|photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels|
by Catharine Hannay
- Even a simple trip to the grocery store feels fraught with peril.
- Whatever your plans may have been for Easter, Passover, or Spring Break, it's very likely that's not what ended up happening.
- You may be worried about friends and family who are ill, or who are working on the front lines of health care.
- If you're a teacher, you've likely been dealing with technology glitches as well as the odd combination of social isolation and 24/7 accessibility.
- Meanwhile, many of you have been trying to balance the needs of your own children with the needs of your students.
- And all of this is on top of whatever ongoing issues you may be dealing with in your personal life, your family, or your community.
However you're feeling is perfectly understandable.
Bored? Frustrated? Confused? Annoyed? Worried? Lonely? Overwhelmed?
On the other hand, however you've been reacting may not be particularly helpful.
Overeating? Over-caffeinating? Snapping at your partner? Watching back-to-back episodes of a show you don't even like very much?
Here are a few strategies to help you cope with the complex mix of emotions in a healthier way.
Here are a few suggestions to shift your attention away from the mental loop of stress and anxiety.
- One popular suggestion is to count backwards from 100 by 3s.
- As an alternative, keep listing words that begin with each letter of the alphabet.
- While this isn't the purpose of body scan or progressive relaxation, either of those practices may help you fall asleep.
Are you feeling sluggish?
Maybe it's hard to get out of bed in the morning. Or maybe you feel like you're becoming permanently fused to your sofa.
Try moving anything, any part of your body. When I'm feeling really sluggish, I find that if I can wiggle one finger, I can wiggle a second finger, and then move my hand, and then my arm, and before too long I can actually manage to get up.
Are you feeling restless?
If you can get outdoors, go for a walk.
If you can't get outdoors, do some vigorous exercise.
If you're in a small apartment and don't have any exercise equipment, you might want to try Lucy Wyndham-Read's Seven-Minute Workouts. These are appropriate for most fitness levels, especially since she often shows two different options. Since I'm already familiar with this series, I tend turn off the sound and play music instead. And I typically do four or five back-to-back workouts. (Of course, you should do whatever's appropriate for your own level of fitness.)
Do you feel frustrated because you keep getting distracted?
That's a big problem these days, since the very same device we need for our work is also our primary source of news, communication, and entertainment. (See 'How Information Overload is Ruining Your Work Life')
Get outdoors if possible. If you can't get outdoors, can you open a window? If you can't open a window, can you look at a plant?
Taking a quick break away from your device should help you reboot and refocus. As a bonus, this is also a good break for your eyes. (See '6 Tips for Dealing with the Physical Toll of Working from Home')
Try a feel-good video playlist. At my house, we've been watching All Creatures Great and Small, and last night we saw The Bishop's Wife. (No, it isn't Christmas time right now, but who cares?)
I've also been enjoying John Krasinski's Some Good News, which has wonderful clips about coronavirus helpers and people getting really creative about connecting during quarantine. In case you haven't seen it, here's the link to the youtube channel (it will launch with sound): Some Good News
- Change the World Song Playlist
- Creative Ways to Make a Difference
- Inspiring Videos of Young People Serving the World
- Videos about Kindness, Compassion and Service, part 1 and part 2
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
When all else fails, lower your standards.
'I celebrate each of my students' birthdays through a personalized hip-hop song!'
'I just created a scale model of ancient Rome out of homemade cookie dough!'
'I'm teaching equations through interpretive dance!'
Great! I hope they're having a wonderful time. But that's not a realistic comparison to try to live up to.
The pressure of suddenly converting to online learning has been a lot harder on some teachers than others. It may be that you’re wonderful in a classroom setting or your subject is more challenging to teach online. You might also be having a really hard time of it right now, especially if you’re dealing with long-term issues in your personal life or work life, even before we all got hit by a global pandemic.
Self-care isn't about being selfish. Nor is itone more item to add to your endless to-do list. It's about focusing on what you can control and what will help you feel better.
I hope that these suggestions help you think about what you can do to take care of yourself in these exceptionally challenging times.
- Balancing Content with Caring While Teaching During COVID
- 6 Tips for Dealing with the Physical Toll of Working from Home
- 4 Tips for Coping with Anxiety and Cabin Fever
- Growing Stronger Even in a Crisis Situation: Mindful Practices to Use Throughout the Day
- 10 Questions About Self-Care Only You Can Answer
- Quiz: What's the Best Mindfulness Practice for Me?
And there are hundreds more posts on mindfulness and self-care here at MindfulTeachers.org.
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