The Corona Coaster of Emotions

**Guest blog post: Fiona Gray, School Counsellor**

Corona Coaster: the emotional rollercoaster we have all been existing on for the last 8 weeks. Over the last month, I have had the opportunity to collect some data from our prep and senior pupils about how they are coping. It has truly been an honor to read about their experiences and their advice to other pupils.  Altogether, I received over 400 responses from three questionnaires. Our pupils shared about the things that have made this season of life hard and good, along with the ways in which they are taking care of their mental wellbeing and staying connected. They described ways of being kind to those in their home, and advice they would give to others. I’ve created two infographs (see links below) to display some of the findings from our wise pupils – I hope these have helped to normalise their experience, and foster a sense of creativity and encouragement as they learn from how others are doing. 

In their responses, pupils described the sadness and loss of not seeing friends and family, the adjustments needed for doing school online, and how they have missed the freedom to go out and about. Some described the loneliness of feeling disconnected, along with experiencing increased irritability and boredom. For many young people, this is their first experience of significant loss and separation – from not having the experience of doing their exams (a blessing + a curse), from missing end of year traditions, school plays and sports competitions. There is disruption from normal routine, and separation from other family members or parents who they have less access to than normal. pupils also described it as a time of reconnection to themselves and family. I read as pupils shared stories of playing with siblings more, and planning fun activities for their family. Others described how they’ve felt less FOMO, which has allowed them to slow down and enjoy activities they didn’t feel they had time for previously, and many have taken up new hobbies that they’ve enjoyed. 

I found the following themes in advice from Senior School pupils:

Routine is really important, it can help create a sense of normalcy and rhythm to your day. Try to plan something creative, fun, and new. Enjoy spending time doing things for yourself, think of this as a time to do things you’ve wished you had more time for. Be kind, realistic, positive, and non-judgmental towards yourself and others. Talk to your friends often, it’s so important to spend time with them. 

Our Prep school pupils took a similar stance:

Stay calm and remember it’s not forever! Talk to your friends and family, and check in with them. Make sure you have fun and play lots! Check in with your friends and family. Create a fun space for work so that it feels separate and kind of like school. Respect each other’s boundaries – parents sometimes need to focus so make sure you think about that. Let go of arguments and don’t get into too many disagreements with siblings – let it go! Practice kindness, by helping around the house with chores and cooking, giving hugs and compliments, and being kind to your family. 

As we continue to move forward, there are still significant levels of uncertainty with all that is  unknown. I am so thankful for our School leadership as they are looking with courage and curiosity at the practical elements of a wider opening of school. For some (pupils and staff) the thought of returning will feel like a complete relief, for others it may feel too soon (perhaps emotionally and practically), for some it will provoke anxiety. As we name our emotions and check in with how we are feeling, we are able to step more boldly into uncertainty and the new future. When we do this in relationship with others, we are reminded that we are not alone, and that our feelings are not final. In this season, I am reminded of the value of community, connection, and the deep gratitude of working together. So in the words of our teens – check in with each other. Perhaps these infographics will be a conversation starter in your home this weekend. 

I’ve heard some describe, with confusion, the mixed bags of emotions about thinking of what is coming up next for us all. This takes me back to the analogy of a rollercoaster. There is that moment towards the end of a rollercoaster ride, where you become aware that you are on the slow, anticipatory climb to the top. You know the drill, you know that you are about to experience a great drop. Yet, every time your stomach still slightly lurches, your hands sweat, the adrenaline soars. This is the moment that I love the most, while simultaneously questioning why on earth I enjoy roller coasters quite so much. In many ways, we are at an unprecedented moment of history, knowing that things are shifting towards a new normal. We will forever be changed by this season, and change brings uncertainty, and often fills us with a mixture of conflicting emotions, gearing us up for something different. As we lean into the discomfort, remember that we have all been at precipitous moments many times in our lives before (perhaps before a birth, a marriage, after a divorce, after a death, transitioning to year 7, changing schools). These are moments that shape our lives, yet nothing ever fully prepares us for them. So together, we are leaning into uncertainty, knowing that we are doing it as a community, not quite knowing what will come next. May the wisdom of our pupils pivot us towards more kindness, gratitude, connection, and whole bodied wellness. 

Prep School Advice

Teen Advice