It’s refreshing to look back over the spring and summer and recognize some projects that were accomplished. While cleaning out one of the girls’ rooms, I ran across this from one of their classmates: “Learn from your past, but do not dwell in it, instead dwell in the present for what you do in the present becomes our past tomorrow”. The days of summer are quickly fading and we find ourselves ready to launch into the fall activities of school, sports, band, and of course the Wayne County Fair. Within each of those events there are volunteers, teachers, parents and others who have stepped up to assist with making activities and opportunities available. As the culture continues, I’m reminded of some information that was shared on Compassion Fatigue.
When you work with youth, of any age, but especially younger youth, we realize that many have experienced at least one type of serious childhood trauma. They indicate about half of the children across the nation do not feel safe enough to be reached, let alone ready to learn. The impact upon the adults in their lives can be insomnia, substance abuse, inability to focus, memory impairment, anxiety, depression, isolation, and chronic fatigue. So, how do we help ourselves, so that we can help those who look to us for wisdom and knowledge? Here are six steps from the Institute for Trauma Sensitivity:
- Realize that there are some things you can do and some that are beyond your control. Recognize that you can’t do it all and let go of the guilt for not doing enough. Try to focus on what can be done - what difference can I make today?
- Be careful about targeting a specific end result. It’s easy to only look at what we want to see and not acknowledge there might be other options. Look for new ideas or options by talking with others and incorporating humor and laughter into your life. Redefine what you can do and what you have no control over - at this time, in this place, I can do this.
- Take care of yourself. It’s hard to give to others when our life is stretched to the max. What fills you with joy and peace? Whether it’s quiet time or fun with friends, acknowledge there’s an innate need to preserve the life we live. Think about the daily routine you have, and ask these questions: Did I get enough sleep today? Did I eat the foods my body needs to keep it healthy and drink enough water? Did I get some exercise, either planned or a walk or playing ball in the back yard? Did I spend some time doing things that make me happy? Did I choose to limit additional responsibilities by saying “no” and recognizing that when I say yes to something, I am saying no to the time I have for myself and my family?
- Surround yourself with a support system to come along side you, in the good times and when there are challenges. Acknowledging that I don’t have to do this alone is empowering, and reaching out to those to have a different point of view or skills to share can be essential in the classroom or the workplace. If there are signs of depression, anger or aggression, indifference or swings in attitude please reach out to a professional who can help work through feelings.
- Be the person you were created to be by sharing the values and beliefs you hold dear. It’s easy to think “I should do this” or “I need to do that”, but by simply being true to ourselves, we are giving the best we have to our classroom, worksite, family and friends. Brene Brown is the author of a book “The Gifts of Imperfection” and she shares, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. It is a collection of choices that we have to make every day to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
As the environment changes on a daily basis, may we all be more aware of ourselves and those around us who are constantly giving without return. While this reference was made primarily to teachers and classrooms, there’s plenty of opportunity for all of us to grow in resilience and offer support and grace to those in our lives.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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