There are three things that many early education leaders have in common: you are passionate about the work you do, but often feel overwhelmed by the demands of the job; you are lacking in time and you put everyone else’s needs before your own, writes Sarah Moore.
There’s a better way
We can’t reduce our workloads or add hours to the day – but we can change the way we manage ourselves. We can choose to do things that powerfully and positively impact on the way we feel about our work, our time and our ability to mindfully integrate self care into our working lives.
Mindful self awareness is key. We need to consciously consider what beliefs we hold around self care so we are able to set ourselves up to believe that as ‘leaders’ we need to put ourselves before others.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. A few slow and grounded breaths can take five minutes or less and can be practiced on the spot, and most importantly can provide a disproportionate benefit to one or more of the core common challenges early education leaders experience. It literally allows you to slow down, tune in and reset, and if practiced regularly, can reduce stress hormones and boost your immune system.
As Michael Bunting, author of The Mindful Leader, wrote, “Your effectiveness as a leader depends on your self awareness. The more self aware you are, the more strength, wisdom and compassion you have and the more inspiring you are to the people you lead”. Mindful self care is a win for everyone!
Here are seven self care rituals to try, and then pass on to your team for them to try too:
1.Set intentions. Before you get out of bed each morning, ask yourself how you want to ‘feel’ throughout your day. It could be that you want to feel calm, focused, relaxed.
2.The in between moments. Step into the space in between activities, claim some time before moving from one thing to another.
3.Focus your attention inwardly. Be conscious of your internal dialogue, befriend yourself and feel self compassion.
4.Be open to receiving. Slow down and stop talking and really listen, while being open and receptive. Look and feel for people and events, environments and experiences that make you feel good.
5.Be kind to yourself. Ask yourself in any given moment; how can I support myself? It could be drinking some water, being grateful for an experience or the people around you.
6.Stop the input. Be mindful not to fill in space as a way of downloading. When you do get a moment, use it like a precious gift, rather than filling it to numb the feeling of overwhelm.
7.Shift your energy. When you feel tried, move your body, go for a walk, stand up and shift your physiology.
Sarah Moore Director at Leadership without Limits, specialises in early education leadership development; offering facilitation, coaching, mentoring and training to assist early education professions make positive change and achieve professional and personal success. She presented the workshop Myth: Practicing Self Care means Making a Choice between Yourself and Others at the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Early Childhood Conference.
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