Developing a Self-Care Plan
Why is self-care so important? Well, we work in a field that requires emotional labor. Emotional labor is defined as the need to display particular emotional states as part of a work or profession. It is particularly true in education where we need to make emotional connections with young children to be effective in our work. Further, we need to scaffold those experiences to support young children’s cognitive and emotional development. Our essential work with young children requires a personal connection to create a warm, inviting classroom.
What is the connection between emotional labor and self care?
Research has shown that where the educator’s emotional state goes, so follow the children. Educators and children are intertwined in their emotional health. Early childhood educators that are worn down, frazzled, or lacking in resiliency are less likely to meet the emotional needs of children.
Self-care then becomes a professional responsibility to ensure the emotional health of the classroom.
How do you know if you practice self-care?
Do you have enough time to meet your basic needs? Basic needs include: enough sleep, healthy eating, hygiene, exercise and attending to medical conditions. A lack of self-care can be identified as self-neglect, which can increase feelings of isolation, hopelessness, chronic tiredness, and depression.
Do you make time for activities that increase your well-being? Well-being activities can include small pleasures such a haircut, massage, or eating in a favorite restaurant.
Do you feel energized by your work, family, or obligations? Take care with situations that leave you feeling drained or exhausted.
Do you attend to other’s needs before your own? If others needs are consistently put before your own, it can lead to feelings of self-doubt or compassion fatigue (depersonalization, exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, headaches, poor job ratification).
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is time to revisit your self-care goals.
Self-care goals include a wide range of activities that help you to stay consciously aware of how you are feeling. Ways to monitor your self-care include building self-care activities into your calendar and to-do list everyday.
Activities can include,
Taking a little time to be alone
Developing hobbies different from work
Reducing a stressful workload by choosing to say yes to a limited number of obligations.
Monitoring sleep patterns
Remember, the goals of self-care are to embrace mental and physical needs. Just as airlines urge us to use our own oxygen mask first, we also must care for ourselves first if we are to be effective in helping those around us.
How will you embrace self-care today?