Elizabeth (Liz) Chiotellis is currently an intern at Alameda Unified District in Alameda, California, which is located in the Bay Area.  Liz recently received her M.A. from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and will be completed with her program at the end of her internship.

During graduate school and the COVID-19 pandemic, Liz has worked greatly on self-care and has supported many others on their journey to wellness as well.  Keeping a consistent daily self-care routine has been one of Liz's many ways to make her self-care sustainable.

Self-Care Spotlight

What is an interesting or unique self-care activity that you do?


I don’t know if it’s unique, but I like to cook and bake.  Making others happy through food is a balm to my soul (it doesn’t hurt that the food tastes good too).  Researching techniques, reading recipes, finding new food bloggers, trying new recipes, and sharing food is something that might not be considered “self-care”, but cooking gives me life!


How do you make self-care doable and sustainable?

I don’t have a strict list of “self-care items” that I have to stick to.  This way I don’t set myself up to feel disappointed if I don’t get to something.  Having said that, I do try to drink water, move my body and do something good for my brain everyday so there is some structure around those things.  For example, I drink 40 oz of water before I leave the house (or, post-COVID, drink coffee) I drink another 20 oz before every meal with the goal of getting to 100 oz everyday.  I say “move my body” rather than “exercise” because I don’t always get a workout in, but I can always stretch or aim for 10,000 steps.  “Brain work” can mean a crossword puzzle or a thought provoking podcast (no screen, no social media).  This“loose-tight” approach works best for me so that I don’t beat myself for “failing” at self-care as that would be counter-intuitive.  


What tip would you give to someone who is new to self-care?

My tips for a self-care newbie...Do you!  Guess what?  You’re probably already doing things that are good for your body, mind and soul.  Do you like to read? Self-care.  Do you eat greens everyday? Self-care.  Heck, do you shower?  Self-care.  What makes a difference is that you are INTENTIONAL about the activity and ENJOY it!  







Vern Davis is a school psychologist at Papillion- La Vista Schools in Papillion, Nebraska.  In addition to

being a school psychologist at a suburban high school, Vern is a wife, a mom of two, and a fitness

instructor. Vern is an avid self-care promoter!  She believes that "EVERYONE has time to love themselves."

For people who want encouragement and tips on self-care, follow Vern on Instagram @vndavis. 

Here is Vern's self-care Q & A:

How does self-care fit into your

daily/weekly routine?


I make self-care a DAILY PRIORITY (non-negotiable, even with myself!) and I definitely notice the days that

I skip due to a “lack of time.”  The truth is: I don’t have time NOT to practice self-care.  When I make time for

myself, even 10 minutes to be still and breathe (notice I didn’t say meditate) I have more energy, more

patience, a better attitude, and better sleep.  We can find the benefits of self-care everywhere we look,

so I won’t go on and on...but I will say that “self-care” is what you make it.  My self-care is just that - MINE. 

What works for me or any of the lifestyle bloggers out there will not work for everyone.  I encourage people

to find what makes them feel joy and peace, call that self-care and figure out how to work it in to the day

and/or the week (it doesn’t have to be the same thing everyday!)   

Remember: “The power plant doesn’t HAVE energy, it MAKES energy!” (you’re the power plant in this scenario).

How do you make self-care doable and sustainable?

I love that sustainable is in this question. I have seen many people I am close to "fall off" in their self-care because they go full tilt and crash. I too have fallen victim to being overzealous and quickly burnt out on my lofty goals of 30-minute meditations and reading 15 books in two weeks on spirituality. I have learned that doing just a small amount of something good and letting it blossom organically serves me best, and helps to sustain. That way, I am finding things I love doing instead of forcing them.

What tip would you give to someone who is new to self-care?

Try things for a few weeks before giving up on them; if you don’t like it after the two-week period, stop. There are plenty of things to do!







How does self-care fit into your daily/weekly routine?

Self-care fits into my daily routine because I make room for it; I prioritize it, and it is a prioritization born

of necessity.  My sanity hangs daily in the balance, and requires frequent and intentional attention.

