I was on the bus, sitting in standing traffic around Dunkirk roundabout and I couldn’t stop thinking about everything I had to get done that day. The mere thought of it all wore me out and I was already tired, stressed, and mentally checking out before I even started anything.
I pushed through it, as you do, and taught my classes, did my admin stuff while sitting in more standing traffic, went to an appointment, and checked in with family, all those things you do because that is what you do.
One thing I became aware of during my classes was that I didn’t touch anyone. Usually I do touch my clients, as long as I have permission, sometimes it is just little touches to show where they may feel it or a nudge to remind them where their limbs should be.
I sometimes feel guilty if I don’t adjust people because I perceive it as not giving them attention. I worry that they will leave my class feeling dissatisfied or that I wasn’t paying attention.
Today I was very reluctant to touch anyone. I was also struggling with eye contact and engaging with conversation.
I thought nothing of it until later on when I realized I was so mentally spent just looking after myself and teaching that I didn’t have the energy for anything else and that included giving individual attention to my clients.
I also did not want to pass on that sense of mental exhaustion to my clients. Touch can be a powerful thing both positive and negative; when I am feeling negative within myself, I don’t want to touch people in case it affects them.
Being aware of my mental energy levels is something I always have to be on top of. I need to know at any given time how my energy levels are and how much energy it will take for me to do an activity.
Some days it may take all my energy to get out of bed and get dressed or other days it may take half that much and some days I don’t have enough energy to do it at all.
This is where the spoon analogy comes in – it is basically a visual way of representing how much energy an activity may take. Spoons work for some people; I tend to think of it as a health bar because I have to be aware of my health bar in games.
Some days I can fight a dragon and then fight a troll and then fight a vampire. I have full health.
The next day I can fight a dragon, I can’t fight anything else. I have half health.
The day after that I can wander around and pick flowers. I am on my first death saving throw. I have no health.
That dragon could be anything – it could be getting up in the morning, it could be having a conversation, cooking for yourself or anything that takes energy. The amount of energy it takes for an activity can change each day depending on where you are mentally – one day getting dressed takes no energy at all and the next day it takes all your energy.
You can also start with minus health if you did something the previous day that exceeded all of your energy. A long rest does not heal everything unfortunately.
I have spent the last few months in energy deficient – I wake up exhausted, it takes more and more energy to do simple tasks, and I get overwhelmed with everything that is going on.
I had not realized that I viewed touch and therefore manual adjustments as a hit to my health bar.
It is easy to forget that to be the best teacher you can be for your clients you have to look after yourself physically and mentally and not to feel guilty about taking time to do so!
This is something I need to learn.