children, education, health, mental health, wellbeing

Learning to be OK

If there’s one thing that this period of time has taught us is that we can achieve most things we put our mind to…but sometimes we need to reach out for help.

The world is still in a strange state of flux. The UK has more than 161,000 cases of COVID-19, more than 21,500 people have died. Each evening the press briefing remains the same and the advice is repeated ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. This mantra will live on in the annals of time, but what of our own mantras?

It’s often at times of crisis that we look to mantras for guidance to help us through. When I run Relax Kids classes we use them a lot. Having something, such as affirmation to hold on to through the day can be beneficial for bringing calm to the mind and a positive focus when the grey clouds come down to shroud our enjoyment of life. If for a minute, it allows us to stop, breathe, and remind ourselves that we can cope with many things.

We have a lot to be thankful for at the current time. It may not seem it with figures of more than three million deaths worldwide, but we have been gifted the opportunity to see how we are treating our planet, our friends and family, ourselves.

This period so far, whilst I’ve still had to work, has allowed me to find ways to stay connected with those that I care about. Friends and family have been seen more than they would normally because we can leap online and not have to drive, but I still miss the hugs; classes and appointments with clients can still remain, but I have to clear a room in the house each time in order to set up. Creatively adapting. How much would we have done that before?

I used to be able to sit at a computer virtually all day. I’ve recognised now that I’ve changed, certainly in these times of being at home all day. I’ll do half an hour of one task then half an hour of another. It adds more variety and I focus better. Oddly, I’m getting loads done. Perhaps not so odd if you read articles that tell us the average attention span is 14 minutes.

There’s a lot of focus on the children and young people at the current time, which is obvious. It’s a massive upheaval for them. The personal developmental changes that they are experiencing anyway feel heavier than ever as the world slowly self-destructs around them. The majority are doing something they’ve never done – home schooling, and what a challenge that is for most, yet there are a forgotten few who feel the same pain of missing out on the joy of education – the educaters.

I know teachers, support staff, and coaches desperate to once more see the young people that are entrusted to them. Instead they are adapting, working from home, some are venturing into the schools to look after key worker’s children. There has been discussion about whether schools will reopen anytime soon and indeed some have said they should open during the normal summer holiday period, but has anybody actually stopped to think that these teachers and school support staff will need a break? Just because the school is closed does not mean education has ceased. Each day I am still having to log on to my school email, complete online training, touch base with my team, and generally keep abreast of developments.

I’m only a small cog at the school but as with the children, I too am finding it difficult to learn at home, not least because this is where I work on my own business and getting the balance is tricky, but also because a lot of the learning is new to me. It’s like going back to school and learning from scratch. Many a time I’ve felt a bit of a thicko not being able to absorb the information, and if I’m struggling, then what are our youngsters feeling?

I wondered earlier whether part of my difficulty with absorbing information stems from when I first crashed and was subsequently diagnosed with a mental health condition. I’ve only conducted a little bit of research into this online, but it seems that anxiety and depression can kill brain cells and cause shrinkage. This being the case, we need things to be as calm as they possibly can at home to aid learning. That’s for everyone. Remember, we are all still learning throughout this period.

I was lucky to be gifted a session of EFT recently with the wonderful Angela Gomes. I was sceptical to say the least. It takes me a while to get into some of these things, but I felt instant results. That little voice telling me I couldn’t, I’d never get it, I wasn’t good enough was soon being replaced – I’d recommend it. In fact, I’d recommend Angela any day.

What EFT did is essentially reset my brain in a way and reminded me of all the things I teach in my classes, notably about reaffirming who you are and that you are capable. It reminded me how capable I was and am in a moment of doubt.

So I say to you today, if you are sat there reading this thinking you’re rubbish, that you can’t do it, or if you’ve a young person sat near you thinking the same, remember, you don’t have to be amazing, fantastic, wonderful, great, or any of those things. You just need to be OK. Are you breathing? You’re OK. Did you manage to get out of bed? You’re OK. Did you read this? Well, you’ve at least done something today, maybe learnt something, and if that’s all you’ve done, that’s OK. If your child has got up, eaten, and is now slumped in the garden scrolling through their phone, it might seem like they’re not doing anything and wasting this time, but perhaps, in their own way, they’re coping and they are OK. That’s OK. Who knows, they may even be researching how to cope. That’s OK. In fact, if they’re doing that, they’re doing better than OK. They’re doing something about it.

You can go heavy on the affirmations trying to prove you are wonderful and it can feel forced, but the main thing is to take ownership of it and actually say it to yourself. Keep it simple. If you feel the world’s caving in today, take a few deep breaths and say I AM OK.

You are OK. That’s all you ever need to be.

And if you need to reach out for help, do. Nobody will think anything less of you.

(Header image by carlos pereyra from Pixabay)

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