• Kristin Lowe

Emotional First Aid for International Educators

I've spent the past week sleeping on my daughter's sofa as we get her settled back in for her university semester. She lives in a student building, so things don't get quiet in the hallways until about 3-4 am. This has given me lots of "extra thinking time!"

I've been thinking (like you, probably) about the school year that will restart shortly. Specifically, I've been thinking about how we're all doing, what our levels of wellbeing and readiness are, etc.

🤷‍♀️ How Are We Doing?

Many international educators in our community have still not been able to travel outside of their host countries for a variety of visa and job security reasons. People have been cut off for a very long time from their families and usual travel over school breaks, which is generating a lot of intense emotions including grief, fear, hopelessness, and anger.

Those who have been able to be home this summer/winter are feeling a real mixture of emotions - gratitude and joy mixed with an amplification of the usual emotional exhaustion of home leave - trying to catch up with everyone and get everything done while also desperately needing a real break from everyone and everything!

I'm personally feeling like I need a vacation from my vacation, if you know what I mean? And in just a few weeks we'll start up again, with continued strain and uncertainty in so many aspects of our daily life and work.

I know we'll dig deep and make it work, and I also know we're all carrying a huge emotional load as we go into the new school year.

😞 Processing Negative Feelings

As I've contemplated what to share with you this month, I decided not to offer a "pep talk" that could border on toxic positivity at this stage, but rather share some useful tools for processing the negative emotions you may be experiencing as we get ready to start the school year after a highly unusual summer/winter "break."

For those of you who are not feeling 100% ready emotionally (or otherwise!) you're not alone. I encourage you to resist the urge to push those negative feelings down and just "get on with it." Here's why...

Repressing negative emotions and trying to focus only on the positive makes our physiological reactions to stress stronger (Shedler, Mayman, and Manis, 1993).

🩹👨🏻‍⚕️ Practicing Emotional First Aid

I'm a big fan of Dr. Guy Winch's work on what he calls "Emotional First Aid" - practical strategies for "healing everyday hurts." Just like we know to wash and put a band-aid/plaster on a cut, Winch teaches us how to practice good "emotional hygiene" by proactively addressing the emotional cuts and bruises we all experience regularly, such as...

  • Rejection

  • Loneliness

  • Loss and Trauma

  • Guilt

  • Rumination

  • Failure

  • Low Self-Esteem

👇 Here are some highly practical resources from Dr. Winch which will help you stock your "psychological medicine cabinet" with simple, proven techniques for managing negative feelings effectively...

👉 How About You?

How are you feeling these days, and how are you preparing yourself emotionally for the new school year?

Feel free to send me a chat message anytime (at the bottom of the screen) - or follow me on LinkedIn where I share research-based positivity and wellbeing micro-coaching questions each week.

About the Author

Kristin Lowe is a former international school teacher who now works as an organizational psychologist and positive psychology coach.

Kristin’s work centers around helping international school communities cultivate what is best within themselves and leverage these strengths to support our next generation of changemakers.

You can read more about Kristin’s background and qualifications here.

If you’d like to speak with Kristin about positive psychology coaching and consulting services, please send a message, schedule a call, or start a chat below...