Leading a school through the COVID-19 Pandemic brought new challenges for all leaders. There is more to staying positive than just telling yourself to “Be positive.” Thankfully, I had some good practices and habits already in place that helped me lead my school through this strange time in world history. I found the following practices to be vital to thriving trough the pandemic.
Peace and Quiet
Once the television, laptop, phone, or iPad are turned on, my attention is on other things, so the early morning is best for me. Quiet time may look different for all of us, but mine includes time to read the Bible, pray, write in my journal, and focus on the day. I write prayers in my journal and I speak them aloud. I give thanks to God and ask for help with everything. There is power in this quiet time, and it centers my mind and thoughts on God rather than on my problems or the world’s problems. If the early hours are difficult, find some other time during the day that will work. It will be different for everyone, but you can find it in the 24 hours you have each day.
I cannot get out of bed for quiet time and exercise if I stay up late, so I go to bed at a reasonable time. I exercise after my morning peace and quiet time. When I first started this routine, it was not easy! After a little while, I grew to love it and knew that I truly needed it. Getting the heartrate up and blood pumping early in the morning improves mood and mental clarity for the rest of the day. Exercise releases endorphins which contribute to feeling good, so having them in the morning is a great way to start the day. It also gives a feeling of accomplishment to meet personal challenges each day. Get outside for walks or runs or join a gym or home workout program. There are many ideas and options available online to meet the needs of people limited by weather, space, or budget.
I love sweets and carbs, but I found that certain foods I ate caused increased feelings of anxiety and angst. I am pretty in-tune with my body and how I feel with foods and drinks. I noticed that my anxiety and feelings of dread were higher on days I ate poorly. I still do not always eat the best foods around, but I have made a conscious effort to eat more home-cooked meals and less junk food. Not only does this boost the immune system, but it is also better for the pocketbook, and I feel better. Proper fuel has allowed me to continue exercising, feel healthy, and stay mentally alert and sharp while improving my mood.
Find a few friends who are in the same position and share your experiences with each other. Talk about what is going well and discuss how you need help or can help others. This common ground with others will bring additional peace and a feeling of unity during a time of isolation. I have a few colleagues outside my school to call on for support and ideas. This networking and friendship has provided hope and a sense of calm during chaotic times. Carefully choose friends who will not drag you down with negativity.
Make yourself a priority but not the priority. Dwelling on yourself is a recipe for misery. Set boundaries for the time you will spend on tasks that do not benefit you, your work, or your family. Remember it is okay to say, “No,” and take some time for yourself so you can stay positive and stay at the top of your game. Soul and energy sucking parasites abound. Recognizing them in your life or your environment will help you prioritize yourself and your time for engaging in what really matters. You have to take care of yourself, so you can take care of all the other things and people in your charge. It is a delicate balance.
Try one or all of these for a few weeks and let me know how you are doing. I would love to hear what works for you and to share with the community!