A Year of Self-Care
The beginning of school is an exciting time. Teachers return energized, fired up, and ready to go. Parents drop their students off with glee in their hearts. Students return in their new clothes, new shoes, new backpacks… ready to see their friends again. The beginning of school is full of joy and excitement.
Things begin to take a bit of a change around early October. The joy becomes fatigue. Parent complaints begin to start pouring. Students are dragging in each morning (when they decide to come). Teachers are a bit tired because the day to day grind begins to take a toll. The one person who is supposed to keep it all together is the campus leader. Although the campus leader is expected to keep it together, they themselves are experiencing the same drain as everyone else.
How does the leader keep everyone around them excited about teaching and learning when the leader is just as tired? The key to being the positive influence on the campus is self-care. The leader must learn to take care of themselves so they are ready to care for others.
Tips for Self-Care
Find a hobby
Education is hard work and time-consuming. Working every minute of the day may seem noble, but it’s not healthy. Find something (non-work related) that you find interesting. Reading, shopping, working puzzles, working out, sporting events, etc. Etch out time each day to indulge in your hobby.
Find a time during the day to refuel
For me, lunchtime seems to be my time to refuel mid-day. When I was a teacher, I ate lunch with a group of ladies in my classroom. We talked about our families and our personal lives. One day we realized we hardly ever discussed work during our lunchtime. That actually was a good thing. That was our time to relax mid-day and refuel.
As a leader, I’ve done a few things. On one campus, the leadership team ate lunch together. Again, we mostly talked about our family and our personal lives. The mid-day refuel was just what we needed to make it through the remainder of the day.
As a leader, when I’ve been in places where I didn’t eat with a group, I would close my office door, eat, and either read, surf the net, or work a crossword puzzle for 30 minutes. It is a great way to relax and unplug from the daily grind.
Find and consistently follow routines (morning and evening)
I’ve read many articles about what successful people do to start their day and to end their day. I’m not sure mimicking what “successful” people do is a wise move because we all are wired differently. I, instead, would suggest that you find what works for you.
I’ve found that for me, my morning routine of working out on the treadmill, reading my daily devotion, and praying works wonders for me. The treadmill workout gets my blood flowing and helps me prepare myself for the grind of the day. The devotional reading and prayer time gets my spirit ready for whatever may come my way… and in leadership, you never know what will challenge you each day.
Self-care is something we usually don’t think of until we are drowning. I challenge you this year to plan for it and make it a daily habit to take care of you. Do you accept the challenge?
Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.