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Self-Care for Being at Home
Paraphrased from Stephanie Filio, a middle school counselor, in Free Spirit Publishing:

I am an existential counselor through and through. Like all existential counselors, I believe that the only way to cope with the anxiety of existence is to find meaning in our lives. I believe we find that meaning through the purpose we feel within ourselves and how we serve others. It’s becoming apparent that this lockdown situation may continue indefinitely. Though we remain hopeful, recent changes have undoubtedly left us anxious, as we realize the weight of what we are tasked to do. So far, within my mourning of our present, I have experienced an almost euphoric appreciation for my profession, my peers, my neighbors, and my family. The part I’m working on is allowing those positive feelings to come through, even amid the anxiety we’re all feeling. When faced with the sudden absence of anyone or anything, we know that our appreciation often soars. These moments of absence shape us as we move. Our current situation is no different. We miss our routines, our supervisors, our families, our friends. And in this, our appreciation is strengthening.

As professionals and working parents, we have spent our careers planning and over planning. This is a time of uncertainty, and every day may bring a shocking twist—so we have to plan on un-planning. We must use our digital resources, lean on our content knowledge, stay true to our most basic tenets of how to reach goals, and then see how it turns out. How do we start to unwind the years of planning for scenarios A, B, and C after we realize that we never even thought of Z as a possibility? We embrace change. At the end of the day, the best thing parents working in this new environment can do is stop holding themselves to impossible standards. Because this situation is unprecedented, any goal we set may or may not even be possible. To avoid burnout, it is imperative that we remain flexible with the expectations we have for ourselves.

At first I interrelated with people saying “This is crazy” over and over again. We didn’t get much accomplished, but I felt renewed every time! It is important to have friends and colleagues to vent with, and equally important is that you are honest with your supervisor and your spouse about difficulties you are having. When the anxiety creeps up, stay in the moment. Focus on what you are doing right then, and if necessary, take a break and do a little busywork to get your mind turning. Follow that up with a little meditative moment, and then get back to your work when you are ready.

Let go of emotions that are representations of your desire to fix things. We are indeed heartbroken for what’s going on, but we cannot change the circumstances. We will do our best, and our families will be better for it, but we can only do as much as we can control. If we know anything to be true about this global pandemic, it is that we are all experiencing it at the same time, together. This being so, we can bear the weight of the burden collectively, lightening our individual loads. We can take care of our families by taking care of ourselves and by remembering that that we are all trying our best. That is good enough.