Personal perspectives

10 ways you can use your holidays for self care

Three minutes
Stephanie Gill Friday, July 15th, 2016

I think that the most important thing teachers should do for themselves is to practice self-love, self-care and self-compassion. That is, fill up your own cup so that you, in turn, can fill the cups of others.

Put on your oxygen mask before helping those around you.

Be selfish to be selfless.

Nurture yourself before you can nurture others.

All cliches for a reason.

These school holidays I have been pondering what it means to practice self-care. In between debriefing from semester 1, planning units and lessons for semester 2, Teach for WA mid-year intensive, volunteering my time as a political activist, moving myself, my husband and my cat back into my parents’ home and starting the journey to build our own, I haven’t had much of a moment to myself.

Then the inevitable happens: anxiety takes over. Anxiety hits you like a tonne of bricks. For me, it was 12.24am, the wee hours of Monday morning. Week 2 of the school holidays. It was in the form of a panic attack that literally woke me from my dream. I cannot recall what the dream was about, only that I awoke with such an acute feeling of terror, anxiety, stress and tension that I felt like I needed to escape my own skin. This too shall pass.

Once I steadied myself and went back to sleep, I got up the next day and realised things had to change. I can’t keep operating at this pace: it’s bad for me and it’s bad for my students.

There are people in your life who need you. But unless you start making your own health a priority, you won’t be able to be there for them.

Self-Care is so important. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

— Eleanor Brown

Week 2 of the holidays will be different. My top 10 ways to do the school holidays right:

  1. Go to the movies by yourself. In your trackie dacks and ugg boots if you’re brave enough. I saw The BFG, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was so heartening to reconnect with my inner child.
  2. Sleep in. Don’t set an alarm.
  3. Don’t check your school emails. Just don’t. Nothing is so urgent that can’t wait until Term 3.
  4. Reconnect with loved ones. I am lucky that my husband was able to take the second week of the holidays off work.
  5. Eat brunch. This week I have dined on ‘Banoffee Pancakes’ and ‘Ocean Trout Omelette’ and both were every bit as delicious as you could imagine.
  6. Binge watch your favourite, entirely unintellectual television series. Gilmore Girls is on Netflix, ’nuff said.
  7. Get a massage (or two).
  8. Try a floatation tank — seriously. They have changed my meditation practice for the better. 
  9.  Cook or plan meals for the first few weeks of term — fill your freezer. Your stomach will thank you later — meal prep is your friend.
  10. Be kind to yourself. In fact, this applies every single day. What you have taken on as an Associate or teacher is hard enough — be your own friend and be kind to yourself each and every day.

What’s your best self-care advice?

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