June 24, 2021

Five Tips for Starting with Self-Care

Picture of reflecting pool

After a challenging school year requiring many adjustments, school staff may want to start the 2021-2022 school year with an intentional focus on supporting their own wellness. Let’s examine ten practical ideas that could lead to a more focused and balanced new school year!

  1. Daily Emotional Check-ins: As you get ready to start the day, take a minute to ask yourself “How am I doing today?” Take stock of whether you are starting the day with low or high energy, whether you are distracted by worries or impending tasks, and the emotion that best describes your mood. There is no wrong answer, but paying attention to ourselves can help us deploy coping strategies if we need them. Recognize and affirm that there will be some days where we feel better than others and that is okay.
  2. Take a Brain Break: Our brain needs to rest every two hours. When you have 3 to 5 minutes, avoid checking your phone or email, and instead invest in a mindful moment. Focus on your breathing and intentionally work to deepen and slow your breath. Or, focus on your physical sensations of sitting in the chair and how your clothes feel on your skin. Brief mindful moments help us prepare our brains for another period of work and attention. In the end, as this practice becomes a part of your daily routine, your brain and body will thank you.
  3. Practice Gratitude: Find one or two times throughout the day to intentionally name something you are grateful for. While you might quickly think about important people in your life, also include those small things that make your live more enjoyable. Are you grateful for the colorful pens that you write with throughout the day? Does the chair in the lounge let you relax?
  4. Self-Compassionate Care: While we are frequently willing to forgive others for the small imperfections we all have, it may not come naturally to provide that same level of compassion to ourselves. If you find that you are feeling frustrated or critical of yourself, imagine that your best friend was in your situation. What would you say to him or her? Imagine telling those same messages to yourself. Practice providing the level of kindness to yourself as you would to the people in your life that mean the most to you.
  5. Set a Meaning Reminder: At the end of the day, remind yourself that you made a difference in a student’s life today. While we can’t always know what small moments are most impactful to others, showing up as a caring, compassionate, and trustworthy adult in a child’s life is a protective factor that can help children succeed even when they face challenges.

Self-care activities take practice to build into our daily routine, but they do not need to take a lot of time. And, the impact can be significant – leading to better attention, stronger relationships, more satisfaction with work and home, and greater health and well-being.

Research suggests that it takes twenty-one days of consistency for a practice become a habit. Start small and give grace, your mind and body will thank you.

4 children dancing, surrounded by plants
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