Educators know that September can be a challenging month. It’s the first of the school year, and with the excitement, it also brings anxiety, stress, and difficulties as teachers, students, and administrators adjust to the “new normal.” One of the best things educators can do during this time is to promote your own health, happiness and well-being with a daily practice of self love and self-care. Many of us feel that taking time for ourselves simply cannot happen, isn’t practical or logistically feasible. The health of the educational system is dependent on the health of each and every individual educator.
Maybe you already take excellent care of yourself, eat right, exercise, are sure to have plenty of people and activities in your life that fill you up emotionally and spiritually. If that is the case, feel free to read on to see if you can take your self care up a notch. But, if you are like many educators– self care might currently not be on the top of the list! We are hopeful that it will soon be a daily practice for you.
Over the course of this month, we’ll focus on ways to make self-care a practice for the ultimate goal of promoting positive habits in the inclusive classroom. First, let’s look at how fulfilling our own needs can help us fill the needs of our students.
THE FULL CUP
When our cup is full, it is easier for us to share with others. We have the presence of mind and energy to give to others, our patience levels are higher and we can function better for ourselves and for our students. Alternatively, when we are depleted, exhausted and running on empty (or mainly on caffeine) we can be short of temper, short on presence, short on exactly what our students need from us; our positive attention, energy and love.
It is our dream for all educators to have full and overflowing cups: those who are rested, and in the right mindset and heartset to support all students with love and kindness. Supporting all students requires intense levels of energy and presence and patience. But working with students who have challenging behavior can feel very personal and emotionally taxing.
When your metaphorical cup is full, what does that feel like? It might feel like satisfaction, comfort, like winning at life. When your cup is full you might feel rested, happy and patient. When our cups are empty, quite the opposite is true. We feel tired, depressed and short-fused. In order to determine what actually fills your cup we want you to pause and take some time to think through the concept.
What are your cup fillers? Here are some examples:
- Getting enough sleep
- Nutrition- eating right
- Me time or quiet time
- Exercise and movement
- Learning or reading
- Yoga or stretching
- Organization and tidying
- Spirituality or meditating
- Creating… an art piece, knitting, writing
- Journaling or writing
- Being with certain friends
- Spending time with family members
- Hanging out with certain colleagues
- Doing a hobby
- Playing sports
- Going to church or synagogue
- Doing absolutely nothing
Now, we make a plan of action. How can you systematically put more of your “cup fillers” into your life or daily experience? How can you shift your emotions and levels of energy for example moving away from feelings of overwhelm, scarcity and sadness, and towards feelings of balance, support and happiness?
What is your plan to fill your cup?
If your cup is full, not only will you feel benefits, but your students will benefit. Your co-teachers will benefit. When we practice taking care of ourselves, we are better prepared to care for others.
On the next blog, we’ll share how gratitude can be transformational in the classroom.