The following blog post was written by Fiona Lucchini, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.
Although the ACIFA conference (May 15-17, 2016) seems a long way away now, the information from one session, Enhancing resiliency: Conversations and strategies for instructor self-care, is something that we should keep in mind as we work through the final term of the calendar year.
We’re all very focused on the physical and mental wellbeing of our learners, but sometimes we don’t think about taking care of ourselves in quite the same way. The session at the conference reminded us of four techniques we could use to foster our own resiliency:
- 4-7-8 breathing
- Mindfulness-based self-compassion
- Planned and deliberate self-care or keeping our ‘bucket’ full
- Mental first aid
While each of these strategies is very useful, I’d like to focus on just two of them.
4-7-8 breathing is a technique that has a number of variations. The one which the conference presenters shared involved breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds. If you repeat this a few times, you can’t help but relax and it’s even great if you have difficulty getting to sleep.
Planned and deliberate self-care
Planned and deliberate self-care means thinking about the things which give us pleasure and planning to do these activities. Our ‘bucket’ (aka us) can be drained by our everyday concerns – coping with work and the demands of a family, conquering that pile of assessment tasks or dealing with any of the events which can suddenly derail our lives. Our ‘bucket’ is topped up by creating or allowing time to do those things which we enjoy. We need to consider each of the following aspects:
- Physical: caring for our bodies
- Mental: allowing our thoughts
- Emotional: accepting our feelings
- Relational: connecting authentically with others and
- Spiritual: nurturing our values
Planning to go for a regular walk, meditating, reading a book, meeting a friend for coffee, doing some gardening or even looking up at the stars on a clear night can each contribute to helping us feel better and being more resilient. Try to create your own self-care plan and see if any categories are empty or have only a few entries and work towards including something pleasurable in each one.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, how can you remind yourself to fill your bucket?