Leadership: Reading and Reflecting

By Tracy Hudson, Leadership Specialist at the Delaware Academy for School Leadership at the University of Delaware

In my previous blog posts, I mentioned that I have tried to stay connected and informed with educational leadership and the world around me through my love of reading. Self-care has been a topic that I see frequently in my inbox. When I turn on the TV in the evening, newscasters and TV hosts are often discussing the importance of self-care. Many of the webinars I have virtually attended focus or at least mention self-care.

I really didn’t pay much attention to the articles, TV interviews or conversations I saw and heard each day. I thought I was fine. Those articles and tips were for other people who were struggling during the pandemic. I missed my family and friends, but I had not gotten sick. I had a job I loved. My kids and grandkids were doing well even though they mentioned how stressful it was to be working at home with preschoolers. Then I went to my first dental appointment when the CDC and the State of Delaware allowed dental offices to reopen. My dentist was shocked that I had started to grind my teeth. I had ground my teeth so harshly that my dentist needs to repair some minor damage make me mouth guard.

Then I saw on the news that increased stress and anxiety during Covid has led to a surge in teeth grinding.  Next I noticed articles in the paper about Covid related teeth grinding.

Emily Sohn wrote an article in The Washington Post entitled: “In these trying times, Dentists are seeing more people with teeth grinding and jaw clenching a.k.a bruxism” (The Washington Post, Sept. 12, 2020) I realized I was clenching my jaw as well. It was time for some much needed self-care.

One resource that I flagged was Practicing self-care during the coronavirus: 5 tips for teachers from Understood.com. I had the opportunity to attend a session provided by this organization at the 2020 CEC Conference (right before everything shut down). I immediately signed up for their newsletter. This article shares 5 ways that educators can practice self-care. The article also includes a self-care infographic that you can print and post if you need some inspiration during the day.

This time working from home has taught me that self-care is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with myself and others. I have learned that I need to take care of my mind and body and participate in activities that alleviate stress. Sometimes this means I need to take a break during the day to stand up and stretch. The University of Delaware sent out these quick stretching exercises Quick and Easy Stretches To Do While Sitting at Your Desk . I bookmarked this site and try to do the exercises least once a day.

I have also bookmarked calming and mindfulness activities I use when I notice I have started clenching my jaw. Here is one that works for me: Simple Mindfulness Strategy-Take 5 .

In the meantime I plan to think about this quote as I as I practice self-care and consciously try not to clench my jaw or grind my teeth:

“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”

Marcus Aurelius

Until next time, happy reading.

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