As we are finishing up this virtual school semester, most of us are jumping for joy. This signifies the end of balancing working from home while keeping our children on track with their classes. Not only does this time bring an end to this stressful chapter, but it brings a multitude of emotions for us all. For the educators that I work with, there is a lot of sadness and stress presenting itself. The stages of grief can be applied here, as there are many aspects that our educators have lost. The stages of grief look different for everyone, some might experience all stages while others only experience a few. The important thing to remember, is that there is no set amount of time it takes to process. The stages of grief from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, are as follows; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. One might be just now beginning to acknowledge that they have suffered a loss. Our educators are packing up their classroom without the in person good-byes from the little minds they were molding all year. They have been navigating the same frustrations of how to balance work life with home life. Grief can impact us on a physical level (fatigue, impaired focus, anhedonia, impaired sleep, etc.) as well, which is compounded by the already present stressors of this pandemic. If you are an educators and reading this, we say thank you and we acknowledge your loss. Here are a few tips to help support yourself during this time:
- Acknowledge. Take time to think about the symptoms you might be experiencing and ways you might have lost something. You can bring awareness to this by journaling or using grounding techniques (5 senses) to ensure you see that reaction to your environment.
- Validate. Once you have identified the loss, where you are within the grief cycle, or the emotions that arise with this process, then you can engage in compassionate self-talk. Try using the structure, “I feel (state the emotion), and that is okay”. It is important to validate our feelings, instead of avoiding them to allow them to pass.
- Process. Utilize your support system about your experience and how it is impacting you, ask for help, or make an appointment with a licensed psychotherapist. Working through these emotions and experiences will create a space for us to growth through this.
- Self-care. Me, me, me, and more me. Ask yourself what you need or want right now. Set boundaries with those around you, or yourself, to ensure that you have 5 minutes to engage in a grounding technique (see link below for examples). Virtually (or in person) attend that yoga class you have been putting off, paint that picture that has been on your mind all week, read that book that is sitting on your table, be present during play with your little one, or just be.
- Connection with our future. Get creative about ways you can connect with your current class. You don’t have to be like these educators you follow on social media with extravagant gestures. Try writing letters, virtual scrapbook of the year, Zoom year end party, or connect with each child individually by looking back on your year together.
If you connected to this piece and would like to schedule an appointment for support during this time, contact me to schedule an appointment!
By: Erin McKinney