Thinking big, acting brave, and always bringing your best self to work can be exhausting. It’s important to rest and recharge—self care is important! Although, lately, I’ve been thinking about the term self-care and I’ve been struggling with two pieces of it: one, it often seems to be used (or maybe I’ve just been using it) as something to do when we’ve already exhausted all of our energy and need to get ready for another bout of energy-depleting activity, and two, it seems to place total responsibility for well-being on us as individuals. So, I’ve found myself using the term well-being more. I like it because it seems more like a way-of-being, not a one-off activity and it can be promoted through systems, structures, and policies as part of organizational culture (i.e., a school’s way-of-being).
Regardless of what term you use, I want you to regularly practice well-being! You should totally commit to this for yourself, but I recognize that we as educators are a care-giving, selfless sort, so if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your students and your colleagues! Research shows that employee health directly impacts the success of organizations (in the case of schools, this is student achievement). Leaders, this is especially important for you to model, as your sense of well-being is related to the well-being of students and teachers (Malayter & Dehmer, 2019)!
I am not a well-being expert, so this list is certainly not inclusive or even “best practice”, but there are some things I knew I wanted to do better, and I wanted to make a list that was realistic—not too long and not too big of a jump from what I was already doing. Listening to Rachel Hollis talk about her “5 to Thrive” daily habits gave me a starting point, and from there I developed my own version of daily goals. Here’s what I’ve been working on:
For me, this takes active monitoring. For you, it may not require tracking your progress, but for those of you who like this kind of thing, I’ve made you a free well-being tracker! This tracker includes the 6 well-being practices I mentioned above as well as a blank space to add your own.
It takes some big thinking and some brave acting to be your best self each day. So, download the freebie, practice well-being regularly, and share how it’s going!
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.