You’re tired. In fact, you’re exhausted. And burnout is within sight.
Some of you may be wondering where the joy is. For others, it simply feels like groundhog day. Work-life balance, what’s that? There’s little, if no appreciation or recognition and you may be thinking, ‘it’s time’, time to move on to something different.
These are some of the sentiments I hear in our Karma Care Workshops when I ask educators “What are your greatest concerns about your own health and wellbeing?”
And it breaks my heart, because I know that when you decided to become an early childhood educator, you were excited and enthusiastic to inspire and make a difference to young children.
I know those were my primary motivations.
Right now, the sector is losing its most experienced educators in droves and yes, times are seemingly tough. We know that. But the great thing is, we have agency. We enjoy freedom. We have options and can make choices that bolster and support our physical, mental, emotional and energetic well-being every day.
We just have to choose them.
As we hurtle towards the end of the year, a deeper listening is perhaps required to ensure that you keep yourself feeling nourished and cared for. Listening to your body – perhaps the most important – because your body keeps the score, it holds the stories, the memories, the stresses. When we don’t listen to our body, we can become sick; when we do listen, we have opportunities to build experiences into our life that enable us to thrive.
So what does thriving look like and where do you start?
There are six elements to cultivating self-care, and a little sprinkle of self-love gets added too:
Just a few minutes every day – maybe 15, perhaps more if you can – creating rituals to nurture some or all of these areas is an investment in your wellbeing. Your peace of mind. Your sense of satisfaction in life. It all begins by making a choice. By saying ‘yes!’ By prioritising YOURSELF.
Here are some ideas and practices to support you:
Cultivating a daily gratitude practice goes a long way in helping us simply feel happier and more positive, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. As you wake, before reaching for your phone, ease out of slumber with five deep belly breaths and whisper three things you’re grateful for. Do the same before you go to sleep.
There’s no debate about the physical, mental and emotional benefits to daily exercise. Find something you enjoy – that’s the key – and gift your body and mind at least four times/week.
Food is medicine. Be honest with yourself, are you poisoning your body or nourishing it? Processed foods, high fat, high sugar, too much alcohol? These dull and strain our systems; they play tricks on our energy levels and make us sick. What small changes can you make to your daily diet to fuel your body and alter your energy?
A good night’s sleep goes a long way in setting us up for a great day. If you’re struggling with sleep, find out why and seek support so that your body is able to power down and you enjoy the deep rest you deserve.
Do you punctuate your day with pauses, slowing down, stillness, quiet time? This doesn’t need to be 30 minutes meditating. Reading, listening to a guided meditation, a short stroll, gardening, time in nature…just a few joyful, quiet, peaceful minutes to nourish your spirit and calm your nervous system.
This is a big one for many of us. Establishing a more distinct work-life balance, strengthening your voice and advocating for yourself can be very challenging. But boundaries keep us feeling safe and secure so notice if this space needs tending and start with baby steps.
Who surrounds you? People who bolster and love you or who drain and sap your energy? I call these toxic vampires! Perhaps it’s time to bow away from relationships that no longer nourish you (or perhaps never did!)
Gift yourself with a monthly massage, soak in a candlelit bubble bath, keep a ‘self-care pack’ in your bag with hand cream, a favourite essential oil to apply to your temples, neck or shoulders, a photograph that makes your heart sing, a healthy snack. Make time to spoil yourself as you do so many others.
It’s so easy to get caught in a rut, to blame external sources, to brandish in martyrdom while we wither away. But here’s a truth I hope you’ll take a moment to really hear: self-care is not selfish, it’s essential. If you don’t tend to yourself – emotionally, physically, spiritually and energetically – you will get sick, it’s just a matter of time. And the sector will lose another gem.
So do yourself a favour, start small, baby steps, but make it a priority to nourish yourself every day – body, mind and soul – because simply put, you’re worth it.