July is nearly over, and school is about to start. The 2020-2021 school year comes with more questions, uncertainties, anxieties, fears, and frustrations than any other school year in recent history. Will school be virtual? Will it be brick and mortar? Will it be hybrid? All ways of going back to school have positives and negatives for all stakeholders – students, families, and of course, educators.
In the midst of planning and preparing for a new school year, educators must remember to feed their intellectual and creative souls. So now – as in right now – is a good time to pause to take care of yourself.
If you have 5 minutes…
Write a limerick. A limerick is a humorous poem with 5 lines. The first, second, and fifth lines rhyme and have 7 – 10 syllables. The third and fourth lines rhyme and have 5 – 7 syllables. The rhyme pattern is AABBA (almost as cool as the Swedish pop band). I wrote an example.
The director of the writing center Looked to hire a new student mentor Put the post on the website Checked again on the next night No one bit, cuz she didn't hit enter
It’s not amazing, but it only took 5 minutes, was a whole lot of fun and stimulated my brain and emotions. Writing poetry sparks creative and critical thinking, and it can make us more self-aware. For more ways poetry acts as self-care, see The Personal Benefits of Writing Poetry.
If you have 10 minutes…
Journal to the following prompt.
When I am at my best, I….
Journaling clarifies thoughts and feelings. It is a great tool for investigating and reflecting. Writing without judgment and without censoring yourself allows you to access and entertain ideas and emotions you normally hide, even from yourself. Journaling also improves mental clarity and focus and enhances creativity.
If you have 15 minutes…
Take a walk. Walking is clearly good for your physical health, but the additional oxygen to your brain improves focus and clarity, too.
If you have 30 minutes…
Read. If you have a to-read list, select an item and read it. If you don’t have a to-read list, I have some suggestions for you: anything by Octavia E. Butler (seriously, she’s amazing), Paul Marchand, FMC by Charles Chesnutt, and The Wedding by Dorothy West. Reading strengthens your brain and relieves stress. I recommend you read every single day.
If you have 45 minutes…
Try that new thing you’ve been meaning to try. Lap looming, axe throwing, Caribbean cooking – whatever it is that piques your interest, give it a go. Trying something new forces your brain into a unique situation, which stimulates creativity.
If you have an hour…
- Make a list of your 3-5 favorite books. (I know choosing is hard, but forcing yourself to choose is part of the mental exercise.)
- For each book, write a few sentences explaining why you love the book so much. Don’t limit yourself to character and plot, because those aren’t the only reasons you love the books you chose. Books we love make us think and feel and believe. They offer beauty and anguish beyond comprehension. They change us. Explore how your chosen books have done these things for you.
- Journal about what you learned from this exercise. Maybe you learned something about yourself. Maybe you learned you’re drawn to particular features in writing or writers. Maybe these books share commonalities you never recognized before.
- Journal about how you plan to act on what you just learned.
Come back to these ideas any time you need to practice a little self-care and try them all.
Let me know in the comments how it goes for you.
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Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries. You can follow her at roshaundacade.com, lela-house.com, and on Teachable, Medium, Youtube, and Instagram.