BC Public Educators: embracing our pain with loving kindness

As a BC public educator anxiously waiting to find out if progress is being made in our contract talks with our employer, hope is dwindling and schools stand empty at the beginning of the new term. The uncertainty is stressing me out! Going yet another month without a paycheck has me deeply concerned, scrambling for every dollar and drawing from my retirement savings. Deserted classrooms and kids out of school in September are definitely distressing.

Throughout the summer, I reminded myself that mindset and self-care play a huge role in my ability to cope. During the school year, like many BC public educators, I had fallen prey to looking for the negative in the education system. Without a doubt, this practice took its toll on my emotional and physical health. As well, besides publishing my new book, Connectzone.org, the year saw me moving a new home following 9 months of negotiations and preparation. I had reason to feel burned out. The school year had brought the best and the worst out in me. And then came the strike!

Me first, for a change!

So, how best to deal with it all? Well, I decided to turn things around by practicing self-care, believing it would greatly benefit me. I gave myself permission to be self-compassionate for the stress I was under. It was vital for me to rein in my inner critic and replace it with a supportive, understanding and caring voice. This enabled me to embrace my frustration, discouragement and pain with loving kindness. Here are helpful ways I rebooted through self-kindness:
1. I focused on giving myself compassion, treating myself with the same care I give my loved ones.
2. I talked to myself in the same supportive way I do my best friend.
3. I recognized our common humanity. We are in this together. Everyone has to deal with life’s challenges. I know I am not alone.
4. I didn’t ‘go it alone’. I talked with my family, friends and colleagues.
5. I practiced mindfulness to reduce stress and keep a positive outlook. I noticed my negative emotions without getting caught up in them.
6. I breathed in compassion for myself. Breathed out compassion for others.
7. I found a healthy place to express my true emotions. For me, journaling works!
8. I boosted endorphins and refocused my mind through exercise.
9. I ate healthily. Got lots of sleep (I realize I was sleep deprived last year…too many late nights meeting book deadlines)
10. I cultivated other aspects of myself and nurtured my passion/sparks. Hobbies, interest groups and volunteering helped me to refocus my mind away from issues that were causing stress.
11. I connected and hung out with empathic people.
12. I focused on what I can change/control.
13. I took time for myself.

To begin this school year, I endeavour to build on my self-compassionate ways. And here is my self-compassion challenge to all of you:
• I challenge you to connect with yourself and to connect with others.
• I challenge you to listen to your body and your heart, to nurture your passions and your sparks.
• I challenge you to surround yourself with those folks who light up when they see you.
Good luck—and let me know what you are doing to give yourself support you may be needing right now!

Bev Ogilvie

Bev is Associate Professor at City University and temporary instructor at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC. Bev has 30 years of professional teaching experience in public schools, colleges and universities. She is a Master Instructor with the Crisis Prevention Institute, a member of the BC School Counsellors Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the BC Association of School Centered Mental Health Coalition. She is co-founder of Project Hope and the Collaborative for the Study of Connectedness in School Communities. Bev was awarded the 2009-2010 British Columbia Registered Clinical Counsellor Professional Care Award for exhibiting special creativity and effectiveness in providing counselling and professional care.

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