South Point Ex-Students’ Association hosts webinar on ‘Strength Training for the Mind in the Pandemic’ for Class XI, XII and 2020-2021 outgoing batch
Their board exams have been cancelled, they haven’t gone to school or met their friends and teachers for over a year, and they are on the threshold of their careers. They are the students of Class XI, XII and the outgoing batch 2020-2021.
To address their anxiety and confusion and the concerns of their teachers, the South Point Ex-Students’ Association (ASPEXS) organised a webinar on ‘Strength Training for the Mind in the Pandemic’ with former South Pointer Jai R. Ram, psychiatrist at Apollo Gleneagles and joint director of Mental Health Foundation, Kolkata.
The hour-long online session was presented on June 9 in association with ABP Education and MHF Kolkata, and moderated by South Point High School principal Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharya.
“This was an extremely important session for the students. Dr Ram gave very valid information on how to handle stress and anxiety amidst the pandemic. It was helpful for the students as all of us are battling stress in these difficult times,” said Bhattacharya.
“We are very happy that Jai R. Ram, one of our own alumni, addressed our students today and sought to dispel the gloom around teenagers battling a lot of uncertainties. His insights and practical tips will surely help our students,” said Krishna Damani, trustee, South Point Education Society, and president, South Point Ex-students’ Association
“It was an excellent programme, very enriching for the students and also a lot of learning for the adults," said Partha Pratim Banerjee, secretary, ASPEXS.
Dr Jai R. Ram’s tips on how to fight anxiety:
-- For what the students are facing at such a critical juncture of their lives, it is but natural to feel anxious and be apprehensive about their future. The first thing is to identify what we are fighting.
-- The first is the Covid virus, and all of us know how to battle that. We have to wear masks, maintain social distance, not go out of our houses without necessity and avoid social gatherings.
-- The second is the ‘information virus’. We are coming across so much contradictory information these days. We need strategies to fight the information virus also so that it does not add to our anxiety.
-- The third is the ‘worry virus’, or the ‘anxiety virus’. It is helpful to just see what is causing anxiety, stress and panic in our lives. So, make a list of all your worries. The best way to deal with it is by taking small, doable actions. If we have a list of 10 worries, then our aim should be to get over one worry at a time. So then, over a period of time, we can conquer all of them.
In the list, there will be some worries that we can share with our family, friends and teachers. There will also be some worries we individually cannot solve and it is important that we let go of those worries and not fight them. You have to roll with it and accept it for what it is.
We should also reach out to people whom we trust and tell them that we are feeling worried. You can talk to your friends, relatives or parents. Many families have created this ‘Worry Break’ where all the members come together at the dinner table and each of the members talks about their worries.
It is also very important to get some fresh air, physical exercise and to care for something apart from ourselves like plants or pets.
Excerpts from the question and answer session:
Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharya, principal, South Point High School: What about children not being able to concentrate and feeling trapped inside the room?
Dr Ram: When one is feeling trapped, there is no easy answer to overcoming this feeling. We will have to convince ourselves that we will be safe at our homes and at least one day this will end. If we do not acquire the virus, then we will be a lot more healthy and safe in the future with whatever activities we are planning to do. Also, we are stuck at home not only for our health to be okay but also to ensure that others around us are also safe.
Frontline workers like the police, the nursing staff, the doctors and the municipality workers are making huge sacrifices to keep all of us healthy. And as a mark of respect to these people, please stay at home.
Also, it is extremely difficult for school students because school is not only a place for learning Geography or Mathematics but it is a social hub where you share, laugh, have fun and learn. Replacing that with a screen and keeping yourself motivated to study is a difficult task.
To tackle that, create small circles or study groups where you can support each other if your interests are flagging. Do pen and paper tasks when you are studying on your own.
Nilanjana Sarkar, teacher: As a teacher, how do I understand if a child is having anxiety or is under stress, especially if the child is not telling me anything?
Dr Ram: As a teacher, you have a list of students who are vulnerable, like those who may not be confident or may have had anxiety or depression in the past. So, you can check on those 10 to 15 students specially for whom you are more worried compared to the other children.
Also, texting them and reassuring them that you are there to help them is very important. Another way is to tell their friends or everyone in a class to come to you confidentially if someone is facing a problem or they know of someone who is having a problem. In this way, you are making the entire class responsible to think about the other person.
Britha Sarkar, teacher: Many students are upset and are feeling stressed with the board exams getting cancelled. How do they deal with their feelings?
Dr Ram: The outgoing students were preparing for multiple exams other than their boards. This being removed suddenly and the uncertainty have left them in a limbo where they are unable to decide the pace of their studies.
Students need to think that they are running a marathon and the finish line is not in sight. Here they need to conserve their energy and carry on. They cannot stop studying. They need to study like they are in a marathon under very difficult circumstances.
They should take help from people around them in times of need. They can form a buddy system where they support one other. It is a matter of holding on to your patience.
Reena Sharda, teacher: As teachers and parents, what can we tell the students other than reassuring them that everything will be alright?
Dr Ram: For many young people, our reassurances sound hollow. So, having a conversation where a child is allowed to articulate their anxiety is very helpful. While the child articulates their emotions, they are also trying to find solutions to those problems at the same time.
Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharya, principal: How do you reassure someone who is fearful of losing a loved one in the pandemic?
Dr Ram: Acknowledging it helps. It is a normal human emotion to comfort each other. We can hold on to the anxiety and reassure ourselves that we are stronger than this worry and we will be able to get through it. This genuine anxiety shows our love, affection and concern for the person. So, acknowledging the person’s anxiety and articulating it helps in reassuring someone who is fearful of losing a loved one in the pandemic.
To catch the session, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABGu0VpJe_w
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