Managing Stress through Self-Care

by Jill Rocha, Quality Specialist, Denver’s Early Childhood Council

Jill Rocha

As a former Director, I can relate to the demands of those of you who work in the field of early care and education. Dealing with workforce issues, challenging behavior, conflicts, parent demands, staying in compliance with Licensing or simply organizing your day can be exhausting, and an exhausted ECE professional cannot be 100% effective.

It’s not always easy to shut off our brains at the end of the day because we are the caregivers of many people and have multiple responsibilities. However, it is important to be aware that your emotional health needs to be your top priority. That means taking time recharge and beat the stressors you encounter in your day.

Here are a few tips…

  • Take a proactive approach. Recognize the situations that cause you the most stress, as well as your body’s unique stress signals such as feelings of anxiety or headaches. Looking ahead and acting on them early will help you be better prepared to cope. For example, if you know a staff member is leaving, place an ad and start interviewing for his/her replacement right away so you don’t have a gap in classroom support.
  • Take plenty of breaks. Even short, 5-minute breaks can re-energize you. Take a brisk walk around your building. Find a place to stretch. Eat a healthy snack. Watch a short, funny video that makes you laugh – whatever it takes to recharge!
  • Stay hydrated. Refill your water bottle throughout the day. Every system in the body counts on water to function.
  • Schedule “Me” time. Planning time to do the things you love is essential to revitalize your spirit. Set out a block of time on a weekly basis to enjoy your loved ones, hobbies, relax and read a book, work on a personal project or simply do nothing at all.
  • Get moving. Physical activity is an excellent way to practice self-care as a child care professional. Whether you choose to run, dance, take a yoga class or just go for a walk, moving your body has many beneficial effects on both your emotional and physical well-being.
  • Connect with your support system outside of the work place.   Surround yourself with people who are good to you and for you. Spending time with a good friend, family member, or even a pet can relieve stress. Your loved ones are there to support you and offer a safe place for you to express your feelings and frustrations. Remember that you are not alone!
  • Look for the positive. Remind yourself why your chose your career path in early care and education. You are making a difference for children and their families.

Remember – you cannot care for others unless you take care of yourself first. The above tips can help you be a more effective child care professional and avoid stress, burnout and negative feelings.

REGISTER TO ATTEND: Self-Care for Directors on November 8th. This training will provide some tools for Directors to utilize to manage stress and enable them to practice self-care. There will be interactive discussion concerning the effects of stress both physically and mentally. We will also do some group work and trade ideas about managing stress so that others can create a “toolbox” of self-care.

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