December can be a hard month for educators. The excitement of the new school year has faded, the end of the semester looms ahead, the holidays add extra stress, and the busy pace of school can get in the way of taking care of oneself. Education is a profession that demands putting others first, often to the detriment of an educator’s health and well-being. We know that we must model what we want to see in others, so it’s important that school leaders model healthy habits and personal wellness for their staff members.
As it’s been said, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” When it comes to time management, school leaders need to make self-care a priority so that their ability to support others will be sustainable and strong. We often get so focused on being there for others that we downplay the necessity of spending time doing the things that sustain our own well-being.
Here are two big ideas for taking care of yourself the rest of the school year:
Make health and wellness a priority
It’s important that we practice healthy habits daily so that we reap the benefits of our positive choices for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. In The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, the author states, “The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is in the simple choices they make every day. Successful people take simple and positive actions that are repeated over time. Unsuccessful people do the exact opposite: they make simple errors in judgment that are repeated over time.” When we make health and wellness a priority, we will be consistent in our efforts to choose wisely.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is important for our concentration, performance, emotional state, and physical health.
- Choose healthy foods. Make substitutions for unhealthy foods, drink an extra glass of water each day, and eat breakfast every day.
- Get out of your office. Walk your campus during the day and try using a mobile standing desk to get in more exercise while working.
- Identify unhealthy habits and triggers. Work with an accountability partner to eliminate and/or reduce both.
Mindfulness is about being fully aware of the present with the quality of openness, curiosity, and non-judgment. We naturally classify things that happen as good, bad, or neutral. We tend to want more of the good, less of the bad, and we ignore the things that we classify as neutral. When we recognize our judgments and accept them as temporary, we can enjoy life’s experiences as they come to us.
- Take a deep breath. When you were a kid, were you ever told to count to ten when you got upset? It’s a good practice, and one that you can do throughout your day, even when you’re not upset.
- Show gratitude. Pay attention to beauty around you and show gratitude by speaking it or writing it. You can start a gratitude journal or simply stating your thoughts out loud.
- Take a walk in silence. As you walk, pay attention to your breathing. Notice your surroundings. Welcome the physical action of your body.
In what other ways do you make your health and wellness a priority so that you can better serve others?
Jennifer Hogan is an assistant principal at Hoover High School in Hoover, AL. She is the 2018 Alabama Assistant Principal of the Year and one of three finalists for the 2018 National Assistant Principal of the Year. She also blogs at http://TheCompelledEducator.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at @Jennifer_Hogan.