Mind full or Mindful?

Bryan ZwemkeAdministration, Blog, Class Management, Innovation, Survival

In this Post

  • The reality of a mental health day (MHD).
  • Take steps to better your mental status through 10-15 min of purposeful you time.
  • Daily reflection is key.
  • Build in supports to make each day manageable.

At certain points of a school year, you may hear someone talking about taking a mental health day (MHD) – you may have even thought about taking one yourself. On the surface, this is usually a “tongue in cheek” comment, said out of physical or mental exhaustion. In these moments, your mind is full or you may be having just a bad day. However, the reality is, self-care should be on all our minds.

Now, feeling fully refreshed from Spring Break,  I have reflected on this comment. How can we do better with our own self-care? Shouldn’t every day be a mental health day? Or should it be a common practice to depend on a week-long break or weekend to full recharge? Why would we save up one day or one week for a MHD and not focus on mental health all the other days? To me that is like running a half marathon one day, and saying we are good for two weeks because we already ran 13.1 miles.

Why would we save up one day or one week for a MHD and not focus on mental health the other days? To me that is like running a half marathon one day and saying we are good for two weeks because we already ran 13.1 miles. #TeachBetter… Click To Tweet

What steps can you take to focus on mental health while not completely taking a day away from everything and everyone?

Tip # 1 : Take time for yourself.

Take a walk, hike, exercise, or choose to begin a mindfulness app. Pick a time for yourself and gift yourself 10-15 minutes of you time! It doesn’t matter when you do it and doesn’t matter which one. Here is a list of the of some mindfulness resources.

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Flexible Seating Challenge

Tip #2 : Reflect on your day.

Whether you choose to reflect at the end of the day or throughout. Recently I have been reflecting on events and problems needing to be addressed through a filter of the 72 Hour Rule. I have been asking myself in work, with family, or in daily life that whatever the issue is, will it be important 72 hours from now? Who will it be important to? Why does it have importance?

Regardless of the answer, I have learned that most things will find closure within that period of time and do not weigh heavily on my mind.  The items that do have duration past 72 hours have complexity to them and involve multiple layers and require that time.

Tip #3 : Build systems to support your mental heath.

However you choose to set up a system with your colleagues, the goal of collaborating with peers is to avoid the stress on your shoulders. Spread the wealth, delegate each element, and reflect together. No one person should carry the burden of a multi-discipline team, an administration team, or a professional learning community.

More than anything, the metacognitive process of thinking about your own thinking is the critical piece no matter how you go about doing it.  


About Bryan Zwemke

Bryan Zwemke is a middle school principal in Illinois. He is the Vice President of the Association of Illinois Middle Schools (AIMS) and the co-founder of the #aimsnetwork Twitter chat. Bryan is currently in a doctoral program for Education Leadership. As a veteran of middle level education, Bryan has developed a passion for the necessary change toward the #ModernMiddleSchool – a ecosystem dedicated to student growth, collaborative spaces and practices, and research supported techniques to long term success. You can connect with Bryan on Twitter @bryanzwemke or via email at bryandzwemke@gmail.com.