While education workers spend many hours planning lessons and supporting students and families in other ways, they may find it hard to spend the same amount of time on their own well-being. Here are three easy things we can all do to improve our mental health and increase our resilience when the going gets tough.
Find your core value(s) and seek ways to live them
When yet another bill pops up in my inbox, I look at my children and I remind myself to smile. My heart automatically regulates, my stress decreases and my hope for the future is re-activated. My children are the bedrock of my life.
If asked, most people will identify a value outside work as their bedrock. Whether it’s faith, family or freedom, we all have a driving force in our lives. While we all have our slip-ups, it’s important to find creative ways to remain in touch with our core values. Book time and spend it purposefully. Set reminders or have your friends or partner keep you accountable. Making sure your actions align with your values will give your life a higher sense of purpose.
Find a hobby and seek ways to take it to the next level
I am profoundly invested in my career and I find it rewarding. I also have this secret daydream where I am on a writers’ retreat in Banff, working on the next great Canadian novel. I have explored and honed my writing skills for years, occasionally attending seminars, writing small stories, even starting a few novels that went nowhere. I will never become a full-time writer, but this hobby strengthens and expands my sense of self. It occasionally gives me a much-needed sense of winning at something.
Hobbies have this centrifugal force that attracts people who, otherwise, would never meet. If you have a hobby, you know exactly what I am talking about. In times of turmoil, it’s nice to take an active break and embrace that part of yourself.
If you don’t yet have a hobby, or it got put on hold by the current pandemic, maybe it's time to explore something new. From learning a new language to becoming an expert in home organization, the possibilities are endless.
Find friendships outside of work and seek ways to strengthen them
I've lived in various cities and countries in my life but, thanks to technology, I've been able to maintain friendships as old as high school. It's not always easy to remain close but I always make sure to give it my best effort.
If you have solid friendships in your life, make sure to invest time and energy into maintaining them. Whether it's catching up on the phone or hosting a virtual movie night, finding new ways to bond doesn't only improve your relationships, it improves your mental health as well.
In a nutshell, resilience is about how you recharge and finding what works for you. While there's comfort in stability, we're all looking forward to when puzzles and Zoom calls will be replaced with family BBQs (where we can all escape indoors if it rains), friendly hugs and when 'getting away' means going further than the local park or campground.
For me, I can't wait to take my children to a real store, as opposed to shopping in front of a computer. I'm also looking forward to the day when I can take my family to an indoor pool! Although the last year has sometimes felt like it's dragged on, I continue to believe that life will move to a new 'normal' sooner than we expect.