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From Maharishi School to Princeton

 

Yenet’s Road to Princeton

Yenet Tafeese graduated from Maharishi School, six feet apart from her friends in the summer of 2020. What is she doing now you might ask? Well, she’s currently in the process of taking her mid-terms at Princeton, one of 12 Ivy League universities in the United States. I was lucky enough to steal a few moments of Yenet’s time to find out her story.

Can you tell me a little bit about growing up in Ethiopia?

While I was in Ethiopia I went to an international school so I was able to learn some English however I obviously didn’t know much. When I was younger I really liked jumping rope, even when I moved here I would jump rope a lot. Some specific memories that stand out in Fairfield were breaking my leg about 2 weeks into 5th grade. I had just moved here and I was trying to make friends and I ended up breaking my leg. Honestly, I was really scared about making friends especially after I broke my leg but I realized that through that I was able to meet the people that I am friends with now.

How has Maharishi School helped you on your journey to Princeton?

Maharishi School had helped shape a lot of what I think and it has cultivated my personal thought on a lot of things. Because of programs like project-based learning and consciousness-based education during my time at Maharishi School I was taught to think for myself and try my best to accept others and meet different people. The international environment and the home-like community at Maharishi School gave me a safe space to learn both academically and just general life skills. 

What was your first reaction to being accepted at Princeton? 

I was extremely surprised I got accepted to Princeton. Princeton was one of those schools that I applied to as a why-not school. The school that I just wanted to apply to for fun. So I was surprised to finish my application let alone get accepted!  I went through the Questbridge application process so I applied to almost all of my reach schools through that. In that process, I applied to WashU, Northwestern, UPenn, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Duke, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, and Rice. My plan had been to finish my Questbridge application then depending on how it goes I would have applied to some of my “match” and “safe” schools through the common application. 

What is life currently like for you at Princeton?

My life at college has already started and I am currently taking my midterms. It is very odd to think that it had been a year since I started this process. I think college is very different than what people say it is; but, it is also exactly what people say it is. To further elaborate, college is really based on what you make of it. There is a lot of freedom so discipline and time management are very necessary. There is also the aspect of college that is non-academic and for that time you really have to get yourself out there! 

A lot of the things I do here has been based on me making an active decision. This might be obvious but I didn’t fully grasp this concept until I came here and understood that every decision that I make is up to me and I have to be the one managing things. 

We want to thank Yenet for taking the time to talk to us and congratulate her on this incredible accomplishment! The Maharishi School community is so proud of you, we cannot wait to see what more you will conquer in your life!

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Top 10 Achievements from Maharishi School

Teacher’s Holiday Party 2020

 

 

 

