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  • Writer's pictureClaire Sheehan

On self kindness, back to school and anxiety

My boys are going back to school after five and a half months out of school due to lockdown and school holidays. It seems almost unbelievable now we are on the cusp of them returning to school, all that has been happening in the world. The boys themselves are happy to be going back, and excited about seeing their friends again. Children have a resilience and joy, a being in the moment that we can learn from as adults. Sure there has been bits in the last few months that they have found hard, sad, frustrating. Not seeing friends and family. No hugging people outside our family bubble. Social distancing. And yet, they take it all in their stride. I'm simultaneously sad that they need to and feeling blessed and proud of the beautiful way they show up in the world.

Yet as the grown up I do feel anxious. As someone who tends to the anxious this feels magnified. I like to know what's happening and I like firm, clear answers, preferably well in advance! Often since march, and with the changes society is having to make, this simply isn't possible in the way that brings me most comfort.

More and more I am turning to my self kindness practice and asking myself "What do I need right now?" It grounds me to this present moment and to focusing on what may help me right now. I can get curious instead of fearful. I can look for possibilities for my way forwards, ways I may not have thought about before.

Sometimes what I need right now is that self kindness, to actively choose to remind myself that this stuff IS hard. It is unusual, it is something that partly needs to unfurl and see how it will be and how it will go. And for that I need self kindness, to remind myself that it's ok to feel this way. It's ok to feel it's hard and you're anxious and uncertain. And in recognising that in this moment, in showing up for myself I have more space to show up for the others who need me, to make space for "What is it THEY need right now, and how can I best help them with that?"

There is space for what I need, and space to see what others need.

In the moments where it feels too much I turn to the practices of the self compassion break, acknowledging that this is hard right now, allowing myself to feel ok with that and soothing myself at the same time. It's ok. When I know we are all connected I see that I am not the only one feeling this way and in turn I can offer out my compassionate feelings from myself to others who may be feeling this way. May we all be soothed, as we get used to the new normal.

For parents and carers and teachers, may we all take care of ourselves as our children return to school, may we all do what we can to soothe ourselves and our children through the difficult times and help them notice and acknowledge what they need too.

Tip: If you'd like a helpful practice to try out for yourself, the self compassion break can be done in minutes, there is a version on Kristin Neff's site here. You can also see written instructions here.


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