3 Simple Questions to Spark Reflective Thinking

The new school year is here. As we all grapple with new teaching methods, responsibilities, and uncertainties, it is more important than ever to allot time for individual reflection. Making time for reflection is about more than helping students adopt executive function strategies independently; giving ourselves space and time to engage in reflection allows us to re-center and better tackle the plethora of unanticipated challenges ahead.

1. What is making you feel stressed?

Is there a specific challenge or situation causing you to feel upset? Your to-do list has grown exhaustive. A relationship in your life may be tense. Perhaps your stress roots in a collection of different situations, and the combined effect weighs heavy on you. Recall times in the past when you have felt overwhelmed, and ground yourself in the knowledge that you have navigated tough situations before, and you will again. Identifying how you are feeling is the foundation of emotional regulation.

2. Why?

Reflect on the “why” behind your feelings. Why is this particular scenario causing distress? Understand that it is the overwhelm of tasks to accomplish, the conflictive nature of a difficult conversation with someone, or the uncertainty of a situation that drives the unsettled state. Avoidant behavior like procrastination may be hiding the real reason for a negative emotion. Identifying the root of your sentiments provides relief, and allows you to more effectively generate a plan to quell them when you are ready to do so.

3. What would make you feel better?

Exercise, play with a pet, take a nap, listen to music, meditate, or call a friend. Do what eases your stress and makes you feel better, and don’t feel bad about it. Once you are in a better headspace, you can return to your stressors refreshed and use proven and individualized strategies to remedy them.

We hope that these reflective questions can help you navigate the stress of an uncertain and challenging year. As the year goes on, look for strategies you can use to help your students cope with their own stress.

  • Iris Jeffries, SMARTS Intern

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