A new year is upon us, bringing hope and anticipation for new beginnings. As 2016 came to a close, I made it a point to take a week off and close the year with a little time for myself and my family. It was absolutely wonderful! I spent most of the time in my pajamas, binge watching TV shows, playing games with the family, sleeping in. To be honest I enjoyed it so much I began thinking "hmm I may not go back to work at all", "I wonder how does early retirement work?" and then I remembered "oh yeah I'm a DT, I don't have enough cash for an early retirement. Heck! I don't have retirement at all! Better get back to work."
Sure enough 8 am on the morning I went back to work, the emails and phone calls start rolling in. Quickly I get back into the hustle and bustle of EI, scheduling evaluations, writing reports, doing my best to be present to families as they discuss with me the challenges they are having with their children and returning calls to service coordinators. Whew! By the end of the day I was down for the count. The next morning I took a moment to read as I was having my breakfast and I came across an article that talked about a report in which they examined the causes and consequences of teacher stress. "Teaching is known as one of the most stressful occupations", stated the article and one of the key findings of the research was that 46% of teachers reported high daily stress, which compromised their health, sleep, quality of life and teaching performance.
This got me thinking about us as early interventionists and our level of stress. As early intervention therapists we sure take on a lot. We often are discussing very stressful things with families and holding their emotions. This and many other stressful aspects of our work lead to high cognitive and emotional demands on ourselves, much like teachers and other high stress professions. So what do we do about this?
One of the proposed solutions in this research study was mindfulness. Below is a quick google search definition of mindfulness.
I began to reflect that often times in our field we do a lot of focusing on making sure we are taking care of families and being aware of the stresses they are going through. While we should focus on this, as it is critical to our role of supporting families, it is equally important that we are self-aware of our own stresses and put equal effort into taking care of ourselves. We need to replenish our emotional banks so that we have enough to draw from when others make withdrawals from them. So I encourage you my fellow colleagues to make YOU a priority in 2017! Find simple ways to achieve mindfulness in order to gain equilibrium in your life as an early interventionist. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Take a brief moment in your car before you enter your next home visit to take some deep cleansing breaths and sit in silence. Let go of the emotions of your last visit.
After your home visit build in a few minutes to stop somewhere and take a short walk and bring yourself into a relaxed state where you can free and clear your mind.
While writing a report take a quick break and have a mindful mini-break, turn away from your computer and sit for a moment and relax, pay attention to the sensations in your body and focus on how you feel in that moment.
Put on some ear buds, close your eyes and listen to some music you have never heard before. Stay in the moment and get lost in the music.
Get yourself a good piece of chocolate or another fun food close your eyes, take a bite and really focus on the smell, the taste and the texture. Notice how it makes you feel.
Be kind to yourself and grab a piece a paper and write down 5 things that you are proud of and did well today. Remember that we are all proud of you too!
I leave you with this very fitting quote ...We can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly. -Brené Brown
What other ideas do you all have to share with all of us so we can add to the ways that we can build mindful moments into our day. Do you have some great stress relieving tips? Share them with all of us below!