Through the Eyes of an Educator: Finding Ease Amidst the Chaos

by Stacey Ebert / Mar 30, 2020 /
Stacey Ebert's picture

What a strange time we’re all in right now. Half of the world is literally in shutdown or lockdown mode. Kids who only five minutes ago learned in a traditional brick and mortar establishment have been thrust (along with their teachers and staff) into a world of e-learning.

Parents and community members are dealing with fears of a virus and doing their best to maneuver through the ever-changing landscape of rules, regulations, and shifts.

People all over are turning to technology for that necessary human connection, entertainers are using their platform to share their art for free, and communities are rallying to help the most vulnerable and those financially impacted by the seemingly overnight changes in jobs, interactions, and, most significantly, medical care. Artists are sharing their talents, establishments are allowing us virtual tours of everything, small and big businesses are offering assistance in all sorts of ways, and we’re being told to do our part by staying put. The world is turning to the superhero science and medical community to stem the tide, change the game, and take care of the needs of all. There’s a lot going on right now– and, oh yeah, our kids are trying to learn a bit through it all. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Ease Amidst the Chaos

What a strange time we’re all in right now. It often feels like daily shifting tectonic plates swiftly changing direction to turn us once again around. It’s all for a huge reason, it’s all for the good of the community, the good of humanity, and the lives of all of us, but that doesn’t mean it can’t feel a little dizzying. 

Most of us find grounding in routine. 

Whether you’re doing your best to buck that routine or following one, it’s more often than not (if you’re lucky, of course) on your own terms. At the moment, that’s not the case. At the moment, the constant media updates, breaking news, and new medical and bureaucratic details arise in a moment’s notice and can truly knock us off our game. 

Now imagine what that feels like to a child. 

Imagine what that feels like to a child already anxious, who gets services at school, who has loved ones in the severe risk category, who has families out saving the world, who doesn’t feel safe at home, who doesn’t have means of medical care, or who is living in a food insecure environment? 

This isn’t easy for anyone, and it’s much harder for many.

It’s times like these that we look for the helpers. It comes in many forms, in many fashions, and at many times. It’s in that virtual hug, a phone call, an offer of assistance, a monetary or tangible donation, or knowing that someone cares. It’s the teacher reaching out, the family check ins, the video chat, the celebrity entertainment, the virtual tours of establishments, the donations, and the ability (if you’re lucky) to say, let’s ditch the schedule today. There are so many ways to be there for each other– remember, our children are watching. We often talk about parents’ reactions and how they affect the child. Stories of the child who falls down and skins their knee but looks to the parent to see how to react in that moment float to the forefront of my mind. If the parent is frightened or anxious, kids cry; yet, if their parents check the situation with calm and ease, tells them they’re all right and sends them on their way, kids often go back to playing as they were before. Which parent, which teacher, which manager are you?

This is tough for everyone, and it’s truly frightening. How can we help to find the ease amidst the chaos, the calm within the storm? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Ease Amidst the Chaos

It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. 

Anxiety takes the mind on a wild ride. It shifts our perspective, makes us believe thoughts we have are facts, and plays on that ever-shifting monkey mind. We all really are in this together and must channel our every effort into staying healthy, staying safe, staying sane, and working through the storm. It’s even more important that our kids and students see that. It’s difficult to not feel overwhelmed, caught up, over-anxious, and ungrounded–but our kids and students take their direction and often their energy from us. 

What can we do (if only for a few moments in the day), to find the ease?

Often, we look to travel to teach us those lessons we forever work to learn. In this situation, we can still look to the idea of traveling someday and experience the hope, joy, and planning that that creates. Don’t pick a specific date or time; perhaps find a few places you’d like to explore when all of this is behind us. Make it an adventure online, or from the favorite map or globe at your home. Why would you want to visit? What time of year would be nice? What would you see, eat, and do on your holiday? Perhaps, if we embrace that travel someday attitude, it will remind us, once again, to choose inspiration and joy over fear. 

Kids are adaptable. They learn all the time, and find the heaps of lessons found amidst the everyday. And when your anxiety takes hold and the whole situation seems way too much to bear, keep in mind that the whole world is truly in this together. What a strange time we’re all in right now. Your students are not falling behind–they’re learning to work through change. They’re taking their cues from you, their families, and their teachers. There are moments and days that it seems next to impossible to push that anxiety and abject terror aside–but if we can, if for only a few moments–perhaps we can find a way to find that ease amidst the chaos and let our kids know that they can find it, too. Stay healthy, friendly wanderers.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Ease Amidst the Chaos

10 Ways to Seek Ease Amidst Chaos in this Time of the Unknown

10 Ways to Seek Ease Amidst Chaos in this Time of the Unknown

Rest

Test the comfort of your surroundings to bring you ease. Naps in the middle of the day are allowed, dozing to that binge-watching chosen streaming platform are permissible, or read a book and let that head bob happen. There’s no need to keep to the minute of that color-coded schedule. Your parasympathetic nervous system needs time to replenish away from the constant ‘breaking news’ of the moment–give it what it needs. 

