COVID-19 and SEL

Look, we can’t control the world around us. The only thing we can control is how we react to it.

What a crazy time we all live in. What was life like before the quarantine? 3 weeks ago seems like another lifetime.


As the new realities of being completely housebound are setting in, we wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your fears and anxieties. There has been a major disruption to our ecosystem, and its effects are trickling down across the globe socially, politically, economically, and scientifically. For educators and parents, this means disrupted routines and a shift to online learning and online business, if you’re lucky. We’re not used to having to play parent, child-wrangler, baby-sitter, businessperson, and teacher 24/7, and our children aren’t used to that either. So, it seems that everyone is asking themselves: “What is the right way to cope with this upside-down world?”

We need to look to SEL for evidence-based practices to help us now and to support us when we eventually return to normalcy. These skills can help us manage the tornado of emotions we will be having over the next weeks and, unfortunately, months.

Here are some helpful practices we got from our partners Move This World.

1. Notice Stress and its Effects

This is a stressful time. While stress in small doses can build a pathway for challenge and growth, this type of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic is chronic and all encompassing. In times like these, negative emotions like fear, anxiety and panic drain our mental resources and ability to make clear and productive decisions. But, noticing this stress and accepting it through mindfulness practices brings a self-awareness that helps us slow down, be present and be able to show up every day in ways that benefit ourselves and our families.

2. RULER Approach

Building upon noticing stress and effects, is the RULER practice as recommended by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence:

  • Recognize emotions in self and others
  • Understand the causes and consequences of emotions
  • Label these emotions accurately
  • Express emotions appropriately
  • Regulate emotions effectively

At New Way, we teach our learners the RULER approach through our various programs. This builds an emotional intelligence that underscores our capacity to learn, develop and maintain mutually supportive relationships, and be both physically and psychologically healthy.

3. Routine Reminders and Check-ins

Routines ground us and create a safe and predictable environment in this ever-changing reality induced by COVID-19. Check in with how you are feeling a few times a day, the same way each time. Avoid judging your own and others’ emotions. Accept them. They are yours. Be kind to yourself. Monitor your social media usage by asking yourself: is this making me feel more isolated? Or is this helping me feel good? Be intentional with your time. And remember, always check-in on your loved ones.

Look, we can’t control the world around us. The only thing we can control is how we react to it. Give yourself permission to feel all emotions. It starts and ends with gratitude, empathy and compassion. Lean into SEL.

As always, be the best version of yourself.