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
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 is an aspiring artist, writer,
meditator, and mother of two.
She works as a positive behavior
education assistant focusing on
developing emotional regulation
in our local PK-5 school.
Erin LOVES coffee!