As educators and caregivers, we have a natural tendency to nurture others before ourselves. As a result, we are left feeling worn down, burned out, and hopeless. Our own wellness gets bumped to the last item on the growing and endless to-do list. During this global health crisis, we are in what feels like a constant state of triage, and this has forced us to see that we are also in a time when wellness is critical to the success of our families, schools, and communities. But what are we supposed to do?
Although this feels like an impossible task right now, we must tend to our social-emotional needs first as the starting point. To support others to our greatest capability, we must begin with self-care. This is a non-negotiable.
MINDBODY (2019) defines wellness in seven dimensions: social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual, and physical. Generally, we think if we have a physical activity plan, eat well, and rest, we are taking care of ourselves. While this is a great start to being “well”, wellness is much deeper than this.
As you read through these dimensions, consider the following questions:
- Which of these do I tend to the most, or is easiest for me to do?
- Which is the most challenging, or hardest to build into my schedule?
- Which of these have I not considered as important to my whole-being wellness?
- Physical wellness: physical fitness, nutrition
- Emotional wellness: acknowledging and managing emotions, positive outlook
- Intellectual wellness: learning and applying new concepts and skills
- Spiritual wellness: seeking your purpose
- Environmental wellness: considering and thoughtfully changing actions that negatively impact the environment
- Social wellness: healthy relationships
- Occupational wellness: fulfillment in your career or job, and work-life “balance”
Were your reflections surprising? Even with some potential surprises, be proud of what you already have built into your schedule, and consider how to take your overall wellness to the next level.
If you need work on your…
…physical wellness: Pick one unhealthy snack you eat and plan to eat less of it. Choose a free workout and try a 15 minute workout, or go for a walk.
…emotional wellness: Explore your emotional awareness. Use Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions to expand your emotion vocabulary.
…intellectual wellness: Pick an interest and sign up for a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) or grab a friend and sign up for a class together.
…spiritual wellness: Take time to reflect on your days through journaling or leaving yourself audio messages.
…environmental wellness: Track your carbon footprint on an app such as Earth Project and choose one habit to change that will reduce your footprint, such as using your own bags.
…social wellness: Plan low-stakes visits with a friend or colleague that you are comfortable with.
…occupational wellness: Share an encouraging attitude with your colleagues.
Check emails only within work hours.
We are not suggesting that you jump in and do all these things to “correct” your wellness. That’s not the point. Do the things that feel natural and think about how we may have been limiting our definition of wellness, and as a result, limiting our mindset about the depth of self-care needed to be our best self!
About the author
Owner and Director of Professional Learning, Resonance Educational Consulting
Krista Leh began her career 23 years ago as a high school social studies teacher and curriculum coach. She developed a student leadership organization inspiring her to focus on social-emotional learning (SEL).
In 2012, she was one of 26 educators in the country selected as an ASCD Emerging Leader. Over the past 10 years, Krista has worked with educators in more than 25 states on creating sustainable, scalable SEL systems and learning communities.
In 2021, she will earn her Ed.D. in educational leadership from LeHigh University.
The Resonance Education Team is a team of consultants and professional learning facilitators with a plethora of backgrounds and experiences who collaborate with administrators and staff to establish system-wide learning communities that foster social, emotional, and academic growth.