Posted by Kambala
In a recent counselling session, a Kambala student was asked to imagine a place that made her feel relaxed and safe, her answer was, “This School.” Inspired by this, I’d like to offer suggestions as to how we can all maintain a sense of calm and wellbeing during a period of self-isolation.
Understand what you cannot control
The situations that often trigger our desire for certainty and control are often the ones that are bigger than us. Being able to recognise these particular situations is important. Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal offers this grounding statement for parents and students who are clinging to certainty and control: “I alone am not the cause of this suffering, and I alone cannot resolve or cure this suffering.”
Creating personal and meaningful actions
It is important to shift our focus away from control and toward choice and value-driven actions. We can do this by asking ourselves and our daughters questions like:
- What might I choose to try in this situation?
- What attributes do I want to bring to this situation?
- Who do I want to be in this situation?
With this perspective, there is a freedom that allows you to make choices that are consistent with your goals, values and the relationships that matter to you. For instance, you might choose to bring courage or an optimistic mindset. You might want to be someone who inspires others and protect the vulnerable.
Soothe the body and mind
From a physiological perspective, perceived crises triggers the fight-or-flight response. It can feel like a tightly pulled rubber band within our bodies. I invite you to acknowledge and name these sensations for you and your daughter (e.g. ‘this is fear’, ‘this is anxiety’). At this point, pause, breathe and take a moment. My three favourite exercises to help promote mental wellbeing are:
- Deep breathing.
- Engaging your five senses (e.g. listening to music, meditating, watching a comedy, and using scented candles) while visualising a calm and joyful place, paying attention to sensory elements, i.e. the breeze and sun on your face.
- Use a mindful perspective. This might sound like, ‘right now in this moment, I am safe’.
At Kambala, the school psychologists understand the importance of mental wellbeing and have used the School’s values to guide and influence meaningful actions. We have used the value of ‘Curiosity’ to deliver messages of ‘Courage’ and ‘Humanity’. For staff, we have developed wellbeing sessions on topics including Vitality, Joy, Food and Mood, Thinking Well and Being Resilient in Times of Uncertainty. For students, we have developed pastoral care lessons and for our families and the wider community, we are continuing consultation services.
Now, more than ever, I encourage all students, parents and teachers to practice mindfulness and positivity to maintain wellbeing, not just for themselves but for each other too.
About Laura Farkash
Laura is the School and Clinical Psychologist at Kambala. She contributes to wellbeing protection and promotion across the School, and the prevention, early intervention and ongoing intervention for wellbeing challenges. She is an endorsed Clinical Psychologist with AHPRA.