We were delighted to hear from former pupil and alumni member Angela Varga. Working as a school psychologist in Ohio, Angela has written an article for the College on how to regulate your emotions during a pandemic.
How are you feeling? When someone asks you this, it’s easy to passively answer ‘fine’, ‘not great’ or ‘okay’ without purposely pausing and reflecting on how you are actually feeling. This simple question encourages you to not only actively and consciously identify your emotions but it also helps you transfer feelings into words – something that can be difficult for many people, especially in times of crisis or trauma. The COVID-19 global pandemic is a crisis unlike any we have faced before. It has been an ongoing event that does not have a discrete, known end, and has the potential to negatively impact our physical, psychological, social, emotional, and economic health, and beyond. So as you read the question, ‘How are you feeling?’, challenge yourself to accurately identify and label your feelings. Not only do we deepen and broaden our emotional intelligence by connecting specific words to our feelings, but it is easier to help ourselves and others when we know their emotional states. The more aware we are of our emotions, the more likely we are to figure out how to best regulate them.
What’s your goal for today? Individual goals create structure, as well as providing purpose and intent. Goals will often determine how you feel, think and act. Setting a positive and an achievable goal at the beginning of your day will in turn generate positive thoughts, and positive feelings, resulting in positive actions or behaviors. Goal setting can foster a sense of control, bring predictability to this unpredictable situation, and ultimately reduce our stress responses, and keep our bodies regulated.
Who will you ask for help? Many people do not feel comfortable asking for help, and see it as a sign of weakness. However, relying on others, experiencing needs and limitations, and asking for help is actually part of what it takes to be emotionally strong. We may be physically distant, but that does not mean we cannot help each other with words of encouragement via text, kind thoughts flowing through an email, a consoling phone call, optimistic emojis, a funny meme, or an inspirational video. Providing emotional support for each other from a distance will ensure that we maintain the relationships and connections that help build our resilience, and remind us that we are not alone.
So as we continue to navigate through the unknown, ask yourself these three simple questions each day. Take time to check in, reflect, and connect. Celebrate the small successes one day at a time.
We are all in this together.
Angela J. Varga, Psy. S., NCSP