For many of us school counselors holiday break is a ladder being handed down to us from the bottom of a cavernous hole we were unaware had an opening, beckoning us to come out and reintegrate with society. I have already discovered as a new counselor how crucial it is to use these holiday breaks as a chance to recharge and gain a new perspective on life and be ready to go full throttle when we return in January. However, maybe it is in our personalities, but if you are anything like me or other school counselors I know, you see this as a chance to catch up and bring work home. I would be a hypocrite if I said don't take work home! Yet, I have been realizing that as long as we keep appropriate boundaries between work and our personal lives we do not burn out as fast. Maybe it is because I am still learning as a new middle school counselor, but the second I show up I am running and dealing with the adventures that only school counselors and educators can truly relate to. I have not yet found that sweet spot in completing lessons and planning primarily at school, I have received a lot of good ideas from counselors across the city to combat the stress that comes from bringing work home and I have gotten much better at it.
One piece of advice I follow from a retired school counselor is to listen to what we teach our students, take a breather when you get home, go exercise or do an activity that will calm your mind and focus on you. I know my personality has always been on the over achieving end, this can be a curse and a blessing, for instance, when I was in retail for almost nine years I learned very quickly the more you give the more they take. This is similar to the school system, yet it is all a matter of perspective, I do not want to burn out but I do realize that if I put time, effort, and quality into what I prepare, the students are the ones who benefit. I have always heard work in general is a give and take, but as school counselors we are lucky. There is no possible way to quantify our potential take away and impact on our students. I have received letters from students that I may have met with once or twice and what they saw as the most beneficial was simply me being present and listening to them, as a matter of fact I was scratching my head and looking at my logs as to when I saw this student. I figured out what meant so musch to this student was the fact I brought out kick balls, footballs, and more out at lucnch and took the time to play with several students. I know much of this comes as no shock to the veteran counselors out there, but it should serve as a reminder that just by showing up to work at the top of our game and being who we are will make an impact beyond what we can calculate. When we inevitably hear the negativity at our places of work or personal lives, I believe that the impact we unconsciously have in our positions will be a positive source for individuals that we never realized. One positive I have gained from school counseling as opposed to the other jobs I have held, is that I truly believe I am impacting students every single day, even those I rarely meet. I am also very thankful we have the same days off as our students and I know every single one of us earned a well deserved break!
Enjoy your holidays, try and not work too hard, and please hold your loved ones close and cherish every new memory. It is these memories and experiences that make us the wonderful caring individuals we are, as well as effective school counselors.