Dear friends,

Ready for school to start? This most unusual school year is no doubt bringing elevated levels of stress, worry and uncertainty. Whether you are a student yourself, have a student in your family, or are a parent, teacher, administrator or other staffer, YOU are on the front lines now.

This is a momentous time to elevate brain health and to expand resilience! Easier said than done, right? One simple and impactful suggestion: Be particularly intentional about making time together meaningful.

Prioritizing connectedness is an energy source for building resilience. The “social brain” – the breadth and depth of your social connections – represents one of the most powerful aspects of brain health. Try these ideas to boost your brain-healthy social interactions:

  • Even though you may be spending unprecedented amounts of time together with your housemates, truly checking in and listening are more important than ever. Make time to come together and discuss what is working, what isn’t, and create solutions together. Consider how to support each other, deal with frustrations, overcome hurdles, and achieve small, doable goals.
  • Start and end your day with an act of compassion. Begin with those in your immediate surroundings and expand to teachers (!!!), neighbors, service providers, co-workers and so forth. Keep a log of acts of compassion that you perform, as well as those you receive. At the end of each week, review the log and take stock of improvements in your stress and happiness.
  • Discover and create the humor. Shared laughter strengthens social bonds and rewards your brain with dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Be intentional about finding daily opportunities to share a laugh, a wild experience, or an unexpected happening.

I stand in admiring awe of all our educators, students and families with big hopes they find success one day at a time in this most unusual and unpredictable school year. Reach out to each other to stretch your social brain’s capacity to build resilience – the best classroom content for life!

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Published August 28, 2020

See more messages from our Chief Director, Sandra Chapman, PhD here.