Top 10 Achievements for 1st Semester
2020-2021
Outside is the joy of the drop. Inside is the joy of the ocean. —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
richard beall
Head of School Dr. Richard Beall
1. During the summer of 2020, prior to the opening of school, we formed a COVID task force to prepare the learning environment. Dr. Beall confirms that we met our commitment to make informed, data-driven decisions and preparations for the coming school year.
Families were given a choice: students could attend in person, online locally, and online internationally. Our website describes these detailed decisions and preparations in the “Return to Learn” plan required by the Iowa Department of Education.
We are proud to say that we got through 2020 without a single case of COVID.
Niche Ranking, woohoo!
4. In 2021, Maharishi School ranked #1 in FIVE categories through Niche.com: #1 Most Diverse Private High School in Iowa, #1 Best College Prep Private High School in Iowa, #1 Best Private High School in Iowa, #1 Best Private K-12 School in Iowa, and #1 Best Boarding High School in Iowa. Click to see our success!
Harmony Exists in Diversity
6. Being ranked as the #1 Most Diverse Private High School in Iowa (of 51) is a huge benefit for our students as they prepare to navigate through our multicultural society and world. In our dorm alone we currently have boarding students from China, Korea, Germany, India, Vietnam, and the US.
“Lets talk about race” Book Club
8. Our Diversity-Equity-Inclusion (DEI) Committee sees a strengthening in our DEI programs with new diversity curriculum and workshops, resilience surveys, and expanded counseling services.
Beautification in the School
10. We have successfully completed renovations of all three levels of the Hopson Building. New colors, flooring, and other visual features have brought our main building into the 21st century. Notice the social-distancing decals?
montessori in elementary school
Montessori in the Elementary School
2. The Lower School successfully integrated a half-day Montessori curriculum into the 1st and 2nd grades, and also brought kindergarten into the Lower School building this year. The Lower School also lengthened the school day to provide Social Studies and Science lessons on a daily basis. Click here to read more about this.
Cooking in the Maharishi School Kitchen
3. The Middle School Team works closely together to provide a wide variety of hands-on, project-based learning experiences, from science labs—in the kitchen—to communication skills shared with the community.
Student Council meeting
5. The Upper School Student Council has provided outstanding leadership during the pandemic, organizing weekly safe social activities to sustain school spirit and social-emotional well being. Pictured above is a New Year’s party organized by Student Council!
Acts of Kindness
7. Raise Craze, our biggest fundraiser of the year will officially become a new annual tradition. Students asked friends and family to donate to Maharishi School, and as a way to pay their generosity forward, they performed Acts of Kindness for others. Surpassing our goal of $15,000 we were able to purchase much needed COVID supplies and increase technology for online instruction.
#GivingTuesday
9. Maharishi School is deeply grateful for the support shown during our December “Season of Giving” campaign. Our Development Team together with your help, raised $37,000 through Giving Tuesday and Matching Funds–more than we ever thought possible.
Thank you all for your wonderful support!
Cheers to your good health, happiness, and abundance in 2021!
Maharishi School | www.maharishischool.org | 641-472-9400

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Day In the Life at the Children’s House

Watch a Day In the Life at Maharishi Preschool

Preschoolers develop responsibility through routine

maharishi preschoolAt Maharishi Preschool we are cultivating within each child a sense of independence and capability.  When the children enter into the gates of our playground carrying their lunch and wearing their backpack, a sense of responsibility, independence, and capability is enlivened in them. They know where to put their belongings and they know where they are when they need them or when it is time to go home. During their time at school, they make many choices and their sense of capability grows each day. They are following their internal drive to master skills, grow, and learn, and by allowing them to be responsible for their own belongings, these qualities will continue to be reinforced.  The sense of pride when children feel responsible in these small but significant ways is such a beautiful thing to witness!

Taking precautions in the preschool

children house preschool montessori

When entering the school area all children will get their temperature taken, temperatures at 100 degrees or higher will be sent home.

Masks

Teachers will be required to wear masks while inside, or while down on children’s level outside. Face shields are


Hand washing
 recommended, especially for toddler teachers. Masks will be required while inside for all children 3+. Masks will not be required for children under 3.

Children will wash hands upon arrival, before and after eating, when entering from outside, when seen with hands in mouth/nose, and a minimum of every 2 hours. Washing is completed with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Social distancing

Drop off times are arranged by class so that there are no traffic jams between parents and children. Transitions into the school house for class will be staggered to avoid congestion in the hallways.

Changes to the environment

preschool environmentThe children each have a cubby where they can store their shoes and backpacks. Cubbies will be outside of the classrooms in the hallways so children do not enter the classroom with outside shoes and backpacks. There is only one child per table in all classrooms, unless the table is very large. The classrooms with ages 3 and up will have sanitizing stations for the children to clean their own work, under adult supervision as needed. Water and soap will be used for plastic, metal, and glass materials and natural disinfectant spray for wooden materials. When a toddler completes a work, they will return it to a special shelf to be cleaned between use. A teacher will sanitize the work items and return them to the shelves with available work.

The protocol for Maharishi School’s Children’s House was created with reference to DHS requirements and CDC recommendations, and with approval from IDPH

If you would like to learn more about the Children’s House, click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Find out about our school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Interviewing Science Teacher Asha Sharma

asha sharma

Asha demonstrating a lab to her students.

