Self-Care

During these times of stress, the intentional act of protecting one’s well-being and happiness is a must-do for educators, and something that I am prioritizing more so than ever before. The additional workload of teaching remotely, while supervising a young family with their virtual learning, has led to a realization that if am not at 100%, then there is no way that this way of life is sustainable.

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves at the top of our own ‘to-do’ lists

Michelle Obama

For the longest time, I wore ‘being busy’ as a badge of honor. Being tired showed the world just how hard I was working at my craft. Coming into school when I was run down made sense to me, especially if there was a break from school coming up in a few weeks. Like many teachers, I would feel guilty about missing time from the classroom, and saying ‘no’ to people was difficult.

Pran Patel wrote a great blog post on #slowchathealth in which he stated “The children we serve deserve to have healthy, well and happy teachers. Self-care is not an act of the self, it is fundamentally an act of giving, it is neither selfish or indulgent, self-care is essentially part of your job and duty to the young people we serve.

Aside from reading, and listening to music, for me to be at my best, my go-to strategies are to initially focus on the following:

Sleep – Reading Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker was an absolute game-changer for me. Everything we do, we do better on a good night of sleep. Harnessing the power of sleep has made it my superpower. My blog post focusing on getting more sleep during the pandemic has been popular with teachers and students alike.

Food – Ensuring that I am eating nutritiously has been more of an effort recently as too often I forget to eat when I am teaching from home – a great example of how my current work situation isn’t as healthy as I would like. I have spoken before about how hungry students have slower memory, attention problems, lower test scores, and behavior issues. You know who else struggles when hungry? Teachers! My current foodie-fix is the new Jamie Oliver show on Hulu. Spending time in the kitchen, often with my family, is an act of self-care.

Activity – To quote Dr. John Ratey‘s Spark, “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.” For someone who has historically benefited from their relationship with sport – playing and coaching around the globe – you could say that activity and I have been “on a break“. For too long I have been ‘too busy’ to exercise. Thankfully my young family keeps me active and a recent purchase of a Peloton bike has meant that I am now experiencing that high from being active that I hadn’t experienced for many years. Check out my Pinterest board entitled “Brain & Exercise” for almost 200 pins on this topic.

Mindfulness – Working remotely from home means that I no longer have a 70-minute commute to, and a 90-minute return each day. While this has saved me time, and we all need more of that, and has to be good for the environment, I do miss those long drives. Being surrounded by family from morning until night, since March (!), has meant that quiet time, thoughtful time, decompression time is so very much needed. I have blogged about mindfulness and meditation apps before and in health class recently when modeling goal setting I declared to my students that I needed to meditate more. #SpiritualWellness

Ideas, cute memes, and Instagram-worthy images of self-care are everywhere on social media and there are so many great ideas out there, many of which don’t interest me at all. What works for one person might not work for you – Kenny G isn’t for everyone.

So what if I like to go home, throw on some Kenny G, and take a bath?

Ross Geller from Friends

Our situations are personal, and so too are our acts of self-care. What is crucial is that we acknowledge the importance of being at our best and understand that if we don’t “put ourselves at the top of our own ‘to-do’ lists” then we leave ourselves and others wanting.

Important also is that if we have acknowledged a need for self-care, and continue to struggle to find ways in which to successfully protect our well-being and happiness, then we must seek additional support. Talking to others is important, so too is finding support groups and others facing similar challenges.

Just as I ask my students to share their self-care strategies, if YOU have ideas and resources that would benefit the readers of this blog then please share them in the comments below or on social media using the hashtag #slowhathealth

There are THIRTEEN #slowchathealth blog posts tagged as ‘self -care’. I encourage you to read them and follow the educators who have shared their thoughts.

Whatever you are doing for self-care, look after yourself and be well.

#SelfCareSeptember

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