As educators, we love the flexibility in our typically tightly structured schedule that comes along with school holidays. But, if we are really being honest with ourselves, we usually function best with a schedule and a mountain of things on our to-do list. As we enter the summer months, it will be tempting to binge-watch television during our COVID-19 break, and while there is no shame in doing that, we will feel much better if we also feel accomplished.

My fellow principal, Allyson Apsey, and I have a goal to come out of this unexpected break better than when we entered it, and we have challenged each other to come up with a list of things we will do every day to take care of ourselves and others. We know that many other educators have the very same goal and that we are better together, so we’re sharing our ideas with you.

We each created our own self-care challenges, personalized to our needs and goals. To help us keep some normalcy and know that we’ve accomplished some valuable things while on the break, we’ll also check in with each other on our progress.

Here’s a list of self-care ideas we generated:

  1. Go for a daily walk
  2. Drink a gallon of water daily
  3. Learn something or create something
  4. Check in on someone new
  5. Exercise first thing when you get up
  6. Read 30 minutes each day
  7. Spend one hour learning—podcasts, webinars, books, or online courses
  8. Post a thought online—a blog post, image, quote, or new idea
  9. Write a thank-you note
  10. Give a social shout-out to someone who has inspired you
  11. Clean out and declutter a cabinet, drawer, or shelf in your home
  12. Meditate
  13. Keep a gratitude list
  14. Make your bed every morning
  15. Do something you’ve been putting off
  16. Spend time with at least one family member
  17. Organize something
  18. Walk or run at least a mile every day
  19. Unplug from the TV
  20. Watch a sunset or sunrise

Right now, it feels like we have this wide expanse of time ahead of us. But increased family responsibilities, illness, rescheduling things, and so much more will eat up lots of our time.

We decided that 20 items on a list was way too many, so we challenged ourselves to pick five to 10 things to add to our self-care challenge.

What did I pick? Here’s my list:

  • Work out each day
  • Drink a gallon of water each day
  • Choose a drawer or closet to organize and/or declutter each day
  • Walk each day
  • Keep a gratitude list
  • Connect with someone each day—phone, Voxer, Twitter, email, etc.

Here’s what made the cut on Allyson’s list:

  • Work out right when I wake up
  • Learn something or create something
  • Check in with someone new
  • Drink a gallon of water
  • Stay within my calorie goal
  • Organize something
  • Check two things off my to-do list
  • Run or walk at least one mile

Allyson is going to hold herself accountable by using the DONE app. (She signed up for the paid version when she started the #75Hardchallenge.) The free version only allows a list of three things. Since I have more than three things and the paid version doesn’t fit in my budget, I’ll be using a paper journal to keep track of how I do on the challenge. 

Allyson and I both know that taking care of ourselves helps us be our best in order to take care of others and that self-care is not selfish.

We both included connecting with someone each day as part of our routine. Our goal in creating a self-care challenge is to inspire others to be their best as we collectively and individually try to turn a tough situation into one that is productive, supportive, and energizing.

“We take the very best care of others when we take good care of ourselves.”

—Dr. Carla Rotering

Please share your self-care list using the hashtag #COVID19selfcare. To hear more, listen to our latest podcast episode.

Jennifer Hogan is an assistant principal at Hoover High School in Hoover, AL. She is the 2018 Alabama Assistant Principal of the Year and one of three finalists for the 2018 National Assistant Principal of the Year. Visit her blog, The Compelled Educator, and follow her on Twitter (@Jennifer_Hogan).

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