Learning about Asha

Growing up in a rural town in Rajasthan, India, I was a typical small-town girl. I cared for my family’s cattle and did many household chores, including making dung cakes for fuel. But I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to become more than a housewife. I wanted to learn about and explore the world of science. Even though girls were not encouraged to pursue education, I worked diligently to become the first girl in my large extended family of over 165 people to pursue a career in STEM and to attend a co-ed college. I graduated first division in my undergrad degree and was the only student selected from my state for the prestigious honor of working at AIIMS with one of India’s three electron microscopes.

Teaching science

asha teaching

Asha teaching.

When I worked at the Children’s House at Maharishi School, I loved watching the preschoolers explore the world around them with awe in their faces. They reminded me of my younger self and I felt elated to be able to feed their curiosity. As time went on, my role at Maharishi School changed, and now I’m teaching those same toddlers much more advanced topics in their high school science classes!

This year, I plan to focus on hands-on projects and labs rather than working through a textbook, because I know from my personal experience that exciting, tactile learning helps students retain the knowledge they’re learning for longer. They also enjoy seeing what they learned be put into action, allowing for a better understanding of the material.

maharishi school students wearing mask

Asha’s Science students working.

My long-term goals for teaching are to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic with new skills and to give my students a memorable experience which will bring them joy, not sadness. Like everyone else, the biggest challenge I am currently facing is managing technology and tri-brid teaching (in-person, online, and remote). Because I teach 4 different classes and 3 different subjects where I keep switching between different classes and labs, I need multiple sets of technology (computers, webcams, microphones, etc.) for each period. I knew this would be a hassle both practically and monetarily, so I worked with our wonderful custodian to create a portable cart that transports all the necessary equipment between my classes. It’s like science on wheels!

Covid-19’s impact on her classroom

asha sharma science

Asha and her science cart, it says “Science is everywhere for everyone.”

As a teacher, when I think of school, I think of the joy of seeing students’ bright faces as they walk into my classroom, of watching the kids as they plan something mischievous (and maybe even joining in), and their excited faces as they work in the lab. When the Coronavirus hit, my lesson plans were thrown out the window and I was forced to find something fun and engaging that would prompt my students to hit the unmute button. Online, there were a limited number of projects and labs we could do, and I struggled to find the right balance between work and leniency in my lessons to fit everyone’s different workloads at home. So, it was a relief when we started hybrid learning, but in-person learning came with another set of problems.

Now, I had to figure out how to keep both students in person and online engaged all while dealing with new technology. I tackled the first challenge by joining many online webinars and finding many free online resources, like virtual labs. The second problem was a bit harder to fix due to the fact that I had four different rooms that had to be visually accessible to students, but with a little inspiration I came up with the solution of my science cart. Now, this cart is like my super handy tool and making my life way more easy and manageable.

To watch Asha in action, click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Find out about our school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Our New Teachers: Michael Fitzgerald

Meet our new teacher

micehal fitzgerald computer teacherMichael Fitzgerald came to Fairfield in 2012 to attend MIU for his Bachelors in math with a computer science track and finished in 2016. Over the next several years he worked for a digital marketing company and went back to school to get a masters degree in software development. Michael saw that Maharishi School was looking for someone in tech support, however as soon as his skills became evident to the administration, we realized he was overly competent for the job. He was asked to teach a computer course, which he has now introduced to the middle school students as Technological and Digital Literacy 101.

 

What is Technological and Digital Literacy?

This is not your traditional computer science course. Technological and Digital Literacy focuses less on why computers do what they do but how to computer lab at schooluse and manipulate what’s in them for efficacy in learning. TDL is a class that teaches students how to interact in the tech world and use what’s already available in order to become fluent in technology. This is so important as we go further into schooling entirely online. Michael explains, “this course will prepare you for life. I look at this course as a woodworking, or home economics class, because once you learn that skill you will have it for the rest of your life. The more tech literate you become, the more you will understand new technologies with ease.”

