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The Social-Emotional Impact of Distance Learning

An article from Learning Without Tears by Valerie Zaryczny​​

“Why can’t I play with my friends?”

“What happens if everyone gets the virus?”

“When is the next time we can do something fun?”

“It feels like I’m grounded.”

“I hate the Coronavirus!”


Maybe you’ve heard similar comments from your kids in the past few weeks.

Just how much are school closures and social distancing efforts affecting our children’s social-emotional well-being?

  • Their daily routines are disrupted. 
  • Sports and other extracurricular activities are cancelled. 
  • Social interactions are now limited to immediate family members and, if they are lucky, occasional video meetings with classmates and friends.

Yes, adults are experiencing these disruptions too, but we have perspective and emotional maturity on our side. 


As parents, we're spending time and energy to ensure that children are on track with their distance learning activities. We’ve stockpiled food and supplies to take care of their physical needs. We also need to be assessing the state of our children’s social-emotional health and providing opportunities for social-emotional learning and growth through this difficult season.

The best way to get insight into children’s emotional state is to ask them!  

Invite them to talk about their feelings and fears. Emotional understanding is an important aspect of emotional development, and we can encourage its development by helping children name their own feelings. Resist the urge to suggest how they should feel. Listen and accept their emotions without invalidating or criticizing them. 



Some children may not be able or willing to verbalize their feelings to you, but there is another way to gain insight into their emotional health. 


How many of you have noticed changes in your child’s behavior or mood in the past few weeks? Self-regulation is another important element of social-emotional development that includes managing emotions and behavior when faced with difficult situations and transitions.  Increased anger, irritability, withdrawal, clinginess, or even sleep and appetite changes may indicate that a child has strong underlying emotions they don’t know how to appropriately express.



So, what are some practical steps we can take to support our children’s social-emotional health through this time? 

  • As much as possible, establish a predictable routine and rhythm for your days.
  • Prioritize spending quality time each day with your children to increase their sense of security.
  • Provide regular opportunity for your children to connect with family members and friends by video, phone, or handwritten letters.
  • Spend time outside, and get regular exercise.
  • Encourage children to develop goals to work towards during their time at home. Maybe they want to learn a new skill like making friendship bracelets, or set a goal to support a family member by writing them a letter once per week.
  • Give your child something fun to look forward to. Schedule a game night, develop a menu for a special meal to cook together, or plan a pretend trip to an exotic location!
  • Encourage children to keep a journal or blog to record their thoughts and feelings.

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s physician for recommendations and support when needed.

Full Article:


The Social-Emotional Impact of Distance Learning


 BY Valerie Zaryczny


Zaryczny, Valerie. “The Social-Emotional Impact of Distance Learning.” Learning Without Tears, 10 Apr. 2020, www.lwtears.com/blog/social-emotional-impact-distance-learning.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because it is important to see that although this school year may be different for many families, there are still ways to nurture our children's social-emotional health, all while maintaining a proper education. 

Enter the Trend of Mindfulness Challenges

An excerpt from DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge by Krysta Shannon​​

A 30-day mindfulness challenge promotes the practice of daily activities that reduce stress and anxiety, improve performance and productivity, and increase happiness with a greater sense of peace, presence and overall well-being. Taking this challenge will also provide practical tools and strategies you can start using immediately to gain more focus and presence in your own life.

Set Your Mindfulness Goals


Take a holistic approach to your emotional needs and start building an awareness for yourself and the world around you. Mindfulness is a practice that can drastically change the way you think, feel and act.

Start by setting your goal for the next 30 days. Here’s how:

1.

Identify what you want to achieve in the 30 days. This could be anything from more peace, a greater sense of presence in your day to day life – anything!

2.

Visualize this goal, and encourage your brain to think differently and find new ways to achieve the desired results. For example, if your goal is to cultivate more gratitude, imagine what it would look and feel like to already have more gratitude in your life. For the best results, repeat this visualization every day for the next month.

3.

Remind yourself why you decided to do the mindfulness challenge and why it is so important to you. Focus on that importance and use it as motivation!

4.

Look at the bigger picture and visualize the next 30 days. Picture yourself overcoming any possible hurdles that might hinder your performance.

5.

Imagine the finer details of your personal goal and what it will be like to achieve it (see #2).

6.

Imagine the level of elevation you will feel after successfully focusing on your personal aspirations for a month and achieving your goals.

7.

Gently bring your thoughts back to the present moment and take that good feeling with you into the rest of your day.

Completing your own 30-day mindfulness challenge will require discipline, commitment, focus and sacrifice. It won’t guarantee that you have a mindfulness habit for life, because you can fall out of good habits just as easily as you fall into bad ones. However, it will be a step in the right direction. So take the leap, start a 30-day mindfulness challenge, and enjoy the journey to connecting with your spirituality.
 

Full Article:


DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge


 BY KRYSTA SHANNON


Shannon, Krysta. “DIY 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge.” YogiApproved, 30 June 2016, www.yogiapproved.com/life/diy-30-day-mindfulness-challenge/.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

I chose this article because lately I have been getting into setting schedules and goals for myself to keep me motivated throughout my quarantine. Now is the time to practice both self-motivation and mindfulness, so I enjoyed these helpful tips that combined the two.

7 Shocking Benefits of Daily Meditation

Today we explore 7 shocking benefits of daily meditation. If you want to know how to meditate for beginners and how this can have a positive impact on your life, this video is for you!

Music: "Cute" and "Ukulele" from Bensound.com

Thanks to the rest of the TopThink team who worked on this video, including Tristan Reed (Writing), Troy W. Hudson (Voice), and Plamen (Animation).

For a full list of sources, see TopThink's youtube channel.

