Newmark Counseling Department
The Newmark Counseling Department provides a variety of updated resources to help you cope with the many feelings we are experiencing as we navigate the current health crisis.
Reducing Screen Time
A new school year is an opportunity for a fresh start and a wonderful time to set goals. All of our students begin the year in counseling identifying goals they would like to achieve. The Counseling Team also gathers information from our teachers and parents for input into these goals. Each year, reducing screen time is a common issue that teachers and parents identify. However, one consequence of the COVID pandemic is the increase in screen time across the board – children, teens and adults. This article from TODAY Parents talks about preparing children and teens to return onsite to school with less screen time. The article points out that the reduction of time spent on technology is a gradual goal rather than a cold-turkey event.
For more information on the pros and cons of technology, please VIEW this Technology and Mental Health video from Newmark’s own school psychologists, Adam Goldberg, Ed.M. and Ashlie E. Jernigan, MS, NCSP.
Coping with COVID-19's Impact
Dealing with COVID-19 is like running a marathon rather than a sprint. When framed that way, it makes sense to use the coping strategies of a long-distance runner: pace yourself; remember that, even if you can’t see the finish line, trust it is there; adjust your plan if necessary; focus on what we can control; its ok to slow down and walk – but keep going; drink your water, and express gratitude to your cheer team that help along the way.
If you or anyone you know needs support during this time, the Mental Health Association in NJ runs a variety of online support groups. For more information about these Remote Support Groups, visit the MHANJ.org website.
Mental Health Resources: Apps & Books
In this age of technology, quality mental health resources are easily available via apps on our phones. A variety of apps exist, with some fantastic ones being free. These apps can support and assist with topics such as mindfulness, depression, anxiety and stress relief. Check out The 8 Best Mental Health Apps of 2021 from the website verywellmind.com (a fantastic resource as well!). Also check out this article from the same website that lists The 10 Best Mental Health Books. My personal favorite is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, written by the therapist Lori Gottlieb. It is funny, touching and quite insightful about the difficulties, but ultimate benefits, of sticking with therapy.
Self-care is becoming a popular topic in the media – for good reason. As parents, we can easily get caught up in the daily grind and de-prioritize our own needs. True self-care is an intentional decision to not only maintain our own health and wellness, but to make mindful changes in recurring thoughts and behaviors that have a negative impact on our welfare.
Aditi Kulkarni, a therapist, reminds us that some myths about self-care exist: self-care is an indulgence, it is selfish, it is a one-time occurrence, and it is time-consuming. Believing these myths present an obstacle to creating a sustainable health care plan. Ms. Kulkarni suggests starting small, experimenting and creating an intentional practice when starting a self-care plan. Read Ms. Kulkarni's blog for a more in-depth discussion. For some tips about self-care activities one can do at their desk while working, check out this article from INC. magazine: 4 Self-Care Practices You Can Do at Your Desk.
How are you coping with the unique stress of being a parent during Covid-19? The American Psychological Association conducted a survey at the end of May 2020 and found while 69% of parents were looking forward to the school year being over, 60% said they were struggling to keep their children busy, and 60% said they “have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”
COVID-19 seems to present answers and questions simultaneously: School will open, but what will it look like? Pools and playgrounds will be open, but how does one social distance in a pool? The school year is over, but now what do we do to keep busy?
Staying grounded in the present moment is the key to managing unknowns, questions and an ever-changing new normal. Please view this guided mindfulness meditation to use as a tool at home to ease stress and tension.
Structure continues to be crucial, but summertime structure allows for flexibility, rest and relaxation. Nina Essel, a therapist and parent coach, suggests breaking the day into three categories: Nonnegotiables (i.e. shower and brush teeth each day); things you want to see happen (i.e. spend at least an hour a day outside); and things you would like to see happen (i.e. kids unload the dishwasher each day). Having your child involved in the process of identifying the activities is helpful and adds to the likelihood that the activity list will be more successful.
As we settle in to this season, remaining focused on what we can control helps to maintain our emotional wellness and positive outlook. For example, we can’t control the cold weather, but we can decide to embrace cozy blankets, hot chocolate, soothing candles and warm pjs! This infographic gives us a visual reminder of what we can control and read about The Four Things You Can Control Starting Today by Kendra Harvey.
Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. We are still dealing with the many unknowns and feelings about finding our “new normal” during COVID-19. Additionally, many of us watched the news over the past week and felt a range of big emotions. Maintaining our resilience in the face of what sometimes feels like unrelenting stress is an important way to keep ourselves healthy. Here are 20 Ways To Build Resilience At Home.
One way to recharge is to be mindful about our perspective. When thinking about the pandemic and the effects of staying at home, our perspective guides our response. Staying mindful helps us remain aware of our perspective, thoughts and responses. In this article, 4 Steps to More Inner Peace During a Pandemic, John J. Murphy from Mindful Leader offers 4 steps to improving our ability to respond to stressful situations: Let Be, Let Go, Let See and Let Flow.
Now that we are knee-deep in the pandemic and remote learning, we are getting used to experiencing a range of emotional reactions and levels of stress. However, some of us may be nearing burnout.
It is important to give ourselves permission to experience whatever it is we are feeling. Elisha, Goldstein, Ph.D. talks about “grief bombs.” Goldstein says, “You may not even recognize them at first…You're feeling okay for a few days, and then all of sudden you're having an especially hard day - a bout of anxiety hits or it feels like nothing's going right. You may find yourself weepy, overwhelmed, irritable, anxious or unable to focus.” In remote counseling, students have described feeling this way and it is important as adults we understand this to be true for us as well.
When we realize what it is we are feeling (burnout, grief, anxiety…), we can take steps to provide ourselves with extra care, love and opportunities to refill our emotional cups.
Mental Health Support
Additionally, here are some important resources for anyone who is struggling with their mental health:
Taking Time for Gratitude
One proven way that resilient people deal with difficult situations is by practicing gratitude. Here is a sample Gratitude Letter that everyone in your family can use to focus on who and what we are grateful for during this uncertain time. Take the opportunity to let that person know! Gratitude Letter
Mental Health Tip
One way of managing our own fears and anxieties about the Coronavirus Pandemic is to focus our energy on helping others in need. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has many ideas and activities to keep us focused on how to remain calm and kind in the face of this crisis. One example, using these Hello-Help Cards with neighbors or friends who may be in need of assistance (of course while practicing social distance and other safety measures). Hint: This is a great way to earn a PIN through our Community Connections PIN Program
Functional Living Skills
Being at home together creates a wonderful opportunity to teach and practice Functional Living Skills.
Children can make their beds, do laundry, help cook and practice crucial time management and organization skills as they engage in Remote Learning. This is a unique time where we can slow down and teach our families life skills that we normally might not have time to address.
FUNCTIONAL LIVING SKILLS - VIEW VIDEO LIBRARY