We're still shipping! Stay safe friends.

0

Your Cart is Empty

10 Ways to Support Your Mental Health During Back to School 2020 (Part 2/2)

by Justine Haemmerli September 14, 2020


Hey friend! This is Part Two of our roundup of ten strategies to help you maintain clarity and peace during the 2020 Back to School Season. If you haven’t yet checked out Part One, you can do so here.


If you'd like to watch a video about making the 2020 Back to School Season as enjoyable as possible, check out the video below on the 7 Ways to Enjoy Back to School 2020.


Alright - let’s get right into it with #6:

#6: Get Whatever Help You Can Afford - Literally & Figuratively


This one I hesitated to include, because many folks are in precarious financial situations right now, and the mention of getting help in the home can be upsetting, triggering, or cause people to shut down. I get that, and I’m not here to suggest that you just make your Covid-19 situation easier by hiring a full time tutor, a housekeeper, a nanny, etc.


That being said, you need help. We all need help, friend. This situation is tiring, it is hard, and for many folks it is asking the impossible. Nobody can do everything all the time, and you certainly can’t do it alone.

Going back to #1,Airplane Rules - if you normally subscribe to the “I can do everything myself I don’t need help” philosophy, now is the time to relax those rules, loosen those expectations, and get all the support for yourself that you can.


Remember, we are swimming in the ocean and we need to conserve our energy. So whether it’s something big, or small - paid, traded, or free - find at least one way to get some help with your life tasks.


I would encourage each of you, regardless of your financial situation, to sit for five minutes and write down what is taking up time and mental space right now that you could put towards something more meaningful, or something you’re responsible for that feels heavy and stressful to you. Then, think about how you could get help in a way that is in alignment with your safety needs, and your wallet.

Help doesn’t always have to cost money, and it doesn’t always have to be in person.


Some things that might be taking up time, energy, and space that you could use for something else include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • House Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Checking in on Family/Relatives
  • Bill Paying
  • Appointment Making
  • Work Tasks
  • Dog Walking
  • Meal Planning
  • Overseeing Virtual Schooling/Childcare

Some ways that you can get help and support, that are paid and free, include:

  • Choose 5-10 dishes that your family enjoys, take five minutes to write these on a calendar for the months of September and October, and commit to having that on rotation for dinner, so you don’t have to keep thinking about what to make, and you can buy ingredients in bulk.
Dinner Pasta Dish Rigatoni with Mushrooms

  • If you have friends with whom you’re comfortable, and if it’s financial viable, look into hiring a teacher or nanny together and splitting the cost - even if it’s just for a few half days a week, this will give your child some socializing time, and give you a child-free break to do other things, while also letting you feel more in control about safety as you, the other family, and the caretaker can all be in agreement. If it’s not financially possible to do this, see if you can alternate providing the care with the other family, so you have some days when you can work without having to worry about the costs or logistics of childcare. If you have a partner, you two can switch on and off the days/times when you each take your “shift,” so you can maximize the child-free time.

  • If you’re not comfortable with in-person contact, you have a range of people in your life who can provide fun experiences for your children virtually. Aisha of Dash of Magic Events is a princess doing virtual sessions for kids - my skeptical daughter quickly became obsessed; while we’re not a princessy family, it was really special and joyful for her to put on a costume and have a magical zoom meeting with Belle during the deepest nights of lock-down, when she hadn’t done anything with other kids for weeks.

  • If you want a free option, you can ask friends to schedule a virtual play-date (have the kids play hide and seek or charades, it keeps them super engaged!), you can ask grandparents to have a regular time they hop on zoom to do a read aloud or just chat, ask an auntie, uncle, or friend to take your kids on a virtual walk where they live, read to them, or even just color and chat with them virtually. If you know that there is a 20-30 minute block where your kid is being entertained by someone you trust who loves them, you can get a little break and breathing room.

  • Hiring someone to help with keeping your home clean and organized, especially if you are working and schooling from home. Find someone who will agree to safety protocols you’re comfortable with, and who can come while you’re out of the house if that makes you more comfortable. This could be a great time to do one of those weekly routines we talked about in #2 (like going into nature) and then returning home to a clean house (check out #9 to see why this is so important).

  • Creating a pod with friends and having the kids do virtual school at each other’s houses, so you have at least two days with no kids in the house to focus on other things.

