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Student wellbeing in a period of uncertainty

With the ongoing events caused by coronavirus, also called COVID-19, the wellbeing of many people across the world are being affected. It is normal for you to feel worried, anxious and even afraid during this time. It can all be so overwhelming. More than likely, you are at home most of the time instead of having a normal routine of going to school. You might be thinking, how should I be spending my days? How can I get used to this new situation? Will I be alright during this time away from school? If you have asked any of these questions, then, you have come to the right place. This article is written specifically for primary and secondary school students. We will talk about how you can better adjust to the uncertainty of this time.

What might COVID-19 mean for you?

For most of you, it might mean that you will not be able to go to your normal school. For others, you have to postpone or cancel vacations. It also means that during this time, you will need to avoid going to crowded places and stay at home if you are not feeling very well. But, there is great news! Very few children and adolescents have become sick because of this virus, with some only experiencing very mild symptoms. One of the important things to think about during this time is your wellbeing, which includes continuing your learning journey, taking care of your thoughts, feelings and body, and connecting with friends and family.

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing means different things to different people around the world. That’s because it has many different parts like intellectual, emotional, physical, and social wellbeing. I will explain each of these different parts and give you some useful tips on how to make sure that you are taking care of each part.

Student wellbeing in the coronavirus situation

Intellectual wellbeing: Be curious about learning

Your intellect has to do with your mind, especially how you figure out different problems. This is very useful while you are still doing your learning at home. It is very important that you keep on top of your learning and continue to develop your skills. By continuing your learning journey, you are taking care of your intellectual wellbeing.

Remember learning can happen anywhere, even outside the classroom. That includes learning at home! But, make sure that you stick to the routine that you had while going to school. For example, wake up at the same time, do your morning and afternoon lessons, have lunch and sleep at the same time. When you do this, it will make it easier for you when you have to return to school.

Your parents or guardians will also be busy trying to find learning materials to help you on this journey. Remember that this is also new for them, so it is important that you work along with them, as best as you can, during learning sessions. For many of you, your teachers will have prepared tasks. It is important for you to complete these to the best of your ability, knowing that teachers care and are here to support you however they can.

There are so many exciting learning opportunities that you can also access online.

  • Many museums, space-stations, zoos, and aquariums have virtual tours. These are great opportunities to learn about Art, Science, History, and Biology.
  • You can even experience virtual nature walks to learn more about Geography!
  • If you love science, you will definitely enjoy these daily science experiments.
  • Learn a new language through DuoLingo and for younger students, practice your reading with Storyonline.
  • Mathematics is seen by some as difficult but there are fun ways of developing your skills in this area!

The amazing part is that these learning experiences are all free and you can visit them any time of the day! Learning new things and skills are fun and there are so many different activities that you can do to take care of your intellectual wellbeing.

You will experience a different way of learning. Education will look different, but different does not mean bad. Your learning may be fully online or it may be through blended learning, which is where you learn in the classroom at school and also online at your home. Many students who have done online and blended learning enjoy it very much, and say they like that they get to choose how they want to learn.

Emotional wellbeing: Be in touch with your feelings and thoughts

Although maintaining your learning journey is important, it is also important for you to pay attention to what you are thinking about and how you are feeling. This is called emotional wellbeing. Sometimes learning (especially new things) in a new environment can be overwhelming. During these times, you can talk to someone that you trust, for example, your parent/guardian, sibling or best friend. In fact, it is understandable if this entire situation makes you feel nervous or worried. It can help to let your parents know what you are thinking and feeling at these times. Many experts all over the world have told us that talking about our feelings, especially when we feel nervous, makes us less worried.

You will often find that you have difficulties paying attention for a long time! This is totally ok. This is how the brain works. Remember to take short breaks from time to time during your learning. This break can be for up to 5 minutes and include playing a short game with family or siblings, doing puzzles, reading riddles or dancing. When you do these brain breaks throughout your learning sessions, it is easier for your brain to pay attention. Students who have used brain breaks generally find learning sessions to be more engaging.

If you do not feel like playing a short game in your break, you can just sit, stand, or lay quietly and think about what you are doing during that time. We call this mindfulness or meditation which means that you are just thinking about things that you would not normally think about, like how you are breathing, how you are feeling, what you are thinking about, and what you believe in. This helps you feel better, worry less, and you are more focused on your work.

Physical wellbeing: Be clean, be active and eat properly

Looking after your body will make sure that you maintain your physical wellbeing. During this time, it is very important to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and try to not touch your face. Even though we cannot see it just by using our eyes, the COVID-19 stays on surfaces for a long period of time. When we touch those surfaces and then put our hands on our faces and mouths, we know that this is how the virus gets into our bodies and causes us to feel sick.

You can also care for your physical wellbeing by exercising. During this time, you might not be able to go outside as many times as you would like to. You may miss going to the playground, walks in the park, walking your dog, going swimming or going to the gym. But, the good news is that there are so many exercises that you can do from home. It is important to be as active as you can every day.

Exercise is fun and will help you in many ways. There is a special part of your brain called the hippocampus and it allows you to remember things really well. When you exercise, your hippocampus becomes stronger and this allows you to think much better, pay attention and you find it easy to remember things that you have been learning. Another big part of your physical wellbeing is to make sure that you are eating well. With more time at home, you could learn how to make delicious, healthy dishes.

Social wellbeing: Be connected with friends and family

To make sure that the virus does not spread quickly, we practice a technique called social distancing, which means that you may not get to physically see your friends and family as much as before. But this is just until we lower the spread of the COVID-19. Although you can’t physically see your friends at school, there are still many ways to keep in touch with them.

We have access to many forms of online communication like Skype, FaceTime, and emailing. This is a great way to maintain your social wellbeing. In fact, not too long ago, we had a virus called SARS, that affected the world, similar to what we are experiencing with the COVID-19. Many researchers realised that when people stayed connected, they were much happier and did not experience many negative feelings. But, remember, it is also important to avoid spending too much time around screens, for example the television, computer, and iPad screens, because this sometimes interferes with your sleep patterns which can be bad for your overall wellbeing.

You can also make the people around you in your house, like your parents or siblings, feel better too. You have something special called quiet kindness, which means that you can be really good at making people around you feel happy. For example, you can be kind to your parents by making sure that you pick up your toys, games, books, and clothes after using them and put them in the correct place. You could also send a text message or email to a friend to ask them how their day is going. You can write down how quiet kindness makes you feel. And, guess what?  Experts who study how the brain works found that when you are kind to others, you can also start feeling good about yourself!

 

As each day passes, you will notice that things change very quickly because everyday we learn something new about the COVID-19. This is why governments in your countries have meetings everyday to make the best decisions for our future. But, you have a lot of control over your own wellbeing and by taking care of it with these tips, you will feel much better about adjusting to this new situation. So remember to continue your learning journey, take care of your thoughts, feelings and body, and connect with friends and family.

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