If you’ve scrolled my blog for any amount of time, you’ve likely run across something that I’ve written about self-care. I’ve spent over 18 years as an educator and there’s one thing that I know for sure: teachers need self-care! So today, I’m focusing primarily on self-care for teachers. If you’re a teacher, take notes. If you’re not a teacher, pass this information along to your favorite teacher!
When your life is completely dedicated to serving your students, your school, and your community it is easy to forget to take time for yourself. As educators, we often put our own needs to the side to uplift the children in our classrooms. We spend time outside of the school day planning, grading, and caring for our students. We endure stressful day after stressful day so that our students get our very best.
However, when we don’t take the time to care for ourselves we are doing our students a disservice. If we are not prepared to be our best, then our students will not get our best. Taking care of ourselves is the first step in ensuring that our classrooms are a loving and welcoming place for all. Here are some things you can try to take care of yourself, de-stress, and get ready to be the best educator you can be.
Self-Care Activities: 15 Self-Care Activities That Take 15 Minutes or Less
Why is Self-Care for Teachers So Important?
Self-care can often be a touchy subject for educators. In a career where you devote your life to others, taking time for yourself seems outside of the expected norms. It often feels wrong to put yourself first when you are constantly thinking about your students and your community. However, self-care is imperative for educators to do their job well.
When you are in the classroom you spend all day giving your time, energy, and focus to your students. At some point, your tank will start to feel empty. If you do not take the time to refill your tank with energy and love, you will not be able to serve your students to the best of your ability. Practicing self-care can help you stay more resilient in difficult situations. When you keep your tank full, you can continue to give others what they need. So, take the time to care for yourself so that you are better equipped to care for others.
Self-Care for Teachers
Start with Gratitude
A day in the classroom can be incredibly stressful. Throughout the school day, there are a thousand things that can put us in a sour mood. Between students, coworkers, and the hustle and bustle of a school, it is impossible to go through a full day without experiencing at least a little stress. That is why it is important to begin by building resilience. We can build resilience to the difficulty of the school day by taking time to think about all the things we are thankful for throughout the day.
This can begin as soon as you start your day. When you wake up, take the first five minutes of the day to identify what you are grateful for. This will put you in a great mood to start the day and you will not be hit so hard by the low moments you experience. Take time to do this throughout the day. In your car before entering the building, during lunch, in between classes. Use a few available moments throughout the day to slow down, breathe, and identify the things that you are grateful for.
Read Next: Expressing Thankfulness During Difficult Times
Pen Yourself into your Own Schedule
As educators, we often spend more than the school day working. Whether completing paperwork or lesson plans or just spending the time thinking about our students, it has become a necessary part of the profession. However, it is important to turn off your teacher brain and turn on your human brain. Putting yourself into your schedule is a great way to carve out time to focus on self-care.
At least once a week, pen yourself into your schedule. Give yourself a significant amount of time where the only thing you need to focus on is you. Take this time to meditate, read a book, watch your favorite TV show, or take a relaxing bath. Whatever you choose to do during your time, it’s up to you. The act of scheduling ourselves into our calendar reminds us that we are worthy of our own time. When we write our names in pen in our schedule, we have no excuse but to take the time to care for ourselves.
Be Selfless by Being Selfish
Many educators have a habit of taking on work and responsibility when it is not necessary. Although it is important that we give ourselves to our students and our communities, it is also important to understand that sometimes we need to say no. Learning to say no can feel like an act of selfishness. It may feel like we’re letting others down or not reaching our full potential. However, when we learn to say no, we can save ourselves (and our energy) for the things that are truly valuable in our lives.
Saying no allows us to truly focus on the things that we are passionate about. Taking on less is the best way to get better at the things that are already on our plate. Therefore, what we perceive as these selfish acts of saying no are acts of selflessness. By saying no we’re making a contract with ourselves to take care of the responsibilities we already hold. This allows us to focus and what is in front of us. It helps us serve our students and communities to the best of our ability. So the next time you are asked to take on an extra duty that you’re not passionate about, consider saying no as a way to protect your free time, stress levels, and the responsibilities you already hold.
Find a Hobby
Picking up an extra hobby is not always as easy as it may sound. Although this sounds like basic advice, finding a hobby that you enjoy is one of the best ways to secure time for your self-care. Your hobby can be intricate are very simple, as long as it is something you enjoy doing. A hobby is all about setting aside time to devote to a task. Hobbies allow us to get value out of things in our lives that are not our work or our family. Taking devoted time to find a hobby can benefit us throughout our entire life.
Hobbies act as an escape from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. For a few hours, we get to slow down and focus on a unique task. Depending on the nature of your hobby, it will either provide you with alone time that can be very relaxing or social time with others that share your interests. Your hobby does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. It should simply act as a method of escapism when you are feeling worn out or stressed.
Plan a Pampering Night
Sometimes a good old-fashioned night of self-pampering can do a world of good. Draw a hot bubble bath, pour yourself a drink, put on that mud mask, and relax. Pampering is all about showing yourself that you are worth the time and effort. Doing something nice for yourself can be healing in both mind and body. When we take the time to pamper ourselves or schedule time for others to pamper us, we are allowing ourselves to reset our stress levels.
Not only does a night of pampering remind us that we’re worth it, it feels fantastic. Taking the time for a nice soak, a refreshing pedicure, or even to indulge in a favorite novel can remind us of the bliss that is possible in our daily lives. Consider carving out the same time every week to practice these rituals. If you make it a habit, you will give yourself something to look forward to when things get difficult. A night of self-pampering can help you be more effective in the classroom every day. You cannot take care of others before you have taken care of yourself.
Reach Out to Other Educators
Building a social network in your career is incredibly important for several reasons. When it comes to self-care, having a connection with others who experience the same stressors that you do can be helpful. Having a chat with someone who understands why you feel the way you do can have an extremely positive influence on your mental health.
Sometimes self-care is more than relaxing and taking time for yourself. Sometimes it means you take the time to reach out to others and talk about the things that are stressing you out. Taking time to have conversations about the difficulties of teaching can help you reframe your stressors and possibly reduce your stress levels. This type of preventative work is just as important as the time you carve out for yourself. Sessions with fellow educators can help you build confidence that will help you stay resilient throughout the day. In addition to bolstering your mental health, you can also have the satisfaction that you may be helping others. The world of education can be extremely stressful and educators at every level must stick together so that we can all better serve our students.
Teachers, your commitment to your profession is unmatched. You owe it to yourself to establish and maintain a self-care routine that will allow you to be the best educator you can be.
Read Next: How to Handle Mental Health During Stressful Situations
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