  • Finding a space that is open to kids doing virtual school there with other adults overseeing them and providing help as needed. If this doesn’t exist where you are, it could be worth reaching out to the local community center, library, an after-school space or dance school, or even a closed restaurant to see if they would be open to hosting something similar for a pod of 5-10 kids, with the cost of a teacher shared by all families, and a safety contract signed by all as well, or parents/guardians taking turns in a coop model that allows for folks to work, and provide care on their appointed day.

  • Ordering groceries online, or finding a friend you can alternate with, so one week you do the shopping and pickup for both families, the next week they do it - and if you’re not comfortable being together, you can do contactless drop off.

  • If you have a partner, tell them you need 45 minutes every day of alone time to go for a walk, or do something that recharges their batteries. On Sunday evening, get out your calendars and block out your 45 minutes a day, to ensure you’re both on the same page and they’re ready to take over childcare/household duties while you’re having your time. No surprises, no excuses :)
Woman Relaxing in Bed

#7: Connect with Friends - Even When It's Hard

Video Call with Friends on a Sunday Afternoon

One of the hardest parts of the pandemic is that we’re all going through it at the same time. And, one of the brightest spots of the pandemic is that we’re all going through it at the same time.


While this means that we are all spread thin, in need of support, and living in triage mode at the same time, it also means that there is a deep potential for solidarity, empathy, and connection during this moment.


While you might be Zoom’d out, and finding time for anything is difficult right now, connecting with friends is absolutely so important for our mental health right now.

Especially as our in-person connections and time together are becoming rarer and more challenging, filling your cup and nurturing your relationships with people who love and support you, who energize and inspire you, who understand you -or, who just make you laugh - is essential.


Here are a few creative ways to connect with friends:

  • The Marco Polo app allows you to send free video messages to each other, which allows you to feel like you’re having an asynchronous conversation, take each other on walks, show off your new home office corner, and more. When my bff asked me to install it I couldn’t understand why I would need another app, until I started using it. Being able to just talk to one another “face to face” even when you’re in different time zones, have newborn babies, different work schedules, etc., is lovely and sweet. There’s something about the app that is different than just sending videos in your messaging app - and you can create group chats too. I highly recommend!

  • Send snail mail. We are all staring at screens so much at baseline, and right now they might as well be attached to our bodies with the amount that we’re needing to work and communicate virtually. There is something so loving and special about a piece of real mail; it’s fun to make and joyful to receive. You can create a little care package for a friend, write a postcard or letter, or even have your kids help and create something to stick in the package together. If the thought of walking to the mailbox gives you agita, you can send a postcard from your computer with sites like MyPostcard or FunkyPigeon.

Snail Mail Letter Writing to Friends

Host a virtual party, but keep it easy. As nice as phone calls and group zooms are, it can also get a bit redundant to stare into the Brady Bunch grid endlessly. Also, the conversation can easily drift into complaining, venting, and an anxiety stew about how things are going right now in regards to Covid-19. Creating a space with a different theme, some ground rules for what will and won't be discussed, and a tool to use in your conversations can help you to have some healing time together, do something that is unrelated to the pandemic, and nurture your connection to each other. Or, you could do this.


As fun as that looks, we actually have a free Virtual Circle Guide that you can download to put together a gathering like this without having to do any planning. It has an agenda for an hour-long virtual gathering, activities you can do together using our Card Decks as deep conversation starters, and a ton of resources for leading some intimate and rich conversations with your friends.


You can design a pretty and free invitation in Paperless Post that includes the meeting room link, download the free guide, and you’re all set! Bonus points if you all come to the party wearing something special, or with a favorite beverage in hand.


  • Make an absurd music video with your faces. So, I did this for my nephews birthday, and then ended up making about 72 of them for all my friends. On JibJab you can upload photos and have them inserted into music videos ranging from Pharell to Cyndi Lauper. My four year old daughter became obsessed, which was both the upside and the downside. It takes about five minutes to make and it something truly silly, stupid, and joyful to send to friends, that will give them a laugh and is a sweet and ridiculous way to show you’re thinking of them.

  • Send local gifts to faraway friends. With a tiny bit of research, you can find spots in your friends’ neighborhoods that are open right now, and send them an e-gift card they can use for a treat there. I love to send little gift cards for $5-$10 to coffee shops so my friends can treat themselves to a latte, since coffee dates are something I normally do a lot of with my friends. It’s not expensive, it’s super quick, and it brightens their day to get a random present out of the blue.

