By Orfelina Cisneros
Happy Educator Appreciation Week! A quick riddle for you: If you have three, you have three. If you have two, you have two. If you have one, you have none. What am I? The answer is choice! The more aware we are of the choices we have in practicing self-care, the more happy, positive, and purposeful we will be.
This has been a trying time for many of us educators. Technology can be great, but it can also feel like an invader as we spend hours on electronic devices, going through the day with many demands and seemingly very little time for anything but work. On the flip side, one of the things the pandemic has provided us is the opportunity to learn work-life balance, to take care of ourselves. Self-care is for everyone – educators, parents/caregivers, and students. The good news is that by doing small rituals every day and empowering our students to engage in learning practices to refocus and recharge, we can significantly impact our lives for the better.
There is no right way to practice self-care. You can choose what feels right for you. Below are two strategies I’ve implemented with adults and students alike to build in self-care moments throughout the day:
When was the last time you said something nice to yourself? Thinking and saying nice things the same way we speak to others should be part of our daily thing. Affirming ourselves with words and simple phrases like “I am capable of doing great things” is a practice that can challenge and overcome self-doubting and negative thoughts. Writing an affirmation every day, and placing it in a visible space (your computer, your mirror, your planner), will give you a boost to yourself. You can find daily affirmations here: https://www.uniquedailyaffirmations.com/
The practice of focusing on what is good in our lives and being thankful for the small things we have is called gratitude. It is pausing to notice and appreciate what we often take for granted, like having warm water coming out of your kitchen faucet, the ability to feel your hands, and the opportunity to see the sky. Gratitude allows us to think and reflect, and this helps to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and healthily distract our brains. Building a habit of gratitude is as simple as paying attention to things you noticed and can freely enjoy. Pause for a moment to listen to yourself breathing or how it feels to massage your feet. I have found this extensive list helpful in naming different things for which I’m grateful: https://www.hustleandhearts.com/universal-gratitude-list-100-things-grateful/
Have you used the affirmations and practicing gratitude strategies successfully with your staff and students? Do you have any helpful resources to share? Leave a note in the comments or on our Twitter (@InclusiveEdNY ) and tune in later this week for Rituals That Will Enhance Your Self-Care (Part 2).
Orfelina Cisneros is a professional school counselor working at the Academy of the City Charter Middle School. She is passionate about helping children and adults use social-emotional tools and strategies to become aware of managing emotions and feelings to support their daily self-care practices. Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org