processes grief differently - Some may process these feelings best with their peers while others may prefer to do this privately or with a professional.
- Keep expectations reasonable- Whatever your student needs to restore and regenerate themselves, whether it is some structure or an inspirational endeavor, make sure they do it in a way that they are recharging rather than depleting themselves, and not trying to make up for lost time. Keep expectations realistic for the break. Too many expectations, or expectations that are too high, can be overwhelming. If you can stay present, and let it unfold as it does, students are more likely to enjoy the small moments and minimize letdown or disappointment.
- Celebrate- When we consistently look for the positives in every situation, our brains begin to learn to recognize and focus on this. We are wired to focus on the danger (i.e. the negatives) around, as this used to be a survival tactic. By steering our brain to focus on the positive, we are training our bodies to know we are safe.
- Create a positive space- Something as simple as a snuggly blanket, a favorite song, or your favorite book or candle can all help to create a calming or relaxing space.
- Move your body- Being active is extremely important for both our physical and mental health. Incorporate family activities into your break. Go outside and explore the neighborhood, plan a family hike, or do something else to get active as a family.
- Maintain a schedule- It is easy to fall off of a schedule during breaks from school. Maintaining a schedule provides structure and helps you feel a little more “normal” and also helps to decrease anxiety. It’s ok to sleep in a little bit or relax more than when school is in session, but make sure you are getting enough sleep, practicing your hygiene routines, drinking water, eating balanced meals, getting outside and having fun.
- Reach out and Connect- Try to connect with people you care about as much as possible. Talk on the phone, text, Face Time, whatever works for you! Connecting with others can make us happy along with the person we are talking to. If you are struggling its ok to ask for help. Many people are struggling during this time, especially teenagers. All emotions are temporary, even if they don’t feel like they will ever get better, they will. We all deserve to get the help we need and to feel better. Help is ALWAYS available! Many of the crisis resources listed below are available 24/7
- Crisis Text Line– Text “HEAL” to 741-741
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- The Trevor Project (for the LGBTQ+ community) – 1-866-488-7386
- TeenLink (a peer support line where you can chat with other teens who have had similar experiences): 1-866-833-6546
- Crisis Connections (24 hr. crisis line): 1-866-427-4747
As you head into summer break take a deep breath, hold gratitude in your heart, and focus on the moments that connect us and bring joy.