Staying Mentally Healthy During Covid-19

Rebekah Peterson

Middle School students have spent the week learning how to stay mentally healthy. Our Middle School counselor Sarah Rothstein is virtually visiting them in health class to teach about mental health and provide mindfulness exercises. The students watch the presentation and then participate in a live discussion.

The intent of the lesson is to recognize and acknowledge what students are feeling, give students a place to talk about it and know that they are not alone, and give them tools to use in order to destress.

Middle School Phy Ed classes are also starting each day with a "mindful minute" exercise. Students were given a list of brain break activities to use throughout the day, many of them not in front of a screen. While Minnehaha counselors always are available to provide student support, they are especially focused on giving students simple things that they can do to lessen anxiety and worry, and also fill times of boredom and frustration.  

Check out the presentation as well as the mindfulness exercises below.

Mental Health During a Pandemic 

Mindfulness Exercises

1. Breaking Down our Thoughts Activity

Write down something that you may be worrying about. Then ask yourself…

  • Is my thought based on a feeling or an actual fact?
  • Is it possible for my thought to come true?
  • What’s the worst that can happen if it does come true?
  • Will it still matter to me tomorrow or in the future?
  • What can I do to handle the situation in a positive way?

2. Deep Breathing Exercise

Inhale 4 seconds, exhale 4 second, and repeat.

3. Clenching Fist Exercise

Arms down at your sides, clench your fists as tight as you can. Hold, then release. Repeat 2-3 times. You can do both hands together, or one at a time.

4. Gratitude Exercise

Option #1: Start by observing. Notice the thank yous you say. Just how habitual a response is it? Is it a hasty aside, an afterthought? How are you feeling when you express thanks in small transactions? Stressed, uptight, a little absent-minded? Do a quick scan of your body—are you already physically moving on to your next interaction? Pick one interaction a day . When your instinct to say “thanks” arises, stop for a moment and take note. Can you name what you feel grateful for, even beyond the gesture that’s been extended? Then say "thank you."

Option #2: I’m grateful for three things…

  • I hear
  • I see
  • I smell
  • I touch/feel
  • I taste

5. Coloring Exercise

Find a favorite coloring book, or download and print these coloring sheets.

6. The Connection Challenge

Instead of social distancing, we physically distance together. For the next week, try to connect with someone (same person or seven different people) every day virtually through texting, email, or social media. Check-in and ask them how they are feeling and share how you are feeling, then challenge them to do the same!

7. Someday Soon Jar

Keep a list with your family of things you will do when social distancing is over. Turn frustration into anticipation!

  • academics
  • Middle School
  • online learning
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