Mental health counselor provides coping strategies

Online resources are available, Ehlich says

Mental health counselor Mrs. Sarah Ehlich provide suggestions and strategies for students for coping with the shutdown of the school and the stress it creates.

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Mental health counselor Mrs. Sarah Ehlich provide suggestions and strategies for students for coping with the shutdown of the school and the stress it creates.

Ethan Eckhart, Reporter

Mental health counselor Mrs. Sarah Ehlich answered questions about the school shutting down and what students can do to maintain their social connections and mental health until at least May 4.

What strategies can students use to help stay calm during this time?

Keep to a schedule and a routine. It’s an abnormal time for everyone, but if you can keep a routine going things will feel more normal and productive.

Take a break from social media and the news. It is important to stay informed, but all day every day will become overwhelming.

Make sure the information you have is credible and up to date. Facebook is not a credible news source.

Get outside if you can and move your body. Be around nature. Moving your body and connecting with nature are proven ways to reduce stress and anxiety, even when there is not a pandemic.

Look for the positive happening, look for the helpers, and be a helper if you can.

Find things you can do that are in your control. We can’t control what is happening around us at times, but we can focus on things like homework, taking a walk, making sure you get enough sleep, putting good things in your body, connect with your community, facetime with friends, prayer, meditation, etc.

Find online resources that are focused on mental, physical, and emotional health. If you belong to the YMCA they have online resources for free right now, a lot of yoga studios are offering online yoga classes, use Headspace or Calm for mindfulness and meditation resources. Moodpath is a free app that helps track mood and provides feedback based on the trends of your mood. It also provides tips and resources. I enjoy the blog for great tips and suggestions for anxiety, depression, stress and relationships.

Reach out to a mental health professional if you are really struggling. If you are already connected to a mental health professional make sure you are connecting with them via phone calls or virtual communication. If you are not connected to a mental health professional, there are online resources that are wonderful for both short term and long term use. The two most credible and commonly used are Betterhelp and Talkspace.

What is the best way for students to stay on schedule?

Create a routine. Keep weekdays similar to your normal school schedule. Get up early, eat breakfast, log in and make sure you are attending your online classes, connect via Google chats, eat lunch, take breaks. Keep your weekends as normal as possible. Sleep in, enjoy time with your family and friends (virtually) and get outside.

Find ways to stay accountable. Team up with classmates, friends, siblings, parents to make sure you are staying on track as well as asking for help when you need it.

Try to limit screen time to breaks and typical after school time.

Maintain a normal bedtime and meal time.

Make sure to be in a space free of distraction.

A lot of students depend on face to face conversations with their teacher. What is the best way for them to implement this learning style online, so they do not have anxiety while learning?

Stay connected. Utilize the amazing technology resources we have and attend Google hangouts, watch the videos, take the quizzes, use the resources teachers give you. Talk to teachers and ask questions as you normally would. They are available. The freedom and flexibility of online classes mean students have to be even more responsible and self-motivated.

What activities or games can the students do to help reduce stress?

Do anything you would normally do to relieve stress and have fun, just minus the social contact for the time being. Bust out board games you have not played in a while, do a puzzle, paint, color, ride your bike, run, walk, play basketball, go to the park, read a good book. FaceTime your friends. I am a big fan of Table Topics and other conversation starters that help create dialogue you might not normally have, and can help change the conversation away from COVID-19.

How have you helped students so far?

I am offering students who see me phone call sessions, and soon we will be doing telehealth sessions. I have also been providing the counseling department some tools and resources, very similar to the ones I am sharing with you, that help provide students who do not see me some support.

Are there any other tips, or anything else you would like the students to know to help stay calm?

Relax as much as you can. It is important to take recommendations and protocols seriously. This is a serious situation that none of us have really seen in our lifetime; however, it is important to remember that what we are doing as a nation is to prevent crisis and protect our most at risk populations. Make sure to surround yourself with positive supports and resources. If you aren’t feeling scared, anxious or overwhelmed, that’s OK. Just make sure you are being cautious and following protocols for others.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please make sure you contact crisis supports.

Text IN to 741741

Call 800 273-8255 or 317 621-5700

National Suicide Hotline 800 273-8255