Every Sunday night, my high school principal sends a beautifully crafted email of encouragement and wisdom to the faculty. Of course there’s pertinent information as well, mostly updates and important dates to remember, but at the heart of her messages are words of inspiration—and this week’s was no different. Just three days ago, I received an email that reminded my colleagues and me of the importance of self-care. We’re one week shy of midterms (insane!!!), and finally halfway through the longest term of the school year. Faculty members have been trucking away like trains on a track, turning our wheels faster and faster, not breaking, not stopping, and not resting since we started orientation and planning week in August. We’re exhausted, sleep-deprived, dehydrated, famished, and probably a hop, skip, and a jump away from falling ill or quitting (whichever comes first, right?). We’re turning into zombies and pod-people—tiny shells of our previous existence. Okay, okay…maybe I’m being a bit dramatic here, but when we stop and take a moment to breathe and reflect deeply, we can start to see and feel what we’ve often been ignoring. And as I sit and consider my own thoughts and feelings, I can’t help but think about yours: how do the students feel?
In the eloquent email, my principal made it clear that we should advise students on ways to take care of themselves—so as not to turn out like their zombie-like teachers, of course! Students should be pacing themselves and staying healthy, but how can they find time to take care of themselves when they’re so busy meeting their academic and non-academic commitments?
Coming off of last week’s post on “treating yourself,” we must all take some time out of our very busy days to self-invest and practice self-care, especially right now as we enter cold and flu season. The fact is, the number of assignments you receive will increase, your tests and quizzes will become more and more difficult, and you will take on more responsibilities to beef up your resume and college applications. Your stress levels will undoubtedly rise, but you can do something to prevent yourself from turning into a zombie. You can maintain a healthy, balanced life by taking care of yourself. Need some suggestions? Give the following a shot:
Get outside. Step away from those textbooks, remove yourself from those terrible florescent lights, and head outside. Go for a walk or run around the block. Get some fresh air and give your brain a much-needed break.
Volunteer. There’s nothing like giving back to those in need, and oftentimes when we enrich the lives of others, we in turn enrich our own.
Dance. Turn off the computer and turn up the tunes. There’s nothing like a dance party to literally and figuratively shake things up. Let go of your monotonous schedule, let loose, and have some fun.
Laugh out loud. I’m sure you’ve heard that old phrase “laughter is the best medicine” at least once in your life, right? Well it’s true! Laughing reduces stress and pain, relaxes your body, boosts your immune system, and releases those feel-good chemicals called endorphins. So turn on your favorite Netflix series, and spend an hour (or five) binge-watching until you laugh so much you’re in (happy) tears!
I know it’s hard to balance everything, but remember: you can’t give 100% of yourself to anything if you’re running on EMPTY. Devote some time every day, every week, and every month to reenergize, refocus, and replenish your heart, mind, and soul. Prioritize yourself. Make an appointment with YOU, and put it on your calendar so you won’t forget. Check in regularly. Ask yourself: Do I feel tapped out? What do I need to feel good and whole? Surround yourself with those good things and people. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that drain you instead of fulfill you. Whatever you do, try not to over-schedule or over-exert yourself. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!
What is your self-care plan? Comment below.