Be Well Butte Educators; Dec. 2020

A Monthly Wellness Newsletter for Butte County's Educators

Welcome

Hello and welcome to the third edition of Be Well Butte Educators, the newsletter designed specifically for the wellness of all those serving students directly and indirectly throughout Butte County. Whether you are a teacher, administrator, paraprofessional, office staff, bus driver, custodian, or any of the other many staff supporting Butte County's students, we're so glad you are here. Each month we will be sharing ideas and resources to support you in taking care of YOU! If you'd like to receive this newsletter monthly, you can sign up in the right hand column of the web-based version of this Newsletter or send an email to mtaylor@bcoe.org with Wellness Newsletter in the Subject Line.
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Connection

This month we are focusing on connection. Many of us are missing our connections with loved ones and the holidays can make this especially hard. In the article below, you'll find out how helping others can help significantly with our need to be connected to others.

December Happiness Calendar

Check out the December Happiness Calendar from the Greater Good Science Center for ideas on practicing generosity and connecting with loved ones all month long.

Connecting with Strangers During the Pandemic

Did you know that it's actually important to connect with strangers? Not the ones that give you that "Stranger Danger" feeling, but the random people you come across in the store or on a walk in the park. These are considered "weak ties" and have many benefits for our mental well-being. The article below explains this and gives ideas for how to keep connecting with strangers even during the pandemic.

Why You Shouldn't Hate Small Talk

What's good about striking up conversations with strangers? Watch the video below to find out.
Why You Shouldn't Hate Small Talk

Holiday Stress

With the holidays upon us, stress is likely to increase. And perhaps more so, or in different ways during the pandemic. Even amidst the pandemic, there are many things we can do to help alleviate the extra stress that the holidays bring. Acknowledging that this year is unique is one step to help. Continue to practice your wellness habits and know your limits. Saying no can be very healthy during this time of year. Stay connected to others, practice gratitude, and seek support when you need it. Need more ideas? Be sure to click on the article below and read on.

A soothing YouTube Channel you might find enjoyable this month.

Smooth December Jazz - Relax Winter Time Jazz Coffee Music Instrumental
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MATT TRIES

Each month our own Matt Reddam, BCOE School & Community Wellness Advisor, tries out a new wellness activity and reports back on his experience. This month, Matt tries the second thing - Meditation.


Since I currently do not have access to some of the wonderfully brutal suggestions submitted by our readers (hyperbaric chamber), I decided to try meditation as my next wellness activity. For thousands of years meditation has been woven around the globe into culture, tradition, healing, and religion. The Soto sect of Buddhism for example, believes that every time one practices Zazen (sitting meditation) one is expressing the true essence of the Buddha, and therefore expressing enlightenment. The benefits of meditation are too far reaching and varied to list here, but the Mayo Clinic highlights those most closely linked with wellness:


  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations.
  • Building skills to manage your stress.
  • Increasing self-awareness.
  • Focusing on the present.
  • Reducing negative emotions.
  • Increasing imagination and creativity.
  • Increasing patience and tolerance.


If reading about meditation had the same impact as say, meditating, I would probably be able to levitate at this point. Alas, this is not the case. My relationship to meditation has been similar to my relationship to Moby Dick. I know it is a wonderful work of art, but also so much effort. However, given the fact that my sole form of exercise in the past 8 months has been primarily based on various forms of pacing, it probably makes sense to stop for a bit. This was my chance to get back to the barely reachable half-lotus pose and train my wayward mind.


I found a less noisy spot in my house and sat. I was taught to start with a simple (spoiler, it may be simple, but that does not mean it isn’t difficult) 5 minute meditation. I started with counting my breath, in and out - one, in and out - two, and so on until I reached ten, then back to one. When I got distracted (spoiler number two, this happened frequently and immediately), I would return to one. Although my knees hurt, back hurt, ankles ached, and my brain introduced me to all sorts of wild thoughts, it genuinely left me feeling good. Part of that goodness is the simple act of taking care of myself, the other part is that I can now tell people I don’t just read about meditation…….I do it (once). Here are a few great meditation sites!

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/


https://www.headspace.com/


https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/

4-Step Meditation to Beat Holiday Stress

Tech Support

Don't forget movement and physical activity as other ways to relieve stress and support our mental health. The Down Dog App has extended it's FREE subscription for educators and health care workers until July 1st, 2021. You can download the app on your phone and create your account. Just be sure to create your account with your school email address. You can also find more information at this link.


To make it even sweeter, Down Dog has just launched a brand new Meditation App that is included in the free offer. Be sure to check it out in addition to their other apps!

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A Different Kind of Connection

If you want to try something fun, check out WindowSwap. This cool website allows you to gaze out someone else's window. You might be peering into a busy city, relaxing backyard, rainy park, or even looking out an airplane window. You might even come across a curious cat or other critter peering back at you. Windows are from all over the world and can be quite interesting!

Relax

Unwind with beautiful winter scenes and relaxing music.
Winter Scenes and Relaxing Piano Music - Calm Instrumental Music for Meditation, Study, Yoga, Sleep.

Upcoming Wellness Opportunities

Free Course for Educator Well-Being From Yale

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence’s new course, Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty and Stress, is now available on Coursera and it's FREE.


Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty and Stress is a free, 10-hour course that is designed to help school staff better manage their emotions and create supportive learning environments for students. The course content is delivered by leading experts in the fields of psychology, education, and research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Participants will complete coursework at their own pace and create an action plan to enhance their personal and professional growth.


You might recognize the Instructor, Marc Brackett, who is the Co-Creator of the RULER Approach and author of Permission to Feel.

Optimistic Closing

One of CASEL's 3 SEL Signature Practices is the Optimistic Closure. An Optimistic Closure ends a meeting, class, or experience in a thoughtfully planned and meaningful way, helping everyone leave with appreciation and energy, looking forward to connecting again. As you finish reading this month's newsletter, what is one way you might begin to practice gratitude?

Ideas for Future Newsletters?

Do you have ideas or a topic that you would like to see in a future newsletter? Click HERE to submit those for consideration. Thank you for your input!

Maryanne Taylor

Maryanne is the Principal for Special Education Programs for BCOE and is a member of the Coordinated District Support Team. This newsletter is part of a coordinated plan to address the wellness needs of all staff in our districts and schools in Butte County. For more resources, visit the BCOE Universal Wellness Webpage.