SEL Skills Articles

“Extreme Self-Care” for Parents and Teachers

Whenever life threw an exceptional curve-ball my way -one slathered in fear or grief- my late, great life-coach, Rob Berkley, would always advocate for…

E X T R E M E  S E L F – C A R E !

If he were still with us today, I’m sure he’d be shouting this message from the rooftops and across all T-1 lines. There has never been a more critical time for extreme self-care!

Article Title Image: Extreme Self-Care

“This Is a Global Pandemic! This Is NOT the Time to Be Thinking of Yourself!”

Yes, “others before self” is the strong implication behind the Golden Rule. But, context is everything! There are many times when the greater good calls on us to put others before ourselves. However, like they say on every commercial flight, you have to “adjust your oxygen mask before assisting others.”

Obviously, you’re no good to others if you’re not breathing, yourself!

Extreme self-care is about deliberate care of body, mind, and spirit. 

It’s about taking breaks and getting rest. 

It’s about eating well 80% of the time and allowing yourself some indulgences, guilt-free, 20% of the time. 

It’s about making time to PLAY, be creative, enjoy some indoor hygge, and outdoor exercise. 

It’s about taking time to be still, to pray, mediate, listen, and create space to make a deliberate choice, every day, about how you will respond to the uncertainty. 

It’s about choosing to take precautions while simultaneously looking for the silver linings.

Extreme self-care is NOT about hinging ourselves to expectations that we cannot possibly meet, OR that are no longer the priority they were just ten days ago.

It’s about unhooking ourselves from “super-human” expectations and being okay with “less-than-perfect” performance. 

It’s about evaluating our priorities to make sure we are putting the things that really matter, first. 

It’s about letting go of outside expectations that are not serving us now. Or, perhaps, never did.

Extreme self-care is about leadership to those around us. 

In taking care of our whole self, we inspire others to take better care of themselves. 

In letting go of super-human expectations of ourselves, we give others permission to do so, too.

Extreme Self-Care Is for All of Us

I am speaking specifically to:

…the parents who became homeschool teachers, overnight. Who, like myself, suddenly found ourselves working from home, with the whole crew, having to manage our preexisting life under a whole new set of circumstances PLUS the new role of managing the minute, daily details of our kids’ education. Whoa… even as a teacher, I did not see that freight-train coming! (As part of your “extreme self-care” plan, please take a moment to read Homeschool Insights from a Refugee of War.)

…the fiercely dedicated educators who were a couple of days ahead of me, swiveling on a dime to become “virtual” teachers, overnight. (That is a steep learning curve in the best of circumstances!) Many of you are also parents, carrying the role of homeschool teacher for your own family, as well. As a parent, I give you permission to make extreme self-care, and your family, your top priorities. We’ll take what you can give us, but we want you to make the most of this time. We want you to come back to school refreshed, not frazzled.

…the healthcare workers on the front line of this situation… especially to you! My mother is a full-time physician. She’s continuing her daily rounds to visit her patients at her hospital, where covid-19 claimed its first victim in our state. 

She and my father are both in demographics of the highest risk, but they are both soldiering on. Mom believes in doing her duty, continuing to administer to her patients. As always, Dad believes in supporting her. They both know this is all in God’s hands. I know they represent your faith and dedication to the mission that is now in front of you. May you all take extreme care of yourselves… and carry an added layer of Divine protection.

…to our first-responders who now have added layers of concern on top of their already precarious jobs. You chose this vocation because you value service and because you wanted new challenges, every day. A global pandemic may be more than you bargained for, yet you still serve because you wouldn’t do it any other way. Take extreme care of yourself during the off-duty hours. And may you also carry that added layer of Divine protection.

…to our political leaders who are working 24/7, in many cases carrying the burden of literal life-and-death decisions. May you have grace for making the best decisions possible. May you see the impact of your service. And may you get some rest. This is going to continue for a while, so you must allow extreme self-care to be a priority.

…the grocery store saints who are working double-time, exposing themselves to risk, so that we all may remain fed. Two weeks ago, you did not know your work would become so critical. You are the personification of a reluctant hero! Thank you for coming to work every day, putting up with people who are lonely and afraid and taking it out on you because they are isolated from everyone else. Every day, you must “wash off” those attacks, know that you are very much appreciated, and take extreme care of yourself when you get home.

…the truck drivers, warehouse workers, and all support personnel who are managing the influx of inventory and delivery demands. You are all taking care of us, too. You are the unsung heroes that will never get the face-to-face appreciation you deserve. We don’t always see you, but we know we need you to keep us rolling. So, on behalf of myself, my family, and my fellow citizens, I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And, I ask you to take extreme care of yourself.

…the small business owners who have the toughest job of all… to be forced to close or reduce services for the protection of others. To lose your income, face the fear of losing your business (which is your baby), and feel so extremely helpless and hopeless. As a small-business owner, I know your pain; I have been on the edge of extinction due to circumstances beyond my control. It was a dark, dark time. 

My prayer for you is that your faith may always exceed your fear, even if it feels ever-so-faint at times. YOU need this time of extreme self-care more than anyone! Meanwhile, hang tight to your prayers and faith; while this is very hard, life always leads us on a journey that is best for us, if we are willing to see through the terrifying times, to the opportunities that lie just beyond. 

I know, I know… easier said, than done! But, this is out of your hands. So, instead of focusing on worry, focus on extreme self-care.

…the senior citizens who have served us their whole life, who are now afraid to leave home. I am particularly concerned that the social isolation might be more of a risk than the medical exposure, but I know that’s a dangerous gamble. So, I pray that you have the help and hope you need to maintain extreme self-care.

…the senior students, brides and grooms, retirees, and others who are mourning that their special events have been cancelled. In some cases, your “last days” with friends came to an abrupt and jarring end. Without question, you have been robbed of something special! 

You are trying to keep it all “in perspective,” but you’re grieving, too. That’s perfectly okay. In fact, you have to grieve because, as disappointed as you are right now, you won’t let this define you. You know this will someday be part of a larger story you will tell. But, the only way to find peace over your loss is to give yourself permission to actively grieve it, while also making the choice to not let it hold you down. It’s very tricky to hold two, seemingly opposing truths at the same time. Extreme self-care is the only way to move forward and out of this briar patch.

…and to our children, teens, and young adults who are being formed by this pivotal time. You are just learning how to navigate this world; layers of uncertainty and fear can feel overwhelming. Now is the time for you to learn how to put your oxygen on first! Not to be selfish, but to be in an optimal place to give of yourself. 

Meanwhile, I encourage you to have faith in the endearing spirit of humanity that will lift us out of this emergency and move us forward. As we speak, red-tape regulations are being cut and innovations are quickly advancing!

There is hope. 

You will be okay. 

You will learn from this. 

You will grow. 

And you will someday use these lessons to build a brighter tomorrow for all of us!

To our well-being and mutual support of one another,

Susan

 

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