Written By: Sima Maryles, Educator at A+ Solutions
As previously discussed, our tweens and teens are grappling with many foreseen and unforeseen consequences of pandemia. The most daunting of unknowns for parents and educators is how this generation’s mental health and psychological well-being will look, post pandemia?
Like most things nowadays, that unknown feels huge and overwhelming – so why wait? Why wait to see what is going to happen? Instead, let’s try to get as in front of this as we can…
First, let’s make it NOT so overwhelming. Yes, the after-effects of the last year and a half are unknown, but we will have to face the consequences we KNOW are coming. No, we have never dealt with things like this as parents/educators before. Yes, I still think that we can do a lot to prepare us for later in the RIGHT NOW.
After 14 months of locking our kids up and away from one another – it’s time for us to capitalize on the changing season. Yes, I know, Ohio still has snow in April, but it also boasts 76 degree days, too – use those!
What do I mean? Well, we have watched our children struggle with things like insomnia, negative self-thought, generalized anxiety and depression, isolation, irritability, and so much more. And we have watched these struggles manifest themselves in brand new ways because of brand new circumstances. But none of that means we can’t use things we know already to approach this brand new.
What do we already know for sure (besides the certainty of the problem itself)?
We know (since the time of Man) that there are genuine benefits to time spent in nature. Up until this point, we have always known that a beautiful day has the potential to (and if only just for the moment) abate symptoms of anxiety and or depression. Let’s be honest; how irritable can you be when the sun is shining, the sky is clear, and you can hear the wind through the grass?
It has been a whole year for many of us since we have seen the potential for beautiful days on our forecasts – we cannot let those opportunities pass us by.
I can wax poetic (literally) about the benefits of the outdoors, but I want to share some science to prove this point (if only given today’s circumstances). Breathing in the fresh air, surrounding oneself with greenery has been shown to reduce one’s cortisol – significantly. Cortisol is a stress hormone – anyone living with a tween or teenager can attest to living in an abundance of cortisol – or is it just me? Furthermore, (and in a nod to the great Elle Woods) being surrounded by nature boosts one’s endorphins and dopamine levels, which makes people happy and happy people… (the potential is limitless)
Now, getting your dragon – I mean teenager-outside is a problem too, but that’s a you problem.
This is a battle worth fighting – do not underestimate the power of a beautiful day, and don’t let the things we can do here and now get lost in our anxieties about later!
It’s literally time for all of us to stop and smell the roses…