Connecting with others is an incredibly important aspect of our mental wellness; we are social creatures and we need to be connected to others. Positive connections help us feel safe, valued, and that we belong. When we are feeling safe, we are much more capable of managing stress, problem solving, and getting along with others. As parents, caregivers, and educators, many of us have already figured out how we can navigate the world to create positive connections. And we all know it is not always easy to maintain positive connections one hundred percent of the time. It requires inner calm, self-regulation, and confidence, and everyone experiences this differently. Introverts may have fewer connections, extroverts may have many, but how we attain these connections is not always easily done. The children and youth in our lives need us to help them navigate creating these positive connections.
When our kids struggle with their connections, don’t feel safe or comfortable, it can be incredibly daunting for the adults in their lives. We might not understand what is really going on, and indeed our young people may not have the words to explain what is causing them stress or to behave in a manner that causes us stress. If we can recognize that our discomfort with how a young person is dealing with their stress is likely more tied to our own self perceptions and fears, we can try to find a solution that is not based on our own issues. If instead we try to the see the behaviour as an expression of an unmet need, we may find a way to see the scenario as an opportunity to connect with more compassion and empathy rather than discomfort and stress. When we are stressed, we share that with everyone around us and it affects them. When we are feeling positive and calm, we also share that. Not only do we share it, but our actions speak louder than words; we are role models.
Sometimes it is important to honestly reflect on how we are managing with our connections. Brené Brown takes us into connections in a very real way. This week, watch (or re-watch) Brené’s talk on Connections. It is only six and a half minutes, so please don’t put it off until you have more time. You will not regret it – it is super powerful and sets the stage amazingly for the suggested Mind, Body & Spirit activities listed below.
Perspective check. Sometimes when things are not going well, it is hard to not see it for what it really is. This week’s activity is to check our perspective. Think about something that is causing you stress in your life right now. Then think about something that is a million times bigger – it can be as wide as the universe, as old as the mountains, as vast as the sky, the ocean. Consider how you have managed to deal with stressful situations in the past and remind yourself that you will get through this too. Focus on the immediate moment. Even for those of us who are dealing with a recent traumatic event and it may not seem possible that anything worse could ever happen, when we consider the history of the planet and what others have overcome in the past, it can help us gain some perspective. Try to practice this whenever you are feeling upset. It can be great fodder for finding gratitude, even when things just. plain. suck.
For those of us with little ones, spring is a great time of year for playing outdoors. We had a great game of hide-and-seek this past week, and it was so much fun to see the kids get into it. It always seems better for them when one of the grown-ups participates… and spoiler alert, it will likely make you laugh too! If running around is not an option, perhaps consider doing something to bring spring to your home – a little time in the garden, some daffodils on the dining table, or just a good old-fashioned spring clean (argh, if I write this does that mean I have to do it too?).
Music fuels our spirits. It awakens a sense of community and connection. When did you last listen to music? Take time to intentionally treat yourself and your kids to music – whether singing in the shower, playing an instrument, revisiting a favourite album, or singling along with Choir!Choir!Choir! (Choir!antine style), you deserve it! Or maybe listen to one of my favourite songs – it got me through some of my darkest days. Sharon Van Etten’s We are Fine.
Don’t forget about our special family-friendly social media experiment to #SpreadTheLove #MylesAhead:
If you haven’t already read about it, here are the instructions for the activity.
i. Paint a heart on a rock of your choosing.
ii. Write #SpreadTheLove #MylesAhead
iii. Place it in someone’s garden, or in a public space for others to see.
iv. Take a picture. Share it on social media with your location. Remember to tag us and use the hashtags #SpreadTheLove #MylesAhead!
We will monitor the progress – let’s see how far we can #SpreadTheLove!
Children: Here’s a wonderful video about self acceptance: The Helping Hand – A story by Z. Murphy & L. Kranen.
Here is another great video. It’s a children’s book about Belonging by Kevin Carroll
Youth: This is a beautiful ted talk with a video by Louie Schwartzberg called Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. A lovely reminder that we are all connected.
Teachers/Educators: Dr. Jean Clinton explains the importance of connection in relation to direction and correction in her article, The Power of Positive Adult Child Relationships: Connection is Key
This helpful resource looks at ways to Maintain Relationships During Your School Closure.
Caregivers/Parents: Check out this article overviewing Deepak Chopra’s Prescription for Happiness for a whole slew of healthy mental wellness options.
This article, by Gina McClain, discusses 20 Ways To Digitally Connect With Kids During The Covid-19 Pandemic.