As an educator, it can be easy to forget about self care.
I see my coworkers support our students with all they have to give, day in and day out. It’s just what we do. However, without established and sustainable self-care practices, educators run the risk of health issues, compassion fatigue and burnout, all of which can compromise their ability to continue to provide quality education.
As a school occupational therapist, I am passionate about mindfulness and movement. I work throughout the day to incorporate these skills into my instruction. However, this month, I decided to take the lead with a co-worker and encourage our staff to use these strategies for their own self care. The old adage is true, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”. Here is how I rolled out our Staff Self Care Challenge.
Brainstorm Simple Self Care Strategies
I started by brainstorming simple self care strategies that staff could use. Then, each day staff found notes in their mailboxes encouraging self care moments such as stretches, guided imagery activities, and quick little reminders to stop, breathe, and move mindfully in the moment. I began to notice that staff were taking time for self care, on purpose. Download and print this PDF for our ideas.
It can be challenging to develop new habits. To encourage participation, I built in an incentive plan. Once participants had completed an activity, they would put their name into a drawing. Five winners received a goodie bag from SBell Wellness and a Move Mindfully® Card Deck. Our grand prize winner won a massage; thanks to a generous donation from the community. The prospect of fabulous prizes definitely increased enthusiasm!
Since our mindfulness month, I can still hear teachers and staff chatting about mindfulness and encouraging each other to take these little moments. This fun activity is a simple way to introduce and encourage self care strategies. I notice that we, as a staff, are beginning to, “Pay attention on purpose to the here and now with kindness and curiosity, so we can choose our response.”
What have you tried to promote staff wellness? What’s worked? Leave a comment!
“Everything you need, your courage, your strength, compassion, and love; everything you need is already within you.”
Shauna Bell, MOT, OTR/L
Shauna is a school occupational therapist at District 47 in Crystal Lake Il. She is also a Yoga Calm® certified youth yoga instructor, natural solutions educator with dōTERRA and is currently studying for certification as an Integrative Health Coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.