How to Survive Virtual Learning…Again
Due to the surge in Omicron COVID cases, several NJ schools have gone virtual…again. Meaning, for some of us, the New Year is off to a chaotic start…again.
This time around, we kind of know what to expect as we attempt to juggle careers, remote learning, and sick family members. So, why then does it seem harder for some of us?
Well, we’re worse for wear. The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, and quite frankly, most of
us haven’t had the time to work through it. So, many of us, including our children and teens, might be more mentally and emotionally fragile. It’s also not helping matters that many of us are actually sick with COVID.
Several of my young clients are experiencing higher anxiety levels right now. One of the biggest reasons for higher levels of anxiety? A lot of students struggle to learn virtually. Other reasons include the fact that high school juniors and seniors are at a critical point in their educational career and are genuinely worried that they’re going to fall behind or helplessly watch as their grades suffer. Furthermore, districts don’t have a clear COVID-19 game plan—several schools are taking things “one day at a time” due to rising positive cases and staff shortages—which is just a nightmare for students with anxiety who thrive on consistency.
So, as the uncertainty of learning during the pandemic rages on, are those of us with school-aged children just destined for pandemonium?
Here are my top tips for surviving virtual learning…again.
Repeat after me: Radical Acceptance Radical acceptance is something I talk about often. Radical acceptance postulates that you don’t have to like the situation you’re in…you don’t have to agree with the situation you’re in…you don’t even have to enjoy the situation you’re in…but you do have to accept it. According to radical acceptance, there are four ways to deal with a problem causing you anguish. You can solve the problem (which is often impossible—think, pandemics), change how you feel about the problem, accept the problem, or stay miserable. It’s our choice, but the sooner we accept the situation for what it is, the sooner we will be alleviated of frustration and distress.
The Way You Start Your Day Matters No matter your age, the way you start your day matters. I’m not a morning person…at all.
However, when I finally started making the time to get up slowly, think through my day, and meditate, my stress levels were significantly reduced throughout the day. It may feel miserable at first, but getting everyone up earlier, so no one is rushing around will be a game-changer.
Keep Structure A sudden loss of structure can cause anxiety levels to rise quickly—and anxiety is contagious. Since schools are taking a “one day at a time” approach to COVID, plan for the days your kids might be learning virtually. Focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t. Try to keep your child’s virtual school day as close to their regular school day as possible. Have your child get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Make sure
they have designated quiet, organized workspaces and ensure they have all the supplies they might need. You might also want to prepare lunch as though it were a typical school day. Once virtual learning is over, do your best to have your child stick to their “after school and evening routine.” According to research published in 2018 in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, “routine is consistently found to be important for children. A bedtime routine is associated with increased family functioning and improved sleep habits. Family routines have been linked to the development of social skills and academic success, and adherence to family routines has been identified as important for family resilience during times of crisis” (Arlinghaus, & Johnston, 2018).
Use It as an Opportunity In the 2007 movie Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman, Morgan Freeman plays God. Evan’s wife, Joan (played by Lauren Graham), is considering divorce after Evan (played by Steve Carell) derails his promising career in politics by publicly admitting that God has prompted him to build an ark.
In this particular scene (which just so happens to be one of my favorite scenes in a movie), Joan and her children are sitting in a restaurant, confused and sad. On the restaurant TV, a news story shows Evan building his ark. A man dressed as a waiter approaches the family and invites himself to sit down. Unbeknownst to Joan, the waiter is God in disguise. They strike up a conversation about “New York’s Noah,” and Joan says, “my husband says, God told him to do it—what do you do with that?” God replies, “Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone
prayed for a family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”
The pandemic has caused unbelievable disruption to our lives—but humans are resilient. Don’t believe me? Speaking of Psychology is the flagship podcast of the American Psychology Association. In this episode, Speaking of Psychology: The role of resilience in the face of COVID-19 with Ann Masten, Ph.D., guest Ann Masten, Ph.D., offers insights and tips on how to tap into your inner resilience and build it in your own family. If you have 30 minutes, click here—I promise it’s worth the listen!
To learn more about Christina H Chororos and Kairos Chronic Pain Coaching please visit www.kairoschronicpain.com or call 908.370.5713, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains , NJ.
Arlinghaus, K. R., & Johnston, C. A. (2018). The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 13(2), 142–144. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827618818044