Each of us have our own way of coping with the stressors that we are faced with. This last part of a mini blog series on self-care strategies is about action. On how to move from reflection towards action. Take my suggestions and develop your own self-care toolkit! Remember that you are not alone nor helpless in this.
This blog article is the third and last part in a blog series about self-care for yoga teachers in light of Covid-19. Read the first part about Recognition here!
Take action as a yoga teacher
As we have reflected on one’s professional role and responsibilities towards oneself and one’s profession, part three of this article series sheds a light on how to move from reflection towards action. Reflection and action are not seen as two completely separate concepts, instead they interrelate and co-exist with each other in a continuous and evolving process. When combined together they generate a momentum which can drive us forwards from a place of substance and wisdom.
Without a grounded foundation upon which to stand, one in which the yoga teacher is aware of their professional role; responsibilities; and, duty of care within that role, what comes next would be nothing but superficial “how to’s”. However, if the yoga teacher remains integrated in themselves and their purpose, then they can approach these suggested coping strategies as well as developing their own, in a way that carries more weight.
This article takes into account that not all individuals respond to stress in the same way. Therefore, each person will also have their own unique way of coping with the stressors that they are faced with. As a yoga teacher, you can draw from your vast experience to develop your own self-care toolkit. The suggestions in this article are just that, suggestions. They are not dogma nor are they complete instead they aim to serve as a spring-board form which you can develop your own creative solutions.
Remember that you are not alone nor helpless in this. Even by asking for help you are taking initiative into your own hands and off-loading some of the professional pressure that you may be experiencing right now.
Lean on a trusted network
Your social environment will impact how you feel therefore it is important to surround yourself with meaningful influences. Lean on a network of a select group of colleagues that you know and trust. This is your platform of support where you can vent in a constructive way and follow up with problem-solving where solutions are co-created through the brainstorming between colleagues. Use this network to ask for feedback and/or have your work ideas validated. Have a think about who you would like to include in this network and reach out to them.
Key words: social, trust, support, constructive, problem-solving, brainstorming, validation
With the drastic change of work environment and moving from teaching in person to online, many teachers are at risk to start doubting their abilities and some may experience a drop in confidence. Ask someone you trust to tell you one thing they like about your work. If you feel unsure about something, ask them for constructive feedback. Small boosts of confidence and guided support are important to keep you going.
There may also be a sense of loss and loneliness as a response to the limited interactions that you are now faced with as you teach your students through a computer screen. There is a lack of physical- and personal contact which the teacher would normally feedback from and not having that to lean on can make one feel a bit astray. Make sure to explore other ways to connect with your students in which you can still experience a sense of uplifting community and connection. Perhaps by setting up an informal book club or a weekly meditation practice where the role of the facilitator is shared between the group members. This is where community matter more than ever!
This period of adaptation and uncertainty is where managing your expectations and practicing compassion becomes highly important. Give yourself a realistic amount of time to adjust to the new changes and have courage to try different things while you navigate this new turf.
Key words: manage expectations, compassion, adjustment, confidence boosts, navigation
Structure your finances
Financial difficulties can be scary and overwhelming, and the strong emotions that come as a result of this can make it difficult to think clearly when having to make important decisions that concerns money.
Give yourself space and time to detach a bit from the emotional turmoil that may come with this. Once you have calmed down slightly it is time to get practical and work towards finding both short- and long-term solutions that can support you financially. As you do so, remember to moderate your energy so that this does not lead to excessive amounts of work. Stay calm and tactical.
A basic template for yoga teachers and their business
You may have probably done much of the above already, but it can still be useful, even if it is just to validate your own process and to know that you are on track. Here is a basic template to get you started:
- Ask a trusted friend for help, whether it be practical or emotional support.
- Inform yourself about any governmental aid that you are entitled to. If needed, ask your supporting friend to help you apply.
- Get your basic budgeting in order and reduce unnecessary expenses and find new ways of generating income through yoga.
- Diversify your income. Are there any other professions you can gain an income from during this time?
- Contact everyone from your bank to your landlord and inquiry about possibilities to reduce relevant fees.
Key words: calm, practical solutions, moderation, tactical, budget, diversify income
Categorise your job tasks
Most yoga teachers are in charge of several other job tasks that come with the territory. This has been elaborated on further in part one of this blog series.
As a self-employed it is easy to get into the habit of doing as much as possible oneself, but this is a time where it is more important than ever to thoroughly evaluate one’s responsibilities and priorities.
It may be helpful to categorise all your different job tasks that are part of your profession and dedicate each category a title and an estimation of time spent on each category. Once you have a broader overview of your scope of tasks, it will become easier to decide you’re your priorities need to be. Once you pin down your priorities, it is time to delegate, reduce and/or eliminate certain tasks. This is an important part of the process and remember, less is sometimes more!
Key words: evaluate, prioritise, categorise, delegate, reduce, eliminate, less is more
Summary of all three articles
To maintain a sustainable and constructive lifestyle, yoga teachers need support to sustain good health and work-life balance while offering their services.
- Recognition of a problem is the first step towards constructive solutions.
- Burnout is often caused by the social- and organisational structures in which someone works. Most of the time it is not solely down to the individual themselves.
- Define your job description to get an overview of what your professional role entails.
- Decide on what your priorities are, what is the most important to you?
- Categorise your job tasks and then reduce, delegate and/or eliminate!
- Set professional boundaries when caring for others.
- Identify and tend to your own needs.
- Community is more important than ever, lean on a trusted network for support.
- Look for solutions where they are needed.
- Manage your finances in the most practical way possible.
Final notes from the author
It is with conflict that I write this article series, because these suggestions put the majority of responsibility on the individual teacher. As the first article in this series suggests, the underlying issue, which is systemic in nature, remains and I do not think any individualistic approach will suffice in creating long-lasting change. What this article suggests are mainly coping strategies that helps the teacher to deal with the symptoms, but the change needs to ultimately stretch further.
I therefore reach out to all yoga teachers, studio owners and entrepreneurs in the business of yoga, and invite you to share your ideas, thoughts and comments on how we can together find ways to contribute towards a more equal work environment in which we can all thrive.
E-mail me at [email protected] to share your insights. These may then become selected, with your approval, for publication in a follow-up of this article series.
Inspiration for yoga teacher
- Self-care strategies for yoga teachers in the light of Covid-19 – Part 1 & Part 2, by Eleonora Ramsby Herrera.
- (In Swedish) Vad händer när all yoga går online? av Johanna Alvin.
- Living after cancer – growing after cancer, by Sara Ivarsson.
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Photo: Tania Cappelluti