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Educator Development

Self-Care: Connecting with Teachers Through the Heart

It’s important to find ways to keep yourself healthy so that you can keep your students healthy, too. After all, taking care of the students in your classroom begins by taking care of your own well-being. How are you prioritizing your own needs to be better equipped to take care of yourself? Over the next four months, we will introduce specific ways to manage your own self-care, from emotional and physical to psychological and spiritual. We hope this information provides actionable tips and ideas for ways to connect with others around these topics.

The National Institutes of Health defines emotional wellness as the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. When your emotional needs are taken care of and you have a toolkit of coping mechanisms, you are better equipped to handle stress and the challenges life throws at you. It’s easy to become overwhelmed on days when your emotions are taking you on a roller-coaster ride, and you may struggle to adapt and react positively. By implementing a few strategies and maintaining connections with others, you may find success at improving your overall emotional well-being.

Strategies to take care of your heart and emotional well-being

Have empathy for yourself. Being understanding and kind to yourself in the midst of a difficult time is important for your self-confidence and overall emotional well-being. Techniques for building self-empathy include talking to yourself like you would talk to your friends and practicing forgiveness.

Develop your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways, especially to relieve stress, communicate effectively, and overcome challenges. Try to become more self-aware and curious about how emotions are affecting your thoughts and actions. This will help you manage stress and the emotions that come with it.

Accept all emotions as valid emotions. Make space in your heart for all emotions, and try not to assign a positive or negative association with the feelings you have. When you approach emotions in a neutral way and understand the triggers that create those emotions for you, you can better implement coping strategies and mindfulness and accept yourself where you are.

Establish routines that bring you happiness. During extremely stressful times, it can help to build in positivity and joy in your day-to-day routines. Start by writing down a list of small things that make you joyful, and keep the list on your phone so you can use it often. Take this list out when you are feeling especially sad or negative to boost your mood!

Ways to connect with others around your emotional health

Call or video chat with the people you love.
When you feel especially gloomy or unhappy, it can help to talk to the people who know you at your best and still love you at your worst. Even if you are only connecting virtually, sharing a laugh or venting together can reduce your feeling of social isolation and help keep you from feeling alone with your emotions.

What to say instead of “How are you?”
In the midst of a global pandemic, many of us are struggling and would benefit from connecting, even briefly, with others in a truthful way. When you are exchanging greetings at the beginning of a conversation, try asking a question that goes beyond the superficial. Instead of asking “How are you?”, consider asking, “What have you read or watched lately?” or “How are you taking care of yourself these days?” Asking questions like these can open the door for more authentic conversations and will result in more genuine answers.

Make connections, and share the love.
It can be a positive self-esteem boost to lend a hand and support others emotionally. Add purpose to your day by finding ways to create positive emotions in the people around you. Can you compliment a coworker on a job well done, or start an authentic conversation about how they are feeling? Share a funny video with a friend as a way to tell them you are thinking about them. Connecting virtually with like-minded people who also want to focus on their own self-care can be a powerful way to share experiences and lift each other up. Stay tuned for more opportunities to connect through self-care over the coming months.

At Participate Learning, we are committed to nurturing ambassador teachers during their global education journey. Our mission, to unite our world through global learning, would not be possible without the individual educators who share their experiences with students in the classroom each day. Are you an ambassador teacher looking for ways to connect about self-care? Follow along on our self-care series from now through May 2021.

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