It’s that time of year. The dust has settled, the honeymoon phase is probably over, and your school year is getting real. It’s often the time when we can lose sight of this year’s mission, fall into the daily grind, and even feel our passion pull away from us.

We’re here to talk about something that many administrators forget to talk about or put energy into and that is YOU! Yes, it is okay to put yourself first, dedicate some time to yourself and make sure that you are your best self! Because if you are not taking care of you, there’s no way you can take care of anyone else.

The reality is we set the temperature and the culture for our building. If we are tired, exhausted, grumpy, short-fused and not our best self, guess what? There’s a good chance your teachers and staff are behaving and feeling the same way. This is an area we both struggled with big time in our early careers, and we continue to work at each day. So, while we absolutely do not have it all figured out, we’d like to share a few strategies that have had a major impact on our professional lives, personal lives, and our mental health.

Take time for yourself!
We talk a lot about intentionality and the importance of a daily schedule. One very important piece of that daily schedule is making sure time is carved out for yourself! This can be done in a thousand different ways. Maybe it’s 30 minutes early each morning to watch the news, scroll social media, enjoy a HOT coffee, and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Then, mid-day you can spend another intentional 30 minutes doing the same but this time, an uninterrupted lunch is in the mix. At the end of the day, you can do this once again. Thirty minutes just to yourself can make a difference. Reflect on the day, appreciate all the blessings in your life and take some time to read.
Find your routine, be intentional, and make sure you provide time in your day for YOURSELF!

Another strategy, the daily gratitude walk, is one that we picked up from the incredible Jon Gordon.
Again, this can be done in a variety of ways. It may change depending on the season or schedule. Some days it could be a 20-minute run first thing in the morning, other days it could be an evening walk with the entire family. During school days, it could be first thing in the morning when you take a walk around the school to make sure everyone is “tucked into the classrooms.” As you walk or run, think or speak about all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. Show appreciation for them and remind yourself how lucky you are to be you!

Therapy is life changing.
Too often we think that if we’re seeing a therapist there must be something wrong. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as that dentist appointment, your child’s pediatrician appointment, or any other health concern. Many virtual options are available if you are struggling to find the time. Having a licensed professional to talk with and talk through things is a game changer.

Take a day.
Say what? Yes, it’s ok to take a day off. We must start prioritizing things and understanding that sometimes taking a day to step away is a good thing!! If you’re worried about things falling apart while you’re gone, then that is the perfect time to practice delegating and trusting your team! Empower others to take on new leadership opportunities.

In the end, thank YOU for all that you do! Like we said, it’s that time of year when the thank yous start to fade away and the “I need to speak to you” moments increase. You have a job we believe only other administrators truly understand. The gravity, pressure, and importance of your daily work is extraordinary, and too often we try to take it all head on and alone. It’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to say I need a minute and it’s essential to take time for yourself! You’ve got this!

Todd Nesloney is TEPSA’s Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership. He is an award-winning educator, author and international speaker.

Ross Braun is a former elementary principal who is passionate about supporting schools and leaders to ensure every child has a safe, loving and engaging learning environment. Ross is now the VP of Positive Education at Spring, Texas based, School Life.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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