I behaved in a way I had never before behaved in a work setting. In fact, I cannot even remember a time outside of a place of employment when I have come so unglued. I was feeling utterly frustrated, completely powerless to effect change in the ways that are essential for me and my team to be happy and healthy.
It's not as if I didn't see it coming. I had felt myself on the verge of losing it on a few earlier occasions. I did not want to come undone in front of students, did not want to end up taking my frustrations out on an unsuspecting client. The last thing these vulnerable people need is to be on the receiving end of an explosion by the very person assigned to help them. I knew I could not let that happen, and so I had sought professional help. It had fallen through, but the meltdown motivated me to try again.
About that same time, I was feeling a need to shed two winters' worth of pudge before an upcoming conference at which I'm presenting. I recalled John Sivell's having recommended a diet that worked for him. I emailed him to get the name of it and within days had two of Haylie Pomroy's books in my possession: The Fast Metabolism Diet and the companion cookbook.
The first couple of days were hellish. I suppose the killer headache and brain fog were related to detox. The regimen is a 28-day commitment to say no to alcohol, wheat, dairy, soy, refined sugar and chemical additives while saying yes to mostly organic, home-cooked, clean and healthy whole foods eaten at specific intervals in cycles (three phases) in order to reboot the metabolism.
I don't "do" diets very often--perhaps one every seven or eight years, in fact. But when I do one, I do it all the way. I read the book with highlighters and coloured sticky flags at hand. I took all the forbidden foods out of my pantry and stashed them in large shopping bags behind a door in a room I don't enter often. There was a practical side to this: I had to make room for a tonne of new-to-me ingredients! I went shopping for the coconut aminos, coconut vinegar, fresh (and frozen) foods I would need to do this right.
Now I get sleepy earlier than before and rise earlier without an alarm clock feeling rested and refreshed. I become mentally alert very soon after waking in spite of not having ingested anything caffeinated--not even my beloved dark chocolate!
Right about the time I started the diet and working with a counsellor with some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tools, I also saw a post in Global Innovative Language Teachers (FB group) about another FB group called Seriously Happy Educators' Forum. When I saw that the owner of the group, Kerry Garnier, holds a live tapping session every Thursday, I joined right away. Emotional Freedom Technique has been of enormous help to me in the distant past. I welcomed back into my life this method of getting psychically unstuck.
With these three new tools, I started to see changes in myself as an employee, colleague and teacher. Coworkers say I'm more chipper.
Students have also benefited from the transformation. I had an incident where a student went into my things on my desk without asking and proceeded to knock over my water, getting the day's worksheets wet. Whereas before I might have felt myself becoming upset and would then have had to mask or get control of that emotion, this time I was able to turn back to writing on the board while letting natural consequences take care of things. The students get wet worksheets. Whoopdie doo! It's not the end of the world. I was calm when I said, "Next time you want to borrow something off my desk, just ask."
And one day this past week I did something unheard of: I played ping-pong with students and teachers in the gym during my lunch break.
How about you? Have you taken any steps recently to improve your self-care habits? Are they working? If not, what is standing in your way? If so, please share what is working.