It’s that time of year, when many of us are feeling a bit frazzled and maybe a little bit stressed out, and this is a reminder for all of us, that it’s important to take time for self care. We do our best work when we feel our best. So self care is just as important to others as it is to us. This video is inspired by our #coachbetter episode with Cindy Tisdall McPhee, Head of Counseling at UWC Singapore. In our conversation with Cindy, she highlighted just how important self care is for all educators and also for coaches. So we thought we’d take that conversation and expand it out into a specific five minute Friday, just for you.
Along with this five minute, Friday episode, we also have a FREE infographic highlighting 7 strategies to prioritize self-care which you can download here. So please download that and have that handy with you in your classroom or your office.
Why is Self-Care So Important for Coaches?
The most important part, is it something essential for us to remember as coaches (and this is something that Cindy pointed out to us), taking the time to take care of yourself, allows you to be present at work, being calm and present and balanced in your role makes you more approachable as a coach, to the teachers that you work with and having the time and energy and passion to build a coaching culture is essential to our work as coaches.
So keeping all of that in mind self-care is just as important to the colleagues that we work with to our school environment, to our coaching culture that we’re building as it is to our own personal mental wellbeing. So our self-care helps us do better in our work and because of that self-care prevents overload or burnout. It reduces negative feelings of stress that have from your job or any other aspects of your life.
Seven Strategies for Self Care for Instructional Coaches
1. Recognizing the Value and Importance of Taking a Break.
Even if it’s only five minutes, a tiny break in your day is better than none at all. Mental breaks help you refocus. I know for myself personally, I can sometimes find myself working, working, working, and realizing something is taking much, much longer than it should. All I need to do is get up, walk around, do something different, grab a glass of water, talk to a colleague, and then I can refocus and get back into the task at hand. Sometimes that break is a short break, like I just described. And sometimes that break is a little bit longer, but the power of taking that break is really important. And we need to recognize and value that for ourselves. Because when we take a break, we can come back even better than when we were when we started.
2. Make Time to Do Something You Love (and Put It In Your Calendar)
Schedule your gym time or your outdoor walk or your photography lesson, just like you would a meeting, give yourself the space to do something that reenergizes and re inspires you to get back to your exciting work when you’re ready.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
I write a gratitude journal in the morning just to reflect on what was so great from the day before. So I start my day with positive intentions rather than feeling nervous about all the work that I have to get done.
You can even keep notes or feedback from students or teachers who have worked with you, keep them in a visible place where you can see the impact that you have had as a coach is super positive and it extends over long periods of time. You might have had a rough day today, or you might have a rough day tomorrow, but great things have happened as a result of your work as a coach. So if you have little post-its or pictures or keepsakes from those experiences, keep them nearby. So you’ll be reminded of all the great things that you’re doing as a coach.
4. Connect With Others Who Inspire You
These might be people right there on your campus, or they might be people who inspire you from a distance through your personal learning network. Try to make time to have conversations with those people who are making you feel passionate, enthusiastic, and energetic about your job, because sometimes you need to borrow a little bit of energy from somebody else to bring that energy back
5. Get Moving
Stand up, get away from your desk or wherever you’re normally stationed. Just get out there and start walking around. You can try having a coaching conversation while walking around with a colleague, you might even run into other colleagues that you needed to speak to on this coaching walk, or maybe you just need to take a walk by yourself. When you have school break time, schedule a slot in there for you to take a walk by yourself, to clear your mind. The idea is just to get your blood pumping. You all probably know that I love lifting weights. So make time to go to the gym or to run after school or to take a yoga class, do something that gets you out of your normal physical situation and just try something a little bit different!
6. Let Your Brain Settle
I don’t know about you, but my brain is constantly on overdrive and there are only a few things that let me switch it off. One is to meditate. Another is to watch a little bit of TV. TV really helps me to turn my brain off and then reading a book. So those are kind of the three things that let me turn my brain off. Those might not be the same for you. And that’s okay.
The important part is to find some time in your day to schedule in a little bit of a brain break. One strategy that we can all do at school is to eat your lunch mindfully. Don’t distract yourself with work. Don’t eat over your desk, go somewhere and enjoy your lunch. Taste the food. Enjoy the moment of taking that break to have a meal.
7. Make Self-Care a Habit at Work
Try to have self care check-ins at every meeting. At the start of each meeting, you can ask your colleagues:
- what’s something that’s been challenging for you lately?
- what have you done for self care?
This is something that came up in our conversation with Cindy and I’ve started applying it here in our work at a Eduro Learning. It really helps set a positive tone for every meeting that we have. As I mentioned in the first point today, value your worth and your time. You know how important it is to take a break. And sometimes you just have to schedule that in and make sure it’s on your agenda. So you can be fresh for whatever other activities you have coming up that day.
8. Say No
Protect your schedule. Maybe there’s something you really cannot do today. It’s okay to say no and provide an alternate solution. I think the important part about saying no is that bit about providing an alternate solution. You might not be able to tackle every single thing everyone asks of you on every day. In fact, that’s probably completely unrealistic to even joke about. So make sure you prioritize the most important parts of your schedule and allow yourself to say no to some things too.