Week 6. Can I be honest and say this is hard? I put on a brave face and a smile, but inside, I am anything but. My anxiety, which I have tried so hard to maintain and keep at bay these past few years, has decided to come out of the woodworks. I am stress eating. I am not sleeping well. I am worried. It is not just my own two children I think about, but all 180 students under my care. Am I assigning meaningful work for them? Is it too much? Too little? When I comment on their work, exactly what should I write since I can’t say it in person, and I know words can be taken the wrong way? When students aren’t engaged, what is going on in their world that is causing them not to complete the work? (And there are so many reasons for this beyond they don’t care, which I don’t believe.) How am I connecting with students when I can’t see them in person? How do I continue to help their emotional well-being while trying to maintain their reading and writing skills?
Distance learning has put so much more out of my control, but what I can control is how I respond. I can create empathy, understanding, and grace for my students and their parents. But I can’t do that if this anxiety, worry, and stress get the better of me. Self-care means so many things, but here are three things that have been working for me. Putting them in place these past few weeks have helped my frame of mind. Made me worry less and be proactive more. Allowed me to be there for my students because my well-being was centered.
- Exercise. This seems like a no-brainer, but exercise creates endorphins that stimulate the brain and body. Since I can no longer go to the gym, I walk outside, rain or shine. 3 miles later I am ready to tackle the day. I purposely set my alarm early so that I not only get exercise out of the way (honestly, it’s not my favorite thing to do), but I get an early start to the day.
- Read. Immersing yourself in another world helps take your mind off the troubles of this one…at least temporarily. I have been reading some new YA books recommended to me by students and librarians, and I am listening to audiobooks with my own children. (I read When the Sea Turned to Silver a few years ago and when I saw it on our library’s list of audiobooks, I quickly checked it out. We just finished listening to it yesterday and it has become my 9-year-old son’s new favorite book.)
- Do something you love. For me, that’s baking and decorating sugar cookies. It not only relieves stress, but it puts me in my happy place. And that is certainly a good place to be.
What things are you doing to take care of yourself? I’d love to hear your ideas!