Keeping Well-Being a Top Priority
What a challenging time this has been! I never would have believed back in January that I would be asked to work from home indefinitely starting March 16th. Now here we are at the beginning of June and we are still not back to doing things as before. There have been so many changes and so many challenges over the past few months – many of which have not been easy.
Change can be difficult even in the best of times, but constant change that we have no control over can be especially challenging and draining both physically and psychologically. Most of us are creatures of habit and prefer a certain sense of order and routine, yet these last few months have turned things upside down and left many of us feeling as if we’re on shaky grounds in many or all areas of our lives.
The timeline has continued to shift and change. We don’t know when our lives will begin to return to some semblance of “normal”. It is this uncertainty that increases the stress response in the body. When we “know”, we shift into action and find a way to deal with things and adapt. However, it is the “not knowing” that we struggle with and that can lead to that sense of helplessness and feeling frozen.
Our nervous systems have been under a tremendous amount of strain. We have been living in a state of ongoing perceived threat, which activates our sympathetic nervous system to protect us. This makes it difficult for our parasympathetic nervous system to respond effectively and bring us back to a state of calm. Many of us have been going repeatedly into a state of fight, flight, or freeze during this pandemic and therefore we need to consciously work on regulating and balancing our system when it gets hijacked and goes off-line. This can be exhausting.
During this time you may have felt anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, sadness, confusion, anxiety, and overwhelm, yet you may have also experienced joy, excitement, happiness, calm, gratitude, relief, and fulfillment. There may have been lots of shifting and sometimes conflicting emotions. We cannot expect ourselves to function optimally during a time like this, and yet we may have fallen into the trap of feeling like we haven’t measured up. This is when we need to practise self-compassion (try placing your hands over your heart and taking some deep breaths) and recognize that we are all doing our best. Stop comparing and give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling, take a deep breath, focus on “being” and not always “doing”. You are enough!
What permission slip might you need to write for yourself going back to school this month in order to keep your well-being a top priority? Is it to take regular breaks and get outside? Is it a morning, lunch or evening walk? Maybe it’s building in some breathing techniques like alternate nostril breathing or five finger breathing (check these out on YouTube). Perhaps you are going to create a morning routine with a short walk, a 5- minute guided meditation and a positive intention to start your day. A night-time routine to prepare for a good night’s sleep is also important and might include quiet music (no tech, no news before bed), writing in a gratitude journal, and a guided meditation (check The Mindful Movement) to slow the mind and settle the body. Spend some time making a plan and give yourself permission to follow it.
What have you been doing while at home for your overall well-being (physically, mentally, and spiritually)? What might you add as you go back into schools? What is your number one practice that keeps you energized, balanced, and helps you be the best version of yourself?
In April, we had a contest on our NB Teacher Wellness Facebook page & Twitter Account and had over 250 entries! Teachers posted pictures of self-care activities which included participating in virtual workouts, doing yoga, walking with family members (including dogs), horseback riding, running, hiking, spending time in nature, connecting with family and friends on Zoom, playing board games, playing cards, making puzzles, trying new recipes, biking, painting, reading, knitting, crafting, raking the yard, creating sea glass art, building guitars, learning TikTok dances, having campfires, walking on the beach, and working in the garden. A lot of wonderful wellness ideas were shared and we are hoping that we will get just as many entries for our June contest.
Although it may have seemed impossible when this began, we are all finding our way and doing our best to deal with the uncertainties and all of the changes that have come our way. As we move forward, I encourage you to make a commitment to yourself and your well-being. Keep your self-care practices in place as you move your work from home back to school this month, during summer vacation, and again in September. Continue to look for the positives, seek out joy actively and build more into your lives wherever and whenever you can. Check out actionforhappiness.org for the Joyful June calendar and ideas for a daily practice this month. Look for blessings intentionally- find the “Bless in the Mess” in the midst of this challenging time. This is much better for our nervous system and can help boost our immune system. Safeguard your self-care practices, set those boundaries, and make yourself a priority. Take good care and I leave you with this loving kindness message:
“May you and yours be happy
May you and yours be healthy and strong
May you and yours be free from pain and suffering
May you and yours find peace and live with ease.”
Professional Counselling Service for Teachers- NBTA/ EECD
Making Changes to your Group Insurance Plan
To ensure that coverage is kept up to date for yourself and your dependents, it is essential that you report any changes to Johnson’s benefit administration department at 1-888-851-5500.
Examples of possible changes include:
- Change of status in dependent coverage
- Change of beneficiary
- Change in name
- New district or school
- Maternity leave or other extended leave
For more information on your group insurance benefits, please read the NBTF Group Insurance Benefit Booklet, available on the NBTF website.
FAQ for Johnson Insurance