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Find out about our school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Our New Teachers: Amie Saine

Meet Alumni Amie Saine!

new teacher alumni amie saine

Amie leading a  yoga to class.

Amie was born in Gambia and moved to the United States when she was 14 years old to attend Maharishi School. After Amie graduated, becoming an alumni in 2015, she enrolled at Maharishi International Univeristy. There she completed her schooling in 2019 with a degree in business. Amie says,  “After graduating, I had a modeling contract with BMG model and talent agency in New York City. I moved to NYC for almost a year, but then I ended up getting very sick in January 2020. I decided to move back to Fairfield in February in order to focus on my health and live with my parents. Here, I am now teaching kids and having a lot of fun.”

Amie was also a teachers assistant for the fitness and health class at MIU where shea learned how important it is to have fun while doing physical activity. She explains “having fun motivates students that don’t feel comfortable to feel comfortable. In my P.E class I try to make sure my students are happy and excited while doing an activity because having total wellness is the main purpose of my classes.”

alumni teaching yoga

Teaching our students to do tree pose. 

Teaching with covid

While teaching during covid can be difficult, I imagine teaching a physical education class would pose many obstacles to overcome. Amie says, “To be honest, it is very challenging sometimes because most students forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Sometimes, when they are having a lot of fun, the students just want to touch and connect with their friends, but we can’t do that in these difficult times. We play sports that involve touching, so sometimes we have to get really creative with activities just to make it more 2020 friendly without physical contact.” Teaching the kids at Maharishi School brings Amie so much joy and we are so lucky to have an alumni like her to focus on the health and well being of our students!

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Find out about our school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Our New Teachers: Madeline Starling

Meet Mrs. Starling! 

meet madeline our new teacherThe school would like to welcome our new 3rd grade teacher Madeline Starling! Madeline has been a member of the Fairfield and MIU community since August 2012 when she enrolled at the university to complete her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. By the time she’s graduated and completed her Initial Teaching License in 2015, she’d become a wife and a mother.

She believes in the whole-child approach to learning and her teaching style is reflective of the many experiences she has had: classical musical training, gymnastics, deep love for language and thought, poetry, theater, working with the land,
body and spirit. She considers the role of the teacher to be an anchor, to tie together and unite the students, facilitating an experience where every moment is an opportunity to breathe in the madeline new teacherfuture vision of humanity.

“As a first year teacher, I feel blessed to have a
class as amazing as this. Walking in, I was
immediately welcomed by all. I know many of you
already and I look forward to knowing all of you
more.

 As I begin, I hope to inspire each student from within
to do their very best, take responsibility and care
with their environment and each other, and to
find their true voice and learn to use it.”

You might find Madeline jogging on the trails with her twins, riding a bike with her eldest daughter, dancing in a studio, singing with the Chamber Singers, making a mural with her husband, Chad, or just enjoying some coffee in the park. If serendipity’s not working for you and you need to get in touch, you can email her at mstarling@maharishischool.org or text/call at (641) 451-0913.

 

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Find out about our school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Have You Heard Of Green Organic?

The boarding meals at our school will make you drool

maharishi school alumni brea hallen

Whitney Kemac and Brea Hallen

Maharishi School boarding students have been eating in style with seasonal, vegetarian, meals delivered to them by Green Organic. Green Organic is a local and sustainable catering service created out of Fairfield, Iowa. They provide regularly scheduled meals with the convenience of delivery right to your door!

Green Organic has a passionate commitment to sourcing fresh, organic and local ingredients.  Green Organic is dedicated to seasonal cuisine and sustainable lifestyle. They’re doing their part to improve the environment by utilizing reusable glass containers, wooden boards for catering and reusable bags.

The founder, Whitney Kemac and sous chef, Brea Hallen (who is also a Maharishi School alumni) have answered some questions about catering to our boarding students. You can find more pictures of their delicious food on their Instagram @greenorganicfairfield.

