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Self Care for the New Semester

oxygen masks

So the new semester has started: your syllabi are done, you’re learning your students’ names, and you’re getting used to your new schedule. You’ve mapped out your goals and your lesson plans for your courses, and you’ve probably set some research goals for the semester too. What’s going to help you achieve all those well-made plans? Taking time to strategically plan for your own self-care.

The familiar reminder during the airline safety talk about putting your own oxygen mask on first before helping others is a good metaphor for self-care in general.

You have to take care of yourself so that you will have energy and vitality to help others.

You have to take care of yourself so that you will have energy and vitality to create, learn, write, build, discover, teach, and all the other important verbs you do.

You have to take care of yourself. Period.

So what is self-care? Self-care helps you function at your best. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be a form of luxury or pampering. Your self-care activities are unique to you. A great way to generate your personal list of self-care activities is to reflect on these questions:

What drains your energy? What activities might you want to limit?

What restores your energy? What makes you feel more like your best self?

Creating your personal list of self-care activities makes it easier to plan for them, or to choose one off the list when you’re feeling low. When we need self-care the most is when we’re least likely to remember it — so having that list handy on your phone or on your desktop can serve as a useful reminder.

Self-care can be as simple as taking a walk at midday, drinking more water, not checking email after 9:00 pm, or reading a novel for a few minutes before bed. Five minutes here, ten minutes there — even small choices can add up to help you feel restored and better able to cope with whatever comes your way.

[Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Miikka H]

What are some of your self-care strategies for this semester? Let us know in the comments!

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