We all enjoy working with children and families (if this does not describe you, then I highly suggest you choose another profession!). However, there are times where the work we do can be stressful – maybe we are struggling with a challenging situation, not understanding a family, or not seeing eye-to-eye with a co-worker. This is life and it is bumpy and sometimes messy. When I am worried about a situation, I tend to sleep less which seems to lead to headaches and even an eye twitch. These are all signals to me that I am stressed!
My greatest stress relievers are actually these two sweethearts! No matter what kind of day I’ve had, they run to greet me at the door. They don’t care if I am grumpy in the morning, worried about finances or anxious about getting all of my work completed on time. They are just happy as can be to have a treat, go for a walk, or simply get their bellies rubbed.
In my work with Extension, I’ve learned that in order to be a good caregiver for others you must take care of yourself. Of course, this makes total sense, but so many of us with the caregiver mentality either put off taking care of our self or neglect it all together. So, my advice today is to make taking care of yourself a priority so that you can be the best early childhood professional you can be! Know what triggers you to feel stressed, recognize your body’s cues, and have an action plan for what helps to relieve your stress. Here are some ideas to get you started –
- Go for a walk in nature
- Start a gratitude journal
- Connect with a friend that makes you smile
Don’t forget that eating healthy, drinking water, exercising, and getting enough rest are habits to keep you in better shape for dealing with life’s bumps along the way. Sometimes stress is so overwhelming that personal coping methods are not enough. Be sure to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional if your signs are severe or persist longer than a week. The Cooperative Extension System has an excellent resource on helping children in child care cope with stress. I think you will find some great stress management ideas for yourself as well!
Share with us some of your body’s signals of stress and your coping techniques!