Move somehow every single day

There’s online yoga, online workouts, jumping jacks, and quite literally walking around whatever square footage you’re lucky enough to call home. Whether you stand up and sit down again, practice a full on workout or literally wiggle your body a bit every hour or so, it’s helpful. Get those endorphins flowing, step away from the social media circus, and let your body do its thing.

Practice mindfulness exercises

Whether or not you suffer from anxiety, it feels as if the whole world is down that rabbit hole right there with you at the moment. We all need whatever feels like therapy to help in the matter. If you can have a video conference with someone, do it. If you can settle your mind, do it. If you have or can begin a gratitude practice, do that. What helps us get there are perspective-shaping mindfulness activities. Breathing exercises, mindful stories on which to focus, soothing music, or a space to feel all of the feelings and let the mind rest from the turbulent times we’re in all help to activate that parasympathetic portion of our nervous system and settle us in anxious settings. Test out apps like Calm and Headspace, find a comfortable spot where you can sit still for a few moments, or quite literally stop what you’re doing, focus on your breath for a minute or two and just be. Share these methods with your kids–it all helps.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Ease Amidst the Chaos

Color

You know all of those ‘adult centered’ coloring books? Get them! Brush off those glitter crayons, the aromatherapy colored pencils, the markers of any kind, all things stickers, and definitely the giant tub of sidewalk chalk! Kids can create their own art–and so can you. Do one together as you wish–stay in the lines or ditch the norm and color right outside the lines–there’s no one right way! Whether it’s watercolors, sharpies, pencils or that hotel pen you borrowed from that last road trip, use it, color, and let your mind enjoy the respite.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Ease Amidst the Chaos

Breathe some fresh air

Get outside if you can. If that’s a no go where you are, pop open a window and let the breeze air out your space. No, don’t go and gather anywhere, and no need to begin taking trips to wide open spaces if that hasn’t been your thing before. Just breathe some fresh air. If you can go for a walk safely (and while practicing social distancing), do it. If you have a backyard to enjoy, enjoy it. If the open windows are what’s available, fling them wide open and let that cleaner air open up your lungs, your mind, and your space.

Get your earthing on

It’s been said that ‘earthing’ is good for the soul. They didn’t call it that in the 80s classic of Pretty Woman, but when Richard Gere popped off his shoes and socks and dug those feet into terra firma? Earthing! It provides grounding, offers a symbiotic relationship with the land, and quite literally puts the earth back under your feet. If a highrise terrace is what you have, plant your feet on the cement and wiggle those toes. If your studio apartment is what you have, find a rug or towel on the floor and ground your feet there. Allow yourself to feel the energy of the Earth and center your footing in this tumultuous time. Mother Nature herself is healing at this very moment; you can, too.

Get vitamin D

Dorothy dismantled the Wicked Witch of the West with water; perhaps more sunlight can help to dismantle this situation in a similar fashion. A lifesaving technique it might not be, but a joyful experience for your skin, your spirit, and your brain, it definitely is. Whether that's to sit in a patch in your living room, stand by the window, or actually be able to get outside, wherever you can find sunshine safely, find it. And if it’s not available in nature, if you have one of those SAD lights, break that puppy out and give your eyes a moment to focus on something positive for your soul.

Create

There are a million ways to create. Art, music, LEGO, writing, knitting, sewing, gardening, storytelling, gaming-the list goes on and on. Use this time wisely and create something. It’s been mentioned that in another historical time of quarantine, Shakespeare created a memorable play, and scientific theories were discovered by legends of the cosmos. Use this time of community rest to create your own version. Book, play, masterpiece, design, content, business, mindset–whatever it is, make it yours, enjoy it, and do it now.

Cook, bake, eat 

Here’s your chance to be that Chopped champion, win that siblings bake-off, or Iron Chef it up with your family members. Cooking together creates unique bonds that can be drawn on for a long time after they’re created. Perhaps your kids are working on their family and consumer sciences skills. Perhaps they’re learning to measure while working on those precise details of baking, or even learning to convert from Imperial to Metric. Regardless of whether you’re cooking, baking, or eating together, treasure these moments when the world slowed down to save us all.

Learn and exist 

Use this time wisely. Know that it doesn’t have to be all about keeping to a structured schedule, following a chore chart, or getting ahead in your studies. If you’re up for learning something new or expanding your knowledge of something old, go for it. Find your course, use that screen that’s constantly in your hand, and get your learning on. However, always remember that even if you sit on your couch, watch endless movies, talk to your family (even for a little bit), read some books, eat all the ice cream and stay put, you’re doing your part to flatten that curve and remind your young ones that, like Winnie the Pooh said, ‘doing nothing often leads to the very best of something’.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Finding Ease Amidst the Chaos

 

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.