I have been in education since 1980. I absolutely love what I do and wish to help and support other School Counsellors across the world. All my resources are free for you to use and change as you wish. If you do alter anything I have created , I would appreciate you acknowledging where you got the original idea. Collaboration and sharing make us better at what we do … helping students. I look forward to connecting with you. Keep making a difference. Our students need School Counsellors like you who want to help and make a difference in the world. Join me as I co- moderate #scchat tThe chat is held the first Wed.of every month Sept. to June at 6:30 MT 8:30 ET
This is a collaborative blogpost by Erin Luong and I along with a few ideas from friends. As mental health educators we believe that a focus on our mental health and well being is foundational to all education. It is impossible to focus on academics if students are not feeling secure. We believe it’s important to intentionally embed a focus on well being into every lesson with young people. All of us need to use positive self talk and coping strategies to feel better . We can all do one thing a day that will help us cope during this unprecedented time.
Hoping some of these tips help you start the day as an educator. You can post a tip for the day using Canva or just text your student the tip to start their day. As an educator I am sure you can find many creative ways to use this as you move online.
Just for today I will start and end my day in a positive way.
Just for today I will remember that I am ok and all will be well with the world.
Just for today I will be proud that I stayed home and did my part to help.
Just for today I will be grateful for all the front line workers that are helping us.
Just for today I will celebrate our shared humanity.
Just for today I will head outside and let the sun hit my face. I will take some fresh air breaths and listen, it may sound quieter and more peaceful than usual. I will think about what I hear, how the sun feels on my face and how those deep breaths make my body feel. Susan Fueller
Just for today I will send some positive intentions out into the universe.
Just for today I will think of ways to make the world a better place.
Just for today I will learn to say I love you in as many languages as I can think of.
Just for today I will post a positive message in my window and or use sidewalk chalk to write a message for others in my neighbourhood to see.
Just for today I will connect with two people that lift my spirits.
Just for today I will write or talk about one thing I am grateful for no matter how small. Helen MacKinnon
Just for today I will remain hopeful.
Just for today I will look back at old photo albums and tell stories from the past which made me who I am today.
Just for today I will look in the mirror and recognize that I have a purpose for being here.
Just for today I will make sure I am moving my body for at least 30 minutes.
Just for today I will be kind to my mind.
Just for today I will have an eye staring contest. Juliana Miller – MacPherson
Just for today I will tell the people that I care about that they matter to me.
Just for today I will not worry about what is in it for me, I will think only about what I can do to help out in every situation. Gail White
Just for today I will dress in my favourite colour and eat my favourite food. Laurel Hunt
Just for today I will listen to one of my favourite songs and sing along. Leena Booth
Just for today I will say I am courageous, strong and can make a difference.
Just for today every time I wash my hands I will tell two silly jokes and laugh. Karen Hudson
Just for today I will talk about helpful and unhelpful worries with an adult.
Just for today I know that I am safe and I can control my thoughts.
Just for today I will wish upon a star.
Just for today I will remember that challenges can be opportunities.
Just for today I will go for a walk and notice all the beauty around me.
Just for today I will remember that all my feelings are ok. It’s ok to be scared etc.
Just for today I will remind myself that just because I made a mistake doesn’t mean I am one.
Just for today I will stay strong and well.
Just for today I will share my favorite song/poem and we can sing or say them together or to each other. Sheri Edwards
Just for today I will not give up.
Just for today I will ask God to get me through today.
Just for today I will look at one way I can see the opportunities because of the challenges of today.
Just for today I will reevaluate my priorities and tell someone what I think.
Just for today I will let go of any thoughts that don’t help my peace of mind.
Just for today I will remember not everyone reacts to events in the same way. I will be positive today.
Just for today I will remember that I am loveable and capable.
Just for today I will take a break from watching or listening to any alarming news.
Just for today wear my clothes inside out and walk backwards. ( Laura Cormier)
Just for today I will take care of my mind by listening to some soothing music.
Just for today I will do one activity that I love and enjoy.
Just for today I will check in with my parents and/ or grandparents to bring a smile to their day.
Just for today I will find a calm space just for me.
Just for today I will write about my feelings in a journal.
