We may feel as though some aspects of our lives and work have returned to normal. Yet, we still face pressure and challenges to ensure that our students are on track and on schedule with their learning. Many of our students have significant emotional and mental health challenges resulting from disruptions in their lives over the past three years. Meanwhile, political issues and conflicts play an increasing role in our work.
Of course, many challenges and frustrations before the pandemic remain. These factors tax our emotional reserves and leave us feeling empty and deflated, which result in frequent periods of tiredness, feelings of separation or loneliness, and episodes of frustration and disappointment. These symptoms may be mild or intense, but they signal that our emotional reserves need to be replenished.
The truth is we can’t do our best work and remain healthy unless we’re attentive to the state of our emotional well-being. Fortunately, several actions can ensure our emotional reserves remain at a comfortable level, whether we’re facing unusual challenges or just wanting to feel connected and emotionally healthy. We might think of these as “remedies” or “prescriptions” to maintain a healthy emotional state, leading to amazing results.
At least once this week and every week after, do something for someone without being asked or expected. Even better, do something the person could not do or would have difficulty doing themselves. Focus on how good you feel afterwards, not on whether you’ve been thanked. Repeat weekly as needed.
Spend at least a half-hour of quality time with someone close to you, such as family members, close friends, and neighbors. Make sure to be fully present and engaged. The time of day when you engage in this activity is less important than its regularity. Repeat daily, if possible.
Each day for the next week, identify at least one important aspect of your life for which you’re grateful. Take time to reflect on its importance and how your life would be without it. By the end of the week, you’ll have the beginning of a habit. Continue regularly for best results.
Set aside time for at least three days this week to take a walk or drive to an area that you enjoy and which gives you peace. It matters less whether you experience the same place or explore new areas than whether you focus on and appreciate the experience. Repeat this activity regularly for the best results.
Initiate a connection with at least one new person or neglected acquaintance this week. The connection may be virtual or in person. At first, this activity may require some discipline to engage with more people around you. Just be alert to possibilities. Give preference to people you find interesting and pleasant to engage. Repeating weekly ensures a large and interesting group of people with whom you enjoy connecting.
At least once this week take some time to formulate a plan to do something to which you’ll look forward. Next week, add details to or expand the plan, or you might begin construction of yet another plan. Before you know it, you’ll have more to look forward to than you can imagine.
It may seem as though following all these prescriptions will result in overload. If so, we simply select a few actions that feel doable given our current energy “bandwidth.” But we need to remember that the more we follow these prescriptions the better we’ll feel. We’ll likely find they’re more fulfilling than they’ll be overloading and finding time will be less of a challenge than we think. On the other hand, engaging in all these activities will leave us less time to feel lonely, discouraged, and frustrated.