Here at Laughlin Children’s Center, we are well aware that teaching, providing therapies to children, and assisting families with their daily struggles can be some of the most rewarding work on the planet. What we don’t often talk about is that it can also be stressful. It is vitally important that we stay refreshed, passionate, and focused in order to best serve our clients.
For many therapist and teachers, the holiday break at the end of December provides an opportunity for a rest (at least from work!). A great article published by Edutopia.com gives tips on making the most of the winter break to renew your body and mind. Find it here. Some of the article’s suggestions are great for parents as well as teachers. Limiting screen time, practicing mindfulness, and exercising are, in fact, good for everybody!
The article suggests taking the first day of break as a strictly Rest-Only day by turning off all electronic devices and sleeping as much as possible. After this, commit to participating in daily or weekly guided relaxation and/or meditation (many can be found for free online). There are scientifically verified benefits of participating in these including decreases in perceived stress, emotional exhaustion, and depressive symptoms. Keep in mind that learning to relax and meditate can be frustrating at first, and it requires repeated practice to achieve the benefits mentioned.
Additionally, practicing Mindfulness can decrease your day to day stress. Mindfulness is a way to train your mind to create space between a potential stressor and your response to it. Try setting a peaceful sounding alarm to go off every half hour during your day. Each time you hear it, take three deep breathes and focus on the present.
Participating in regular exercise has long been a natural solution for stress among many other health problems. There’s a reason exercise is a go-to: it works! Completing a rigorous (or relaxing) workout releases feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine. It will also help you to sleep better!
Increase your self-confidence and decrease negativity by choosing an affirmation to repeat each morning. Affirmations are sentences aimed to affect the conscious and the subconscious mind. The words composing the affirmation bring up related mental images into the mind, which could inspire, energize and motivate. The idea behind affirmations is that repeating them affects the subconscious mind, which in turn, influences behavior, habits, actions and reactions. Affirmations you might try include:
- I am competent and capable.
- I am making a difference in children’s lives.
- The work I do matters.
- I am thankful to have a challenging and fulfilling job.
By taking care of yourself, you can not only serve your students or clients to the best of your ability, but you can also be a better role model for them.