5 Tips to Survive and Thrive in May: The Longest Month in Teacher Life

If you are a teacher, I don’t have to tell you about May! It’s just past the mid-month mark, and I find myself counting down the days until the school year ends.

Don’t get me wrong! I absolutely adore what I do, and yet, the lure of peeing anytime I want, working out at any time of the day, and easily prepping and eating the delicious food that truly nourishes me without the temptation of sugar-laden goodies calling to me from the faculty room..these are some of my favorite things about summer!

Ok, so what am I here to say?! I’m here to share my top 5 list for surviving and flourishing with your students during this longest month ever!

  1. Don’t forget to breathe! I know it sounds superficial, but seriously, learning to stop and take deep, nourishing breaths has saved me on numerous occasions, from saying something I might regret to a student or in an email to someone, to helping me to take a moment to gain perspective. If you’re an iphone user, check out the app, Oak, which has a variety of breathing exercises you can do in under a couple of minutes.
  2. Have someone you can vent to or share humor with? Let them know that you might be sending a few additional texts their way! My coaching partner is absolutely hilarious, and sends me texts often. Yes, my abs hurt from laughing, but the endorphin boost? I’ll take that too!
  3. Get some sleep! You’re nodding off at your computer, hell-bent on getting those report card comments done. Guess what? You’re probably going to be more efficient by waking up at a decent time, getting to work, and cranking them out while you are more alert.
  4. Start a new habit that nurtures you: for me, it’s morning mindfulness practice, right when I get to school. I made a pretty sign for my office door, and put it up each morning while I take 10-15 minutes to breathe and settle. I use calm.com as it’s easy and free for educators!
  5. Practice gratitude! I know you’re shooting daggers my way right about now, but gratitude practice, during the toughest of times, is a powerful one. Check out Greater Good Science Center’s 3 Good Things practice and each day find 3 good things that happened.
  6. I know.. I said 5, but here’s a bonus: move! Yes, I said it, get moving! Walk, dance, run, skip if you must, but don’t let yourself get too sedentary. Walking boosts endorphins, and you need them at this busy time of year. Put some music on in your classroom and get those kiddos moving too! You’ll be amazed at how they’ll calm down afterward.

I’d love to hear your tips for thriving through the end of the school year! Please share!

Self-care vs. Caring for Myself

Words matter, often more than we realize.
Take the wildly popular term: self-care
What does it conjure up?
When I hear it I think of:
Bubble baths, massage, pedicures, glass of champagne with the girls?
Does it evoke any sort of resistance for you like it does me?
Thoughts like, that feels impossible in the midst of this shit storm happening in the world.
Who has time for “self-care?”
It seems “selfish.”
Selfish for me is where my brain says ok, “we are SO done here.
I was raised to believe that prioritizing myself was selfish.
Any word with “self” attached was not a good word.
And it wasn’t my mom’s fault.
It was what she learned.
So, for me, the term “self-care” evokes a cringing response and then an inner rant: “Why do we have to call out taking care of ourselves as women when men do it in a way that seems guilt-free?”
Don’t get me wrong:  I staunchly believe that we ALL should all prioritize caring for ourselves.
So, I call it “caring for myself” because then I get to count all of the ways I find joy, which, in turn, nurture my heart, body, and mind: 
Going to see my grandkids evokes the child in me; the curious, playful explorer of possibility
Creating healthy meals that make my body burst with energy
Writing 3 pages of handwritten work each morning, “morning pages” to clear my head
Singing and making up ridiculous lyrics that make me laugh
Talking/texting with friends
Crocheting a blanket for a soon to be born baby
Doing a “tapping” meditation that reduces anxiety and opens possibility
Reading books that challenge my biases and help me learn how I can be a better human.
You see: caring for myself includes all kinds of activities, some directly turned toward me, and others that involve the beauty of relationships and growth.
What do you think about this distinction?
Which word combo helps you nurture and nourish yourself more?

Take Care of the Skin You’re In! Discover Safer Products with EWG’s app

Photo by Audrey M Jackson on Unsplash

Not only is it critical to put clean, safe foods in our bodies, it’s essential to read labels and learn what ingredients are in our personal care products.

