R10 Counselor Conversations

Self Care

Dear Colleagues, Educators, Friends, Parents....

Today is a new day - may we embrace it and find joy in the small moments. We hope you are staying healthy and safe. Knowing that many of us are home bound and adjusting to new routines, we wanted to offer up a space for us to share ideas and still feel that sense of community.

How are you doing? Have you eaten something nourishing today? Taken a walk? Or a deep breath? Called a loved one? There's a common belief that you'll feel happier and healthier if you indulge in classic "self-care" practices like taking a bath, meditating, or exercising... but that's not necessarily relaxing to everyone. If the thought of fitting self-care into your routine has you feeling more stressed or pressured, then that's not self care! Hopefully you are finding ways to truly care for yourself in this ever changing and unknown time. While it is important to take care of our loved ones and do our jobs; it's equally important to take care of ourselves and come together healthier and stronger. We're all in this TOGETHER!

Self-care isnt't really care if it doesn't make you happier, calmer, and less stressed.

Adults, Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

When you think about this it makes sense, if you put your oxygen mask on first then you are in a great position to be able to assist others who need it. Therefore, it is the exact opposite of a selfish act to put on your oxygen mask first. And, many would say that self-care is the exact same way. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you are in no position – physically, mentally, or emotionally – to take care of anyone else.

Somewhere while reading this you may start to feel guilty that your taking care of yourself first is taking time away from your daily jobs, family, work, pets, etc. This is when you need to take a step back and realize the importance of your job as a caregiver. They need you to be healthy, here and available to them. So, self-care has to be a priority.

Put your own oxygen mask on first

What is Self-Care?

•The need to pause….

•Listen to our bodies…..

•And take care of our needs...

Self care is about having a safe relationship with yourself; having self compassion.

Big picture
5 Strategies for Teacher (or Adult) Self Care

Michelle Obama affirmed, "We need to do a better job of putting ourselves at the top our own 'to do' lists." TRIM YOUR LIST. ALLOW YOURSELF TO STOP. EMBRACE VULNERABILITY. REACH OUT TO EXPERTS. PASS YOUR UMBRELLA.

Self care isn't just for adults! Here are some activities for the entire family!

Self Care for Families

15 Days of Self-Care for Everyone

Day 1: Disconnect from the noise- Take a break from the news or reading articles that evoke fear or panic. This may look like having the entire family put their phones away for 30 minutes and enjoy each other.

Day 2: Put on your favorite playlist- Listening to music can be soothing and uplifting, so put on your favorite songs and enjoy the moment.

Day 3: Journal- Writing down your thoughts has been found to be soothing and a form of stress release. Invite the whole family to journal about what they are feeling, thinking, or looking forward to in the future.

Day 4: Learn something new- Being home doesn't mean it has to be boring. Bring out that 5000 piece puzzle and challenge your family to learn to do something new together. Maybe you've been wanting to learn a new language or want to try cooking a new recipe. Whatever that something is for you, just do it! *Kids and teens ask for permission before cooking or baking.

Day 5: Clean and organize- These are probably most people's least favorite activities but during this gift of time take 30 minutes to organize the junk drawer, go through the mail, find the missing socks, or have your kids tidy up their room. Set a timer for 15 minutes and see who can complete the most tasks. Or have each child create their home work space. Working from home in a tidy environment helps students and adults focus on the lessons at-hand.

Day 6: Breathe, just breathe- Deep breathing has been found to increase relaxation in the body. Try the 4-square breathing technique where you breathe in for 4 counts, hold the breathe for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, and hold for 4 counts again. Repeat 3 times!

Day 7: Exercise at home- Exercise can be anything that moves our bodies away from a sitting or a lying position. Have a 60 second dance party with your kids or alone. Or download apps that encourage increasing physical activity over an extended amount of time.

Day 8: Read- Whether you love the feel and smell of a physical book or you prefer e-books, take some time to read. Literacy is incredibly critical to the academic success of your children. If appropriate, read out loud and create a family environment where you share literature that interests each of you. Make a rule that nobody is allowed to belittle or make fun of another person's reading choice.

Day 9: Practice a hobby- Think about things you currently enjoy or maybe it's a pastime hobby you haven't been able to get to because of a lack of time. Teach your kids about what hobbies are and share your hobby with them. Who knows, they may actually really enjoy it and keep the legacy going!

