Duval Dialogue – Taking Time to Unwind

April 28, 2020Last week we covered how to follow the advice of Katrina Taylor, Director of Schools Behavioral Health, when it comes to staying socially connected. But in addition to the quality time we spend with others, we should also invest in quality time with ourselves.  

I spent two years in a mission community in London living with 10 other adults. If you think having three or four roommates is crazy (even when they’re your super awesome children) you can imagine the chaos comes with 10 strangers sharing accommodations. A big takeaway from my time there was that the best way to invest in your household relationships is to take time and space to invest in yourself. The more care you give yourself, the more care you can give others.   

  • Take a personal wellness inventory. One thing they stressed in our house was that the first thing you should do if you find yourself getting irritable or depressed is to take inventory of your wellness. Be honest with yourself and ask “Am I getting enough sleep? Am I eating well? Am I getting plenty of activity?” The things we do with our bodies have a profound effect on our minds, including our ability to process emotions. Instead of giving into negative self-talk, consider that your mood may be the result of disruptions in your health. 
      
    There are lots of resources online for taking a personal inventory of your health, but one I found that is incredible actually comes from the Office of Veteran Affairs. Obviously it’s an excellent resource for any of our veterans out there, but the advice in it is true for all of us. Print their outline, grab a pen, and take a moment to assess your current state.https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/docs/10-773_PHI_July2019_508.pdf 
  • Make a cup of tea, sit, and sip. Sometimes it’s hard to simply sit and do nothing. Nothing as in no tv, no music, no cellphone, no books, no nothing! I don’t know about you, but for me it feels awkward. We’re productive creatures and it’s counter to our nature to simply ‘be.’ I find that if I make a warm drink though, like tea, for some reason it doesn’t feel quite as awkward. You’re giving your body something simple to focus on and perform well—taking sips of tea. You will find it easy to sit and simply be. For extra calming, go for a lavender, chamomile or mint tea.  
       
  • Journal – I have kept a journal for over 10 years now. And the good thing is, there’s no wrong way to journal. No one reads your writing, or grades it or writes comments. It’s just a place for you to get your thoughts and feelings down. Here are a few prompts:   
    • What is something positive that happened today?   
    • What is something challenging?   
    • What do I want to get better at?   
  • Stay connected with the spiritual. For many members of faith communities, it has been especially difficult to not be able to physically attend weekly services and get-togethers. For those of you who are missing your spiritual routines, spend some time praying or reading from religious texts. Meditate on the lives of people you emulate and reflect on what they did when times were difficult. Find a way to celebrate your holy days from home. Many churches, synagogues and temples are streaming services on their websites, Facebook Live, YouTube, and Vimeo.For those of you who don’t subscribe to any particular faith, stay inspired by finding peace in all that is beautiful. Many art galleries have gone virtual and are sharing their greatest works – even Duval HomeRoom has set up an online gallery of student art – so take a moment to enjoy the things that stir your heart, whether it’s the scenery outside, a moving composition, or a touching piece of poetry.  
  • Go outside and get some fresh air. No, really. Go outside and spend 10 minutes sitting in the grass, strolling down the sidewalk or around your lawn.
  • Do some good old-fashioned coloring. According to Beaumont Health in Michigan, coloring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. There’s a huge variety of coloring books out there, including some that function as a way to meditate. In fact, Crayola is sharing free coloring pages online that you can print. Choosing the colors and focusing your attention on filling in the lines can be especially therapeutic.

  • Practice mindfulness. Take a few minutes to focus on your senses: What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell?  What do you see? You can even use the district’s 30 Days of Calm to guide you.  

So, what are some of the things you’re doing to relax and unwind? I want to know, and I want you to share with those around you. Remember, you can email your thoughts, ideas, and responses directly to me at poolerm@duvalschools.org. Check back next week for more suggestions to staying well during the pandemic.  

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