Public Health Response:
Emotions and coping
A note from our School Counselor
As Catholics this is our week: Holy Week. This is the week which defines our faith. It is typically a week of coming together as a faith community to remember and thank Jesus for his journey, sacrifice, and love. Unfortunately, this year is going to look different than other years. Of course it’s easy to sit back and say, “I’m not going to let quarantine impact my Holy Week. I’m going to think positively! As a family we can still honor this week.” While this is true, there will be a lot of changes in family traditions this week. These changes can cause us to have several different emotions, and as the counselor I’m GIVING YOU PERMISSION TO FEEL THEM ALL! You can absolutely be a little excited for something new, sad because it’s different, and mad that this is all happening! Not only is it important to periodically check in emotionally, but when facing changes, hardships, or the unexpected it’s vital that we check in regularly. I encourage you all to sit back, spend some time with yourself this week, and really reflect on where your emotions have been lately. Emotions are neither good nor bad, it’s just what we are feeling and we have a right to feel what we feel. So embrace your emotions! In fact, the more we recognize and validate our emotions the better able we are to stay in control of them, because at the end of the day regardless of our emotions we are still responsible for our behaviors. With more control over our emotions, we decrease the likelihood of making emotionally driven behavioral choices and instead increase our abilities to cope.
Although emotions aren’t good or bad, that doesn’t mean all emotions are pleasant to feel. So if you have been experiencing some of those ‘not so fun’ emotions, there are some ways to help better tolerate those emotions, decrease intensity, and let them pass. We call these coping skills. Coping skills are individual for each person and each emotion. Thus it’s important that as we reflect on our emotions we also think about what would help make that emotion more tolerable, decrease in intensity, or pass altogether. As humans we (usually unknowingly) use coping skills all day long. Examples include: going for a walk midway through your morning to get away from your desk; working out after a particularly hard day; hiding in the bathroom for some extra ‘mommy or daddy time’; and even belting an old school tune in the car. However the use of coping skills can be very deliberate. So when you are reflecting on your emotions this week validate your emotions but also recognize the impact they are having on your everyday life. If the impact is negative, perhaps try using a coping skill to help.
This is going to be a wonderful week, but also a week full of emotions. I encourage you all to check in emotionally and practice using coping skills for the emotions that are negatively impacting you. You might just be surprised how much easier it becomes to hear God’s voice.
**Extra tidbit: I encourage you to also talk with/encourage your kids to reflect on their emotions right now. As adults, we often want to fix any ‘negative’ feelings our kids might be having, but I encourage you to validate their emotions (just like you validate yours) and see if you can help them come up with their own ways to cope. By allowing them to practice, they will develop the skills they need to be great emotion regulators when they grow up. Also, kids are observational learners- so the more YOU practice and model these skills the greater chances that they will just pick them up. All of my students have class lessons on emotions and coping skills each year so they should all be familiar with these topics- so don’t be afraid to ask them!
I am attaching a couple of handouts. One handout is an emotion chart with synonyms and the other is a list of 100 coping skills to get you started! Finally I’m attaching an outdoor scavenger hunt. Hopefully with some nice weather you can get outside (which is also a good coping skill)!
As always I’m here to help support you- my families and students. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I miss my students dearly and am praying for you all! I am wishing you a reflective and joyous Holy Week. God is good!