The importance of self-care 

For teachers, who are directly exposed to a large number of young people with trauma in their work, a secondary type of trauma, known as vicarious trauma, is a big risk. —Emelina Minero

Self care is an important topic at this time of year as people make New Year’s Resolutions or set annual goals.

Emelina Minero underscores the importance of self care in “When Students Are Traumatized, Teachers Are Too.”

Minero explains the link between student trauma and teacher stress this way:

“Data shows that more than half of all U.S. children have experienced some kind of trauma in the form of abuse, neglect, violence, or challenging household circumstances—and 35 percent of children have experienced more than one type of traumatic event, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have impacts that extend far beyond childhood, including higher risks for alcoholism, liver disease, suicide, and other health problems later in life….

“For teachers, who are directly exposed to a large number of young people with trauma in their work, a secondary type of trauma, known as vicarious trauma, is a big risk. Sometimes called the “cost of caring,” vicarious trauma can result from “hearing [people’s] trauma stories and becom[ing] witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured,” according to the American Counseling Association.”

Minero offers several strategies teachers and administrators can use to address vicarious trauma:

Talking it out with colleagues, a life partner, therapists, and/or colleagues.

Building coping strategies to manage emotions (visualizing a calming place) and to identify and deal with more stressful times of the day.

Establishing coming home rituals such as turning off work phones or creating a to-do list for the next day before leaving work that provide clear boundaries between work and home life.

Minero’s suggestions promote self-care, an essential but often overlooked aspect of both physical and emotional well-being.

Three thoughts about self-care:

1. Self-care is not selfish. We cannot offer care to others if we don’t first care for ourselves.

2. Unless self-care is a routine and habitual part of our days it will quickly recede into the background when it is most needed.

3. To establish such routines and habits, it is helpful to view self-care as a promise to ourselves that assumes the same importance as promises we make to others.

What forms of self-care are most important to you, and how do you ensure that you engage in those practices on a regular basis?

8 Responses to “The importance of self-care ”

  1. 1 Rick Repicky January 10, 2018 at 9:07 am

    While I never mastered self-care, I most often found through:

    • Carving out time to genuinely enjoy our kids’ school activities – hardly ever missed an event – the gaps between seasons were noticeable
    • Talking things out (as mentioned) with my wonderful, supportive, unselfish, wise team of co-workers and gaining an outside perspective of my wife.

    I just saw a letter written by a dying Australian lady – a mini Randy Pausch-like “Last Lecture” – on Facebook today. It adds depth to this subject. Google “Holly Butcher.”

  2. 3 TP72243#18 January 10, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    After reading Dennis’ latest post on vicarious trauma, I was compelled to forward it to two beloved teaching members in our family, whom I believe are likely susceptible to the debilitating condition. What follows is an abbreviated version of my email to them:

    Thought I’d pass along Dennis Sparks’ latest blog. In this one he speaks about yet another workplace hazard for teachers-vicarious trauma. What he doesn’t mention in this brief commentary, is that the condition may be most likely to occur with those teachers who tend to be empathic and acutely sensitive to the needs of students, but for whatever reasons unable or unwilling to tune into their own emotional needs.

    Don’t neglect your own emotional tune-ups as you both struggle to deal with pressures of every day school, home and family life.

  3. 5 Lisa Madden January 17, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Hi, Dennis-I’ve been working with teachers on the importance of establishing a mindfulness practice that allows them to “decompress and reboot.” Just starting with a minute or two of focused breathing can make a positive shift for them.

    • 6 Dennis Sparks January 19, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Sometimes very simple things (like paying attention to our breathing) are incredibly powerful. And it’s likely that the teachers with whom you work will teach it to their students. Thanks for sharing this technique with readers, Lisa.

  4. 7 Michelle Holdt April 24, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    We teach a vital class for teachers called “The Art of Self Care.” Please visit our website and contact us for more information. We can bring it to your school or district. We are currently traveling to districts in the US to lead this workshop. Check us out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,618 other followers



Recent Twitter Posts