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Take Time for You

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The key to thriving, as both a human and an educator, rests in mindfulness, reflection, and daily self-care activities. With Take Time for You, you will discover a clear path to well-being by working through Maslow's hierarchy of needs: (1) physiological, (2) safety, (3) belonging, (4) esteem, (5) self-actualization, and (6) transcendence. The author offers a range of manageable research-based strategies, self-care surveys, and reflective teaching questions that will guide you in developing an individualized self-care plan.

Embrace imperfection as you develop your own self-care plan:

  • Understand the challenges to mindfulness for teachers and how Maslow's hierarchy of needs comes into play in your personal and professional life.
  • Design action plans so you can meet your own physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs and, finally, transcend and connect with something greater than yourself.
  • Take surveys and perform a daily time audit to determine how well you are meeting each of your needs.
  • Use the journaling space and self-reflection questions provided throughout the book to reflect on your implementation efforts.

Chapter 1: Understand the Framework
Chapter 2: Physiological Needs
Chapter 3: Safety Needs
Chapter 4: Belonging Needs
Chapter 5: Esteem Needs
Chapter 6: Self-Actualization Needs
Chapter 7: Transcendence Needs
Epilogue: Final Thoughts
Appendix: My Personalized Self-Care Plan
References and Resources

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8 Chapters

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Chapter 1



The Foundation


nd so it begins. Today is when you begin moving from surviving to thriving, both inside and outside of your school or classroom. Congratulate yourself for choosing you. You deserve this. You are worthy. Remind yourself of this when you feel like going back to your old life. We are going to take this incredible journey together and all the hard work you put into yourself will be worth it. Now take a deep breath; let’s get started.

Before you work on improving your own life, you’ll need to get an unbiased sense of where you currently are, which we’ll do in this chapter. From there, we’ll dig more deeply into humanist psychologist Abraham H. Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs and how this framework applies to humanity as a whole, as well as to you, an educator.

Foundation Strategies

Buddha says that, “if you want to know your past life, look at your present condition. If you want to know your future life, look at your present actions” (Good Reads, n.d.). So here we are, taking a look—an honest look—at your present actions. Don’t skip this part. Instead, honor it. Give yourself the grace of alone time to give your undivided attention to the following tasks, without judgment. Know that whatever you discover from the following exercises is fine. You are enough, exactly as you are, in this current moment. Even if you’re working with an accountability partner or group, gathering your own starting data is solo, private work.


Chapter 2



Physiological Needs


he first rung of the ladder includes basic physiological needs—water, food, exercise, rest, and shelter. If your basic needs are unmet, you won’t get very far. You may not have eaten breakfast because you woke up late. Or, you may have eaten a hearty breakfast of steel-cut oats, a hard-boiled egg, and a handful of almonds, which allows you to start your day strong, but if you’ve skipped lunch in lieu of tutoring a student, by 3:00 p.m. your hunger needs are unmet. What happens then? You probably have trouble paying attention to tasks at hand because you are truly hungry in that moment. In foundational research known as the Minnesota

Starvation Experiment, physiologist Ancel Keys and his colleagues

(Keys, Brožek, Henschel, Mickelson, & Taylor, 1950) report participants who are hungry suffer a myriad of negative symptoms, including listlessness, depression, and apathy (Carter & Watts,

2016). A blood-sugar drop can occur when you need protein or eat a lot of sugar. Those physical symptoms can lead to sweating, shakiness, or trouble concentrating (Thompson & O’Brien, 2014), none of which is helpful, particularly as an educator.


Chapter 3



Safety Needs


ow take a look at the second level: safety. You can think of safety as being free from “risk of injury, danger, or loss”

(“Safety,” n.d.). Safety involves order, predictability, and fairness, which reduce the possibility of physical or emotional harm.

Feeling unsafe can contribute to anxiety, which, if experienced over time or continuously, can negatively affect your digestive, nervous, and immune systems (Holmes, 2014). A doctor can help you determine if you have an anxiety disorder if you feel like you’re really struggling here.

After you’ve satisfied your physiological needs, you will naturally seek out situations where you feel secure. Ultimately, you want to have a sense of perceived safety as well as actual safety. In other words, you want to be safe and also feel safe. Allow me to explain.

