Creating Connection during COVID

How can we create connections during a pandemic?

As part of our Move Mindfully® curriculum, we talk a lot about how connection is the basis of all of our mind-body work – in our lives, in our educational settings and in our therapeutic environments. Connection between ourselves and others, as well as our connection between our own mind and body are strengthened when we take time to practice breathing, regulating movement and rest strategies.

During COVID, the importance of connection has become even more apparent. Spending time with my family or simply walking through my own neighborhood, I realized how significant a shared smile, a wave or a kind word is for combatting the feelings of isolation.

For years we have known that a child’s school success (and ultimately their likelihood to graduate from high school) is directly impacted by how connected they are to a support network.

How can we as the adults that work with and care for youth foster this connection in the midst of a global pandemic? 

Take time to foster vital connections for yourself first:

Identify your pathways to connection and create healthy habits. Try to fill your personal need for connection before you show up to work.

  • Does walking in your neighborhood and seeing neighbors provide connection?
  • What about frequenting local businesses (online, curbside pick up or takeout) to offer support during the pandemic?
  • Do you have a Zoom yoga class or workout you commit to weekly?
  • A friend you have a coffee or tea with outdoors each month?
  • Do you have a pet that you can connect with after a stressful day?

Build community connection with co-workers:

Foster healthy connections at work.

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the impact of systemic racism that erupted this summer? Form a book group and invite fellow socially-justice minded co-workers to read and discuss books like White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, How to be an Antiracist by Ibrahim X. Kendi, or my Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem.
  • Feeling isolated and out of control about the Fall and navigating the return to school during the pandemic? Create a casual support group for co-workers to meet virtually or outdoors. Start by sharing how everyone is managing feelings around preparing for the transition back-to-school.
  • Consider creating a walking/running group (outside while the whether is good) this Fall where you can come together and strengthen your own mind body connection and manage stress in community with your co-workers.

With Students/Clients:

Encourage youth to share about how socially distancing, masking, and distance learning has affected their friendships. Journal/brainstorm as a pre-assignment and then share with the group – either in-person or online.

  • Collect all the ways they come up with that make them feel more connected and engaged. Take these ideas and create a group project to display them as a reminder of healthy ways to stay connected. You can assemble everyone’s ideas via an online collage or an in-person art installation.
  • When meeting with youth, always model how simple breathing techniques can be used to co-regulate for group activities. Calming breaths can be used for a “good beginning” to group time (both virtually and in-person).
  • Encourage students/clients to pick calming music, peaceful images or nature videos that can be shared at the end sessions/classes for a final way to connect as a group – to create a “good ending”. Ask students/youth to record short videos or take pictures of ways they find peace and calm. Then, youth can share them with the group.

What other ideas can you think of to proactively foster connection right now? Leave a comment!

Chrissy Mignogna

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