When I learned that 30 other countries ban ingredients that cause cancer and other endocrine disruptions, but the US does not, I was shocked. At first, I felt overwhelmed and wanted to go into “head in the sand” mode and tell myself: “But I can’t afford to go through and throw away all of my personal care and cosmetics.” After my health coach training where we dug into the medical conditions related to everyday ingredients in consumer products, I realized that I needed to get educated: about what goes on my body, my skin, one of the key components of my immune system. 

I decided to make one small swap at a time and discovered that not ALL of the items I was using were problematic. Phew!

I started using the Environmental Working Group’s Database to evaluate my daily products. It’s amazing, and a free resource that benefits all of us! 

Just yesterday, I discovered this amazing tool:

The Environmental Working Group, (EWG), has a free app that you can download and scan more than 12,000 food and personal care products.

Here are 3 things I love about the app:

  1. You can scan a product in the store or in your cabinets and get an instant readout of its safety levels in terms of : allergens/sensitivity, cancer, or developmental concern. 
  2. You can type in a product’s name on the app if there’s no available barcode.
  3. The app gives several alternatives to the product so you can choose something safer.  They’ve thought of everything! 

So check it out, and go through those bathroom cabinets and drawers to see which products are safe! Let me know if you have questions and what you discover along the way! 

Surround Yourself with Strengths Inspiration

In difficult times, especially, it can be comforting to reach out to others and to examine how they positively impact our lives.

The “Who’s at Your Table, Strengths Edition” is an exercise to examine who you allow into your inner circle and how they bring strengths to your life and elicit strengths in you.

Check out the video and let me know what you think! If you prefer a pdf, here’s a link.

Offering a New Opportunity: Pay What You Can

Health coaching is an opportunity that anyone, with any means, should be able to access.
For this reason, I am offering a structure that will make coaching accessible for more people, including those who might not have the funds to afford it.
Here’s how it works:
We schedule a free 30 minute discovery call to see if we’re a good fit for each other! Some issues are more suited for therapy and some are within the realm of health coaching.
If we decide to work together, you decide what you pay:  $0-$100 per session is the range of my clients.
We decide the frequency that works: weekly, twice a month, etc and we take it from there!
Let me know if you have questions. Text, email or call!

Self-care is NOT Selfish

Before you dive into these words, take a look at this image.

Look at the water, replenishing this beautiful, living, growing, life-giving plant.

Is the plant selfish for being watered?

I think not!

Selfish is a word that is loaded with a ton of shame, at least for me.  And that, in turn, can add stress to an already difficult time we are all facing during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Do any of these resonate for you?

  • You need to take care of everyone else first.
  • Get all your work done, and then, maybe you can play.
  • You’re not allowed to rest until you collapse in exhaustion or sickness.
  • Taking care of yourself first brings shame.
  • Saying no is selfish.
  • When you do try to do something for you, your family seeks you out like a fierce game of hide and seek!
  • When you manage to sneak away, even to the bathroom for a luxurious solitary pee, or even bath, you feel reenergized, yet slightly guilty.

Here’s the truth:

(aka what I’ve learned in all of my training, research, and the school of life!)

You’re no good to anyone if you’re exhausted, sick, fried, resentful. 

Repeat after me: I am not my best self when I play the martyr.

Your loved ones deserve your mentally and physically healthy, refreshed self, and if you don’t put your own oxygen mask on first, you’re heading down a slippery slope without a helmet! And then, who’s going to be the superhero in your family?

Trust me. I was trained to care for others first. From a very early age I felt it was my job to be sure others were happy and not in conflict.

It’s not served me well. Autoimmune illness, check. Crash and burn, check. Shame spirals that overcome me at times, check. 

At 55, I am learning that caring for me is not selfish, it’s essential. I hope you learn this sooner, and have some extra bonus years of joy!

What will you do today for YOU? 

It can be as simple as finding a quiet place to drink your coffee and savor the birdsong, waking gently before diving into your to-do list! 

It can be a short mindful breathing practice, or maybe even a loving kindness meditation!

It can be treating your body with some gentle stretching and movement.

It can be slathering on some beautiful fragrant (safer skin care of course!0 lotion

It can be baking something that makes the house smell like your favorite holiday. 

It’s really up to you!

Let me know your thoughts on this concept of self-care/selfish?  And let me know what you will commit to today, even if it’s something that takes under 5 minutes! 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash