***Post written by Howard Wakkinen, Graduate Credit Chair for WSPA***

As the end of the school year quickly approaches (and you see light at the end of the tunnel), you may be eagerly anticipating all the “things” that you will now get to do during the summer break that have been neglected for the past nine months while school has been in session. Some of those enjoyable longings might include:

  • reading for fun,
  • catching up on home improvement projects, knitting / crocheting / painting / drawing / crafts,
  • beautifying your yard / flower beds / gardening,
  • connecting with friends and family, hiking / camping / fishing / being outdoors,
  • exercising,
  • watching Food Network and trying to recreate that recipe that looks ‘oh so delicious,’
  • or a whole slew of other preferred activities.

For others, you may have already over-booked yourself for the summer season, which will ultimately make you look forward to the structure and normalcy that the new 2019-2020 school year will bring. Whether your grand summer plans involve a long list of self-care items or being equally busy as you have been during the school year (or a combination thereof), I want to challenge you to FIND ways to regularly charge your batteries or engage in self-care choices that allow you to look forward to waking up each and every day and living a purposeful, meaningful life. Our chosen professions (within the education world) alone have great meaning and purpose. We are in the business of positively influencing and educating the next generations who will lead and guide our schools, communities, and country. Is there any more important work / job / calling than that of an educational team who works together to create opportunities for the upcoming generations?!

With that in mind (knowing that we are involved in the most important work on the planet), our choice to personally and professionally take part in regular self-care activities is essential to our and our students’ overall success. If we have low batteries and are not putting forth our best foot, our students and school teams suffer. If we are not at our best, how can we expect our students and teams to be at their best? There is grave danger in not having charged batteries as we go about our daily lives. For example, if your cell phone does not have a charged battery and runs out of juice, then you will not be able to utilize its function to communicate with others and potentially not be able to make a call in an emergency situation. Our minds and bodies are the SAME! If we have not engaged in our preferred activities, hobbies, or self-care choices, then our minds and bodies will not be ready to optimally perform when daily challenges and emergencies arise. When our batteries are not charged, life’s daily stressors will begin to accumulate and this accumulation magnifies small stressors causing them to be mountains (instead of mole hills).

Again, I want to challenge each of us (me included) to regularly and consistently choose self-care activities not just in the summer time, but regularly and consistently throughout the whole calendar year! As we successfully model taking care of ourselves and run on full batteries, we will be modeling resilience and making deliberate choices for our own benefit as well as for all those with whom we interact on a regular basis. Choosing self-care is choosing to put forth our best efforts. It is simply our choice. Let us all choose happiness by choosing to take care of ourselves.

Discussion Questions:

  • What self-care activities do you participate in?
  • How do your self-care activities change from the school year to the summer season?
  • What other analogies would you use to describe the importance of self-care (e.g., when on a plane, the flight attendant instructs all to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others – if you’re not alive and getting oxygen, you can’t help others)?

Resource Links (from a quick Google search):

    • 1-page summary of a handful of self-care ideas (from a social worker)
    • 1-page summary (from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
    • 12-page document (check out page 11 with a list of self-care ideas)
    • 11-page article (maybe start on page 7 for ideas on creative self-care strategies)
    • 44 pages loaded with information and self-reflective type questionnaires