Day 10: Watch a feel good T.V. show or movie- During times of uncertainty it can be refreshing to laugh as a family. Pick out a movie or show that will bring out positive feelings from all of you.

Day 11: Cook or Bake- Maybe in the hustle and bustle of life we have become accustomed to fast food and to-go eating options. Pick one day to cook or bake as a family. Practicing measurement is a great way to implement math skills. If math isn't your strength then just talk to your kids about your process for cooking. I grew up with a grandmother who did a little of this and a little of that so measurements were never clear!

Day 12: Practice gratitude- In a world of uncertainty, let's focus on the good things that are happening in your life. Practice gratitude through journaling or part of conversation at dinner time. You can even ask your children and reflect on your own gratitude as an activity before going to bed.

Day 13: Go for a walk- Take the dog, take the kids, or go alone. A little fresh air can help clear your mind and reduce stressful feelings.

Day 14: Host a virtual gathering- Maybe you used to meet up with friends once a month or never had the time to connect with friends, so seize the moment and schedule some time to do this through the many video chatting platforms that exist. Encourage your children to stay connected virtually with their friends as well. Scheduling a specific friend chat time may even free you up to enjoy your adult chat time too!

Day 15: Try a new podcast or learn about podcasts- Maybe you are already a podcast follower or you are thinking what's a podcast? Either way take some time as a family to evaluate this great resource. There are podcasts available in every topic you can imagine!

Everybody's family has limitations so adjust this list to accommodate the needs of YOUR family.

Resources for Parents

9 Mental Health Activities to do with your children
Self-care Tips to Reduce Anxiety

Looking for ways to exercise at home?

This is a 15-minute workout designed for beginners, but anyone will benefit from this full-body sweat session. Best of all, you don't need any fancy equipment for this workout, just a sturdy chair. Press play, and let's get started!
The Best 15-Minute Beginner Workout — No Equipment Needed | Class FitSugar

Mindfulness Exercise Examples

Inhale 4 seconds. Hold 7 seconds. Exhale 8 seconds.

Mindful Breath: 4-7-8 Breathing

1. Exhale the breath entirely.

2. Inhale to a count of 4.

3. Hold for a count of 7.

4. Exhale for a count of 8.

By making the exhale twice as long as the inhale, you allow your body to down-regulate and relax. Try noticing experiences within your body at each part of the breath. Repeat until you feel more relaxed.

graphic of mindful movement

Mindful Movement: Shoulder Shrugs

1. Bring the shoulders up to the ears.

2. Draw the top of the shoulder blades together on the back and pull down.

3. Bring the shoulders up to the ears.

4. Draw the middle of the shoulder blades together on the back and pull down (it helps to pull the arm bones toward each other).

5. Bring the shoulders up to the ears.

6. Draw the bottom of the shoulder blades together on the back and pull down (it helps to hold the arms out as if you were holding trays in your hands).

How to Practice Mindfulness

Cultivating mindfulness can help you overcome negative emotions, live in the moment, and not dwell on the past. Try these tips from Kaiser Permanente to get started.

3 HOURS Relaxing Music "Evening Meditation" Background for Yoga, Massage, Spa

Downloadable Apps for Your Digital Device

▪ Breath2Relax

▪ Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

▪ Best Self-Help Quotes

▪ Mindfulness Coach

▪ Mind Yeti

Down Dog, Yoga for Beginners, HIIT, Barre, and 7 Minute Workout - free until May 1st

If you are a student or teacher (K-12 or college), go to downdogapp.com/schools for free access until July 1st.

If your're struggling with your mental health right now
Reminder to everyone that doing your best doesn't mean pushing yourself to your breaking point. Your best means the best you can do while being the best you. Get enough sleep, give yourself breaks, listen to  your limits. Your best is better when you're happy and healthy.

Region 10 Counseling Consultants

Susan Delarosa, M.Ed.

Susan Delarosa is a Counseling Consultant specializing in the areas of elementary and middle school counseling. She spent eleven years in Frisco ISD and three years in Grand Prairie ISD.

Brandi Fennell, M.Ed.

Brandi Fennell is a Counseling Consultant specializing in the areas of high school counseling and CCMR. She spent the last five years as a high school counselor in Amarillo ISD and was previously a College Readiness and Scholarship Coordinator.

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