August 20, 2021

The Importance of Self Care

Last week the annual Anglican Schools Conference was held virtually for the first time. With over 200 delegates from across Australia and internationally, the Melbourne Conference Committee created a program around the theme of ‘Intersection’ exploring the intersection of faith and learning. Reverend Helen Creed and I were very honoured to be a part of the organising committee, where our keynote presenters included Major Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army, Brooke Prentis from Common Grace, Scott Holmes from the Diocese of Melbourne’s Preventing Violence Against Women Program and Ambassador Jamie Isbister, Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment. We explored what it means to be an Anglican School and how we can put our Anglican identity into action.

During the conference one of the speakers was talking about the shaping of culture in our schools, and how this work begins with the adults in the organisation, then flowing onto students. To illustrate this, she showed a picture similar to the one below of an adult putting their oxygen mask on in a plane before assisting the child with theirs. In planes we are reminded during the safety check that we need to care for ourselves, so that we don’t limit our ability to care for others.

I later thought about this analogy and the impact of this lockdown on us all. Many of us feel tired, frustrated and a little worn down, but know that we need to persist in doing what is required to move forward. We are also seeing the impact on our children as they are separated from friends and miss their normal routines and involvements.

How our children manage in times of difficulty can often be influenced by the adults around them. We know that our children often watch us to try and gain some insights that will help them make sense of what is happening and how to respond. As adults and role models, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of our own self-care first to ensure that our children see our strength and calmness in managing difficult situations. This will also help our children to feel less anxious.

I realise that this can be difficult – I am also taking heed of my own words! At a time when many of us are working in roles to support others, we must also prioritise our own self-care, and the way that we do this is unique to each individual. Self-care enhances our own wellbeing and assists our children to feel calmer when times are challenging.

As we navigate our way through this latest lockdown, remember you need to put on your own oxygen mask first to effectively help others. We can do it!

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody