Remember to Breathe

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I am writing this post as a reminder to self. It is the beginning of the year and no matter how much I plan, I always begin to feel frantic come mid-September. My “to-do” list grows and my inbox is full. I start to go to bed later and get up earlier, hoping that if I just take a little more time, I can get everything done. I think about what sacrifices I can make to ensure that everything is done and everyone is happy. And then I realize… I can’t. I can’t finish everything and not everyone is going to be happy – least of all me.

So…I breathe. I take a deep breath counting in and out for the same number of seconds. I relax my shoulders. I let my head and neck soften. I remind myself that sacrificing everything never creates any long-term benefit. If I fail to practice self-care, if I don’t hold to and respect my boundaries, then I am the person who suffers the consequences.

Often in early childhood, we are socialized to believe that sacrifice is the ultimate test of worthiness. That to be the “good” educator, we must sacrifice ourselves through our time and energy, If we do not give everything, then we don’t care enough. But, that’s not true. Healthy relationships in the classroom are about having the reserves to be fully present. This holds true for any position that we practice in early childhood settings.  If we are not emotionally healthy with rest, balance and piece of mind, then we are not bringing our best selves to our work.

To seek balance, to take time for self and to have boundaries is the foundation of our professional practice. When we fail to ensure that we are healthy and resilient with boundaries of what can be accomplished in a day, then we message to parents and those we work with and for that we see ourselves as unworthy. Others respect us only as much as we demand respect for ourselves. Our actions demonstrate our professionalism and the most important foundation for professionalism is preserving self.

So, it’s mid-September and I write this post to remind myself that I can only do so much, I can only make myself happy – that if I want balance in my life, then I have to make it. As my friend says, “No one is going to walk around and give you permission to take care of yourself, that has to come from within.” It is a good reminder this time of year. So, while I will struggle, I am going to sign off and walk around the block and read a good book. I will even take some time to just breathe.

What is it that gets in the way of your self-care?