At any given time during the day, I feel like I need to be doing a minimum of five things. Usually, I feel like I need to be assessing a student, writing at least two reports, emailing families and private providers, making sure I am giving my students 110% percent, and–oh yeah–giving myself time to be human. Real talk: sometimes I forget I’m more than my job. If I’m not careful, all I do is my job. That means I’m not seeing my family, calling them at normal hours, keeping in touch with my friends, or anything of that nature unless it’s a school break.
At this time of year, this is how I end up sick. This is also true for my students, in my experience. They work themselves into the ground, and not just in school, but in the activities they enjoy. Sports, dance, theatre, Scouts, you name it, and they feel like they not only should be enjoying what they’re doing, but excelling. This is, in large part, why the speech room is a silly place, and why I’m writing this post. I created a checklist with my kids of how to get back to your foundation as a person.
- Think about why you like the activity.
Why do my students love their activities? It’s play time with their friends. What more could you want? It’s not about scoring, it’s not about technique, it’s about sharing an activity with the people you’re involved with. Sure, the technical aspect is still there, but go back to the beginning and remind yourself about your love for the activity.
- Enjoy your favorite snack or treat.
The key word here is “enjoy.” My students have a variety of their favorite foods in their lunches daily. We tend to forget that lunch is a social activity for the students. This means, more often than not, the kids will comment that they have their favorite food in their lunch box, and then eat it as fast as possible. When you’re trying to ground yourself, think about why you like what you’re eating. Is it the flavor? Texture? Do you have memories associated with it? Why is is your favorite? My students have answers to each of these questions, and so do I, if we all bother to think.
- Put the technology away.
Be aware of the world around you. Look your parents in the eye, and if they’re using technology, ask them to put it down for a minute. Engage as many senses as possible in what you’re doing. It’ll change your entire experience.
- Go with your gut.
Your body will tell you what it needs. If you don’t love dancing anymore, find out why your body says so. Your body knows what it needs before you do. Not feeling 100%? Sit this game out. Your instincts will let you know what’s up.
- Laugh at yourself.
I say it all the time on here. There is nothing more hysterical than laughing at yourself. Maybe you realized you’ve been pronouncing a word wrong for years. Maybe you tripped and you’re the only one who saw. Laugh it off. Bonus points if you tell someone else about it later so they can laugh with you. I am at my most human and vulnerable when I’m laughing at something ridiculous that I’ve done.
- Give yourself a break.
The pressure to be perfect is seemingly insurmountable these days, especially for my students. They want to be great in all subjects, not good. They want to be on the travel soccer team and advanced swim team and have time to play around with their siblings. I’m here to tell you, this level of seriousness without the balance of play isn’t healthy for a child, or anyone really. Give yourself a break. Take at least part of your weekend for yourself to give yourself a break. These little breaks make a world of difference for both my students and myself.
At the end of the day, do you. Do what you need to do to get back to your foundation and your why. It’s there; you just have to dig deep enough to find it. My challenge to you is to find your foundation using one of the strategies you know works for you, or one that I’ve provided above.
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP