The Challenges to Learning Continue in 2021
Along with the normal jitters and transitions, 2020 brought many new challenges and stressors. Although parents, teachers, and students had hoped that things would be back to “normal” a year later, this has not happened. Compiled on top of the usual summer learning loss, there are still a lot of issues to deal with. These include:
- last year’s effects of switching to remote and hybrid platforms
- deciding on sending children back live, continuing technological education, or enrolling in home school options
- resurfacing fears over the current health situation
- continued societal unrest
- financial insecurity
- experiencing emotional and personal losses
- a constant level of uncertainty
According to the CDC, changes in general can be difficult enough for youngsters, but the new rules, social distancing, masking, and other restrictions can further exacerbate problems. John Hopkins Medicine explains:
Cancellations, long days at home and upended family routines… have affected almost everyone, including children. It may not be realistic to assume that all kids can simply pick up where they left off and return to school without a hodgepodge of feelings, ranging from relief and happy anticipation to sorrow and apprehension.
“Some kids may experience excitement. Others may be depressed or have anxiety,” says Parrish.
“The past year and a half has been a whirlwind, and returning to class may stir emotions of everything they went through not seeing friends, staying home for an extended period or even the loss of a loved one,” Parrish says.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has offered various suggestions to assist parent, teachers, and children who are returning to school. Examples include pre-school visits, virtual tours, parents attending to their own self-care, reassuring little ones, and more. Mental Health America (MHA) also has provided resources and worksheets regarding supporting mental health with the return to learning.
The Mental Health Impact on Students
Surveys have indicated that the rates of mental health diagnoses have been rising among young people, and the recent events have led to a further increase. Even without a diagnosis, youths and young adults are reporting that the current events are impacting their emotional health and ability to focus in school. (source, source, source, source)
The National Conference of Legislatures (NCL) has taken notice and recently enacted legislation to address student mental health. Rules for implementing mental health and wellness curricula, suicide prevention and services, staff and teacher trainings, mental health screening, mental health professional staff ratios, and more have been released.
But, are we doing enough?
Is this really enough?
Is anyone concerned with how bad it is?
Holistic Mental Health Support
Previously, I have explored the holistic mental health gap in our society’s psychiatric care. Naturopathic doctors can help to fill this hole, as there are many lifestyle practices that have been shown to positively impact emotional well-being. (source) For example, mindfulness has been shown to alleviate the anxiety related to amygdala changes in the brain.
In a previous post, I listed ten natural tips to calm stress and assist with calming the mind-body. Besides mindfulness, these included breathwork, acupressure, contact with nature, unplugging from technology, social connection, implementing daily routines, using herbs and supplements, cognitive reframing, and faith. I also gave the reminder to not forget about essential oils, which can assist with beneficially balancing our brain’s neurochemistry and biology.
A full resource list of additional support in coping with stress can be found in this post.
A Time for Compassion
Life is not easy right now. We are in the midst of an ongoing trauma and significant world event. Many of my clients are beating themselves up because they aren’t functioning at their highest capacity.
Beyond their health concerns and everyday stressors, this situation is constantly bombarding us all, or it creates a slow burn in the background of the subconscious mind as we perform our daily duties. For young ones, these constant triggers can impact the developing brain and body more profoundly.
This means that if you and your child or teenager are having problems adjusting, including with focus and attention, it is understandable. Stress can trump the brain’s ability to optimally process information. Furthermore, as we have seen, chronic, unrelenting stress can exacerbate, and even ignite mental health issues.
I want to take this opportunity to ask you to just pause a moment.
Take a breath.
Give yourself a pat on the back or hug.
Now, do the same for your kid or teen.
We’ve been through a lot; you’ve all done the best you could.
I honor this in you.
I’m giving you permission to be kind and gentle to yourself through all of this.
Compassion is just as important as grit for overcoming obstacles. According to an article in Forbes on the research on self-compassion, “Self-compassion has also been linked to resilience in adolescents and young adults and to reduced effects of trauma among Iraq war veterans.”
Getting to the Next Level
Living in fear will not allow one to thrive.
For optimal mental and physical health, it is imperative that we discipline our thoughts, especially right now.
The past few weeks, I’ve been persistently highlighting why our world needs a mindset shift in medicine. With all that is going around us, many do not realize the ability they have to positively impact their wellness. Through the power of beliefs and integrating naturopathic and functional medicine modalities that address the root cause, we can attain a more harmonious and flourishing mind-body.
We cannot change all that is going on outside us, but we can change our perceptions and responses to them. We can focus on our purpose and our values. We can learn to integrate various lifestyle techniques and become resourceful.
Through all of this, we can create a calmer brain and move from reactionary, fight, freeze, or flee responses to productive, executed actions.
I believe you can do this.
Essential Oils for Nourishing the Mind-Body and Supporting Back to School
Next week, I will take all my previous posts on essential oils and compile them in one guide so that you have a scent-sational resource on all things related to supporting learning, focus, attention, cognition, and brain health.
Then, I will follow up with a free, exclusive webinar presentation on nourishing the mind and body with essential oils. All who register will have access to the recording for 48 hours after the presentation, so be on the lookout for the registration link.
Until next time, be good to yourself and remember kindness is contagious!
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Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures, vaccination, and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.