Taking care of yourself first

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I love the first couple of weeks in a school year. Ah, the good intentions! I will be home by X o’clock. I will not check emails until after I’ve completed my top two priorities. I will… you get the idea I’m sure.

There is nothing wrong with good intentions, we all have them, but they can get lost after the first couple of weeks, and most people find that the first good intentions to go are those that relate to one’s own health and wellbeing.

In the pre-flight briefing the flight attendant draws our attention to the safety card located in the seat pocket, you know the drill. That pre-flight information tells you that, in the event of an emergency, oxygen masks may drop down. What does it tell you to do before you help anyone else? That’s right, fit the mask on yourself. Why does it do that? Because you can’t help anyone effectively if you are starved of oxygen!

The same principle applies to leadership in education. If you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be able to take care of your colleagues or the young people in your school.

Instead of an oxygen mask, why not create a gift box? Get some index cards, sit down somewhere quiet and think of all the things that you like to do, that make you feel good; your oxygen mask if you will.

Go fishing for a day.

Walk out for a pub lunch.

Get a pedicure.

Buy a magazine, go to a café and don’t leave until it’s been read from cover to cover.

Watch Sleepless in Seattle with your good friends Ben and Jerry.

The list is endless but, ideally, come up with at least a dozen and write one on each card and then put it in the box.

Throughout the term, every Sunday evening, shake up the box, dip your hand in and take out a card. Commit, come hell or high water, that you will do that activity before the week is out.

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