Social & Emotional Learning and Wellness » Step 1: Practice Self-Care

Step 1: Practice Self-Care

Caregivers, healthcare workers, and educators often fall into the trap of sacrificing self-care to help others. Taking good care of yourself is vital for effective teaching in a pandemic. Here are Everett Public Schools' self-care essentials: Eat Healthy, Stay Hydrated, Take Brain Breaks, and Transition at the End of the Day.

Humans need nutrients and energy to keep their bodies and brains working efficiently throughout their work day. Over the course of a 6-8 hour work day, both your brain and body will begin to fatigue if you are not replenishing your energy supplies through eating. 
Strategies to sustain your energy: 
  1. Create a consistent time in your work day to stop work and take time to eat. Add a calendar reminder, and set an alert so that you don't get distracted.
  2. Bring snacks with you, and eat during transitions. Some people prefer not to eat a meal during their work day; bring small snacks (fruit, granola bars, nuts/trail-mix, etc.). Eating small amounts every 1.5 - 2 hours will help supply your body's caloric needs. 
  3. Make a plan to eat with a colleague, and combine a brain-break with your energy needs. Intentional breaks to recharge will help you sustain effort in your teaching practice over the course of the day. 
Drinking water and staying hydrated is crucial for your body processes, including critical thinking and mood stabilization. Adequate hydration supports your body's ability to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Drinking enough water also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.
So how much water is enough???
Experts recommend drinking roughly 11 cups (approximately 3 fills of a standard water bottle) of water per day for women, and 16 cups (approximately 4 fills of a standard water bottle) for men.

Hydration Pro-tips:
  1. Bring a 32oz water bottle with you to work to help you stay hydrated during your work day.
  2. Not all your hydration needs to come from regular tap water! Try adding slices of fruit or cucumber to your water bottle, or try decaffeinated beverages.
  3. Avoid caffeinated or sugary beverages, both of which can contribute to dehydration. 
Brain Breaks are as important for adults as they are for students, and it is essential to allow the most commonly used parts of your brain a rest from teaching during the day.  Brain Breaks don't have to be long, or complicated. Even just taking 10 minutes a day will support good brain functioning. 
Ideas for short-breaks:
  1. Take a short walk.
  2. Check-in with a loved one.
  3. Mindfulness/Meditation practice.
  4. Stretching/intentional breathing.
  5. Laughing with a colleague or student.
  6. Reading something not work-related.
Good work-life balance, and healthy boundaries between work and home is essential for long-term success. Using a transition ritual (like the one below) at the end of the day can help reduce burnout and compassion-fatigue in public service professionals: 
Transitional Routine/Practice: 
As you arrive at the end of the work day, and start to gather your things to leave, try taking 1 or 2 minutes to review his healthy transition routine: 
  1. Take a moment to pause and think about your day.
  2. Consider one difficult thing that happened today. Acknowledge that difficulty and let it go.
  3. Think about 3 things that went well today. Congratulate yourself for the positive impact of your work. 
  4. Check on your grade level colleagues before you finish - are they okay?
  5. Are you okay? Remember, your building leaders are here to support you. Reach out if you're not okay.
  6. Now switch your attention to home - rest and recharge.
Intentional transitions help us build resiliency to tolerate the tough days we experience.
One of the steps in Youth Mental Health First Aid is engaging in Self Care as a First Aider.  To be able to care for children and youth as a Mental Health First Aider, you must first take care of yourself.  Taking care of yourself is a valid goal on its own, and it can help you support those around you.