How did you come up with the idea for Green Organic?

boarding meals

Green Organic started when all the restaurants in Fairfield shut down during COVID 19. A family friend posted an ad in the Next Door App looking for homemade meals. Having just moved to Fairfield in December and looking for work, this was something I was excited about and could do while taking care of two young children.

I was able to cook and deliver homemade meals with my kids and maintain minimal contact with my client.  I created a versatile menu of organic ingredients, based on the client’s taste and using whatever I could find from the empty grocery aisles. I created signature sauces, dishes and recipes that would be delicious and healthy-using local ingredients I was able to source during a time when sourcing food was a little scary.

I asked if the client wanted it in some sort of Tupperware and he said “Oh, no no don’t put it in plastic”, so I delivered in a reusable glass container the client could just clean and set out at the next delivery time.  Very quickly my experience with hospitality and culinary arts, love and passion for food came through in the dishes- and word of mouth set off a chain reaction.  I now deliver for 30 special clients, honoring their dietary restrictions the best I can. I am so grateful to have found an amazing team who have come together and believe in the future of Green Organic.

What sort of meals do you have planned for the boarding students?

green organic meals

Our Catering Manager & Sous Chef Brea Hallen and I meet together, test and brainstorm new dishes and flavors we think all would enjoy. The students receive meals from our Fall Menu which you can also check out on our website www.GreenOrganicFairfield.com as well as additional meals we come up with that we think they would enjoy.  They also receive an organic dessert on Thursdays which is fun!

Where do your ingredients come from for those meals?

We source produce from Bob’s Barn (who sources special organic bulk produce for us), Stout’s Market, Fairfield Farmers Market, RPA Garlic Farm, Jorge’s Organics, Tim’s Garden at 8th & Grimes, our Greenhouse at the Depot, our family and friend’s gardens/backyards, Hyvee & Everybody’s Whole Foods.  Foraging is a constant process, but our mission is to support local farmers and work with seasonal, fresh ingredients.

We have a very culturally diverse group of students in the boarding program, do you plan on green organicexperimenting with meals from all over the world to accommodate this?

Definitely, creating a multicultural culinary experience is REALLY important to me.  Since moving from New York City where you can really get that experience right at your fingertips, it was something I missed a lot from my hometown.

The concept for the food is Farm-to-Table World Cuisine, at Green Organic we call it “Farm-to-Door” since most of our meals for Meal Delivery and Catering are delivered. I believe food brings people together and a significant way to connect and learn about different cultures is through food.

Brea and I are working on a little questionnaire for the students to get to know a little more what kind of foods they miss the most from their homes.


Do you feel like Green Organics is gaining support from the Fairfield community?

Green Organic was truly created for the Fairfield community. I honestly never pictured myself becoming a Chef, I don’t have classically trained culinary experience.  But I am very passionate about hospitality and the food/beverage industry.  I am always learning and I am very grateful to have a catering to maharishi boarding studentjob during this time when so many people in the industry are struggling so much.

I was really impressed with how abundantly produce grows in Fairfield coming from a concrete jungle, and my feeling was-Fairfield really needs a Farm-to-Table dining experience.  The delivery option has really seemed essential for many of my clients who either don’t cook, or want to get a break from cooking.  Thank you Fairfield, I am honored to provide you with this service, and I only hope the business continues to grow and reach more of the community.

 

Find out what a day in the life of a boarding student is like, click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

To read more about boarding at Maharishi School, click here.

Meet Our New Teachers: Uma Henderson

new teacher at maharishi preschool

Uma Henderson co-leads in the Preschool.

Alumni teaching at our school

Did you know Maharishi School Alumni Uma Henderson is a co-lead teacher in the Children’s House? Uma grew up in Fairfield and attended Maharishi School from K-12th grade. After graduating she moved to Boulder, Colorado to study holistic nutrition and natural medicine. Uma worked in the field of health and healing for many years. Her work allowed her to travel around the world to Thailand, Indonesia, and Hawaii.

After her traveling days came to an end, she wanted to reestablish a home base. That’s when Uma and her partner moved back to Fairfield and had their daughter, Prayma.