#8: Find One Thing that Makes You Feel Happy - or at least Normal - and Do That Thing!

Happy hobby playing ukulele

This one might seem self-evident, but often the simplest solutions elude us.

Feeling better doesn’t have to be complicated. Especially if you are going through a patch of particular stress or sadness, keeping it easy is extremely important.

Find one thing that makes you feel good, or at the very least OK, and do that thing as often as you can.


Perhaps it’s a snack you love.


Maybe it’s listening to a podcast in your car for fifteen minutes as you go on an errand.


Or a lotion that smells really good and makes you feel nice, that you slather on in the morning or before bed.


Start with something super small, and try to consciously do it at least once a day.


Having trouble thinking of something?

Here are a few prompts that can help you to identify something that will get you feeling happy, normal, grounded, or more at peace throughout the day:


  • When do you feel most anxious or out of sorts during the day? What would bring a little soothing peace to this part of your routine/day?

  • What do you find yourself looking forward to or daydreaming about each week? How can you build off of this pleasure/create more experiences around this thing you enjoy?

  • What is just one part of your body you could devote more attention to each day? What could you do for this part of your body to make it feel more loved and pampered?

  • How could you carve out even 10 minutes of quiet and solitude for yourself each day?

#9: Clean House

Cleaning Supplies to Clean House

For me, this is my #8 - but even if cleaning your house brings you more frustration than joy, it’s more important than ever that your house helps to lift your spirits rather than bog you down.


We are spending so much more time at home, and our houses are becoming multipurpose spaces like never before. Making your space feel comforting and comfortable, usable, and fresh is super important.

When I worked as a career coach, I started integrating "nesting" services into my practice. I was shocked to see how often folks’ goals and dreams for their work and lives were held back by spaces that bogged them down, kept them in the past, or worked against their priorities.


Your space has a serious impact on your clarity and your peace, so do whatever you need to/can do to get your home to a point that feels good.


This doesn’t need to be a Fixer Upper moment, it doesn’t have to cost tons of money, or take up all your evenings.


Perhaps this means getting help cleaning. Maybe it means setting aside time on Sundays to reorganize and declutter. It could be that if you’re working from home more, or entirely, that taking some time to setup a work space that feels good to you - even just hanging some pictures or getting a nice cup to hold your pens and pencils - can do wonders for the inside of your head.


When I started using a diffuser in our kitchen with some essential oils in it, I feel like a whole new chapter started for me - I don’t know why, but the ritual of picking a scent and the gentle puffing of the steam was so comforting to me at that time, and has now become a special quiet ritual that I do right before sitting down for the day to work, and again at night once I’ve cleaned up from dinner and the kids are in bed.


Whatever you choose to do, do something - don’t underestimate the impact your space has on your psyche, especially now.

#10: Get Out(side)!

Woman sitting against a tree and relaxing

I know you know this, but I wanted to just remind you.


Go. Out. Side.


It is good for your body and your mind, and helps you to connect to some feelings of normalcy. Of course this will look different for everyone based on safety regulations where you live and your personal sense of comfort, but here are some ideas to try ranging from tiny to grander.


Here are three simple and free ideas you can adapt to your situation:

  • Open the window and drink a cup of coffee or tea. Even if it feels uncomfortable or isn’t possible to leave your home right now, get some fresh air on your face by having your morning drink near an open window.

  • Sit by water, wherever you can find it. Where my in-laws live in Queens, one of the nicest views of the East River is in the Costco parking lot, where there’s a little bench and a small path along the fence. If sitting by the water in the Costco parking lot is what will get you some Quality Time with Mama Agua, my friend, pull into a spot and get to sitting with the gentle clink of Subaru-sized shopping carts gliding behind you. My point is that you don’t need to live near a pristine beach or a sparkling lake in order to connect with water. Maybe there’s a small stream, a little promenade, or even a fountain outside an office building that you could sit near to simply hear and experience the movement of water for awhile. One of my favorite cards in our Clarity Deck is the Water card (pictured below); it’s one of the more abstract cards in the deck, and it always yields really creative and thoughtful responses when I see folks draw it, largely because it’s not always an immediate and super clear answer that will come to mind. Water is soothing and restorative; it is also a powerful reminder and symbol for us in practicing flow, flexibility, and detachment - all of which we are needing to put into play these days.


