Licensed Educational Psychologist and Director of Psychology and Counseling Jennifer Hamilton (left, above) and Director of College Counseling Kate Boyle Ramsdell (right) have been working with a dedicated team of colleagues to ensure the Nobles community maintains its strong connections and its devotion to mental and physical wellness. They answered some questions for us about what they’ve been up to, and shared some thoughtful advice and resources for the uncertainty we are all facing.
1) Tell us about the team that’s been assembled for virtual wellness and community initiatives.
The aim of the Wellness and Community Engagement Task Force is to think broadly about the myriad ways that we can support Nobles students in staying engaged, well and connected as we navigate the various impacts of Covid-19 on our community, and to organize thoughtful programming to achieve these goals.
2) What should students expect of themselves and their classmates and teachers as we embark on Virtual Nobles next week? How can they practice self-compassion and empathy toward others?
One of the most important things will be to simply accept that for now, things are going to be different, and that is okay. Under the current circumstances, it’s likely that none of us will be able to operate at our top capacity. We will consistently remind students to stay engaged and connected, to maintain intellectual curiosity, and to keep doing the best they can. We will all make mistakes, we will all have difficult days, and we will be patient and compassionate both with ourselves and one another. We will find ways to laugh together and to lighten up when mistakes are made. A really helpful way to frame this, if we’re being hard on ourselves, is to ask, “what might I say to a friend who is in this situation?” and then practice saying the same thing to ourselves! You can find some additional great resources for balancing online school and wellness from Challenge Success here.
3) What are some things students might want to tell or ask themselves every day?
The following six questions, suggested in Greater Good’s Guide to Well-Being During Coronavirus, are wonderful things to be thinking about each day:
1. What am I grateful for today?
2. Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
3. What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
4. How am I getting outside today?
5. How am I moving my body today?
6. What beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
4) Any advice on designing a day that balances school, family, social and self-time?
This will look different for every student and every family, but the most important guidelines include:
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and taking advantage of the opportunity to get more rest (which will be so helpful in terms of physical and mental health, coping skills, etc!)
- Getting outside for fresh air at least once a day
- Finding ways to move through exercise or play every day
- Prioritizing some family each day (a game, a walk, a movie night)
- Making social connections with friends and peers each day
- Finding time for relaxation and self-care each day (hobbies, mindfulness, etc)
We expect that once Virtual Nobles commences, it will be a lot easier for students and families to maintain balance and structure in each day. Students will have Nobles-related programming throughout each weekday from roughly 8:45 a.m.–5:00 p.m. each day. There will be time during these hours for homework, social connectivity, fun and engaging activities, etc.
5) What should students do if they either feel anxious themselves or if they are worried about a friend?
As always, students are encouraged to reach out to a trusted adult if they are struggling or are worried about a friend. All Nobles faculty are well-versed in caring for the emotional well-being of students, and if appropriate they may suggest that the student connects with a member of the psychology and counseling team, who are available to provide virtual counseling support throughout our extended leave. Jen Hamilton is also able to provide families with outside referrals for clinicians who are seeing clients via telehealth if a student would like to find a therapist outside of Nobles. If you have any concerns or questions about supporting your child’s mental health and well-being during this time, please reach out to Jen at JHamilton0f@nobles.edu. The following Padlet has been shared with the student body which includes a variety of resources to help them stay connected and well during this time. You can also find more great resources for supporting your child’s mental health here.
6) Do you have guidance on staying positive and calm, and avoiding negativity or pointless worrying—how to get a good night’s sleep?
At times, worry can get the best of us all! It’s natural, during times of great uncertainty, to feel negative or to have disrupted sleep patterns. The most helpful strategies will include trying to maintain a balance of mental engagement and self-care (see question #4); practicing self-compassion and remembering that we are not alone in these challenging feelings; talking to someone or journaling about your concerns; and asking oneself, during times of rumination, “are there any other possibilities other than what I am thinking right now?” For more strategies, we encourage you to attend Lynn Lyons’ parent-guardian webinar, “Tools and Strategies to Cope With Worry and Uncertainty: on April 21 at 5:00 p.m. (Zoom link: Lynn Lyons’ Parent-Guardian Webinar)
7) What are some fun, creative ways people can stay connected to their friends, teachers, and community?
The great news is, the possibilities are endless! Our students have already found so many ways to connect through social media (this is a time when we want to encourage and allow plenty of connection online, since this is now their primary way of hanging out) by making videos, TikTok dances, playing video games or old-school games online, taking fun and engaging virtual classes together, and countless other points of connection. What’s more, the creativity and humor of our faculty has really shined through in this process, and we are providing many chances for students to connect virtually through online discussions, contests, virtual challenges, etc.