Maharishi School community

I asked Uma how she feels about growing up in the same community that she’s raising her daughter in and she said,

“I have to say that I had the sweetest childhood here in Fairfield. It was such a nourishing place to grow up and I am thankful everyday for the friends, teachers, and community that helped raise me and (to this day) still show their love and support.”

maharishi preschool

Uma’s daughter Prayma.

“I always felt that I wanted to return to Fairfield to settle down. For me, at the end of the day, it came down to the human connection and like-minded community that cultivated a true sense of happiness. This made it pretty clear to me where I wanted to raise my own children. My daughter was born here and now she is almost three. The support that I experienced from this community during my pregnancy, and through the first years of motherhood is more than I could have asked for. Returning here has been a really positive experience for many reasons, but a significant one is my opportunity to work at Maharishi School and have my daughter attend the Children’s House. I love being able to see her each day at school and I also immensely appreciate all of the parenting tools I have become familiar with being in this atmosphere.”

Teaching with covid-19

I also asked Uma what her thoughts are about teaching preschool during a pandemic. She responded,

“I had my concerns about returning to teaching at the preschool during the pandemic. Of course the obvious concern of being exposed to the virus, but also I was concerned about how the mask wearing and social distancing would affect the children socially and emotionally. For this reason, this year we have really prioritized their outdoor play time, where they can safely play mask free and also build strong connections with one another and the teachers. Cultivating these connections is key in helping them adapt and feel comfortable when we do have to be inside wearing a mask.”

alumni daughter prayma

Prayma

“The work that we do at the Children’s House very much involves assisting the children in cultivating emotional intelligence. We help them to learn how to identify the emotions that they are feeling and voice them, so as to allow them to process their feelings and experiences in a healthy way. I believe that the emphasis we put on the emotional body allows the children to feel seen and heard. So although I did have initial concerns around the mask wearing, so far, I do believe that the children are handling it quite well, perhaps as a result of the emotionally nurturing environment we have provided.”

Being an alumni

I also asked Uma what it’s like to be teaching at the school where she is also an alumni, and what plans she has as a co-lead teacher this year.

“Returning to Maharishi School has honestly been such a sweet experience for me. Because I spent twelve years here growing up, it definitely feels surreal at times that life has come full circle over a decade later. It amazes me that now I am taking my daughter’s picture in the same place where my mother took mine each year on the first day of school.”

“I feel that it’s such an honor and privilege to be a teacher in the Children’s House at Maharishi School. Although sometimes I

teacher maharishi school alumni uma

Uma

 feel that the students are really teaching me! I believe that each child has a well of innate knowledge and I believe that it’s my job to help nurture that as well as each child’s own inner intelligence and curiosity of the world around them. I have grown so much as a person as I’ve learned to embody the teachings of Montessori, as well as Positive Discipline, and Maharishi’s Science of Creative Intelligence. These three philosophies are what we follow in the Children’s House and they work harmoniously together to create such a smooth and enriching experience for the students and teachers.”

“Teaching children, for me, has been one of the most growth provoking, soul enriching, and heart warming experiences I have ever had. I am thrilled to be guiding these blossoming souls and am so excited to continue for years to come!”

If you would like to learn more about the Children’s House, click here.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Find out about our school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

NY Times Article: Dear Teenagers, Here’s How to Protect Your Emotional Well-Being

Teen health is an ongoing conversation that’s so important to have during this unprecedented time. Our teens can feel especially vulnerable and emotionally strained during times of isolation. We love this article written by Lisa Damour posted on the New York Times about teen health that we had to share it with you!

Guidance for teenagers on staying steady in the turmoil of the pandemic.

Following my most recent column offering adults a 2020 back-to-school list for teens’ emotional well-being, several teenage commenters asked that I address them in the same way that I address their parents: “as intelligent people who have the tools to support themselves and their loved ones through this trying time.”

Dear teenagers, you are right. And I’m so glad you asked. Here’s my guidance on what you can do to keep yourself steady in the turmoil of the pandemic.

