Mental Wellbeing and Handling the Added Stresses of a Covid Year...

With Mental Health Awareness Month my contribution to this awareness is sharing what currently brings me mental well being...

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One thing that is very relevant for me right now is handling stress levels and the importance of having balance - read a previous post on keeping a balance here.

I recently returned to work in the schools with the Pre-K "Play and Exploration" program (been back in school 2 months now.)

kids play and exploration.jpg
Image by Hai Nguyen Tien from Pixabay

The changes bought about by Covid has really bought the stress levels up. Many of the changes that were required were contrary to what we were trying to bring to the children and families in this program. Luckily our numbers for enrollment were down so it was easier to manage with the changes.

There has been a major stress to keep things sanitary and we are also asked to try to limit the physical contact (pretty hard with young kids.) Previously we were all for setting up different invitations using a wide variety of material and encouraging the children to have collaborative play as they explored these different centers. Plus it was all about encouraging family engagement but now the families are not allowed into the school (we do have a special outdoor playground for Pre-K where the families can meet - thank goodness for that!) We also use to work on children sharing but now it is not encouraged. Some of the independence that we worked towards has been limited for they don't want multiple hands touching things so the kids can't just help themselves (that being said independence is still something we are aiming for.) Another item that we worked on was language and building vocabulary but this is being hampered with the requirement of staff to wear masks (I bought a see through mask so the children can see my mouth as we introduce new words and also my expression which is a big part of communication.)

I want to add here about the added stress mask wearing causes me - I find it irritating and I can't wait until the kids leave and I can take it off or we go outside. This irritating, if over a prolonged period, brings about periods of irritability, an added stress that makes it more difficult to be able to deal with easing the children's stress and ensuring they are having a positive experience. One thing I always promised myself is that if I start to get snappy or grumpy with the kids then it was time to leave. I am fine right now but I'm also very happy that in another month and a half I'll be able to take my full pension and retire. I love my work but I do not care for the direction it is going with this Covid guidelines.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

I mentioned that I was fine right now, able to handle the added stresses but how do I do that?

Number 1 - I take good care of myself with proper nutrition and hydration, plenty of rest and regular exercise.

Number 2 - I start my day by bringing myself into a good frame of mind and before I get involved with anything, I have my morning meditation session which prepares me for the day. See a post with more details of my morning routine here and how I maintain my sanity through meditation here

Number 3 - Being that I work with children I am constantly checking in with myself making sure I am being loving and supportive and if I need a break I step away from the kids and recenter. It helps that the teacher I work with, her and I work well together and we make it fun! In the classroom my focus is on the children and their potential, working towards bringing them to their greatest potential. When I am home I can have self time.

Number 4 - After work, when I'm at home, it is my time and I relax and balance out any stress of the day with doing relaxing things, things that I enjoy. I have really gotten into photography, mostly nature photography, which takes me out into nature and allows me to experience more of a sense of wonderment and joy where all my cares slip away. Read more on how photography is a therapy for me here

Number 5 - Being out in nature, as I said above, my cares just seem to fall away. I live on an acreage right in the forest. My home is where I can retreat from the craziness of the world - this does wonders for my mental health and well being.

Number 6 - I do limit myself to the exposure of medias that are engaged in fear mongering and propaganda while still keeping myself informed on current affairs. One of the things that has played a big part in maintaining my mental well being is being able to be aware of what is my actual reality and what has been fed into me from outside sources. I chose more and more to live in the now having a fulfilling life at this moment and lessening the time I spend in my mind going over possible scenarios or getting worked up over things that are only possibilities and really do not concern me.

Warm Welcoming Glow From My Home in the Forest

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That being said I hope you too, can find peace and fulfillment in the present moment and that you are happy and healthy!

This is my response to the @Ecotrain Question of the Week - see details here and also an entry into the Natural Medicine Mental Health Awareness Challenge - Details here

Top image is a modified image from Graphicstock

Bottom image - mine taken with my Canon PowerShot SX 60HS

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