I wanted to share this guest post written by Paul Enns with my Champions readers. While it has been written specifically for the students who attend Abbotsford Senior Secondary, I believe the content applies for students who are having to move forward after a traumatic event. I hope you will find his words and guidance helpful. Thank you Paul, for being a #champion for youth and families in our community.
Author: Paul Enns, Team Leader Child and Youth Mental Health, Ministry of Child and Family Development, Abbotsford British Columbia
Small Steps Towards Healing for Abby Senior Students from a Clinical Counsellor:
1. If your thoughts get too overwhelming practice getting into the here and now once in a while. A simple exercise is to set a timer for 5 minutes and then focus on the sensations in your feet, then legs, then hands. If other thoughts about the past or future come to mind, take a slow breath and bring your attention back to the sensations in your feet, legs, and hands.
2. If that doesn’t work for you – and even if it does – download the free Mindshift app or search for mindfulness exercises online. Try a few calming exercises until you find one that is soothing for you.
3. Exercise hard enough for 30 min to get a sweat on. This will help disperse the stress response neurochemicals in your brain and body. Do this daily if you can.
4. Ask someone you trust to drive past Abby Senior with you.
5. Drive by the school together. Don’t stop if it’s too overwhelming for now. Repeat this thought: “Just this trip for now, just this one”.
6. On the same trip or on a later one, stop in the school parking lot. Sit in the car for a while. Maybe drop off some flowers. If not, just sit for a bit.
7. Spend time at home or at the home of someone you trust and try talking about the hardest part about this time with someone.
8. If you don’t like how that person responds to what you say, kindly explain how you’d like them to respond (e.g. Just listen, sit near me, validate how I’m feeling without trying to fix me).
9. Walk into Abby Senior on Monday morning surrounded by friends. Be there for each other. Show up for others, if not for yourself. Repeat to yourself: “Just this one class; I can do that. Just this one morning; I can make through.”
10. Reclaim the rotunda. Now, more than ever, it’s a profound example of Abby Strong. If it doesn’t seem that way to you, perhaps slowly, together, it can become that way.
Paul Enns, Child & Youth Mental Health Team Leader, MCFD
Note: The Abbotsford School District has also posted links to resources for parents and staff. You can find them here: Resources for Parents and Students