Self-Care

Self-Care

for the

Weary Soul

Welcome!

Self-care is one of the most overlooked elements that are essential to our health and well-being. We all lead busy lives, but we can’t be too busy that we forget ourselves. Society pushes productiveness and perfectionism, yet these can be counter-intuitive and, often, harmful.

Mindfulness

When writing or teaching, I build in self-care for myself. I breathe with students before and after certain pieces. I am vulnerable when I need to be, but I also set boundaries in order to care for myself. Most of the practices suggested in this book are for the benefit of students as well as teachers. Mindfulness is a practice that benefits everyone. 

Here are some reminders for mindfulness:

  • Set up your space so that you also have a spot to call your own.
  • Practice breathing with students. Even if you only have sixty seconds, it will be enough.
  • Remember your body. Pause and stretch. Flex your fingers and toes. Roll your shoulders. Massage your jaw.
  • Drink some water. Water is essential to life and helps is regulate all of our bodily systems.
  • You should pause at least once an hour to move, release, and re-center yourself. It doesn’t have to take long.
Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is another important aspect of self-care. I encourage you to take a few minutes every week in order to decompress, and reflect on your week, and set new intentions. At the end of each day, I try to decompress in order to check in with my body and my thought process. If I feel any stress or worry, I write it down with a series of questions aimed at finding the source of my negative emotions.

There are years that ask questions and years that answer.

Zora Neale Hurston from Their Eyes Were Watching God

After I process my emotions, I look to the future to set intentions. Your intentions shouldn’t be comprised of things you want to accomplish, Instead, they should reflect what kind of person you want to be. Look to people you admire and look up to. What are their characteristics? What are their values?

So much of what makes us good educators and good writes is our belief in continuous learning and improvement. When things get tough and when I feel frustrated and worn out, I can return to my reflections, questions, and intentions with an understanding that I am constantly changing and growing.

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate self-care into your daily life:

  • Morning Minute- set a 5-10 minute timer in order to write down what you would like to do for the day and what values or characteristics you might need in order to get through your day. Chopra has some useful examples of intentions and how they can be used to direct your energy throughout the day.
  • Sacred Writing- As a member of my local National Writing Project (the Red Mountain Writing Project), I love creating space in my day for some sacred writing. Sacred writing is protected writing time that I can use in order to create anything I want. This is usually where I focus on my creative writing. Throughout the day, I save links and write down ideas that I can use during my sacred writing practice. For some creative ideas, you can look at ThinkWritten’s daily writing prompts.
  • Sketch Notes- Sometimes drawing can serve as a form of reflection mediation. Tinkerlab has some great suggestions on keeping a drawing or sketching practice as well as monthly challenges to keep your drawing sustainable.
  • Evening Conversations- a conversation is a back and forth. It comprises of questions and answers. Don’t be afraid to write down those thoughts and questions that hide at the back of our consciousness. Remember, these conversations are aimed at getting to know yourself better. For more ideas on what you could include in your conversations, see the Journal Prompts below.
Journal Prompts:
Self-Care for the Anxious Mind
  • In order to ground myself, I will describe five sense around me. I see… I feel… I smell… I hear… I taste… 
  • Some ways that I typically use in order to deal with anxiety are… 
  • Feeling calm and safe are important. The things that make me feel calm and safe are… 
  • Feeding forward, some things I can do to help me manage my anxiety are… 
Self-Care for Self-Compassion
  • I am amazing and unique. If I saw myself through the eyes of a stranger for the very first time, I would compliment myself by saying… 
  • However, our inner-critic can be our hardest critic. If I heard a bully criticizing someone the way my inner-critic talks to me, I would say… 
  • Other people say they love me or admire me because… 
  • Speaking of strengths, one thing I do really well is… 
Self-Care to Find Gratitude
  • Today was a great day. I am grateful for… 
  • One thing that made smile today was… 
  • A person that makes me feel valued is ______ because they… 
  • I am thankful that I’ve learned… 
Self-Care to Find Happiness
  • Focusing on happiness, the things that bring me happiness are… 
  • Negativity is always present. Some negative things that take away from my happiness are… 
  • In order to cut out negativity and add happiness, I plan to… 
  • Starting now, the top three things I can do to add to my happiness are… 
Self-Care to Release Anger
  • Today was rough. I am really upset because… 
  • This makes me upset because… 
  • The anger I’m feeling right now makes it hard for me to… 
  • Right now, my body feels… 
Self-Care to Release Worry
  • I realize that I can’t control everything. Today, I am choosing to let go of… 
  • This situation can help me grow by showing me that…
  • I am able to overcome this situation because of my… 
  • One thing that really makes me feel loved or valued is… 
Self-Care to Release Worry (part 2) 
  • I am doing the best I can, by today, the biggest thing I am worrying about is… 
  • The thing I’m worried about I cannot control is… 
  • One thing I’m worried about that I can control is… 
  • After today, I want to… 
Self-Care for Confidence
  • Some characteristics I associate with confident people are… 
  • One way that I embody confidence is… 
  • However, one thing that hinders my confidence is… 
  • One small step I can take to becoming more confident is… 
Self-Care for Confidence (part 2) 
  • I have many talents, but today I am proud of myself for… 
  • The best five minutes of my day were… 
  • I forgive myself for… 
  • Tomorrow, I plan to… 
Self-Care for Creativity
  • Creativity looks different to everyone. To me, creativity is… 
  • Being creative makes me feel… 
  • I feel most playful and spontaneous when… 
  • If I didn’t have to be perfect, I would create… 
Self-Care for Moving On
  • This has been a tough experience. The lessons that I can carry with me are… 
  • If I were to give someone else a pep talk or advice who is going through the same situation, I would say… 
  • In this situation, I can let go of… 
  • If I knew I could trust my future, I would… 
Self-Care for Getting Unstuck
  • An uncomfortable experience that I survived in the past is when… 
  • Some options or possibilities that I’m not seeing in this situation are… 
  • One person I can call and talk to about this is… 
  • On the other side of this experience, my life will look like… 
Self-Care for Self-Discovery
  • I am feeling lots of emotions right now. One emotion that I feeling is… 
  • Taking cues from my body, I can see that this feeling makes my body feel… 
  • The reason that I’m feeling _____ is because… 
  • One thing I can do right now in response to this emotion is… 
Labeling Emotions

As things get overwhelming during the year (because let’s face it, it will get overwhelming), it’s important to label exactly what you’re feeling so that you can get to the root of the issue. For some ideas on how to label emotions and get to the root of what you’re feeling, see the Emotion Wheel below.

Image Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/q6hcgsH
Building Your Community

One of the most important things you can do to decrease stress is to talk to someone. Everyone feels overwhelmed, especially teachers. Find someone who you can talk to about your feelings. If there isn’t anyone in your school building that you can talk to, reach out to others in your district or to others in your professional organizations on social media. Friends, family members, and other community members are usually willing to lend an ear, even if they don’t face the same stressors as teachers or writers; they’re people, too, and know what it’s life to face adversity. For more information on organizations that could help, check out the list below.

Thank you for your visit, and I hope you leave decompressed, reflective, and ready to grow even more.

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