Well summer is finally upon us and this season is the perfect time to talk about self-care for teachers and counselors! This is time to practice some self-care as everything slows down a bit. Self-care is described by the American Psychological Association as as providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001) and it is important because we must take care of ourselves in order to be healthy enough- both mentally and physically- in order to enjoy life to the fullest and in order to be our best selves with family, friends, students, and clients. After all, there is a reason that adults are advised on every airplane flight to put the oxygen masks on themselves first and on their children second! We can’t do much good in helping our child, who already has the oxygen mask on, if we are passed out because we didn’t get the oxygen masks on ourselves first!
So, in the spirit of taking care of ourselves first, here are five tried and true ways to practice effective and enjoyable self-care!
1. Schedule It
What do you love to do? Is it reading in bed all day, going for a spa day, binging on Netflix binging on the couch, lunch out at your favorite restaurant? Whatever it is, schedule it in your calendar on a weekly basis during summer! Go get your planner or smartphone right now and make that date night reservation or book those movie matinee tickets right now so life doesn’t get in the way of your weekly happy day! And if you are a parent to young children, as so many of us are, this probably means scheduling your child care at the same time! Or possibly coordinating your happy day with your child’s activity if you don’t have to be a part of it. If you are one of the lucky ones whose idea of a happy day involves your kids, more power to you for scheduling that beach mommy-daughter date. But for the rest of us where happy equals alone time- book your sitter or call that family member who owes you a favor!
2. Call a Friend (or Family Member)
The more we work and spend time with our electronics, the less we interact with other humans. Research shows that human interaction is crucial to our mental well-being, as explained in this article by the Mayo Clinic. So, think of your favorite person and go call them, hang out with them, and just have some fun!
3. Spend Time in Nature (this includes hanging out with your pet!)
Have you heard about the healing power of trees? Yes, this IS a thing. Research has proven that trees clean the air and that there is a direct correlation to improved health when people spend time in an area that has a good trees to humans ratio. Check out this research article by Dr. Robert McDonald who is the Lead Scientist for the Global Cities program at The Nature Conservancy on this topic if you feel like I’ve gone too New Age-y on you. Another nature option is to spend time near water. The sound of water is soothing and helps calm a busy mind. So, that being said, spend some time each week outside, preferably being active- take a walk, go for a run, head to the pool, lay on the beach or just sit in the shade with your dog- whatever the activity, if you spend some time with nature each week, your body and mind will thank you! And if you have kids, model the importance of self-care, enlist their ideas on the best nature activities, and take them with you!
4. Take a Staycation!
As much fun as taking a vacation can be, we all know that travel is loaded with stressors too- the cost, the planning, air travel, unplanned snafus, etc! So, take the most stress-free vacation known to man and give yourself a staycation! Set aside a few days or a week where you turn off all technology, put all your work and chores to the side, and make a concerted effort to do (at home) all the things you would do on an actual vacation. Take a drive, sleep in, see something new in your town, go for a day trip, go out to eat, have dessert, buy yourself some souvenirs (aka- whatever you want) at the mall (or on Teachers Pay Teachers!), and just enjoy all the parts of your city as if you were a tourist there.
5. Give Yourself Permission to do Nothing!
I say take one day a week (can be the same day as your Happy Day), or if that’s too much, at least one day a month and do nothing! Remind yourself throughout the day as you start to clean or make someone a meal or take a peak at your TO DO list, that today is your DO NOTHING day. And you can spend it however you want- lie on the couch with your cat and some ice cream, go window shopping, order a pizza and eat it in bed, meander around your neighborhood, go visit that friend you’ve been wanting to catchup with- whatever you want! PS-This is the day that it’s ok to call in the babysitter. Or just encourage your kid to do nothing alongside you- let them max out on the ipad, each pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or hangout on their own in the pack and play!
On a final note, let’s talk for a moment about those times when self-care is not enough. Self-care is NOT the answer when you work in an environment that is unsafe, disrespectful, or has a crushing workload. In these cases it is time to talk to trusted friends/family or even a mental health professional about making a work change, not a self-care change. Here is an excellent article from educator Rachel Moshman that gives many more details on handling the toxic work environment!
So obviously this post was more about fun self-care than wellness self-care, but that’s what summer is all about, right? Either way, be sure to soak up all the fun and relaxing moments you can, since we all know what the Back-to-School tsunami brings in September for those of us teaching or counseling in schools. Happy Summer!
That brings me to the end of this month’s post. I’d love to hear your ideas on how you take care of yourselves, so leave a comment below! In the meantime, you can find out about my latest promotions, free stuff, or counseling adventures by following me on my School Counselor Stephanie Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest pages!
Source: Bilingual Learner