Nourishing Self-Care for Therapists and Teachers in the Time of COVID-19: A 4-Part Series to Avoid Burnout and Thrive
by Christina Pandolfo, MS, OTR/L (School-Based Occupational Therapist, Ascend Rehab Services, Inc.)
Part 1: Reflection: Where Do We Stand with Our Own Self-Care?
If you help to take care of the needs of anyone else, (including being a therapist or teacher) then you are a caregiver! No matter what form of being a caregiver looks like to you, it is so important to have a solid foundation of good self-care to help prevent burnout and maintain good health. There is no doubt about it – COVID-19 impacted our lives and created some of the biggest challenges and stressors of our lifetime.
In an ideal world, we would have plenty of time to practice self-care – but in our modern life, even after coming out of quarantine, we are still moving at a faster pace than ever. We can feel overwhelmed by our work, responsibilities, and expectations of us; not to mention being a caregiver on top of everything else. Often, we will neglect our self-care due to feeling overwhelmed by our responsibilities. This can often lead to burnout and illness.
While this blog series presents information that can help guide you with your self-care plan, there is no one-size-fits-all self-care plan for everyone, and it is not necessary or even realistic to do everything you may read in this series. Think of it as a ‘choose your own adventure’ version of a self-care plan. See what resonates with you and what would be a good fit for your lifestyle.
Seemingly small changes can gradually add up to big results, especially over time. Even if you only have 15 or 20 extra minutes a day to devote to self-care, please know you are worth every extra minute you can spend on yourself. Sometimes that might only look like a few minutes of deep breathing, a short meditation, or a walk at lunchtime; sometimes it may look like finishing the task you have ignored for a week to finally get some peace of mind.
Everything adds up, and the simpler your self-care is, the better it can be done consistently. In recent years, ‘self-care’ has become an Instagram buzzword, and started to become associated with extravagance and luxury self-care that is not accessible for many of us. While treating yourself to a massage or spa trip is a delight – it is not realistic for most of us to do regularly. The aim of this blog series is to make self-care as realistic, accessible, and attainable for everyday health and wellness.
Before we start, it is important to know where we currently stand with our self-care. Sometimes we may not even realize the extent we are not caring for ourselves.
Grab a cup of coffee or tea and grab your favorite journal – the quiz below is just for your own reflection and can bring areas of self-care that may be lacking to light.
Self-Care Questions for Reflection
- Do I make time for myself every day? How?
- Do I make time to practice gratitude every day?
- Do I limit the amount of time on TV and the internet?
- Am I exercising at least 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes?
- Do I make time for my spirituality (in any form, if applicable)?
- Am I drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water a day?
- How is my sleep? Do I sleep at least 7-8 hours every night? Is it easy to fall asleep or stay asleep?
- How is my nutrition? Am I eating junk food or fast food often?
- Do I make time to enjoy my hobbies?
- Do I make time to enjoy my friends and family?
- Personal Reflections:
Great, we started our self-care journey together! Check in next week for part two of this series: The Effects of Chronic Stress and How to Help Repair the Damage. We will review the effects of chronic stress and discuss ways to help repair the damage. See you soon!
Questions about this blog series? Contact Christina at email@example.com. Happy Self Care!!