Take care of yourself.
You can choose to incorporate reading and journaling into your life. Or you can choose some other way to take care of yourself.
But choose something.
You may feel you can’t choose, not right now or ever, but you get to choose yourself. You must choose yourself. We choose what we do. Yes, life and work and family impede caring for ourselves, but we cannot always put ourselves at the bottom of the list. When we never choose ourselves, we choose not to be our best for the people we love the most, for the people who need us the most. When we don’t create time for self care, we create unsustainable lifestyles that will cause burnout and breakdown.
There are lots of ways to choose yourself. For me, that is usually reading and journaling. We’ve been talking about where to squeeze reading and journaling into busy lives, but we’ve not discussed how to choose what to read and write.
Below is a list of some ways to find reading and journaling inspiration.
- Use your 5 senses. – I hear, see, smell, taste, and touch things every day that pique my interest. I don’t recognize the spice in my meal. It’s fennel? Let me read about that to learn more. Am I really watching this bunny live his best life under a trampoline? Let me write about that. Tuning into your senses helps you practice mindfulness, and it provides fodder for your reading and journaling experiences.
- What have you always wondered? – Anything you have ever questioned is a good topic to read and journal about. I wonder why scientists intentionally enter shark-infested waters. I could read something scientific or maybe the novel Jaws. I could make up a story about why. More saliently, however, pursuing your interests enlarges your perspective on life, enhances your creativity, and helps you relate better to others. An additional bonus is that as you ponder about something or someone else, you also start asking yourself the same questions, most likely leading you to journal.
- What do you want to learn? – At first glance, wondering about something and wanting to learn something seem like the same thing. I wonder about why people intentionally enter shark-infested water, but I want to learn about how people face fear. That leads me to books and writing. I could (and have) picked up books about fear, but I’ve also read autobiographies and memoirs about people who have overcome their fears. Reading both types of books prompted me to reflect on my relationship with fear in my journal.
- Contemplate miracles. – Think about how an egg and sperm combine to make an entire human being, how stars that have already died shine brightly in the sky, how a caterpillar’s entire body morphs into a butterfly. These thoughts can easily lead to reading a bible or nature books and journaling about your place in the world.
- Hang out with a child (which many educators do all day). – Children are funny, inquisitive, insightful, and full of surprises. You might turn to books like Captain Underpants and The Hate You Give to find out more about them. You might write about what you’ve observed and how you relate to them. Children provide endless bounty.
The beginning of the school year has descended, and it’s unlike any school year we have ever experienced. Now is your moment to take care of yourself. Choose yourself for at least 5 minutes per day. If you don’t choose, you won’t do it, and if you don’t do it, you won’t be who you need to be for everyone who depends on you.
What will you choose as self care today?
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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.
Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator. She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services. Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.