Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Self Care Progress, Kind Of

I happen to be in a profession that really takes a toll on my body.  Being an elementary school teacher I am on stage for nearly 6 hours a day and it is extremely exhausting work.  I love it and I'm good at it, but it really wears me down.  I often get sick about this time of year, and it has happened again.

I'm grateful to have a boss that understands that family and your health need to come before work, but it's still hard to take time away when I need it.  The students don't generally respond well to substitutes, and when I come back there is often something to deal with that happened while I was gone.  On top of that, it typically takes about an hour or more to get the plans together to have a substitute in your class.  It's not the kind of job where you can just wake up and call in sick.  

It was this exact week last year, the week before Christmas break from school, that I was home in bed all week beginning my recovery from pneumonia.  I remember the week before I had noticed a cold or something developing in my chest.  However, instead of recognizing the signs and slowing down I ignored it and thought I could push through it until Christmas break.  Well, that didn't turn out too well.  Being so sick was scary, and being in bed for over a week definitely got my attention.  This past year I've really tried to work on taking better care of myself and recognizing the signs my body gives me.  I've had mixed results.

I'd like to tell you that I've made all of these dramatic changes; that I exercise regularly, eat well, and get consistent sleep.  As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety I know the importance of these things for my well being.  But if I told you that I'd be lying.  I exercise occasionally, I love beer and ice cream, and sometimes I stay up too late on work nights and don't get enough sleep.  The unavoidable stress of having two dogs, two teenage boys, and a busy job definitely play a role in all of this.  I try to remember this and do my best.  I think a big part of my self care is not expecting perfection, and to be gentle with myself when I don't make the best choices.

As often is the case, I had another opportunity this week to make a better choice given similar circumstances.  On Saturday, which was the exact day last year that I was diagnosed with pneumonia, I began feeling that congestion in my chest and the exhaustion of an oncoming illness.  But this time I listened to my body.  I rested that whole day and Sunday also.  Then I went to work yesterday and took it as easy as I could on a rainy day with kids in the room all day.  During the times they were working and inside recess time I diligently worked on my sub plans for today.  So now I am home resting and trying to get over this thing.  I cancelled my therapy appointment for today and I took a long nap. I'm far from perfect when it comes to taking care of my body, but I can celebrate the fact that I listened better to my body this year than I did last year.  I'm hoping that means it will pass quickly and not linger into my Christmas break.

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