April 6, 2021 - Spring Break Mental Health Edition

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Spring Break/Mental Health Edition

 

Recently I attended a session in which Tylinn, the presenter, asked the following question: If you could be anyone in the world, who would you be? Would you be a celebrity? A talented musician? A skilled athlete? A renowned artist? A wealthy entrepreneur?

 

She gave the participants time to consider, then asked how many of us would just choose to be ourselves. It seemed for a moment as if the air left the room. The answer to her original question seemed so obvious, and yet most of us in that session had not chosen to be ourselves.

 

I wondered why we often want to be someone, anyone, else sometimes when we teachers are highly regarded, though not commensurately paid, members of our society.

 

In the most recent 2020 Gallup poll regarding professional ethics, teachers trailed only nurses and doctors. The article “U.S. Ethics Ratings Rise for Medical Workers and Teachers” by Lydia Saad states the following:

After nurses and doctors, grade-school teachers (the only category of teachers measured) are the next-highest-rated profession, with 75% [of respondents surveyed] rating their ethics very high or high.

Although only one point ahead of their previous high in 2007, it is the first time since then that grade-school teachers have scored over 70% and represents a nine-point improvement from their most recent rating in 2017. This may reflect public appreciation for the risks taken by teachers in going back to school during the pandemic, as well as their commitment to teaching under unprecedented circumstances, whether in the classroom or online.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/328136/ethics-ratings-rise-medical-workers-teachers.aspx

(Be sure to read the rest of this article for an interesting take on how the American public views the ethics of many other professions. Those professionals should envy and want to be you.)

Though grade school teachers were the only educators in this sample, I believe that the data apply to all teachers, especially Weber School District teachers, regardless of grade level or instructional area.

This week I invite you to take a moment to appreciate your accomplishments during the past year. Take some time to reflect on the challenges you have faced and overcome. Consider the emotional risks of teaching. You put yourself out there every day as you try to reach students who may love or hate school, parents who think you walk on water or would love to see you drown, and a community who seems to revere you while simultaneously demanding more and more of you. No matter what anyone else may think, you get to be you and don’t need to be anyone else.

Here are some ideas to make more of the “you” you can be. Some of these ideas come from Anna Westbrook, Natalie Khoo, and therapist J. Rock.

  • During this break, make a connection with someone you would not ordinarily reach. Work to develop that relationship.
  • Make time for self-care: set aside a block of time daily to disconnect from all devices.
  • Pause and breathe.
  • Avoid catastrophizing. I heard this quote: “I’ve had thousands of catastrophes in my life, most of which never happened.”
  • Make or create something and give it away to a person you admire or would like to know better.
  • Complete this chart after asking yourself how you can upscale yourself using technology. Consider the three main obstacles and three main benefits of overcoming those obstacles. Formulate a plan to move forward.

Using Technology for Self-Care and Empowerment

What are the obstacles?

What is getting in the way of you becoming your best self?

What are the benefits?

What will you gain by overcoming the obstacles?

   
   
   
  • Choose two or three of the following eight dimensions of self-care and well-being on which to focus.
    • Emotional
    • Spiritual
    • Intellectual
    • Physical
    • Environmental (getting more sunshine, fresh air, etc.)
    • Occupational
    • Social
    • Financial

Finally, consider where you are in your life right now. In the diagram below, list three activities you are doing now that you definitely want to keep doing. List three activities that you most certainly want to stop doing. Finally, list three new activities that you are determined to try. Set a goal to complete all the keeps, stops, and tries before the end of the school year.



We each have a few days to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate before the home stretch of this 2020-2021 school year. Remember, you are heroes and have no reason to want to be anyone other than yourself.

 

Have a great spring break!

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