Leisure & Spiritual

Aside from physical, emotional, and psychological self-care, part of our personal self care is nurturing our spirit.  When we can focus on leisure activities that we enjoy, take some time to pause and reflect, it can really do wonders for our well-being.  Below are some ways to help enhance the well-being of your spirit, and the essence of you.

  • Take Good Care

    • Of course, this includes all of the physical, psychological, emotional, and social aspects, but it is so helpful for us to intentionally focus on ourselves.  ​

    • We can focus on grounding ourselves, and on our higher selves, through engaging in activities or pausing to reflect.

  • Slow Down

    • As school psychologists, we are incredibly busy working proactively and preventatitvely, as well as reactively through various interventions and crisis response.​

    • In our fast-paced world, it is crucial for us to take some time to modulate our pace from brisk and abrupt to a more down-regulated pace.  

    • Slowing down supports us being more grounded, adds clarity to our work and daily tasks, and allows us to be more mindful.

  • Rest

    • When we are busy in our daily lives, we are often "on the go" and forget to let our body and mind rest.  We hope to get rest while we sleep, but it is important for us to rest when we are awake.

    • Giving yourself time to sit and give your physical body a break can be very supportive.  Even leaning on a desk or sitting with our back against a chair while recognizing its physical support of our body, can be helpful for us to fully feel that sense of rest.

    • We also need to ensure to give our brain an opportunity to rest while being awake.  Over-thinking can increase stress, which can then infiltrate our body.  Giving time to just sit and focus on our breathing, without thinking of anything else, can be really helpful.  We can also give our minds "rest" by creating things, engaging in other activities that bring us joy and/or a sense of calm, or by watching something that does not require too much brainpower.

  • Mindfulness

    • Is a way to intentionally observe ourselves and our environment in a nonjudgmental manner.

    • It allows us to focus on being present, including anchoring ourselves to our body, experiences, and environment.

    • It includes using our 5 senses to intentionally experience ourselves and our surroundings. 

    • Dr. Jon Kabut-Zinn is a pioneer in mindfulness and is the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.  

    • Mindfulness can involved focusing intentionally on our breath.  It can also involve observing our thoughts as if we are watching a movie and being curious about them, without judgment.​​

    • A Body Scan is another great way to engage in mindfulness.  Here, you observe from head to toe (or toe to head), different areas of your body that are relaxed, or that are tense and need more attention.  Here is a video by Dr. Jon Kabut-Zinn to engage in a Body Scan.

    • Here are some other great mindfulness activities to help support your best self.

  • Grounding

    • Grounding is related to mindfulness, as it allows us to be present within ourselves and to connect with nature.

    • When we are fully present within ourselves and our body, we can get grounded.  Yoga and stretches are ways we can get grounded within ourselves.

    • When we are present with nature and feel connected to the Earth, we are also able to get grounded.

    • Nature has many rhythms and when we can attend to these, it helps us be more centered.  Some of these circular rhythms are the four seasons, seeds to blossom to fruit to decay, day and night, etc.

    • Using our 5 senses, we can get anchored more with ourselves and nature.  One example is the 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness technique:

      • Focus on 5 things you can see​

      • Focus on 4 things you can touch

      • Focus on 3 things you can hear

      • Focus on 2 things you can smell

      • Focus on 1 thing you can taste

  • Nature

    • Forest Bathing​- immersing ourselves in nature and intentionally noticing our surroundings, and being curious about what we see, as if we see it for the first time, can be very beneficial.  It has been found to improve mood and boost immunity.  Click here for a brief story (audio and written) about Forest Bathing.

    • Hands in soil or sand- being able to "touch" and "feel" nature and further immersing ourselves in it, is also a great way to get grounded and connect with nature.  At times, it can help awaken our inner child and help us reconnect with ourselves while we connect with nature.

    • Bare Feet on ground- Walking outside with our bare feet (weather-appropriate) can be a great way to connect with nature and further "ground" ourselves.

    • Engage with all 5 senses- whether we are intentionally "bathing" in nature or not, allowing ourselves to "stop and smell the roses" or really take "nature in" can be very beneficial to reduce stress.

    • Attend to messages and rhythms for balance- When we attend to the gifts of nature, such as the hope of a sunrise after a sunset, or the hope of a spring and new life after a harsh winter, this can be incredibly uplifting for our mind and spirit.  There is a certain balance to nature and its rhythms from natural elements (such as fire, water, and air) to the circular rhythms of our daily, monthly, and annual cycles.  There is great wisdom in nature and we can gain much from it if we stop, look, and listen.

  • Guided Imagery

    • It is often helpful for us to take a "mental vacation."

    • If we are stressed, disappointed, frustrated, or the like, stopping to take some time to imagine ourselves elsewhere can be very helpful.

    • We can also envision ourselves to be calm or to feel powerful; it helps to put ourselves into such imagined "in vivo" experiences.

    • Guided imagery is something we can do ourselves by imagining various scenes, or there are guided videos or audio supports to help.

    • Here is some information on guided imagery practice.

    • You can also use free apps, such as Headspace to help.

  • Prayer or any faith-based practice (religious, spiritual, etc.):

    • Research has shown that religious and spiritual practices can be a protective factor.​

    • Faith-based practices can also help support to mitigate stress and anxiety.

    • Prayer can also be a powerful way to engage collectively with others, and can help put thoughts into action when we have an intentional "well wish" or help us to identify a way for us to verbalize our needs and wishes, which also allows them to come more to fruition.

  • Create​​:  Creating things through various media is so helpful for the soul.  We do not have to be artists or musicians to create, as humans create each and every day.  We can create through various media and means.  Creating within our personal, perceived creative "zone of proximal development" allows us to potentially experience a state of "flow."

    • Food: We can cook and bake, but also how we "design" our plates and store food in storage containers or other packages can help us be a bit more creative.  We can even be creative in the way we incorporate colorful ingredients on a sandwich or salad.

    • Art: You do not have to have taken any art classes to express yourself through two-dimensional and three-dimensional means.

      • Crafting: Re-purpose items in your house, weave or knit with yarn or string, make a vision board with magazines, redesign your book shelf (even re-designing it by color can make your book shelf look a bit more creative.)  There are plenty of DIY fidgets and calming tools that you can create (which is a win if you want to personally use these or share your creations with students, parents, or fellow educators).  Click here for an example of some DIY fidgets and other tools, or here for a calming glitter jar.

      • Other Two-Dimensional Art Possibilities: Color, paint, or draw using various items (i.e., pens, colored pencils, markers, etc.) in your house.  You can also draw on your sidewalk with purchased chalk, or you can make your own.  There are also on-line sites and programs for adult coloring (on-line example).  You can also create your own website.

      • Other Three-Dimensional Art Possibilities: Building or molding with play-doh or clay is a fun way to mold and create items.  You can even make your own.  You can also build with legos/blocks or engage in rock balancing.  With paper, you can also craft origami.     

    • Music: ​Playing an instrument (including table drums), singing, interpretive dance, or curating a playlist of music (be your own personal DJ!) are great ways to create.  

    • Writing: Journaling our thoughts, or any form of creative writing, including poetry taps into our creativity.  Writing role-plays or songs (even in our work with students) can tap into our creative selves.

    • Plants: Gardening is a great way to create and cultivate life and nurturance.  We do not have to go the extent of designing a raised vegetable garden or window boxes full of flowers, but rather we can do some simple potting of herbs (and use them for cooking) or bring a few fresh flowers from outside to put in a little vase (or even a cup!)  Succulents are quite easy to care for and propagate (see video here to learn how to propagate succulents.)