I am a self-proclaimed work-a-holic. Or I used to be. I think inherently that most educators are. We work hard for our students. We work through local politics that influence our careers, our students, and our futures. We work. Almost all the time. We take home work even after arriving at campus early. We work throughout the summer months even though we aren’t contracted to do so.
In 2017, I began to realize that my work was becoming my life and made some feeble attempts to be more mindful of things that I said “yes” to, take better care of my body, and squeeze in more “fun” things. By 2019, I realized that I had not had a weekend off, aside from holidays, in over two years. My weekends consisted of dance team or majorette performances, setting up for book fairs, or simply working at home with my laptop perched on the arm of the couch while I pretended to watch a movie with my kids.
That’s when I realized I had lost the purpose of being an educator. My purpose, according to my college essays, was to facilitate growth and model lifelong learning for my students. I wasn’t modeling lifelong learning at all. That’s where my journey with mindfulness started. It isn’t just being “mindful” when it’s convenient. Mindfulness incorporates all types of observations of my own body, my time, my surroundings, and the way that I treat others. It’s a great tool to use with students.
Tips for Mindfulness
Identify what you want to prioritize. I wish I knew who said it, but the quote, “instead of saying ‘I don’t have time, try saying it isn’t a priority and see how it feels’”. I tried that. And it felt good. Once I identified what I wanted to be a priority in my life, saying no to things that took my valuable time became easier.
Monitor your device use. Not only does this set an example for our students, but it can also set an example for our children and partners. Monitoring my device usage has been a game-changer for my mental health. I took my work email off of my phone, and I set vacation auto-replies, schedule send emails, and unsubscribe from unnecessary junk emails. Using apps for meditation and self-care (step counting, water intake reminders, etc.) helps me to keep track of my personal health while not needing constant monitoring.
Be present. Really present. Listen when someone speaks with the intent to listen, not reply. Spend at least 10 minutes outdoors every day. Eat and drink slowly with the intent of tasting what you are consuming. It may seem trivial, but it is really difficult!
During the session Mindfulness and Self-care: library resources to support students and faculty, I’ll share more strategies for mindfulness that you can use in your library, as well as self-care strategies that you can incorporate daily. And, don’t forget that you can join Morning Yoga in the Marriott Hotel at 7:00 am on Friday and Saturday.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.