practical mental health wellness


Self-Care For K-12 Workers

Preface: K-12 workers are defined in this post as anyone who works with children in a capacity to influence their day-to-day. understanding of life. Principals, teachers, school counselors, management, administration, support staff, class room assistants, auxiliary staff, bus drivers, crossing guards, lunch moms, PTA leaders, volunteers, you get the idea. You're all waking up to be at work by 7:10 AM and I salute you. 

School’s out and educators still don’t get paid enough.

Working in a school is a complex mix of babysitting and TBH, parenting kids and keeping them away from physical destruction. Oh- and let's not forget about the whole lesson plan thing to shape and mold the minds of the future.

I won’t even get into the systemic challenges and barriers to this job, because well- it’s Sunday and we’re keeping it bite-size. 

-deep breath-

So now that school is virtually out everywhere, (unless you’re of course blessed with the ta$k of facilitating summer school, I wanted to spend a moment to thank our K-12 educators and provide tailored self-care for the summer (especially those of you choosing to work in marginalized areas every. single. day.)

I don’t have a disciplinary voice for children who aren’t related to me.  Hell, I barely even listen to myself.  Additionally, I don’t enjoy being an authority; Kids are severely oppressed- but that’s another chat for a different day.  I have no idea how it's done year in and out so I  applaud every single K-12 school professional who decides to wake up every morning to make a difference.

I thank you.

Positive Distraction of The Week

Although these ideas can be applied to virtually any profession, I’m specifically focusing on anyone who works with our little darlings of tomorrow. 

1- Develop

[A Self-Care Plan For the 2017-2018 School Year].  I know its the last thing you want to do at this moment: make another list— but hear me out. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive task. Take a moment to reflect on the last year and how you’re feeling in this moment: the end. Are you completely burnt out? Cynical? Lethargic? - get a head start on decreasing the negative feelings for next year by putting systems in place to help you win at the start.

In essence: work backwards and develop a coping plan.

Figure out ways to stay grounded among the madness that your students may bring. It’s hard enough having your own personal life, but being the caretaker to [x] many students with their issues is exhausting. Figure out what you need to put in place to unwind after a tough day; channel your energy into another activity prior to heading home. 

2- Recharge

How are you going to energize yourself during the summer? Get intentional about what you’re going to do this summer to focus solely on recharging your batteries from the school year.

Example: I don’t acknowledge Jan 1. as a beginning. I always use my birthday as a brand new year of possibilities for me over the next 365 days; potentially think of the end of a school year as a rebirth to who you were and who you want to be and incorporate specific activities to do just that. What are things you did not have an opportunity to complete during the school year? (cause starting school at 7:30 am is cray, I’m sorry). Start there. 

That leads me to:

3- Reconnect to Self

What are things you couldn’t dobecause you were in school? Maybe try out that new recipe that takes 4 days to complete or take a trip to the coffee shop across town that you could never go to because, well- school hours. Get moving on ways to nurture yourself and reconnect. Read books that you actually want to read that don’t include guiding questions, start a new hobby, have experiences that aren’t limited to the confines of the school day. Do it all. 

4- Allow Yourself

What do I mean? — As a teacher (and pretty much every helping profession that exists), how many bad days do you really get to have? Allow yourself this summer to experience all of the spectrum of feels without telling yourself to get your act together before the kids get back to the classroom. Allow yourself more than your planning period to feel how you want to feel without having to repress what you can’t always let out. 

Takeaway: Do whatever it is you want to do, without the guilt and shame of it impacting 30 other little people tomorrow. Long are the days where [x] left her lunch ID back in the cubby or you’re on bus duty when you really just want to drive off and listen to your podcast. Take the summer to re-up, get intentional, and focus on you. In bite-sized steps of course.

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Be sure to follow-up in a week!

Best, Dr. Dyce