Last week, during one of our LMTI Lives (catch us every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30pm on Instagram!), I joked that we were in our 8,000th day of quarantine. And while I know it’s not quite 8,000 days, these past few months seem to have stretched on for a loooooong time. Some have had to adjust to working from home. Some have had to continue to go to work and risk their own health to help keep others safe. Some have lost jobs. Some have watched kitchen tables turn into makeshift classrooms, and have had to simultaneously learn a new way to do long division (Seriously? What was wrong with the old way?), while consoling a child who is distraught because they haven’t seen their best friend in months. Some didn’t get the joy of seeing a child, who worked so hard, for so many years, graduate from high school. Some have been sick with COVID-19. Some have lost a loved one and have had to grieve from afar. Some have finally opened their eyes to systemic injustice and racism. Some feel outrage that it’s taken so many, so long, to pay attention to the disproportionate pain and suffering of Black people. Some are doing the work of learning and unlearning, and some are raising their voices in protest.
Wherever you find yourself on the journey that 2020 has been, the importance of self care cannot be overstated right now. Self care is the practice of intentionally doing things to heal and replenish yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically, especially during times of stress. Self care is essential for E V E R Y O N E. When we pause to check in with ourselves and take steps to care for ourselves, we are better able to face challenges, overcome obstacles, and help the youth we work with. And it’s not all candles and bubble baths (though if that works for you- awesome!) Self care can be as simple as purposefully putting your phone down and using that time to go for a walk around the block, or doing a breathing exercise to help quiet your mind when stress starts to build. It can be taking a break from work to play with your kids for a half an hour, or Facetiming with your siblings. If you are engaging in activism, maybe it’s taking one day during the week to focus on the things that heal you, like meditation or taking your pet for a walk, so that you can recenter and ground yourself.
As adults who work with youth, it is so important for us to 1) model positive and healthy self care for our students, and 2) provide our students with tangible ways that they can practice self care, so that they can develop or improve habits that they can carry with them through adolescence and into adulthood. This week, we are providing resources for you AND for your students. Remember- self care is not selfish. Identifying and taking time for your own needs allows you to be more effective is all areas of your life. Commit to taking time for yourself this week, and remind the students you work with to do the same!