Wellbeing through this Crisis; a perspective from a ‘retired’ principal.

Wellbeing through this Crisis; a perspective from a ‘retired’ principal.

(Disclaimer: I write this knowing all my loved ones are safe and well.  I am not trying to run a school in a Pandemic. I am blessed and grateful.) 

As a school leader I was committed to creating a ‘needs full-filing’ school culture.   It was my passion.  So I was an early adaptor to Wellbeing; everyone else’s well-being.  I was marvellous at insisting that people mind themselves.   Wellbeing, I affirmed, was no add on but must be integral to living.  Where my own wellbeing was concerned, I was a slow learner.  My priorities were right-ish: family, friends, school. (The first two didn’t always make pole position.) Generally, I was a master juggler. Thinking back, my name was never on any of the balls in the air. I never made myself a priority, there never seemed time.  I knew the theory well; when our physical and mental needs are met, resilience is greater and relationships easier. But I could never quite stay plugged in. Someone/something always needed me more. 

Retirement had a different rhythm; but still I never prioritised myself.  Then along came Covid 19.  Like many I felt redundant, useless and anxious.  I was forced to stay home. It’s been a revelation, because I bumped into myself.  Initially, I railed against it. I yearned for the soft hugs of my grandchildren, for my life.  Then came a light bulb moment.  I couldn’t be useful to others, but I could give me a go!  I have exercised, read, cooked and eaten lovely food, played scrabble, done the crossword, watched some great TV, engaged with daily meditation, contacted long lost friends and slept 8 hours a night.  I have gotten to know my husband again.  We have never had time like this, nobody has.  There have been speed wobbles, feelings of being overwhelmed. But I have practised ‘Kindfulness’ - cut myself a bit of slack.  It turns out, that despite a pandemic, my resilience has taken a bounce.  I am happier and feel easier in my skin.  The small pleasures are sweeter.


Please don’t put it off, practise making yourself a priority every day.  Ensure self-care becomes a habit.  Be your own best friend, you deserve nothing less.  Wellbeing is an investment in yourself and those you care about.


Ann Ryan is the retired principal of St. Mark's Junior National School, Tallaght and worked with the IPPN Leadership Support Team until August 2018.
She currently facilitates professional learning in the areas of Restorative Practice and in Dignity at Work Policy/Charter, and is a qualified Life Coach. 


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