Find a Hiking Group. This is a wonderful way to combine #7 and #10. Getting some social connection in while moving your body and connecting to nature is a beautiful way to meet many needs (safely!) at the same time.


One of our amazing Brand Ambassadors, Brandi Aulston, runs a group called Hike & Heal in Philadelphia that organizes themed hikes for women, usually with an element of reflection (like using our Card Decks for a group discussion before the hike begins) or with a special guest to facilitate a sound bath, a reading, or another healing and restorative experience. If you're in the Philly area, definitely check out the Hike Hive she's put together (it's an amazing, supportive, diverse community), and if you're in another area you can find similar groups by searching on Instagram with the hashtag #diversityoutdoors or #womenshike.


So there you have it, ten different ways to keep your peace during this 2020 back to school season of change, new beginnings, adjustment, and transition. I’d love to hear how it goes if you try any of these.


And, if you have other suggestions for what is helping you (and your kids) to maintain some clarity and well-being during the Covid-19 Back to School Season, please drop a note in the comments below!


The more we can share strategies with each other, the better we can all move through this together.


Stay safe, stay grounded, and I send you my biggest wishes for a happy, healthy back to school season for you and your family.


xo
Justine

BLOG POST SUMMARY (PART TWO):

  • We all need help, friend. This situation is tiring, it is hard, and for many folks it is asking the impossible. Nobody can do everything all the time, and you certainly can’t do it alone.
  • Sit for five minutes and write down what is taking up time and mental space right now that you could put towards something more meaningful, or something you’re responsible for that feels heavy and stressful to you. Then, think about how you could get help in a way that is in alignment with your safety needs, and your wallet.
  • One of the hardest parts of the pandemic is that we’re all going through it at the same time. And, one of the brightest spots of the pandemic is that we’re all going through it at the same time.
  • While this means that we are all spread thin, in need of support, and living in triage mode at the same time, it also means that there is a deep potential for solidarity, empathy, and connection during this moment.
  • Feeling better doesn’t have to be complicated. Especially if you are going through a patch of particular stress or sadness, keeping it easy is extremely important. Find one thing that makes you feel good, or at the very least OK, and do that thing as often as you can.
  • We are spending so much more time at home, and our houses are becoming multipurpose spaces like never before. Making your space feel comforting and comfortable, usable, and fresh is super important.
  • It is good for your body and your mind, and helps you to connect to some feelings of normalcy. Of course this will look different for everyone based on safety regulations where you live and your personal sense of comfort, but here are some ideas to try ranging from tiny to grander.
Justine Haemmerli
Justine Haemmerli

Educator, Consultant, Founder of Girls Gone Happy


Leave a Comment

NOTE: Comments must be approved before appearing.


Also in Blog Gone Happy

How to Let Go during COVID-19
How to Let Go during COVID-19

by Justine Haemmerli September 21, 2020

We’re being asked to let go of so many things right now: Plans. Priorities. Support systems. Expectations. Some of us are actually grieving the passing of friends and family, often from afar. It’s hard to know how to let go under normal circumstances; but right now, it’s even harder.
In this blog post, we’re going to explore another side of the coin, which is how to process the grief, frustration, anxiety, and rush of other emotions that comes when we can’t plan properly, when our plans are taken from us, or when the unplanned knocks us off our feet.
Read More
10 Ways to Support Your Mental Health During Back to School 2020 (Part 1/2)
10 Ways to Support Your Mental Health During Back to School 2020 (Part 1/2)

by Justine Haemmerli September 09, 2020

You might be here because you’re feeling anxious about sending your kids back to school; you’re trying to figure out a sustainable work from home situation while your kids do virtual schooling; you’re questioning whether you made the right decision for your kid’s schooling options; or you’re processing your own feelings of disappointment, frustration, and sadness around the reality of what Back to School 2020 looks like. Whatever your reason is, you’re in good company. We are all in this together, even though everyone faces different circumstances and challenges. And, we will get through this. Together.
Read More
30 Awesome Autumn Journal Prompts
30 Awesome Autumn Journal Prompts

by Justine Haemmerli September 05, 2020

Fall is a time of letting go, reflecting, slowing down, and indulging your five senses with comforting and beautiful smells, tastes, sights, and sounds. These 30 Journal Prompts give you a provocative and intriguing, yet simple question to write about each day of the month.
Read More