Reed, Tristan. 7 Shocking Benefits of Daily Meditation, TopThink, 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0-VmFNXmwI.

President

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Rachel]

I appreciate this video because every point that is made, I have experienced first-hand. My practice has transformed every part of my life … and it’s always fun to hear some research too!

Set Appropriate Goals for Your Practice

An excerpt from The 7 Essential Elements of a Transformation Mindfulness Practice by Nick Grabovac

Don’t get me wrong…

Learning how to relax and destress after a hectic day is a really good thing.

But I consider relaxation and stress-reduction, nice as they are, as only incidental benefits of mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness goes much, much deeper than that.

In this blog post, I want to show you how to go beyond the conventional approach that’s become so popular, and teach you the key things that separate a superficial level of practice from a powerful and transformative one…

Since 2013, I’ve taught over 3000 people how to meditate and develop the skill of mindfulness.

In this article, I’ve distilled my 23 years of meditation experience into 7 Essential Elements that will help you take your practice to the next level.

Here they are…

  1. Meditate Every Day
  2. Set Appropriate Goals for your practice
  3. Apply Balanced Effort during your practice
  4. Cultivate Awareness of Thoughts to overcome the tendency to get lost in thought during meditation and learn how to work with an unruly mind
  5. Increase your level of Alertness and learn how to maintain it for the duration of the meditation session
  6. Develop Receptivity and Equanimity
  7. Practice Mindfulness in Daily Life

As you scanned down that list, you may have thought to yourself, “No surprises here. That looks pretty obvious. What’s the big deal?”


But the devil is in the details…


And one of the things I’ve appreciated most in my own teachers has been their willingness to reveal those sometimes subtle, but critical, details. To give it to me straight, without all the fluff and obfuscation that tends to surround this stuff.


Set Appropriate Goals for Your Practice

If you want to really maximize the effectiveness of your limited practice time, you need to treat those minutes as precious.

Meditation isn’t the time to work on your todo list, or plan your kid’s birthday party 🙂

You worked hard to make the time to practice, so use it wisely.

To help you do that, I highly recommend you begin your session by resolving to practice diligently.

That means that you commit to following the meditation instructions to the best of your ability, for the entire session, regardless of how its going.

Hold the intention to give the sit everything you’ve got for however long you’ve decided to meditate.

And then set an appropriate goal for your meditation session.

Wait.

Hold on a sec...

Did I just use the words “goal” and “meditation” in the same sentence?

Yes. It almost sounds sacrilegious, doesn’t it! 🙂

Meditation is supposed to be this goal-less and effortless activity, where you’re not supposed to strive towards achieving anything in particular, right?

You’re supposed to just sit, without expectations, without any attachment to the results.

I’m sure you’ve heard this kind of stuff before.

So, if meditation is supposed to be the antithesis of striving and goal-oriented behaviour, how are you supposed to motivate yourself enough to make the time in your busy schedule and sit down, day after day, and do something with absolutely no expectation of any result?

Well, here’s the secret...

You’re not.

At least, not at first 😉

As with a lot of this stuff, it’s not quite so simple and black and white as it’s usually presented.

At advanced stages of the practice, it’s true, you really do need to abandon even the most subtle forms of wanting to get somewhere.

But until you get there (and believe me, you’ll know if that’s where you are in your practice), setting the right kinds of goals is one of the most important things you can do to take your practice to the next level.

But it can’t be the usual sort of goal setting, where you pick an outcome to shoot for, like...

My goal is to get enlightened by 10:32 pm on Monday, May 25th

Egads!

That kind of goal just sets you up for misery in meditation!

Instead, you need to use “process-oriented” goals.

These are goals that focus on the process of meditation -- the application and development of the skills involved in the practice.

The idea behind setting a goal or intention for your practice is to get clear on exactly what you’ll be working on during your meditation session, so that you can maximize the effectiveness of it.

So try not to make your goal for your practice something like:

to get to where I was in my last session
to attain some particular state or experience
Doing this is bound to lead to frustration and disappointment and usually results in a very unproductive, strained form of practice.

Instead, focus on skill development.

Focus on developing your ability to apply skillful effort and remain alert, receptive and equanimous (more about the last two in a bit...)

Here’s a few examples:

My focus for this meditation session is to notice the very beginning of the very first physical sensation in my abdominal area at the start of each inhale

or

During this meditation, my goal is to observe, with as much clarity and equanimity as I can, every physical sensation that arises in association with the breath

or

My intention is to notice the different layers of conceptual processing that are overlaid on, or follow immediately after, each physical sensation

Notice how these example goals say nothing about the outcome?

These goals are focused on the execution of the skills that cultivate mindfulness.

If you remain focused on learning and applying skills, it not only helps you to develop mindfulness more effectively, it also helps you to avoid the common obsession with outcomes and “getting somewhere”.

The result is that you maximize the effectiveness of your limited practice time.

And your practice is more relaxed because you’re not constantly evaluating your progress against some unrealistic expectations you may have.

Without striving for a particular outcome, you’ll nevertheless experience a progression in your practice and be able to enjoy the fruits of your efforts.


Admin Note: See the full article to see the remainder of the 7 Elements. 

Full Article:


The 7 Essential Elements of a Transformation Mindfulness Practice


 BY NICK GRABOVAC


Grabovac, Nick. “The 7 Essential Elements.” The 7 Essential Elements of a Transformational Mindfulness Practice, 2016, www.joyfulinsight.com/mindfulness/7-essential-elements.

Marketing and Design Coordinator

Rachel Wixey & Associates

[Emily]

When reading the entirety of the 7 elements, I appreciated the detail of each section in terms of using it to elevate one's practice. Practice can be difficult for me, so I see the benefits and creating a game plan before jumping in. 

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