Blog · May 22, 2020
Being a role model can be tricky because the things we do affect those who depend on us. This is especially true when we are unsure of how to respond to the uncertainty in new circumstances. During uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to take care of ourselves for two reasons. For one, when we practice self-care, we are stronger, more resilient, and better able to be patient and present for our students and their families, and secondly, by taking time for self-care, we model an essential life-skill for the young people in our lives.
As educators, it’s second nature for us to focus our energy on making sure our students have what they need for success. These days, teachers are making sure students have everything from access to Wi-Fi to access to school lunches. We want the best for our students and take seriously our responsibility to help them however we can. In recent weeks, teachers have been busily creating a whole new learning program all the while managing the adjustment of having their own families at home to care for. However, we need to recognize the progress that has already been achieved in such a short amount of time. Teachers have risen to this shift tirelessly, modifying lesson plans, making themselves available for one-on-one video calls, even providing customized lessons for students who have had difficulty seamlessly moving to a distance-learning context.
Students are also experiencing the challenges that come with a suddenly interrupted school year. They miss their routines, their peers, and their teachers. They are looking to the adults in their lives for cues on how to respond healthfully to change and uncertainty. To help our students navigate these waters, we should be mindful of our emotions, modulate our responses, and exercise patience with others and ourselves. In this way, we can demonstrate to the young people in our lives how they too can respond to strong emotions with healthy coping strategies.
Self-care can take many forms. Maintaining a balance between work and down-time, setting clear personal boundaries, or just taking a little time to be alone and decompress can ease the anxiety that comes from feelings of overload. Giving ourselves the space and time to express our emotions through journal writing, meditation, or relaxing with a cup of tea can bring calm and comfort. When we care for ourselves, we give ourselves energy to recuperate. These investments in ourselves will reap returns of increased resiliency.
The young people in our lives look to adults for guidance whether they realize it or not. They take note of how we react to stressful situations and how we manage our self-care. Modeling effective coping strategies and taking time for ourselves shows our students that we are stronger when we prioritize our own health and wellness. Ultimately, the time we spend caring for ourselves allows us to give more to those around us. When we are recharged, we are more resilient and ready to tackle the challenges of the day with strength and optimism.
Resources for teachers: