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  • Writer's picturecathybelgrave

When the Words Self Care Make You Cringe

Some days I find myself cringing when I hear the words self care. It makes me feel like there's one more thing being asked of me, and it just adds to my overwhelm. It also makes me feel that the systemic problems within the education system, that covid is highlighting, is being overlooked. Yet, I know I need to look after myself, regain my balance, so what to do?

Usually, I maintain my balance through meditation, and outdoor activities in nature. Both give me a chance to turn inward, be present, let go of anxiety and gain a bigger perspective - finding the still point within myself where I can turn off the chatter of the worries, judgments and 'injustices'. Regaining my balance allows me to reconnect with my creativity - and once those creative juices get going, there comes a sense of purpose. For others, rebalancing comes through cooking, writing, art, a good workout, a walk with a friend. We all know what we need to do, but choosing to do it can be 90% of the battle. Somehow, I had gotten caught up in the covid worry loop. How then to crack through the barrier of worry and uncertainty?

Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us ~ Saundra Dalton-Smith MD

Finding Inspiration

I read an article called The 7 Types of Rest Everyone Needs. Thinking of rest as physical, I was intrigued by the idea that there were more ways to rest. As the article talked about sensory, emotional, and creative rest, I realized I was in need of them all! In sensory overload from video conferencing, meetings and social media, I realized I needed to turn it all off. My social media 'break' wasn't a break at all; my evening escape into endless TV left me feeling just as bad or sometimes worse. I was still left with the emotional exhaustion that had pushed me to seek escape. Instead, I needed creative rest - getting back outside, even if it was just a walk in the neighbourhood. Breathing the cold air, appreciating the sky, the trees or the sound of the rain hitting the ground would help me get back to myself.

Our emotions are data. Our emotions are flashing lights about things we care about ... but are not directives ~ Susan David PhD

I also came across Susan David. She reminded that all emotions are valid, and are a communication to us, telling us we are having a response to what is going on around us. At the same time, we are not our emotions and they don't need to control our lives. It's about listening to the communication and moving through the emotion - emotional agility. She talked about identifying your 'why', identifying your values and then making daily choices that reflect what matters to you. This helped me realize that I had fallen into the covid loop of worrying by focusing on the uncertainty that I had no control over. I needed to reset and focus on what I did have control over - reestablishing my rhythm that reflected my 'why'. This was another way into creativity and an opening of possibility and spaciousness. It is a way back to my authentic self.

I share this for educators who are feeling overwhelmed, unseen, unheard and not valued as they navigate the waters of this new covid variant. I hope it will inspire you to reset your balance, reconnect with your passions, and find optimism and joy.

Authenticity ... the integration of our values, emotions, and behaviours so they shine their light in the world. It is the ultimate expression of intentionality and wisdom ~ Susan David PhD


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