Self-care. Many either hate it or love it. Others believe that too much self-care is indulgent, but not enough self-care can lead to burnout and breakdowns. Where do we draw the line between not enough and just enough?
For our 2019 Membership Retreat, the Greater Cincinnati Alliance for Arts Education challenged members to find this line. With a retreat focusing on the importance of self-care, members learned (or relearned) simple ways to practice self-care so that they may enhance workplace performance. And to learn that lesson, they first defined self-care.
Self-care is “the act of nurturing yourself and your needs by acting intentionally in ways that improve your well-being and happiness (mental, physical, emotional). Self-care is not selfish or indulgent and is unique to each individual.” (Spiewack, 2019) This is centered around the “idea that we give our best when we are our best, despite the tendency to prioritize others before self.” (Spiewack, 2019) This is especially important for those working as arts administrators, teaching artists, and educators, where the workload is heavy and high.
Studies find that by practicing self-care, we are able to reduce stress and burnout, increase productivity, improve emotional regulation, reduce sense of urgency about time, reduce distress, and for educators, engage in more positive interactions with students. (Jennings et al., 2017)
Putting words to action, our membership began to create a plan to incorporate self-care into their daily practices. We learned various mindful breathing techniques, enjoying the physically and mental reaction. We practiced Tibetan Bowl Meditation with Max Raphael of True Resonance, LLC. And of course, as arts administrators, we practiced self-care through visual art and music, led by Annie Ruth of A Ruth Creations, LLC. Additionally, we shared our own self-care practices with the group, including spending time in nature, playing with Playdoh, taking a bath, writing postcards, drinking water, etc. We ended the day by writing a letter to our future selves, making sure to include a reminder to take a moment to focus on ourselves.
If you are interested in practicing self-care, please check out this wonderful handout created by current GCAAE co-chair, Becky Spiewak!