May 8, 2020

Self-Care to Care for Others

Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education. 


Truth be told, I am not very good at taking care of myself. Sure, I get my annual exams and try to live a healthy lifestyle. However, as the oldest in my family, I learned at a young age to take care of others’ needs first. That trait seems to be in my DNA and transferred well to my role as teacher, principal, director, professor, wife, and mother. I am keenly aware that I need to care for myself to be better able to care for those I love. Coronavirus is causing me to think more about this notion, as people I know fall ill. I’m guessing I am not alone in this endeavor and I hope my musings this week leave you with something to think about.

3 Big Ideas

  1. It’s so important to make sure you take good care of your body, mind, and soul every day, not just when you get sick. Learning how to eat right, reduce stress, exercise regularly, and take a time-out when you need it are hallmarks of self-care and can help you anti-stress, stay healthy, and be resilient. I’ve tried to incorporate a few things that seem to be working:
    • Get quality sleep by having a regular routine that includes no technology/tv before bed. This is a hard one for me, since I have a long history of watching tv while in bed. I recently added a wake up stretch while still in bed to help get the blood flowing.
    • Eat better foods. I have stopped eating all processed sugars and flours. I have more energy throughout the day and am more thoughtful about what I cook for my family.
    • Get outside. I make it a 30-60 minute priority to take a walk alone or with some company of the human or animal kind. This has to be a routine or it doesn’t happen. A regular time schedule worked for me.
    • Find a few minutes alone. I have always been an early riser and look forward to a cup or coffee or tea while watching the sun rise or listening to some music. It sets a grateful start to my day.

    Check out these 134 Activities to Add to Your Self-Care Plan and I love this quick message from Oprah Winfrey on keeping yourself full, Teaching Through a Pandemic: A Mindset for This Moment offers advice on the mindset needed to stay grounded during this challenging time.

  2. Noma Nazish reminds me that self care with a healthy work-life balance is neither indulgent nor fancy, so I (and you) should stop feeling guilty about it. It’s that important. She notes in Practicing Self Care in Forbes 2017, “Contrary to common belief, workaholism is not a virtue. Overwork, and the accompanying stress and exhaustion can make you less productive, disorganized and emotionally depleted. It can also lead to all sorts of health problems, from anxiety and depression to insomnia and heart diseases. Self-care habits like taking intermittent breaks (for lunch, calling your mom, or taking a stroll), setting professional boundaries, avoiding overextending, etc. ensures that you stay sharp, motivated and healthy.”
  3. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins is right in Self Care, Learn How to Find Success By Taking Care of Yourself. He reminds us to think about the safety speech you hear every time you’re on a plane. If you’re traveling with other people who might need your help in case of an emergency, the flight attendants tell you to be sure to secure your own oxygen mask before tending to those in your care. Why? Because if you try to help others without ensuring your own safety first, you might pass out. The same logic can be applied to your everyday life. When you’re able to care for yourself physically, emotionally and mentally, you become better able to pursue your goals and enrich the lives of the people around you. Check out Robbins’ Self Care site. I found some usable information here–you might too. Whatever tool you choose to use on your path to better self-care, get started. It matters to those you care about and it is never selfish to take care of yourself: it’s selfish not to.



“Our bodies are our garden to which our wills are gardeners.”

– William Shakespeare

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

– Jean Shinoda Bolen, author, psychiatrist, speaker

1 Question

Did you follow the good advice that you gave to someone else today?


About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.



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