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By: Lindsay Hayes, Program Assistant Mentor, Pembina Hills School Division

I love my job, but this week was hard. Really hard. Like so many people around me, the load is feeling heavy. We have a lot going on right now in our professional and personal lives with budget cuts, job losses and much of the stuff that comes with the Christmas season. Using a Self-Reg lens, I’d like to share with you how I used this framework to learn, grow and bounce back from my hard week. 

I cried this week. At work. It’s not something I usually do, but it happened. And I know it happens in schools more than many of us realize. What I know to be true for me is that the stress load got too high, and my energy was way too low. This is not because I didn’t take “control” of my emotions or lack some kind of skill that I should have as an educator. 

Here’s the deal. I can’t change many things about the load, but I can change some of it, which changes my capacity for carrying it.

Reframing my “meltdown” as a stress response rather than a lack of self-control, is compassion. I am practicing showing myself that more often.

Why did the load feel so high this week? 

Biological

  • I have not eaten very well this week and not slept well (these are major stressors for me).

Emotion 

  • The people who often struggle, struggle even harder in December (remember chaos begets chaos just as calm begets calm—we are wired for this).
  • With one of my teams, I had to use the “last resort” in a student’s behavior plan. Yes, the yucky stuff we plan for in SIVA (Supporting Individuals through Valued Attachment) training. This might be one of the most emotionally draining suckers on the planet for me.
  • I have family stuff and work stuff that are pulling at my heartstrings.

Cognitive

  • I am thinking about and planning all the Christmas activities, gifts, shopping, lists, etc.
  • I am working hard at keeping the plans of many, many different children in my head.

Social

I am struggling with the “what will people think”, especially when I make moment to moment decisions with students that don’t turn out as pretty as planned. Remember my SIVA moment? Even as I write this there’s an element of judgement I put on myself that I consciously have to work through, “Is what I do good enough?”

Prosocial

  • Those at-risk kids are everywhere and this month is much harder on them. I feel for them.
  • There are staff that are friends of mine, being greatly impacted by cuts and changes. I feel for them.
  • There are precious staff holding struggling kids, and they are struggling. I feel for them.

Most of the “stressors” that piled up for me this week cannot be changed, but some can. When the days get harder, it’s so much more important to shift my focus. This is not the time to let healthy eating go, I can use the energy more than ever. This is a week to go to bed earlier. The amount of energy burning in these harder days needs refilling.

I am learning that it doesn’t do me any good to focus on things I cannot change, but I can reframe my “meltdown” and respond to myself differently next week.

Here’s to more sleep, better food, more water, and more time with people I can love on and laugh with! So when another inevitably hard week comes, I have a little more energy to actually have the capacity to handle it without losing my S@#$. 

I am grateful for another day to get up, dust off, be supported by so many incredible people, reflect, learn something new, and then try again. This is resilience

  • Have you had your own version of a “meltdown” that you can reframe?
  • Knowing that this month presents many opportunities that suck up energy, what can you plan to give yourself daily that will enable you to enjoy more of this season?

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