“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.”
I don’t know about you but protecting my mental health and safeguarding the peace in my home has become paramount. My goal is to establish a foundation that will sustain us all post-COVID.
Protecting your mental wellbeing requires a great deal of intentionality and honestly answering some questions to assess where you are. It is hard to keep a pulse of where we are especially with the work demands within the context of covid. So let’s start with some basic but important questions.
- Are you sleeping well?
- Am I spending enough time with family and friends?
- Are you eating healthy well-balanced meals?
- Are you exercising regularly?
- Are you taking breaks?
Ranking these on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being doing great and 1 being not so good, can help you prioritize your attention. If you are doing great, celebrate yourself and keep up the great job. If you’re not doing so well don’t allow shame/guilt to set in, just commit to getting on track one small step at a time. Identifying where you are bringing awareness and an opportunity to implement strategies that will protect your mental health.
Kristen Lee Ed.D., LICSW shares her wisdom in Psychology Today. Here are just a few of the nine strategies she recommends.
Isolation can quickly erode mental health. Loneliness is being called “the new smoking”—the health risk of our modern life, where we are more connected and disconnected than ever before. Relationships provide critical protection against loneliness and foster a sense of belonging that we are wired for. Finding people you can safely and openly share with can help curb self-doubt and provide needed support to navigate the joys and complexities of life.
You can’t say yes to everything and still have the time to make mental health a priority. Decide what’s most important, then make the decision to delegate, renegotiate, or change your responsibilities. Mental health can quickly erode in the face of too many yeses.
Breakup with perfectionism (You hear this teacher friends)
Research shows that perfectionism can quickly spiral into strivings that become unhealthy. While pursuing rigorous goals can be healthy and lead to positive outcomes, expecting perfection and sustaining an inhumane schedule in the long haul can leave us at greater risk for mental health distress.
A lot to ponder and consider, so I leave you with one final strategy to keep in mind. It’s an acronym (yes, I’m adding one more acronym at you…lol). For non-educators, this is an inside joke. Education is riddled with acronyms and often too many for us to keep up with. The Society of Occupational Medicine created Wellbeing CREDIT.
- Commit to developing your own wellbeing toolbox (reignitED is here for you)
- Recognize you are as important as your students
- Experiment and find the best coping strategies for you at home and work
- Develop the skills to maintain your mental wellbeing
- Identify where your stressors may be and take action to address these
- Talk to someone early on if you need to
This has certainly reminded me of some areas I need to address. I’m learning that this well-being journey is just that, a journey and not a destination. Let’s journey well!