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Mental health is vital in our profession, but since we spend much of our time caring for other people we can sometimes forget that our own selves need to be taken care of. Mental Health for SEITs and other one on ones is important to address because if we don’t care for ourselves, then we can’t care for other people. As hard as it can be at times, your own self-care does need to be a priority.
So as I’m writing this I just woke up from a nap. Since we went remote my brain has felt exhausted at the end of the day. I wish I could blame video calls and the pandemic, but I have always been tired at the end of the day.
It’s either my body from running between cases, my eye from all the computer screens, or my brain from dealing with tantrums, upset parents, difficult professionals, or just trying to figure out details for a case.
I’m not that surprised that during the pandemic, I became addicted to napping during my lunch break. (I can say that because I work for myself)
Working as a SEIT or a one on one can be very lonely at times. Make sure to join my email list to stay up to date on my posts and join my community of professionals!
When you are trying to take care of your mental health as a SEIT or One on One, setting boundaries is important. Your relationship with your students and their families is a big part of how you get work done. At times they might forget you’re a professional, and at some point, you have to clock out.
The biggest boundary I have is my cut-off time for talking to families.
Sometimes parents or caseworkers might want to talk to you about a child after work hours since they work during the day. I allow that but within reason.
I make sure all my families know any calls, texts, or emails sent after 7 pm won’t be looked at till the next day. The one exception is last-minute scheduling problems for my first case of the day.
That is just one example of what is important to me. Consider what matters most to you and set a boundary around it. Make sure people are aware and kindly remind them if they forget.
Take Care of Your Body
Another thing to prioritize for mental health for SEITs and one on ones is your body. If your body feels bad. You will feel bad.
My biggest challenge is always getting enough sleep. I have found that when I don’t get enough sleep, I have no patience. That usually ends with me snapping at a kid, who then gets openly defiant.
No shame on them. I say all the time that if you’re in a bad mood it’s unfair to take it out on others. I do hate hypocrites.
So sleep is important.
Other kind things to do for your body are giving it enough healthy food, drinking enough water, getting some exercise, and wearing clothes that make you feel good and comfortable.
Another big thing with me is making sure I have good shoes. I walk a lot during the day (in non-pandemic times) and shoes without the right support make my feet and back hurt.
Take note of how your body feels at the end of each day. If there’s a common problem ask what you can do to fix it.
When you’re taking care of your mental health as SEITs or one on ones is your brain needs time to reset after being so invested and active all day.
Find things that relax you, and do them, just for yourself.
I love writing (duh). I write fanfiction for fun, and I also cross-stitch, bake, cook, and spend a lot of time looking at real estate that I can’t afford. After a certain amount of time doing these silly things my brain just starts to feel better.
Crafts are a great place to start because your hands can do all the work, and in the end, you have something you made yourself, which can give you a great sense of pride.
Spend Time with Family and Friends
Surround yourself with people you love and who make you laugh.
Getting brunch with my other teacher friends and gossiping always soothes me. As does visiting my family, watching TV with my sister, and having picnics with my friends.
Find fun things to do with your kids or partners or parents or whoever else is most important to you.
Make sure your social life outside of work is fulfilling, so it’s not all about work.
Therapy is Valuable (Duh)
Aside from the naps, I also see a therapist weekly. I have been in therapy on and off for years. I talk about it often and quote my therapist to my friends. She’s very wise.
I was diagnosed with OCD when I was finishing college.
The two most important things I do for my own mental health are, talk to my therapist and manage my OCD, both through her treatment plan and taking my meds.
I don’t keep this a secret from the important people in my life. Not all my families have known, but several have. I find hiding my struggles makes it harder for me to take care of myself as it creates more stress.
If you are struggling, I encourage you to find a counselor or therapist, especially if your mental health is affecting your ability to work or have a personal life.
You don’t need to have a diagnosable condition to see a therapist, and if you can afford it, I encourage you to try it. It changed my life.
Your mental health is arguably the most important asset you have as SEITs or one on ones. Without it, you can’t do your job well.
How to care for it is deeply personal to each person. These are just the top five things I have found work best for me.
If they don’t work for you then I recommend taking note of what seems to stress you out and what makes you feel better throughout the day. Try to incorporate more things into your life that make you feel good and relaxed.
This can even be making sure you have more fun things to do with your students, and if you need ideas, check out this blog post on Twenty Fun Things to do with Students on the Spectrum in the Summer!
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