Leaders often recommend to participants that they be intentional in caring for themselves, which, not surprisingly, is a difficult thing for grieving people to do.
Self care is also a difficult thing for many principals and teacher leaders to do because they view it as subtractive—that is, when they take care of themselves they have less time and energy to care of others.
Another way of thinking about it is that the time spent in self care adds to leaders’ ability to care for others—time spent on self care is an investment in the school community because leaders can only truly care for others when they are healthy and possess positive, zestful energy.
My favorite resource on this subject is The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time is the Key to High-Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. “To be fully engaged,” they write, “we must be physically engaged, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.”
Here are a some of the energy-giving habits they suggest:
1. Eating energy rich foods such as low-fat proteins;
2. Making sacrosanct in one’s schedule time for activities that are enjoyable, fulfilling, and affirming;
3. Connecting work to one’s deepest purposes to create a sense of making a difference; and
4. Participating in regular periods of retreat, contemplation, and meditation.
In addition to the personal benefits received and the improved care leaders can offer to others, through their example principals and teacher leaders encourage others to cultivate their own health and energy.
Questions: What do you do to take care of yourself? What activities are sacrosanct in your life?