School closures had become the new normal, with at least 124,000 U.S. schools closing, affecting 55.1 million students. (Uring et al.) The issue of isolation has been heightened due to the pandemic. Now more than ever, it is important to fully understand the effects of isolation as that will help us mitigate the effects and come up with solutions for this problem. The issue of isolation matters as children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. Studies show that exercising can improve mental alertness, energy, and mood, and so parents and teachers have encouraged students to do so. Also, adults have been suggesting students take walks in nature as well. Walking in nature has been known to reduce anger, fear, and stress and increasing pleasant feelings. (Weir 2020) Although these practices require moving around and getting out of the house. Finding alternative ways that are more accessible, easier to complete, and also effective.
Gratitude is a social behavior that will help people exhibit more positive emotions. For example, McCullough, Emmons, and Tsang (2002) discovered that the participants who had a more grateful disposition were more likely to have positive affect and feelings, greater well-being, and hold on to fewer negative emotions such as envy and anxiety. Therefore, by using gratitude we can help students feel less alone by bringing forward the positive aspects of life around us.
There are a lot of ways to practice gratitude but the hardest part is starting. I plan to make an interactive workshop in a small group of 10 people where we meet once a week for a month. One session will be 60 minutes long, where I will introduce three gratitude practices. The three gratitude practices are journaling, the gratitude walk and meditation.
A gratitude journal is a great place to start. I will have the participants bring in a notebook and write down three things they are grateful for. Focusing on being specific. Instead of writing down, I am thankful for my parents; writing down I am thankful that my parents brought me soup when I was sick on Thursday will be much better and more effective. A gratitude journal forces us to pay attention to the good things in life we might otherwise take for granted. You can do this anywhere and doing this will make us more attuned to the positive things around us.
A gratitude walk can be done by yourself or with others. It includes going out for 20 minutes and expressing gratitude in either your steps or stopping or expressing gratitude for the things around you. You can express your gratitude in any of these ways: “I am thankful for …” “I have gratitude for …” “I am grateful for …” Choosing what works best for you will make it more effective. Doing the walk can help rewire your brain to look at things differently, as well as cultivating an appreciation for what may not have been appreciated before.
Gratitude meditation can place in many forms. One way is following a guided practice. Another way is to seat yourself in a comfortable position, identify something unpleasant you’re currently faced with, and then see if you can flip the negative circumstance to find a positive aspect. An example would be that the room you are in is cold, but there is a large window with a nice view within that room. Seeking the positive within the negative won’t be easy at first, but this is a skill that will become really useful as it integrates into your life.
Making something like gratitude a habit is challenging. Having these check-ins once a week will allow the participants to keep going with these practices that will hopefully develop into routine-like behavior.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas through this google form! https://forms.gle/hBqF9uLLkQcSVMsh8