SELF CARE FOR SCHOOL STAFF
Staff self-care has become an increasingly salient topic in education over the last several years. As educators learn more about trauma we;
(a) Understand the increasing demands on us to be well-regulated so we can help other students feel safe
(b) Recognize the impact of stress on our own well-being, health and performance
(c) Acknowledge that students are not the only ones that have ACEs. Learning about ACEs often leads us to see the ongoing impact of our own adverse experiences.
In this post I want to talk about self-care with the hope educators can both understand what it means to engage in self-care, and give you some strategies to get going!
1. Self-care is not something else you have to do. It’s something for you, and it should be enjoyable. It should not feel like a chore.
2. Self-care is not something you DO. It’s a way of life. Taking some deep breaths and then rushing back into a fast-paced and stress-filled life is like eating a stick of broccoli, patting yourself on the back for eating healthy and then spending the rest of the day eating French fries.
3. Self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care helps you be at your best. It also models healthy behavior for your students and co-workers. Self-care also helps you be a pleasant and well-regulated person, which pays big dividends when interacting with others.
Five Self-Care Strategies:
1. Don’t think junk thoughts: When you allow yourself to think thoughts like “I am bad at my job,” or “I’m a failure as a parent”, or “I look terrible,” you are allowing junk thoughts into your brain. Just like junk food provides no nutritional value and harms your body, junk thoughts do nothing but make you feel bad and suppress your motivation for change.
2. Focus on what you can control: There are some things you have power over, and some things you don’t. For any situation, you can probably imagine a lot of possible negative outcomes. Instead of worrying about what could happen in a worst-case scenario, focus on making consistent quality decisions. Over the long term, this will pay big dividends.
3. Do what you love: Do what makes you happy! Cook, go for walks, watch your favorite show, hang out with good people. There is nothing selfish about recharging your batteries. Don’t make it the last thing on your list.
4. Express Gratitude: Gratitude, that is, getting very specific about the things in your life that you are happy about – be it small or large – isn’t just something you do to feel good. Gratitude trains your brain to see positive outcomes, and possibilities. It helps overcome humans’ bias to notice and attend to negative things in our environment.
5. Give: Giving and doing things to other people isn’t just good for them, its also good for you! Giving has been shown to increase happiness, gratitude, health and social connection and better yet…its contagious! Here is a great article on giving: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you
What are some ways you approach self-care?