Just for today I know that I can deal with life’s difficulties.
Just for today I will smile often.
Just for today I will say to myself I can cope with this uncertainty.
Just for today I will draw out my worries.
Just for today I will talk to an adult about what is concerning me.
Just for today I will visualize my safe place ( a beach, being with my favourite friend , playing and singing in the rain).
Just for today I will do more of what makes me happy.
Just for today I will find two ways to distract myself if I start to catastrophize.
Just for today I will let go of anything that upsets me.
Just for today I will reassure myself that all will be well with the world.
Just for today I will calm my wandering mind by doing something that is fun.
Just for today I will unwind by taking time out of my day to draw, paint, sing, dance or play a game I love.
Just for today I will read a book for 15 minutes for pleasure.
Just for today I will be easy on myself.
Just for today I will look for solutions.
Just for today I will talk kindly and gently to myself just like I would my best friend.
Just for today I will watch a funny movie or talk to a funny friend. I know laughter will help.
Just for today I will remind myself that I matter.
Just for today I can journal for 10 minutes.
Just for today I will open my heart to new ways of thinking and doing.
Just for today I will spend some extra time with people I love.
Just for today I will use my imagination to imagine the best that can happen.
Just for today I will remind myself of one good thing I can do for the world.
Just for today I will love with all my heart.
Just for today I will tell myself that life can be tough sometimes , but so am I.
Just for today I will say I am strong, I am kind and I can do anything I make up my mind to do.
Just for today I will recognize that I cannot change the circumstances, but I can change my reaction to it.
Just for today I will practice breathing deeply.
Just for today I will write 3 things I am grateful for.
Just for today I will look at some old pictures and think of the positive memories of that time.
Just for today I will make something new.
Just for today I will create a song, a piece of art , a new recipe, or something I have always wanted to create.
Just for today I will take a picture of something that brings me joy.
Just for today I will lift someone else’s spirits.
Just for today I will spread some kindness and love in the world.
Just for today I will make hot chocolate and eat my favourite cookie.
Just for today I will write a love letter.
Just for today whenever I find myself thinking negative I will challenge those thoughts.
Just for today I will reach out to someone who needs it.
Just for today I will jump for joy.
Just for today I will start a blog, a vlog or share something that makes the world a better place.
Just for today I will share at least 2 jokes with others.
Just for today I will connect with someone from a different generation than I am, to learn more about how they see the world.
Just for today I will try a new recipe from a different culture.
Just for today I will learn to make a friendship bracelet.
Just for today I will collaborate with a friend on a project to make the world a better place.
Just for today I will make a playlist of songs which inspire me.
Just for today I will play a board game with my family.
Just for today I will make a short video.
Just for today I will try a zoom chat with friends.
Just for today I will focus on what I need.
Just for today I will share something I am passionate about.
Just for today I will tell my colleagues and friends how much I appreciate all they do.
Just for today I will reach out to see if I can help someone else in the world.
What is your Just for Today ? Please share with us so we can share with educators from around the world.
I don’t often get very nervous, but last night as I co-moderated #scchat , I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure I could keep up with the pace of the chat. My role was posting the questions in a timely manner. I knew there was a team around me and leading the way and I felt happy about that. They were outstanding! Thanks to Erin Mason, Laura Ross, Alicia Oglesby, Cynthia Morton , Caroline Lopez- Perry, Shay Reynolds, Vernice Jones, Chloe Benjamin , Joanne Norris, Kelly Wright and as always Erin Luong helped to help people feel connected.
My dear friend Erin Mason @ecmmason led the way knowing that this chat could connect us and validate our collective concerns and I believe that happened. There is much for us all to learn going forward , but yesterday in #scchat for about an hour and a half I lost myself . It was as if I didn’t have a care in the world I left all my worries behind . I had to focus and that I did. Well if you call watching 1138 tweets fly by focusing I guess I did.
Loved seeing all the newcomers and the willingness to help each other.
Today I am grateful for all of the online connections and most of all friendships that I have made. School Counsellors are passionate people who really care about the next generation of youth. Their willingness to share gives me great HOPE.