This attention to self-care usually involves exercise, doing things with people I love, communicating

how I am feeling to someone who understands, creating music, meditation, and self-reflection. I have

learned that I need this dailyroutine to best understand my intentions and my emotions.


Holden Ray is a first-year school psychologist at the Christina School District in Delaware.  He received his Ed.S. at The University of Nebraska Omaha.  As an early career school psychologist, Holden recognizes the importance of self-care.  

Holden was asked some questions about his self-care, and here is what he shared:

What is an interesting or unique self-care activity that you do?

I have recently started tapping during meditation. I thought it was cockamamie nonsense previously, but decided to try it 

 anyways. I no longer think it is nonsense, or that it is nonsense and being open minded to it created a kind of placebo effect.  Regardless, I have been doing it for the last eight months or so, and it has been helping.  I was given a tapping pattern to follow at first from a therapist, but after a while, I started "free styling," treating my face and torso like a drum kit.  It is relaxing and nice.  It has served me greatly to be open-minded to new things.

How Does Self-Care Fit into Your Daily Routine?


I try to fit in self-care breaks and rituals into my daily schedule. I am a very routine and schedule-oriented person, so this ensures I don’t forget my self-care activities!  For example, I like to start my day with a morning walk, which energizes me and gives me the feeling of being productive.  I also like to take a short coffee/tea break in the afternoon, which helps to break up the long afternoon stretch of a workday.  In the evenings, I have been carving out time to do some leisure reading, which gives me something to look forward to!  On Fridays or on the weekends, I like to plan a fun happy hour with friends, which have been via Zoom lately.

What is One of Your Unique Self-Care Activities?

Cooking is something I am very passionate about!  I really like starting a recipe and seeing the end product, similar to finishing a work of art.  I realize laborious, messy, and time-consuming cooking projects like making homemade pasta may not be considered relaxing and a conventional form of self-care, but it definitely is for me.

What Tip Would You Give to Someone Who is New to Self-Care?

I would suggest starting out small and working your way up.  For example, try picking one or a few low-maintenance self-care activities (e.g., treat yourself to a nice meal/dessert once a week, take a break to listen to your favorite song, or go for a short walk) that can be built easily into your schedule.  Once you feel comfortable with that, try adding in some more or bigger activities, such as learning a new hobby.  Having an open mind helps as it may take some trial and error to see what works best for you.

What are Some Self-Care Pointers Specific for Graduate Students and Those in Their Early Career?

  • Find a time management system that works for you.  I like the cloud-based Google Calendar that is linked to all my devices.  I can also set up reminders and alerts that help me to stay on top of deadlines.

  • Build in time to unwind after a long day of class, work, internship, etc.

  • Carve out time during the week to solely spend on something fun and/or meaningful for you.  For example, I designated every Saturday as a day where I do not spend time on work or studying.

  • Use positive self-talk!  Think of some kind of mantra that is helpful to bear in mind, especially when times get hectic.

What are Some Self-Care Pointers Specific to COVID-19?

  • Maintain structure during your day/week.  This is especially important for those working or studying entirely remotely, as the days can blend together.  Setting small goals for each day and having a to-do list are easy ways to help build structure.

  • Remember to exercise!  If the gyms are not open, try going on daily walks/runs every day.  Youtube has countless exercise videos delivered in a class style format including, but not limited to: yoga, meditation, Zumba, barre, pilates, and other no-equipment workouts.

  • Connect with others!  Try to schedule FaceTime/Zoom/phone calls with friends and family.  For me, I’ve been having weekly Zoom happy hour chats with friends, a weekly family Yahtzee tournament, which is an easy game to play remotely.  Another option for playing games are websites called “Board Game Arena” and “Tabletopia” which allow you to play board games online with others.

  • Practice gratitude by thinking of something positive that happened each day.

  • Try engaging in some activity you may not have had time to do in the hustle and bustle of typical life.  This could include getting rid of things you don’t need, or trying new recipes or a hobby.