Skip to content

Going To Work and School After Another Tragedy

October 28, 2018

I wrote and shared an article like this almost 6 years ago after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Unfortunately, little has changed in regards to gun violence since then and we find ourselves thinking about and having to have these conversations more often. I have adapted and updated the article below to reflect the incident at Tree of Life Synagogue and the current times we are living in.

Like so many of you, I was affected by the deadly shooting at Tree Of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh this weekend. Like so many of you, I thought about all those affected by this tragedy.  And like so many of you, I started to think about my loved ones and my community.

As the weekend draws to a close, I think about my own week ahead, working at a Jewish agency, working in elementary and secondary schools and living as an openly gay man. The subject and setting of so many recent acts of violence and hate. I will think about everyone else whose identities have been the subject of hate and violence and hope that they too will be safe.  

For parents, especially those whose children attend religious or culturally based schools, there will likely be some fear and anxiety as you get your children ready for school on Monday morning.   And if your kids know about the incident this weekend, they will likely be a little anxious themselves.

Here are my 7 ½  tips for getting your kids through the door of their school on Monday morning so that parents and children feel safe.

1 Validate Their Anxieties – If they are scared or nervous to go to school, tell them that you understand and ask what you can do to help them feel more comfortable.

2 But Don’t Let Them See Yours – If you are more scared than they are, they will pick up on that and it may escalate their feelings.

3 The School Is Your Friend – If they are really nervous, call the school, explain the situation and ask them for support.

4 Don’t Bring It Up Unless They Do – Kids spend a lot of time thinking about themselves, even the sensitive and caring ones.  The morning before school is often spent thinking about the day ahead – not reflecting on the news of the weekend.

5 Monitor The Media – Like above, if you can keep it from them while they are getting ready, they are less likely to think about it.

6 Take That Extra Moment – Even if your kids don’t know why, give them a hug and a kiss, write a note and leave it in their lunch, send an extra special text message.  It will make everyone feel good.

7 Don’t Perpetuate Hate – There is so much hate and violence and divisiveness in our world. Teach your children and each other about love and acceptance and compassion. Stand up for all victims of hate and violence whether or not they look or pray like you.

7 ½. Say I Love You.

How To Deal With The Halloween Hangover

October 31, 2014

Over the last few years I have noticed an interesting trend that occurs right around this time of year.  I would like to talk about something I have been calling: The Halloween Hangover.

Halloween is the big party that has been building for the last few weeks.  We spend this time taking in all of the Halloween movies, programs, decorations, candy and parties that we can.  For Halloween there is stress over what we are going to wear.  Will my costume be good/clever/interesting enough? Will people like it?  Will I find that exact thing that I am looking for? But just like any party, Halloween has to end, and when it does, we all crash.

Throughout this article I am going to present a number of things can lead to these raised levels of anxiety and some things that can be done this week (and every week) to reduce your stress levels.

Halloween Aftermath
For a family that is conscious of their junk food intake – you now have an abundance of food that you will have a harder time limiting and controlling, for yourselves or your children.  For parents, this will lead to many more requests for junk food and when the answer is “not now” or “you’ve had enough for today” you may be facing tantrums and unhappy kids.  And for those of us that indulge, there may be feelings of guilt for allowing yourself that indulgence.

There is the effect that all of that added sugar, salt and other chemicals has on our bodies that it may not be used to.  This includes both immediate and long-term effects.  However, the most common effect is the sugar rush and the “crash” when our blood sugar drops.

Daylight Savings Time
This year, the night after Halloween is the night that we dial our clocks back.  The immediate effect of an extra hour of sleep is wonderful and something we can all appreciate.  However, the time change affects our sleep and eating patterns; while experts suggest it should only take us a night to adjust to the new time, it often takes us longer to adjust to these changes in daylight.  The major change is the limited amount of daylight that we have.  Many are negatively affected by the lack of daylight and can find it harder to function in the wintertime.

Lack of daylight.  Cold and Snow.  Shorter days.  Cold and Snow.  Longer commutes.  Cold and Snow.  Shoveling.  Cold and Snow.  Can you tell how I feel about it personally?  Winter can be stressful enough but the changing and sometimes finicky weather in Toronto can make the anticipation of winter just as bad as the winter itself.

The Holidays
Halloween is over.  Canadian Thanksgiving has passed.  The Winter Holidays are next and the family time and financial obligations that come with the holidays can be stressful.  There is also a lack of Holiday time until the end of December.  May, July, August, September and October all have long weekends.  In Canada there are none in November.  Meaning that after Halloween ends, we are in it for the long haul until the Holidays.

 Midterms, Reports and Exams
School is definitely in session.  Midterms have passed for University and College students and finals are on their way.  High School and Elementary schools are preparing their reports to go out to students.  Having to evaluate or be evaluated is stressful for anyone.

And so, as I’ve said before, what kind of Social Worker would I be if I presented all of these issues without any solutions.  Here are my 6 ½ strategies and techniques to bust the Halloween Hangover.

1. Breathe – Do it. It will make you feel good. Long… Deep… Breaths…  In through your nose.  Out through your mouth.  Four or five times in a row.  It helps.

2. Watch your junk food intake – If we know that the junk food that we eat has a negative affect on our bodies, watching how much, and when we have it is something that can help us as we make it through.

3. Create a junk food plan with your kids – With all of the added junk food in the house, they will certainly be asking to eat more than usual. Create a plan with your kids about how much can be eaten on each day and stick to it.

4. Make Plans – Don’t just wait for the holidays. Plan to do things that you enjoy.

5. Stay Active – Humans were not built to hibernate in the wintertime. Stay active by going out, getting sun and fresh air.

6. Let The Sun Shine – Open the windows (at least the blinds). Get as much natural light as you can.  You will feel better.

6.5. Be Aware – Now you know about the Halloween Hangover, expecting it might make it easier.  If you realize that you are feeling different, your awareness will trigger these strategies.

If you or someone you know is having a particularly tough time making it through the winter or the anticipation of it, please reach out.  I am here to help.

Please share some of your balanced stress busting techniques?

To learn more about how our bodies are affected by sugar, click here.

To learn more about the effects of daylight savings time, click here.