You make a difference don’t ever forget it. You are a helper and you go about each day doing your best . It’s in your DNA. Now is the time to maybe step back a bit and take care of you and your family. Each day is precious and needs to be savoured , some of us may recognize this now more than ever. I know that so many in our school communities and especially your School Counselling friends from around the world recognize and are grateful for what you do.
Take a moment to put things on pause thinking what can you can realistically do until the end of the school year. Whatever you planned to do as a part of your Comprehensive School Counselling Plan F2F is there a way of doing that now ?
There may be somethings you just need to let go of and if so what are you doing to bring some flow into your life? You can take time for you and not feel guilty.
You have and will continue to make a difference. Just be you and most importantly take time to do all the things you counsel others to do.
Here are some self care tips that you may wish to use. I kept them simple with you mind.
In case someone hasn’t thanked you today I will . Thank you because I know the passion and purpose you give to each day helping some of our most vulnerable youth.
None of us expected this (a global pandemic ) and even for those of us in the field of helping others, it does bring some anxious feelings so imagine what our youth are feeling.
Schools in Calgary are closed for an indefinite period, maybe even until September. So educators and School Counsellors will be looking for ways to support their students using technology ( so grateful to #etmooc for giving me the ideas, confidence and tools to help ) . As a retired School Counsellor there are ways I can help online and I plan to work with my fellow colleagues across the borders in #scchat to do so. As always thanks to Erin Mason @ecmmason for your leadership.
Please join us in this chat as we explore ways to help each other. that’s 6:30 pm MT
I have many resources that I am always willing to share from a school counselling perspective. I am thinking of all school counsellors across the world this week as you find ways to continue to champion and connect with your students. Find us in #scchat and we’d be happy to help.
RESOURCES: I am hoping some of these may assist you
Counselling Resources in Calgary can be found here
For Teachers and Students Personal Wellness binders can be found here
For mental health resources 18 plus look here or maybe you need a chill playlist for teens or just a fun little spinner for some positive thoughts or maybe you just need some motivational messages.
Exercise is one of the best ways to destress. I know I plan on getting outside and walking as much as possible in the next while. Maybe you will want to #walkalongwithme , virtually that is as I’ll be social distancing and thinking of ways to be helpful in this unprecedented time what about you?
As a counsellor it is easy to share what might work . Practicing it and living it is the real test to functioning well.
Here are a few strategies and tips that I not only have recommended to others, but have used myself:
Wake up each day and try a little self talk Just for today I will make this the best day for me. No matter what the situation is we can all cope with things a little better if we break things down in chunks.
Just for this minute I can
For the next hour I will
Just for today I can
If we just think about today , not yesterday or the future life gets a little easier . I use this as much as humanly possible. I can do most anything just for today. At the end of the day I remind myself to be grateful. I was able to do a lot of things much better just for today over the years.
Journaling Writing down your thoughts is a good thing. It’s a great way to release how you are thinking and feeling. There are so many things to write about . It’s also a great way to understand your thoughts so you can challenge them when necessary. I have learned a lot about myself through journaling it’s a great way to self reflect.
Step away and step it up We all need to step away from situations. Taking a little breather by going for a walk is something we all can do and yes you can fit it into your day. 15 minutes in morning and fifteen minutes in the evening . I walked every single day last year and was very proud of myself for reaching this goal. This year I am still walking a lot , but don’t feel the need to do it every single day. I play pickleball singing and dancing and moving as much as possible. Do whatever works for you , but exercise. It is the best wellness tip and walking is free.
Social connections They are vital to my wellbeing. I have cultivated and still do my friendships with people. They matter to me. Find ways to be a good friend daily and recognize you are never too old to have new friends in your life. Stay open and let others be there for you as well as being there for them. Surround yourself with positive people and let go of the negative people who do not help or support you.
Spend time taking care of yourself When you help others sometimes you let go of taking care of yourself, I know I do. So take back you and nurture yourself like you would others. Treat yourself with tender loving care.
Take time to talk to a counsellor We all need a little support now and then. I know I have. It is OK to reach out to a counsellor or therapist. It takes strength to talk about what’s really bothering you. Having an impartial listener to help eases some of the burdens we all carry around so reach out.
