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By Erin James, friend of Opportunity Thrive

How do you best take care of yourself? Let’s be real.

Self care is a hot topic and importantly so. Teachers are burning out. Parents are burning out.

We are all DONE. Right? Yet, we keep digging deeper because we know that our kiddos need

us. They deserve the best of us. So how do we keep our figurative cups full enough to be able

to pour from, when we barely have the time to fill our actual water bottles?

A walk with a friend works well. So does a debrief with a colleague. Time spent in nature,

listening to the waves. Journaling, drawing, working out, meditating and yoga. Therapy. Deep

breathes. All of these things help me regularly. You probably have a list at least this long of

ways you can / should / could take better care of yourself. If you’re like me, sometimes even

these activities become a to-do list that begins to feel like more demands on an overfull plate.

Want to know a way to manage stress and care for yourself daily? Something you can start with

small and then integrate into most, if not all, aspects of your life? Be real. Be less okay and

more not okay. Deepen your relationships by being honest with how you really are. If you’re not

fine, say so. It is time to stop pretending and start speaking our feelings and needs - in big and

small ways.

I have done this in my own life with great success. At first it can be uncomfortable to answer the

question “how are you” with honesty. I felt so exposed and, sometimes, a little lonely. But then

a funny thing started to happen. Something that my therapist had promised. People started to

show up in my life for me. Authenticity begets authenticity and when we can put our real selves

out there we are more likely to find that our needs can be met.

Who can support a colleague when they are always happy and “fine”? Maybe you won’t have

time for a full blown conversation, but just saying “I am having a hard time today” opens the

door for help. I know that when I hear that from a friend, I do a little extra - maybe slip a little

note on their desk, or a piece of chocolate, or I might send a sweet text letting them know that I

think they are amazing.

Maybe these small acts that stem from authenticity can’t change the reality of the challenges we

all face, but they can inform compassion and care. You are seen and cared for. You are not

alone and neither am I. We are in this together. For real.

Erin James

Erin is an aspiring artist, writer,

meditator, and mother of two.

She works as a positive behavior