As the dark days of winter wrap around us and the whirlwind of school and holiday season obligations take over, it is easy to put everyone and everything ahead of yourself. Educators are known for wanting to do everything well – an admirable trait, but one that can come at a cost. Wearing yourself down in the quest to do it all won’t help anyone, least of all you. If you’ve flown, you’ve seen the safety demonstrations that tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first in case of emergency, then take care of others. We can learn from that!
Heading into the holiday season, take time to reflect on what really matters to you. Many of us have complex family situations. They run the gamut from dealing with aging parents, young children, teenagers, in-laws and blended families, to facing the holiday season alone or any combination of these. It seems we are often just surviving the break instead of actually experiencing the joy of the season and the rest that comes with much needed time off. Competing priorities are always pulling us one way or another and we often place ourselves at the end of a long list of to dos.
If that sounds like you, take a moment and consider how things could be different. Is it possible that they could be? How can you take the busy-ness out of the holiday season and invest in your own well-being this break?
There is no magic pill for well-being, but we all know when we aren’t there. Here are some ways you can make a difference for yourself.
- Take care of your physical self. Eat well, exercise, get enough rest …. Easier said than done, but are there baby steps you can take towards one or all of these goals to help you feel better? The body – mind connection is powerful. Taking care of one enhances the other.
- Mind your relationships. We are social creatures. Time with family and friends should be joyous and welcome. If it is a chore for you to be social, reflect on ways to make it easier. Perhaps combining some time together with a physical activity could help. Instead of hosting a dinner you have to make, consider hosting a pot luck. Alternatively, it is equally important to know when some alone time is just what you need.
- Be present. This one is also easier said than done. Educators are used to having minds that multi-task. Are you able to slow down and concentrate on a simple breath? Are you able to set down your phone or iPad and truly give your full attention to those you are with? Equally important – are those you are with able to also be present?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your needs up front. Taking time to ensure you are well both physically and mentally, will only enhance the lives of those around you. Enjoy this holiday season and some well-deserved down time. Take care of you to ensure you’re recharged and ready to face the opportunities and challenges that await in 2018!
There are a wealth of resources available online. A few you might want to explore are:
Nancy Baldree is a member of ETFO Executive Staff