California Educator

December/January 2021

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Page 52 of 67

O W A Y around it — COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, and with it our nor- mal lives. Between taking care of students' academic and social-emotional needs and families' and friends' health and well-being, there's often no time to address our own stress and men- tal and physical needs. But much like you would put an oxygen mask on your- self before putting one on a child, you need to be in good shape so you can help those around you. According to a WestEd brief on self-care strategies for educators, "In order to support others, educators must support themselves first. In fact, … self-care is considered an ethical imperative." So, how should you tackle self-care? California's sur- geon general offers a "playbook" on stress relief during COVID-19, which suggests six self-care areas to address to manage stress: • Safe, stable and nurturing relationships, which can protect our brains and bodies from the harmful effects of stress and adversity. • Healthy nutrition. • Regular exercise. • Restful sleep. • Practicing mindfulness. • Mental health care, which can help decrease stress hormones and improve health. The playbook contains helpful checklists to set goals and focus on these categories. The "Self-care planning" checklist, for example, contains such items as: I've set a goal of... Building my stress-busting routine. Limiting screen/news time to less than __ hours per day. Making a plan for what to do when I'm feeling stressed out, angry, or overwhelmed. Planning with my partner, friends, or family to get support when I need it. Identifying my strengths and learning more about building resilience. The "Supportive relationships" checklist includes: I've set a goal of... Spending more high-quality time with loved ones. Having regular meals together with my household or virtually with those outside my household. Having regular "no electronics" time for us to talk and connect with each other. Making time to call or video-chat friends and family to maintain a healthy support system for myself. Connecting regularly with members of my commu- nity to build social connections. The WestEd brief recommends ways educators can incor- porate effective self-care into their lives by establishing healthy mindsets and behaviors. Here are a few excerpts. Be optimistic and solution-focused • Take a solution-focused approach. You might do so through conversations or by individually considering alternative solutions, challenging previously held beliefs, considering perspectives outside the self or immediate group, or reframing issues. • Shift from pessimism to optimism. Focus on what you like and want, rather than on all the things you don't like or want. • Practice reframing (see table on page 52). When faced with challenging new situations, distinguish the positive aspects from the negative. • Look for opportunities in the challenges. Search for meaning and lessons within the challenges and uncertainties. • Show gratitude. Practicing gratitude can begin to You, Yourself and Self-Care Taking time for your own needs N 51 D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 / J A N U A R Y 2 0 21 CTA & You Final Trim Size: 8" x 5" 8.25"x5.25" Bleed 7"x4.687 Live Area Colors 4/0 CMYK Y C K M

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