Although I am not afraid to fly, I feel like I’m pushing my luck to climb onboard a large metal bird and ask it to get me safely to my destination. I think a lot of people feel this way, and those feelings can result in a lot of bad passenger behavior. Perhaps the guy yelling at the gate agent about the ten-minute delay is subconsciously stuck on the question, “Does this situation make me feel safe?”


Chapter 4



Belonging Needs


h, belonging. It’s what everyone craves somehow, isn’t it

(Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Richman & Leary, 2009)?

Everyone wants to be accepted, be part of a group, and have quality relationships. This is so incredibly easy to see in students.

As a middle school teacher and administrator, I saw this daily.

Especially at their fragile ages, students are desperate to belong

(Brown & Larson, 2009)—so desperate, in fact, that if they don’t feel like they belong, the consequences can be devastating, ranging from depression to self-injury and even suicide (Bearman &

Moody, 2004).

These results aren’t only true of middle school students, of course, as feelings of belonging—or a lack thereof—have a huge impact on your emotional health, no matter how old you are (Cacioppo

& Hawkley, 2009). In fact, following seventy-five years of longitudinal research known as the Harvard Grant Study, psychiatrist

George E. Vaillant (2012, as cited in Gregoire, 2013) finds “joy is connection . . . the more areas in your life you can make connection, the better.” This is from a person whose life’s work centers on studying the concept of happiness and life satisfaction.


Chapter 5



Esteem Needs


elcome to the ladder’s fourth rung. Maslow (1943, 2013) explains that everyone has a “need or desire for a stable, firmly based, (usually) high evaluation of themselves, for selfrespect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others” (p. 7). Selfesteem is defined as “positive (high self-esteem) or negative (low self-esteem) feelings that we have about ourselves” (Stangor,

2014). As Maslow (1943, 2013) indicates, this level’s needs include both how we think of ourselves and how others think of us. Because it’s difficult to control how others see us, I ask you to spend most of your energy on what you can control: how you think about yourself.

Briefly then, consider the esteem of others, which includes a basic desire to feel appreciated and recognized. The desire to be more appreciated is a consistent theme I hear from educators.

Whether by their supervisors, parents, or the public at large, most educators I speak with feel underappreciated for the work they do.


Chapter 6






elcome. Here you are, my friend. You’ve steadily climbed your way up the first four rungs of the ladder, and your reward is to ask yourself, “Am I living my best life?” To further understand the concept of self-actualization, consider the following claims Maslow (2000) makes in defining those who are self-actualized.

• Superior reality perception, allowing accurate judgment of others and accepting uncertainty and ambiguity

• More tolerance of self and of others

• Greater appreciation and complex emotional reactions

• Increased identification with others

• Increased creativity

• Higher frequency of peak experiences

One of the rewards of standing on this rung is the increased chance of having a peak experience—a moment in life where everything is perfect (Maslow, 2015a). This kind of experience has you so caught up in the moment that time seems to stop and everything falls into place. Peak experiences are your best moments, and their memory stays with you.


Chapter 7



Transcendence Needs


ere you are. You may (or may not) have arrived, and either is just fine. When you do find yourself feeling stable at level five, you’re able to step up to the ladder’s top rung. Look around. Savor your hard work. Stretch your arms out wide, close your eyes, and breathe in. As you take in the glorious view, ask yourself if you feel connected to something greater than yourself. Chances are, you do.

At this highest level, you desire a higher purpose. You want to help others move up the ladder. As educators, we’re in luck here.

In fact, it’s probably why you chose this profession in the first place. You have a roster of students who you already help; during transcendence you can help in radical ways because your base is sturdy enough. Can you imagine a school where the adults in the building are so steady and solid that they regularly tap into this level? Imagine the impact this would have on the students lucky enough to be part of this environment.





My Personalized

Self-Care Plan


y now, I hope you have a better sense of yourself and recognize when you’re merely surviving versus when you’re truly thriving. I also hope that when you are not your best self, you know that you have a slew of strategies, depending on what you need in that moment. In fact, now that you’ve had time to practice and reflect, it’s time to create a cheat sheet—a quick-reference guide—to carry with you and refer to on a daily or regular basis.

This will be your personalized “Self-Care Plan” (page 124). To complete your plan, take time to review and reflect on the previous chapters and identify the strategies that seem to work best for you. In your “Self-Care Plan,” record those strategies in a way that makes sense to you. I suggest making multiple copies of this and putting them in the same places you first posted the framework questions (see figure 1.4, page 19).




Self-Care Plan



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