Working in early learning brings many rewards, but it can also carry a lot of stress. Educators and caregivers work long hours in a job that requires thoughtfulness, care, patience, and energy. These stressors, combined with the effects of the pandemic, can feel overwhelming.
Because of this, practicing and prioritizing self-care is more critical than ever before. In order to effectively care for children, we have to schedule time to care for ourselves — and mindfulness is a great tool for getting started.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever you go there you are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” While this sounds like a simple task, it requires practice. It can be difficult to stay present and stop our minds from becoming overwhelmed with emotions like stress, frustration, or fear. The more we practice, the easier it becomes.
Everyone has the power to be mindful. The trick is to learn how to access mindfulness, and then practice it on a regular basis, and enjoy the benefits.
The Benefits of Mindfulness for Educators
Especially during times of stress, mindfulness can provide relief from anxiety and help us to feel less overwhelmed. When we become mindful, we take a moment to be in tune with our emotions and be gentle with ourselves.
Research suggests that practicing mindfulness on a regular basis can restore a sense of calm in educators’ busy lives. Mindfulness has the power to decrease stress, depression, anxiety, and hostility while enhancing executive function, compassion, and empathy. Teachers who practice mindfulness are better able to manage their stress and create a more supportive learning environment for the children in their care.
Developing a Practice
If you’re ready to get started, here are a few resources that you might find helpful:
Free Guided Meditations for your Mindfulness Practice
Bringing it into the Classroom
Children can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness, too! Bringing a mindfulness practice into your classroom can help children to be more in tune with their emotions and learn how to effectively regulate them. This is always important, but even more beneficial given the pandemic-related fears that children can experience. If you are interested in sharing a mindfulness practice with the children in your care, we recommend the following resources: