The week before a break can feel busier than ever. All the schedule changes, anticipation, and extra sugar are bound to lead to unexpected meltdowns. Being a school counselor is already demanding, so it's essential to be purposeful before the break to protect yourself from the overwhelm. Here are five must-have tips for school counselor self-care before the holiday break to help keep you balanced and prepared when things get hectic.
Take Care of You
Let's not simply pay lip service and put this into action - the best thing you can do for yourself is to look after your well-being. You don't have control over what everyone else does. However, you can maintain some boundaries.
Decide when you are arriving and leaving each day. Bring a favorite lunch. Make sure you drink lots of water. Get outside for recess so you can get some vitamin D.
Embrace the Chaos
With impending holiday breaks come schedule changes, illnesses, and sugar rushes. Take a minute and acknowledge that there may be some chaos but it's alright! Recognizing this can help you make peace with the bumps and better prepare yourself for a smooth transition.
Your typical routine may not work, and everything that usually gets done won't. Instead of sticking to a full schedule with lessons and sessions, create a schedule that matches what the week is going to be like.
Maybe this is check-ins instead of sessions with students. Some students struggle with the changes and anticipation. They might be better supported this week if you push into the classroom. Instead of classroom lessons, maybe you take that block to reach out to families or a community organization.
Do Future You A Favor
How do you want to feel when you walk in the day after the break? Ready, refreshed, and organized.
How could you do future you a favor and set yourself up for success? Create a simple to-do list for the first day back. Prep some quick activities for your sessions. Try to get through any follow-ups and phone calls before you leave.
Connect and Support Community
The week before the break is a great time to think about the different members of your school community: Teachers, staff, students, parents, admin, and community helpers. Consider ways you can be a support during this week.
- Contact families who could use extra aid. If you aren't sure who these families are or how to help, it's an excellent opportunity to start talking with community organizations that provide clothing, eyeglasses, or extra meals.
- Be conscious of how certain students will be affected by shifts in their routine or overexcitement. You could review some self-regulation strategies with them or provide a social narrative.
- Reach out to your fellow counselors, psychs, and social workers. There is nothing like a bit of camaraderie from people who get it.
If the week does get a bit overwhelming, think about what you will do on break. Think about what you are looking forward to when you return. At the end of each day, take five minutes and write down three things you were grateful for that day. It helps, I promise.
Self Care for School Counselors
Your self-care should be a top priority, especially during stressful weeks. Upcoming holiday breaks can through everything out of whack, so it's important to double down on the activities that get you to Friday. So make sure to drink plenty of water, set realistic expectations for yourself, connect with colleagues who understand what you’re going through, and keep looking forward.
What do you do before or after a holiday break to keep the stress at bay? Comment below.