Fear and Unknown

We are living in a liminal time. What will happen next? How will I keep my kids engaged? How will I make online learning meaningful for my students? How will I work while my kids are bored at home with me? Who will get sick? When? How will I pay my bills? How can I cope with isolation and loneliness? When will this end?

These are questions on everyone’s mind. What we do know is that this situation is anxiety provoking and directly affects our ability to regulate emotions, particularly for twice exceptional people. Underlying our reactions is fear. Feeding the fear is lack of sleep, exercise, snacking, lack of structure.

So, what can you do? Here are suggestions for adults, for parents to do with their children, and for educators to do with their students:

  1. Talk about your feelings and make yourself available to listen to others.
  2. Allow your kids and students to share their thoughts and fears.
  3. Set up structure every morning. Designate blocks of time and include:
    1. Outdoor time
    2. Exercise
    3. Something that feels indulgent (reading a book, doing a craft or puzzle, playing a game, doing the crossword or sudoku)
    4. Education/Work
    5. Good deed (reach out to elderly people in your family or community via phone, or video, write letters, check in on neighbors)
    6. Three healthy meals.
  4. Limit exposure to upsetting news and social media posts.

Seek out uplifting and inspirational Coronavirus stories, here are some and another.

  1. Spend some time thinking about and sharing your plan to stay safe – it’s empowering to talk about and share ideas.

The uncertainty of this time presents a uniquely anxiety-provoking atmosphere. Don’t ignore the fact that your sleep may be disrupted, you may feel physiological symptoms like belly ache and headache. Recognize how your fear manifests and intentionally consider what underlies the fear. If it is worry about the unknown or worry about a specific person, give yourself a chance to focus on these concerns and breathe through the fear. Slow breaths in, holding those breaths for a five-count, and soft blowing breaths out. Then come up with an encouraging self-talk mantra like;

This is hard, but I’m ready to face whatever comes my way.”

“I’m scared but I’m doing everything I can to stay safe and engaged.”

“This is tough, but I’m going to embrace this time to….[insert a project or special time with your kids].

Most importantly, try to remember that It’s not what is happening now, but how you respond that will have the most effect on you and those around you.

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Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D.

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-confidence in their students and clients.

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