On the importance of self care in a difficult era

2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone in the world but especially for essential workers. Teachers and educators are definitely essential. This was clear when schools switched to remote learning and no one had a clue on how to service the children of the world. Educators took on that role and did it with such grace and fluidity so that our children can concentrate less on what was going on around them. But who took care of the teachers, counselors, and administrators? As an educator we often hear words such as “burn out” and “babysitter”. We tend to re-think our positions as educators and if we are valued enough in this career.

I myself wondered “Is there more for me to offer?”. As a school counselor I help students and parents with their emotional and mental well-being; but I started to wonder who truly helps us as educators with our own well-being? We’ve all attended workshops on mindfulness, yoga, and other forms of self-care, but how are we holding ourselves accountable with keeping up our mental self-care? Life coaching came into my life in 2020 and was life-changing. In October of 2020 I became a life coach. Holistic life coaching provided a different outlook on my life and how I can be the best version of myself in order to give back to the world. I have truly found my life’s purpose and want to share it with others, especially my fellow educators.

Coaching is not therapy or counseling but instead allows the individual to work on themselves through powerful questions that will lead to discovery and action steps for their goals. Coaching offers you accountability that other self-care methods may not offer. While at home I wondered “How can I guide my fellow educators?”. I developed a 6-week program that I feel will challenge and provide insight for educators – 6 weeks to a Better You Educator Edition. I broke down each letter of the word ‘better’ and provided words that would be the weekly focus. The words are Balance, Educator, Team, Time-Management, Elevate, and Reward. How do you as an educator balance your time with your teams in order to reap the rewards of an educator?

I based these programs on my own experience as an educator; and as someone who just wanted to live a life that was aligned with my authentic self. In my own experience I’ve used these letters to form better relationships with my students. I ask my students “How can I help you stay accountable?”, “How can we balance your time with schoolwork, homework, and chores at home?”. Personally I hold myself accountable by keeping sticky notes handy. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with time, I write down everything that needs to be done and enjoy crossing it out when I’m finished. When I feel overwhelmed with emotions, I have a note on my laptop that says “stop, breath, proceed”. It’s a constant reminder that I need to be calm in order to teach my students.

When you start living authentically for you, everything falls into place. My name is Jennifer Henriquez and I hope I was able to touch someone with my experience. Being an educator is truly rewarding and helping others is my life’s purpose.

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