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Self-Care for School Psychologists: One Simple Habit to Try Today

Hey everybody, it’s Rebecca, from Notes from the School Psychologist Blog and the Thriving School Psychologist Collective, and I want to talk to you about something really important in the world of self-care for school psychologists.

I want to talk to you about “adult recess.” (Yes, it’s a thing. I just made it up. So now it’s a thing.)

Earlier today, I was listening to a podcast, and I learned of a study that was done in the ’70s in which the researchers accidentally created Generalized Anxiety Disorder in subjects in just 2 days. Would you like to know how they did it? They told the people in the study to not do anything enjoyable in the day—only “instrumental tasks.” They went through the full 2 days with only doing things that they needed to do, like to do list items, without any joyful or relaxing activities. At the end of 2 days, they were more stressed, more anxious, their cortisol was up, they had higher blood pressure, and all these negative outcomes. Now in the ’70s this was sort of a land break study. Now, that’s kind of what our lives are like now sometimes, aren’t they? We often don’t take the time during the day to stop and appreciate and have joy.

We often don’t take the time during the day to stop and appreciate and have joy.

Today, I was dropping my daughter off at school, and I saw all the kids having morning recess, and I thought, oh my gosh, this is perfect, why didn’t I think of this before?

Adult recess.

There’s a concept in mindfulness meditations called “mindfulness anchors.” We know that mindfulness is all about bringing us to the present moment and not being judgmental about it, but mindfulness can also be a cue to trigger positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, awe, inspiration, et cetera. A mindfulness anchor is something that triggers us to be mindful or engage in a positive habit.

This got me to thinking: School psychologists—let’s use recess as a meditation anchor. Every time the kids go out to recess (or if you’re at the upper levels of school, every time they have their break,) ask yourself, am I taking an adult recess?

And what might an adult recess look like for you? It may just be looking at a funny video on YouTube. It could be texting a friend and being like, what’s up? It could be having a nice, little coffee break with a colleague who’s inspirational and fun. Instead of plowing through recess doing more and more work, putting ourselves at risk for high levels of negative stress-related outcomes like in the study I mentioned, let’s start using our recess wisely.

The research shows that when we pause and take breaks during the day (and it can be as little as 2 minutes, folks) we ultimately end up being, of course, happier and less stressed, but also (plot twist!) more productive. A recent study showed that even just 2 minutes in the day of mindfulness meditation, just pausing, breathing, and reflecting in your day can give you up to an hour of more productivity in the week. Breaks are not just a reward for a job well-done. They’re instrumental to our success and happiness

Breaks are not just a reward for a job well-done. They’re instrumental to our success and happiness.

So, school psychologists, I look forward to seeing you guys take adult recess! Anyone who reads my blog knows that promoting self-care for school psychologists is my soap box issue to end all soap box issues.

And let’s have some fun with this! Hop over to the Facebook Fan Page for the blog, snap a little pic and upload it and show us the “adult recess” you’re having, or type in the comments how you spent your adult recess. Let’s inspire others and use the hashtags #adultrecessrules and #tspgoals (which is “Thriving School Psychologist goals,” of course!)

I look forward to seeing you guys taking breaks. Just remember, it’s SO important for your own mental health, your self-care, and your productivity as a school psychologist.

Dr. Rebecca Branstetter is a school psychologist and founder of the Thriving School Psychologist Collective, a community of school psychologists dedicated to self-care so that they can improve students’ access to high-quality learning and mental health services in the public schools.

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Comments on Self-Care for School Psychologists: One Simple Habit to Try Today

  1. Rachel Briscoe says:

    Awesome idea!!! Thank you for permission to do what feels natural and helpful to a productive day!

  2. Rebecca says:

    @rachel: I look forward to hearing how you spent “Adult Recess” today! 😉 -Rebecca

  3. Donna Fogg says:

    For ten minutes twice a week I get to play Nerf football catch with a third grader. He’s Dak Prescott and I’m Patrick Mahomes;)

  4. Rebecca says:

    @Donna: OMG I LOVE IT!!! That’s a real recess for sure! 🙂

  5. Nanda Mitra-Itle says:

    Great advice. Could I borrow your video for a training for new school psychologists induction?

    1. Rebecca says:

      Hi Nanda, Of course! 🙂 Share away!

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