It’s not always easy applying what you know works in life , but the benefits are there for the taking so just for today try one thing that you already know works for you and apply it. Your day might just get a little brighter and you’ll see the world just a little differently. I know just for today I will.
I hear it all too often, youth saying they have anxiety when what they really mean is that they are feeling anxious. If you listen to the news you would believe that our youth are in crisis . The data would suggest otherwise 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime . It’s true and needs to be addressed and has been for the past 20 or so years. The stats have not changed. What’s also true is that 4 out of every 5 Canadians don’t have a mental health disorder and it’s up to us to teach the difference between a disorder and everyday feelings that we all have. Some may need the assistance of a professional to understand the difference. Your School Counsellor is a good place to start. They are trained professionals who understand the difference and can assist in finding supports.
For the 1 in 5 youth that will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime we need to assist them in getting all the supports necessary. For the youth that are experiencing distress over a multitude of concerns we must also listen and support them , teaching them how to cope with life’s challenges and concerns. Supporting youth with their feelings helps us understand what steps to take next. Their feelings are important , so we must not dismiss them.
Words do matter and helping our youth become literate when it comes to mental health can have a positive impact. If you need resources and ideas on how to make that happen check out teenmentalhealth.org. You can also find more information on anxiety here and here.
If you are wondering whether a youth truly has an anxiety disorder, some waitful watching may be in order. Don’t be quick to jump to a diagnosis ( and a reminder that you must be qualified to do so ) even then waitful watching is a good idea.
Some questions to reflect on :
Frequency : How frequent are the anxious feelings? Once or more a day , once a week , once a year?
Duration: How long do the feelings last? A few minutes, hours , weeks , months?
Intensity: Does the youth avoid situations because they are too anxious to cope? Is the anxiety taking control of them instead of them controlling it? Are they having trouble coping with everyday life because of their anxiety?
Have they seen a medical doctor to rule out any other medical concerns?
It will most definitely get your mind thinking of the many ways you can work together and in the end help you to serve your students and community . I think we can never underestimate the power of collaboration. We are definitely #bettertogether. I look forward to hearing the many ways you have collaborated. Please do share.
As a counsellor the way you begin your day can impact you and others around you. So beginning your day by being good to yourself is a great way to start your day. Ease into your day if you can by getting to work a little early. Take time to listen to positive podcasts, nice music or just turn the radio off and be quiet on your drive to work. Whatever works for you.
Make sure you take time for lunch. Get out of your office and eat with colleagues or go for a walk, I can’t stress how important this is. This is essential for your self care, so just do it! After your crazy busy day and I know you had one, take time to just breathe and wrap up your day by listening to music while you write your notes and prepare for your next work day. I’m interested to know how do you start each day?
As School Counsellors and educators one of the biggest responsibilities we have is to keep our students safe .
How do we do that? Very carefully and with much thought and effort as well as an understanding of the research around what works best. Bruce Perry founder of child trauma academy states that active shooter training is not always done properly , the training that occurs in schools should focus on adults. He says, “if the educators and people who are responsible for children remain calm then the students will reflect that emotional state”. Read more about what he says here.
What can be done? The answers are complex and require teams of people to assist. That is where a Comprehensive School Counselling Plan comes in. School Counsellors are always looking at ways to make school better for students, putting the psychological health and safety of students as a priority. We need to get students the help they need long before a serious threat occurs. The answers are not easy , but those who have learned before us can teach us some things we may need to know. Take a look at these recommendations from the Sandy Hook advisory committee.
As stated in that report , “There is at least one place, other than a home, in which every person, whether a child or adult, should feel absolutely safe and secure from the threat of physical harm: school. ” I could not agree more. School Counsellors can take the lead along with staffs to make schools a safe place to be. Mental health literacy is essential for all students and staff members. Building relationships is one small step towards creating a community that focuses on what is important.
Working to ensure that we have a safe and caring school community is always on the mind of a professional school counsellor. Best practices should be reviewed and reflected upon each year based on individual school needs. School Counsellors are in a unique position to assist in preventative measures helping students to deal with stressors and social isolation. We also know it takes a team and we don’t have all the answers, but there are many things we can do and are doing already. We are but one of a community of people that make a difference. We as School Counsellors can help make our schools a safe place to be.