By: Nicole Gorden, M.S., BCBA, LBA
As teachers and clinicians dedicated to supporting children with autism, it’s important to recognize that prioritizing self-care is not only essential for our own well-being but also for the quality of care we provide. The summer months offer a valuable opportunity to focus on nurturing self-care practices and promoting wellness. In this blog post, we will discuss the significance of self-care, examine the benefits it offers to professionals in the field, and provide guidance on how to prioritize self-care during the summer break.
Understanding the Importance of Self-Care
Self-care is not selfish; it is a crucial aspect of maintaining overall health and well-being. It involves intentionally engaging in activities and practices that rejuvenate, nourish, and support our physical, emotional, and mental needs. Prioritizing self-care enables us to bring our best selves to our work and positively impact the lives of the children we support.
Recognizing the Challenges
Working in the field of autism can be rewarding but also demanding and emotionally taxing. As teachers and clinicians, we often invest our time and energy in meeting the needs of others, sometimes neglecting our own well-being. The summer break provides an opportunity to shift the focus back to ourselves and recharge.
One essential aspect of self-care is setting boundaries. Use the summer break as a time to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Allocate specific times for work-related tasks and dedicate the rest of your time to personal interests, hobbies, and relaxation. Communicate your boundaries effectively with colleagues, supervisors, and families, ensuring they understand and respect your need for downtime (e.g. – put up that away message and do not check your emails on vacation!).
Engaging in Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Summer offers an ideal time to engage in relaxation techniques and stress reduction activities. Explore practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness. Dedicate time each day to engage in activities that promote relaxation and help alleviate stress. This can include reading, taking walks in nature, practicing hobbies, or spending quality time with loved ones.
Nurturing Personal Interests
Use the summer break to reconnect with your personal interests and passions. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment outside of work is vital for your overall well-being. Pursue hobbies, explore new interests, or enroll in a class or workshop that allows you to develop new skills or indulge in your favorite pastimes.
Connecting with Peers
Building a network of supportive colleagues and peers can significantly contribute to your well-being. Reach out to other professionals in the field, attend conferences or workshops, and engage in discussions or online forums. Sharing experiences, seeking advice, and collaborating with like-minded individuals can provide a sense of support and camaraderie.
Reflecting and Growing
Summer break offers an opportunity for self-reflection and professional growth. Take time to reflect on your experiences, identify areas for improvement, and set goals for the upcoming year. Consider attending professional development workshops or engaging in online courses to expand your knowledge and skills in working with children with autism.
It’s crucial to recognize that self-care doesn’t mean facing challenges alone. Seek support when needed. Connect with mentors, supervisors, or therapists who can provide guidance and assistance. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and a commitment to your well-being.
Prioritizing Physical Health
Maintaining physical health is an integral part of self-care. Use the summer months to establish healthy habits such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and sufficient sleep. Engage in activities that promote physical well-being, such as swimming, hiking, cycling, or participating in recreational sports.
Prioritizing self-care as a teacher or clinician supporting children with autism is not only beneficial for your own well-being, but also for the quality of care you provide. Use this summer as an opportunity to set boundaries, engage in relaxation and stress reduction techniques, nurture personal interests, connect with peers, reflect on professional growth, seek support when needed, and prioritize your physical health. By investing in self-care, you will rejuvenate yourself, enhance your ability to support children with autism, and find greater fulfillment in your role. Remember, self-care is not a luxury; it is a necessity for professional longevity and personal satisfaction.
About the Author
Nicole Gorden, M.S., BCBA, LBA has over 14 years of experience implementing Applied Behavior Analysis principles with the Autism Population. She currently works for Comprehensive Behavior Supports in Brooklyn, NY.