Tracy Hobbs is a School Psychologist from Lake Ann, Michigan.  As a "retired" school psychologist, he is highly involved in NASP. 

 

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

​One of my daily (and unalterable) self-care habits is my morning routine:  I love to get-up early (much earlier than I need to just to get ready for school) and spend at least an hour with a cup of coffee (or two) sitting at my laptop catching-up on email and the news.  I don’t like to rush into what can often be a busy day without this quiet time:  it definitely sets me up for a productive day ahead.  

Before this crisis began, a workout at the Y was also a part of my daily routine.  I found this time essential for both my physical and mental well-being!  Since our stay-at-home order went into effect, I’ve substituted long walks with our dog for my workout:  she’s never gotten this much exercise!

And perhaps my favorite self-care activity is taking a long, hot bath; this somewhat indulgent act of self-care is the most relaxing thing that I can do for myself.   Sometimes, this becomes a very mindful activity with my focus completely on the experience; at moments like this, the outside world barely exists.   But on other occasions, this state of relaxation actually heightens my sense of creativity; with all of that stress melting away, some of my best problem-solving and planning takes place.  Either way, this is the ultimate in self-care!

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

I’ve become fascinated (some might say, “obsessed”) with genealogy and set aside time each week to pursue this research.  This has led to some fascinating discoveries such as my very deep Welsh roots:  I knew that I had English ancestors but was unaware of how extensive my Welsh heritage was.  For example, I was able to trace one branch of my family all the way back to the year 615 when my 37th great-grandfather, Gwriawn ap Gwynnan.  I also discovered that Owain Glyndŵr, the last true Welsh Prince of Wales who led a long (but ultimately unsuccessful) war of independence against the English, is my 15th great-grandfather.

This leads to another of my passions and ongoing act of self-care:  travel.  I absolutely love to travel and when I’m not traveling, I’m either planning for another trip (my next major adventure will be a 20-day journey to Southeast Asia next January) or often reliving memorable experiences through photographs and travel journeys.  As a result of my genealogical research, my partner and I spent 15 glorious days in Wales last September; knowing about my ancestral connections to this delightful country made the experience all the more memorable.

Another consistent and important form of self-care for me is maintaining strong connections to friends.  I am lucky and privileged to have several circles of friends with whom I’ve established relationships in a variety of settings such as childhood friends, school colleagues, and association leaders.  The ability to laugh and share my life with these people enriches my life and sustains me, in good times and bad.

How do you make self-care doable and sustainable?

I am definitely creature of habit and someone who needs (and love) structure and routine.  So, for me, many of these self-care activities are an ingrained part of my life.  But even so, it takes some work to maintain certain activities.  For example, I now live in northern Michigan about a 4-hour drive away from where I worked and spent 30 years of my career, establishing an incredible and enduring group of friends.  I make every effort to connect with them when I can and now, in these times of social isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I established a weekly virtual Happy Hour with this group:  every Thursday at 4:00 PM, we meet to re-connect, see each other’s faces (virtually, of course, via Zoom).  By making it part of my routine, it becomes sustainable because it’s on my calendar and takes priority over any other plans.

 

 

 

About Tracy's photo:

I was asked to provide a photo of myself doing a self-care activity

and chose this slightly blurry selfie taken a little over a year ago in a

tiny coastal village in Spanish Basque country.  It captures the

spontaneous joy of a experience shared with lifelong friends and

these elements of what I consider important to self-care: 

the power of connectedness, my love of travel and discovery,

and the appreciation of making every moment count.

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

I  know that the airplane oxygen mask analogy is overused when it comes to discussions about self-care but it really does capture, in a very concrete way, the importance of self-care not only for us but also for the people we care for:  “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area.  Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”  Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival and what does it have to do with self-care?  It’s a simple concept:  if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else around you with theirs.  Or more simply put:  if you can’t care for yourself, you can’t provide care for anyone else.

Self-care really is an essential, but often neglected, part of our roles.  If you’re new to the concept of self-care and in bringing it into your life, start small:  choose one activity that you can incorporate into you schedule and build on that.  It can be something as simple as finding five minutes in your day for quiet meditation.  The other thing that’s helpful is to think about what you’re already doing that you hadn’t thought of as self-care and use that as a foundation to expand your self-care activities.  Make it easy on yourself so start out small!

Karla Vazquez is a School Psychologist for Fairfield Public Schools in Fairfield, CT.  She is highly involved in CASP, her state organization. 

What is your title and brief job description?

I am certified school psychologist at an elementary school in CT. Prior to November 2019, I spent 5.5 years as an early childhood school psychologist.  In my current position, I assist with coordinating the special education team in the building (making me a part of the building leadership team) in addition to counseling students, completing evaluations, and coordinating 504 cases. 

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

It took me a long time to learn the value of self-care.  Early in my career

I experienced burnout but still did not fully invest in my self-care – or at

least not in any way that was impactful.  Even after being a first-responder

to the Sandy Hook school shooting, it took me over a year to examine

my habits and practices.  I slowly made changes to improve my self-care,

because, if I am not physically, emotionally and mentally healthy, I will be

of no use to others.  Since 2014, I have made sure to work out at least

3-4 days a week, read for pleasure and listen to my body and taking the

time to do nothing if that’s what feels good to me.

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

I do not think my self-care activities are interesting or unique! 

I work out [cardio & strength training], dabble in some yoga,

cook and try to recreate dishes and cocktails that I have had

at different restaurants.  I am always looking to learn something

new – both professionally and personally.  And, I love to travel!

How do you make self-care doable and sustainable?

I schedule it.  It sounds dry, but it works for me!  I have my

workouts, a home facial [great especially during these times!,

and read my daily devotional in the mornings.  It holds me

accountable and reminds me to shift out of work mode.

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

Start small.  Self-care is really anything that feels good to you

and allows you to disconnect from the responsibilities of life. 

Set achievable goals when adding self-care into your life. 

Start with 1-2 times a week for 10 minutes.  Once that becomes

routine, it is easier to increase the frequency and duration. 

And, do not compare your self-care to others – everyone has

different activities that speak to them.

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).

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!