Happy and Healthy New Year! We hope that you are off to a great start incorporating self-care into your daily/weekly/monthly repertoire. We are grateful for our community that continues to work together to be healthy. It is hoped that these eblasts reinforce our commitment of caring for ourselves and others. Please send us ideas to share with our colleagues and families across the district. (WellnessWednesdays@Lawrence.k12.ny.us)
Self-care articles are popping up all over the place!
In an article on Forbes.com titled, “Self-Care Isn’t Just Good for You – It’s Also Good for Your Productivity”, John Hall reports that a study conducted by Everyday Health found that a large number of people are visiting doctors due to stress-related concerns. Short term effects of stress can appear in the form of an upset stomach, insomnia, substance abuse, muscle tension and fatigue, and longer term effects include anxiety, depression and cardiovascular issues.
Although the term Self-Care has been in existence a long time, it has been used more consistently as we pilot through our fast paced world, with its technology and “always-on” expectations.
1. Self-care gives you a break from stress and anxiety
Self-care gives you a reprieve from technology, and lets you recharge yourself. Activities that help you concentrate on your senses are helpful, such as mindful breathing, aromatherapy and massages. Hands-on activities such as crafting, watching a movie, taking a walk or doing something physical are good as well. Working on mastering a skill, connecting with others and accepting your emotions also give you a different perspective on the world. Lastly, spiritual activities such as praying or meditating work for some people.
2. Self-care improves your cognitive functions
Dr. Russell Thackeray, clinical psychologist, shares that people that look after themselves and practice self-care have better focus and concentration. They are more productive. This may be due to practicing mindfulness, which can reduce wandering minds and improves focus. Regular exercise helps reduce insulin-resistance, inflammation and stimulates the release of growth factors. Regular sleep assists with decision-making skills, focus, memory and motivation. He also reminds us again that the blue light from your phones and tablets interferes with quality of sleep and melatonin release if you are on prior to going to sleep.
3. Self-care provides some alone time
Social support is necessary to be able to cope with stress and to improve motivation and making better choices. Loneliness may increase risk of depression, cardiovascular disease and altered brain function. However, alone time allows one to increase creativity, increases empathy and productivity. It is time to reflect, process, solve problems and to know yourself. It is important time to get in touch with what you need and want and not to be putting others first all of the time. Alone time may be a good time to practice gratitude.
4. Self-care allows you to give more to others
Helping others is a powerful way to feel good about yourself. Volunteering or mentoring are ways to give to others, and sets off those positive neurotransmitters that make us feel great. Assisting those who benefit from our assistance allows us to gain perspective and strengthens relationships. We need to be fully energized to help others.
So how do we ensure we have time for self-care? The article suggests that we make, “a morning routine, blocks for working on your most important tasks during your peak productivity hours, and frequent breaks throughout the day. During these breaks, back away from the things causing you stress—meditate, journal, go for a short walk, catch up with a friend, or find inspiration via a book, podcast, or TED Talk.” The article continues by saying that working for a specific amount of time and then taking a short scheduled break will help you to return to your work feeling recharged. In order to be productive, we need to make sure self-care is a priority.
This school year, our entire district is implementing a new Social-Emotional Learning program, called Suite 360. At Lawrence Middle School, all students are using the program weekly during Physical Education class. The students are able to pull the assigned lesson up on their chromebook, and can complete the lesson at their own pace. Lessons include topics such as Coping with Emotions, Motivation, Dealing with Stress, Empathy, Dangers and Signs of Self-Harm, and Organizational Skills, all important to Middle School aged students.
Students reported that Suite 360 offers a good range of topics that they can relate to. The students find the information informative and they like that the videos offer tools to use to cope with some of the stressors of being this age. Many of the students report that they enjoy the videos and that the individualized learning provides privacy, at an unhurried pace. We welcome this new approach to helping students learn about important Mental Wellness skills and learning new tools to manage social stressors!
Celebrate you, every single day!
“As I sit here now, when I take off my shoe and I look down on my scar, I see beauty in it. I see all the hard work, all the sacrifices. I see the journey that it took to get back to this point of being healthy and I see beauty in that struggle. That’s what makes it beautiful.”