An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Serena Swanson, Upper School counselor

Upper School counseling update: In April, the Upper School welcomed interim Upper School counselor Jasmine Layden while Meredith Sjoberg is out on leave. Jasmine will be with us through the end of the school year.

Spring is here, and so is change. Those sweet little white daisy weeds in the lawn beckon me to sit in the grass. It is comforting to have enough warmth on some days to be able to actually sit down outside in leisure. This spring, I feel like I should be filled with energy for new endeavors and to regain lost time with loved ones, but I feel a certain grief and hesitancy that slows my pace a bit. As I experience a mixture of emotions this spring, I wonder what does the season change bring for you?

I know that you all have had to grieve various losses over the past year and a half, and some are in the midst of hardships. You may have a typical way of being in the spring, but if it doesn’t feel typical, that is OK too. Keep allowing yourself to be exactly how you are right now. Nobody has to be “fine.” Rather it is “OK” to come as you are. Connecting with each other and sharing genuinely will help us all refresh this spring.

Dr. Sjoberg, Mr. Mats, and I wanted to share some additional reminders (good for me too!) if you are working on recovering from changes:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. Notice and allow space for your feelings. Without judgment, notice messages that your feelings are sending you. What are they telling you that you need? If there is discomfort with your feelings, there are ways to cope with them.
  • Keep yourself in the moment. Rather than worry about uncertainties and the future, consider what you know right now. How can you help to make the best of the circumstance you are in currently, even if it’s not ideal? Take it a step further and practice observing things like nature or art or your breath, and increase your ability to stay in the present.
  • Work on the basics. Enough sleep, good nutrition, some exercise. When our foundation of functioning is solid, we are better prepared to deal with difficult experiences and emotions.
  • Practice gratitude. There is a lot of research on the mood benefits for this one. Can you find a few things each day that went well, made you happy, or you can appreciate? You can. Write them down. Do that each day and you will notice your perspective shift.
  • Stay connected. Being in relationship with others helps us gain perspective in our own lives and helps lift our mood. It will likely make their gratitude list for the day!