After having a rough day at work, I was reminded that I need to be more careful about who and what I allow to affect me. Being in a position of influence – school teacher, when I am bothered, I know that I have very little space to truly deal with those emotions once they happen because I have to consistently be “ON” for my students. As a result I am challenged to gain control of my emotions quickly.
There have been many occasions where I’ve allowed those overwhelming feelings to negatively impact how I finished my school day. Though it is quite difficult, in my understanding of what is going on within myself, I have learned what it means to actively find my inner strength. This inner strength is important because it allows me to be proactive instead of reactive.
Additional responsibilities make one more likely to tap into that internal strength. This takes a great deal of patience with people and more importantly SELF. I, like many people internalize a lot of things: what people say to/about me, physical feelings, and my own opinions about my progress. As I hold on to these emotions, they unconsciously fester potentially putting a strain on the interactions I have with others.
Because of these outside and often times inside triggers, I have developed a toolbox of activities that are necessary to me functioning at optimal capacity though having experienced defeat, frustration, fear, or just plain tired. As a father, time is more precious than ever, so my coping mechanisms must reflect the place I’m at in my life now. Whereas prior to my daughter’s arrival and marriage, on rough days I could go to the gym and workout for a couple of hours. Once married, hours at the gym turned into 20 to 25 minute runs.
Now as a father, a meditation session or quick bike ride would suffice. I even try to take out time to get a massage when possible. What I have is, focused time on ME. That is what “retail therapy” or a trip to the bar is about except the outlets mentioned above cost very little but pay great dividends to my mental and physical health. So after whatever session I’m able to get in, I’m refreshed and able to finish my day.
The word “Self Care” means just that, you expressing your own importance and doing what is necessary for YOU. Remember you are only as important as you make yourself, and people will only treat you the way you treat yourself. It is paramount that you find healthy stress relievers and make them a part of your life, week, or day; whichever is most fitting at the time. Because you better believe people are watching you, not to see you fail but watching for direction in how to handle stressors in their own lives. When you have these things – your personal toolkit, in place, you will be better prepared to be the best example possible for those watching you.
Alonzo Nelson Jr is a new dad, high school math teacher, coach, and yoga instructor in the St Louis region. His passion is bringing out the best in those he reaches and he lives his life as an open book so that his students more importantly can see the possibilities and beauty in the world through his life.