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Why Self-care is Important for Leaders

Have you ever been told, or has anyone suggested that you practice self-care? What is your reaction to being given that...let's call it “advice?”

Have you found more opportunities to practice self-care, or does practicing self-care make you feel vulnerable, or even cause you to wonder if practicing self-care makes you seem needy?

Self-care is not a new idea, but it most certainly has become a common word, especially through Covid, as we've all experienced new stresses.

I think it is important to identify all the ways in which we can practice self-care, and make sure we build them into our work with our students, our colleagues, and our families. I don’t think we show evidence or practice self-care with others, and yet we are often told to remember to practice self care, or even tell others to take care of themselves. Here are some simple easy activities to practice!

When do you put a pause on doing work? Even before we started working from home, so many of us brought work to that safe place. Honestly, it starts from a super young age. Think of the word, “homework.” For me, it comes back to what I think about homework - what is the purpose?

Where should we draw the line with work at home? If we bring work home, it then becomes normal to take time away from our down time to do work. Let’s just look at the numbers:

One week 7 days * 24 hours = 168 hours

Time most of us are required to be doing work = 40 hours

Time most of us should take for rest and sleep 7 days * 7 hours = 49 hours

Time left for other requirements at home = 168 - 40 - 47 = 81 hours

Approximately the same left over time for adults and children in school (they should sleep more and go to school less).

What I have come to realize is that by assigning homework to students, we are teaching them that work at home is part of the job, but I wonder if it should be. What we don’t teach in school is self care. A year ago, I had my advisory students in class every day. It was during Covid, and I realized how many of my colleagues, and administrators were not practicing self care, so I added it to that time with my students.

Meditation Monday

To Do Tuesday

What do we need Wednesday

Thankful Thursday

Feelings Friday

A year later, I don’t have that time with students regularly, and I don’t build it into my classes, because I teach chemistry - but is that an excuse? I assign classwork that isn’t finished as homework, so I am guilty of teaching students that doing work at home is more important than self care, and honestly teachers everywhere are doing the same.

There are so many reasons why I don’t agree with homework practices, but the one I want to highlight here is that the practice of self-care needs to be taught, otherwise we would all be doing it regularly.

I often wonder why - why don’t adults, and leaders specifically, not practice self-care?

Is it that we think we need it less, OR that we are not important enough to receive it?

Can we give up five to ten minutes daily to practice one of the self-care options? Go back to the numbers - 70 minutes a week, if you give up 10 per day. The numbers say everything to me!

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