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Cultivating Resilience through Daily Wellness Practices

By: Maggie Hodge on April 1st, 2020

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Cultivating Resilience through Daily Wellness Practices

Innovative Leadership  |  Crisis Management

During this time of uncertainty and rapid change, the students, families, educators, and broader communities that we support and belong to need our strength, encouragement, and bold leadership more than ever. In order to be the calm, responsive, and joyful leaders we need to be to best support our loved ones through this challenging time, it is essential that we prioritize our own wellness so that we have the energy and resilience to bring our best selves to this work.

While our team at Education Elements is currently taking a pause from our typically frequent travel, our countless hours spent on planes over the years have ingrained in our minds the messaging that in the event of an unexpected emergency, “You must put on your own oxygen mask first before you are able to assist others.” Prioritizing small acts of daily self-care and building strong habits of personal wellness during this disruptive time are an investment not only in yourself, but in the quality of care and support that you can give to others when they most need it.

Over the next week, we invite you to try at least one new act of wellness each day, and at the end of the week to make a commitment to one new practice you will consistently add to your daily routine. After testing out a new wellness practice, take a moment to reflect on the experience. How did this practice impact your overall well-being? How you might encourage others you support to prioritize their own mental, physical, or spiritual health?

Below is a sample one week schedule with some of our favorite free resources to guide your focus on personal wellness, enabling you to support your students, teams, and communities from a place of clarity, strength, and resilience in a time that your leadership is needed most.

Day 1:

  • Mind: Carve out some learning time by subscribing to a newsletter from a leader you admire and reading it through. We recommend author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, and our CEO and author of The NEW Team Habits, Anthony Kim.
  • Body: Take a 10-15 minute mid-day walk outside (making sure to maintain social distancing!).
  • Soul: Call (don’t text!) a friend or family member to see how they are doing and catch up on what is bringing them joy this week.

Day 2:

  • Mind: Spend 5-10 minutes practicing mindfulness. We recommend Smiling Mind, where you can learn about and practice mindfulness to target a number of personal focus areas.
  • Soul: Jot down or draw a picture of 5 things you are particularly grateful for today. 

Day 3: 

  • Mind: Do a puzzle – whether one you can hold and touch or an online version. Check out tons of free options at Braingle.
  • Body: Create a makeshift standing desk by stacking books, using an ironing board or countertop, and rotate between seated and standing workstations once every 1-2 hours. 
  • Soul: Set time limits or take a full time-out from news and social media consumption. Silencing push notifications or altogether deleting apps from your phone is a great way to enable this change.

Day 4: 

  • Mind: Spend some additional time building your knowledge and gaining perspective by reading a few blog entries from educational thought leaders. We love the Bright Morning Team blog, which focuses a lot on practices to drive resilience and equity.
  • Body: Schedule two, 5-10 minute yoga or stretch breaks into your day.
  • Soul: Write a handwritten letter to mail to a loved one just to say, “hi,” or “I miss you.”

Day 5: 

  • Mind: Spend a few minutes engaging in meditation. Check out Ten Percent Live for live or recorded guided meditation or the Quiet Mind app for self-guided sessions that are as quick as 1 minute.
  • Body: Prepare a healthy meal using a new recipe – or opt for raw fruit or veggies as an afternoon snack. We love The Feed Feed for recipe ideas that accommodate all dietary needs.
  • Soul: Organize a group of friends for a video chat or happy hour. Zoom is currently free for small group virtual meetings. Add another layer of fun by having a dress up or costume theme for the occasion, like sports wear, fancy clothes, or funny hats. 

Day 6: 

  • Mind: Expand your mind by subscribing to a new podcast. We are loving Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us. Bonus points if you listen while doing a physical activity like walking or stretching.
  • Body: Movement of the day. Pick one simple bodyweight exercise, and do 10 repetitions at 3 times throughout the day (i.e. 10 sets of squats 3 times per day, or 10 push-ups 3 times per day, 10 lunges 3 times per day).
  • Soul: Send a text or email of appreciation or praise to a colleague.

Day 7: 

  • Mind: Test your creativity and critical thinking with a TED riddle. To make this a social or team building event, set up a virtual friendly competition with colleagues or friends.
  • Body: Go for a peaceful evening stroll with a view. If you are able to get away from the house and into some nature, find a calming place for a longer walk in a non-crowded area.
  • Soul: Declutter + organize. Select a drawer, cabinet, closet, or your work bag. Sort items into piles to donate, throw away, or keep, and reorganize remaining items in a simpler, more functional fashion a la Marie Kondo.

While carving out time for ourselves may feel counterintuitive to the servant leadership approach that many selfless leaders embody, we cannot show up as the best version of ourselves if we are running on mental, physical, or spiritual fumes. Start building time in your schedule today for at least one small act of personal wellness to become the best leader you can be as you support your community and loved ones through this trying time.

Return to School: Return Planning for K-12 – Free webinars, office hours, 1:1 chats, and resources

About Maggie Hodge

Maggie Hodge is a Senior Design Principal on the Design and Implementation Team. After working as a student teacher in college, she began her career in education as a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher in New Orleans public schools. In addition to her role as a teacher, Maggie has served as an RTI chair, grade level leader, school leader, and district level leader in traditional public schools and charter schools in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Austin. Maggie holds an M.Ed in Administration and Supervision, and pursues educational equity by focusing on school leader development, instructional coaching best practices, new teacher development, and innovative classroom design. In her spare time Maggie can be found in the yoga or spin studio, paddle boarding, or spending time with loved ones and her dog, Gizmo.

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