Make the Most of Your Emotional Superpowers

Teenagers experience feelings more intensely than adults do, both negative and positive ones. While this amplifies the psychological discomfort you’re certainly experiencing right now, it also means that you get more out of pleasures and delights. These days the only bright spots many of us are finding are small ones, and for a lot of adults, these don’t feel very satisfying. But for you, small comforts and joys are more comforting and joyful than they are for adults. So, when your mood needs a lift, make the most of this emotional superpower.

What makes this power work for you will be highly personal. You might enjoy video games, pumpkin spice treats, cuddling your pet, being in nature, listening to music, going for a run or doing something else altogether. The adults in your life might not quite grasp how happy it makes you to watch your favorite movie for the umpteenth time. That’s OK. Just know what gives you a boost right now and enjoy it fully.

Trust Your Feelings

When you are worried, sad, stressed, frustrated or anything else, trust that you are almost certainly having the “right” feeling. I say this because you have been raised in a culture that is unnecessarily fearful of unpleasant emotions and which may have given you the impression that emotional distress invariably signals fragile mental health. This is not true. In upsetting times, feeling upset proves, if anything, that your emotions are working exactly as they should. You are in touch with reality — a painful one though it is — and attuned to your circumstances.

When your mood is good, trust that too. With the world off its axis, you might wonder if it’s all right to let yourself feel at ease. It is. Should you notice that calm emotional waters follow stormy waves of distress, don’t assume that you have somehow lost touch. In all likelihood, you have processed and moved past a painful mood, largely by allowing yourself to have it.

Count on Your Psychological Circuit Breakers

Sometimes we helpfully make room for unpleasant feelings. Other times psychological defenses kick in on their own like circuit breakers to protect us from emotional overload. Though psychological defenses can be problematic, such as when people use denial to ignore a painful truth, they are often healthy and can help us regulate how much of an upsetting situation we take on all at once.

For instance, you might notice that the anger you feel about your disrupted school days gives way to an appreciation for your growing self-sufficiency. Shifting from exasperation to rationalization maintains your connection to what’s happening while reducing the emotional charge. Using humor — say, when you are inspired to find inventive ways to crack up your classmates to manage the sheer frustration of sitting through online classes — works the same way. Here’s the point: Your mind is built to help you through this hard time. Put stock in its ability to keep your emotional current at manageable levels.

Have a Basic Plan for Mental Health Maintenance

Plenty of sleep and physical activity will improve your mood, reduce your stress, and increase how much you like yourself and other people. Enjoy the company of people who soothe and energize you. Steer clear of those who leave you feeling stirred up or spent.

Distribute your mental energy with care. So much will go sideways this year, and you have every right to resent the challenges and frustrations of Covid-19. Allow yourself time to be upset. Then try to direct the bulk of your energy toward that which you can control. What kind of friend do you want to be this year? What do you want to learn and get better at? What can you do to support others? Focus on what remains within your power, because exercising that power will help you feel better.

Understand When to Worry

If distress is to be expected, when is it time to worry? A first reason would be if your unwanted emotions start to feel like bad roommates: constantly around and taking the fun out of everything. It’s one thing if sadness, anxiety, irritation, outrage or grief stop by for a visit. But it’s another if they move in or linger for more than a day or two.

A second reason for concern would be if you find yourself routinely using unhealthy strategies to numb or contain painful feelings. Avoiding everyone, being cranky all the time, misusing substances, or sacrificing sleep to binge on social media may bring relief in the short term but create bigger problems down the line.

Finally, you should be worried if you feel you might harm yourself or do not feel safe in some other way. Should you be concerned about your own well-being, or that of a friend, reach out to a trusted adult. Tell a parent, a counselor at your school, or any other grown-up you can count on to take the situation seriously and mobilize the proper supports.

These are incredibly difficult times that are emotionally taxing for everyone. But teenagers should not underestimate the value of their own special strengths. Understanding, harnessing and protecting your mental health resources will serve you well now, and for the rest of your life.