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Depletion

In the world of education, we are all well aware of the lore of October.


Conference.

Report cards.

First quarter testing.


Then leads to:


Burnout

Overwhelm 

Exhaustion


So now, in the final days of October, you might be tired.  Those you lead might be tired too.


I have made the case with school leadership teams before that if we know that every October is a perfect storm of late nights at school and extra work that, perhaps, we could be proactive in taking good care of ourselves. We could consider what would have helped us last year and planned accordingly.


And while I still think that’s something to consider when we enter any predictably stressful time of our lives, that’s not what I’m actually thinking about today.


I’m thinking about how terrible so many of us are at responding meaningfully to how we feel.  Myself included.


But I’m being intentional about paying more attention to how I feel.


I was recently getting a craniosacral massage, in hopes of relieving some neck tension, and at the end of the session the masseuse said slowly and somewhat pityingly to me that she could feel widespread depletion in my body.


It scared me.


Depletion?!?


Sure, I had been tired and having a hard time sleeping and dealing with some persistent jaw pain and a bit stressed about a contract payment issue but (enter some annoying phrase here like “that’s the way life is” or some other BS).


But when a stranger put their hands on my spine and spoke the state of my being out loud -  DEPLETION - I was really scared.


What does chronic depletion get us?


  • It gets us diminished connection in our relationships

  • It can trigger autoimmune and other illnesses

  • It can leave us reaching for quick fixes to hot wire our brains to life


While I don’t think fear is always motivating, I was motivated.  Motivated to consider what would be replenishing, what would quench my depleted body.


When I asked the practitioner, “What should I do to fix this?”


She said this, “Consider what self care practices you have and if they are truly nourishing.”  She trailed off talking softly about screen time and multitasking.


Wise lady.


So if you are tired, or depleted, yes, we can do better in the future to think about what would have kept us from getting our gas tanks this low.  For now, what we can do is take exactly the advice I was given and ask:


  • What are your self care practices?

  • Are they actually nourishing?


(Hint:  If you’ve been doing them but you are really tired, they likely need some revisions)


For example, if you take a hot bath every night after you own children or partner or dog go to sleep but you use that time in the hot bath to put together your grocery list, get started on holiday shopping, google solutions to the main problems in your life, well, bad news, not so restorative.


If we want to feel better in November and stay in inspired leadership, we have to meet our current needs and we need to meet them wisely and well.


Here’s a few things I’m trying:

  • Hot bath with book in hand OR watching a show but no other screen-based multitasking allowed

  • I’m actually taking all my vitamins, nearly every day!

  • Where white space exists on my calendar, I’m not filling it and instead checking in with myself to see what would feel good

  • I’m using the mantras, “I am safe” and, “I receive.”

  • I’ve switched my morning coffee to cacao because you can’t drink cacao while being numbed out, it reminds me of ritual and setting an intention.  I drink it slowly.  I get my journal out.

  • I’m singing in the car or humming the sound “vuuu.”  Both singing and humming are ways to tone your vagus nerve.  The vagus nerve controls your parasympathetic mode, helping you relax.


What’s all this got to do with school leadership?


Everything.


With love and tenderness,

Maggie

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