Self-Care and Relationships

Posted by Ashley Landrum on 4/17/2020 7:00:00 AM

When I originally signed up to write this article, I planned to write more about trauma-invested care for students to follow my original article about the importance of establishing relationships with students as part of the “Three R’s” (relationships, responsibility, and regulation-you can read the full article here). Given the effects of COVID-19 over the past few weeks, the importance of relationships rings truer now than ever before. We are adapting to unexpected circumstances and attempting to provide student supports in completely new ways due to the current pandemic. We are in “uncharted waters”, and it has been amazing to watch educators rise to the challenge (amazing, but not surprising because educators are some of the most resilient people I know). Watching school districts develop home learning lessons, continue providing food, and ensuring that students have equitable access to materials has been mind-blowing. The common thread through all of these actions taken is relationships with our students. Everyone is working hard to provide some sort of stability for students, but more importantly, remind students that we care about them. 

The only way we can continue supporting student relationships successfully is to ensure we are taking care of ourselves first. We have heard this over and over, and self-care has been a trending topic in education for a long time. However, honest assessment and awareness of our own well-being is critical now more than ever before. I think most of us can admit that we have experienced a full continuum of intense emotions as we process what is happening in the world. Change is typically uncomfortable, but current circumstances are an extreme example. Personally, learning to juggle working from home with a three-year-old running around has tested me in more ways than I thought possible, and we are still finding our new “normal”. There are many unknowns and few concrete answers. Finding small ways to take care of ourselves must become a priority. This looks different for everyone, but during this time, I encourage you to view this Greater Good Magazine article about 6 questions to ask yourself. For those of you who do not wish to read the entire article, the author, Brooke Anderson, encourages you to ask these questions daily:

  1. What am I grateful for today?
  2. Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
  3. What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
  4. How am I getting outside today?
  5. How am I moving my body today?
  6. What beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?

I like these questions because we are forced to stop and think about how we are feeling. It also allows us time to validate those feelings and find small, simple ways to take care of ourselves. Developing self-awareness helps us take care of ourselves and, in turn, take care of our loved ones and students more successfully. Then, you can also practice techniques like grounding, breathing exercises, or mindfulness activities to help work through any feelings you might be struggling with. I can send link after link of strategies, recommendations, and articles for you to read, but it all boils down to one idea: give yourself grace. Be patient with yourself and know that it is okay when days may not go as planned. Your well-being and health must come first. The circumstances we are living through are not easy; however, if we can find simple ways to acknowledge our feelings and practice self-care, we can support ourselves, our loved ones, and our students. 

Ashley Landrum
Ashley Landrum, Ed. S, NCSP 
School Psychologist