It’s fair to say that the last nine months have been very different for us all. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health has been monumental.

Working with children’s wellbeing during this pandemic has been unlike anything I’ve faced before, as for the first time, I’m simultaneously experiencing the same thing as the children. So not only am I focused and concerned about them, but also myself.

As a school we aimed to focus on children’s feelings of loneliness and worry during the first lockdown by implementing multiple phone calls to the children, carrying on interventions over the phone and counselling over the phone and zoom.

By having these forms of communication during an uncertain and stressful time, we were able to demonstrate to the children that we were still holding a safe space for them and keeping them in mind. I found that calls varied from five to 30 minutes, but regardless, they all helped to deepen and broaden relationships.

But what about me?

This year has taught me more than ever to value self-care and to really invest in myself.

When reading about self-care, I was drawn to the word “deliberate”, which I found kept coming up. This word resonated with me and my construct of the term self-care. It’s important to consciously carry out self-care tasks and be mindful of the motive for doing the chosen activity.

It’s great to exercise, however if you dread it as much as me, is it truly an act of self-care?

I had to relearn what self-care really was for me. I tried new hobbies, started a routine, went for walks, watched lots of TV, took long baths and numerous other things that honestly, weren’t all useful to me.

Ultimately I found what worked for me was being able to ask for space or support when I needed it and to allow myself to be more “selfish” by asking for this. I was only able to do this due to the great relationships I have around me.

It’s been the relationships formed with the adults which have ultimately helped the children reintegrate back into school after an unprecedented time, and its relationships which I feel ended up helping me the most. I’m sure they will continue to do so.