It’s easy to get caught up in our day-to-day activities running a classroom and managing our home lives. At certain times of the year, such as back-to-school season and parent-teacher conferences, we become so busy we feel stressed, overwhelmed, and slightly burned out. Yet, these times are when it’s vital that we take a minute and implement some teacher self-care.
I don’t have to share that teachers are some of the most selfless people on earth. You live it each day. Teachers are willing to sacrifice their needs for the needs of others. That’s how we often end up with our teacher self-care neglected. I also don’t need to explain Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as I’m sure you learned that during PD or in college. I could tell you that according to a 2017 study by the American Federation of Teachers, 61% of educators find work “always” or “often” stressful, twice the rate of other workers, while 58% of US teachers reported poor mental health, but I don’t need to do that either.
The problem isn’t that we aren’t aware that we need to implement teacher self-care, it’s that we have intense pressure on us from a society where most of them don’t respect us or value us. Instead, we need to be placing our self-care as a huge priority and modeling this to future generations.
Tips to Implement Teacher Self-Care
Start small- even if it’s just implementing one of these monthly, then work up to weekly, and eventually daily. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can do this. You must do this! (If it’s summer break for you, check out my post on 5 ways to destress before back to school.)
1.) Put Yourself at the Top of Your To-Do List Every Day With a Hobby
I have gone to the store many times in the past and picked up something for everyone in my house except me. It’s just what we do. We are always thinking of others, but we forget about ourselves sometimes. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but do something for yourself each day. Teacher self-care is not selfish.
Ideas for your teacher self-care list:
- Have an adult beverage
- Yoga or some exercise
- Have some quiet time
- Dance or listen to music (or both!)
- Read a book
- Complete a puzzle
- Talk with a friend
- Play in your garden
- Take a bubble bath
- Say affirmations
- Go for a bike ride
- Binge-watch a show
- Write in a journal
- Pet an animal
- Complete a craft or creative project
- Declutter or organize
- Blow bubbles (yes, really!)
- Get a spa treatment (massage, haircut, manicure)
- Take a nap
- Look at old photos
- Smell essential oils
2.) Try to Keep It Positive and Have Compassion for Yourself.
On the surface, we may think we don’t do this, but it’s possible you do. Have you ever thought or said “Others are better than me” or “I can’t do this?” We all have our bad moments, but we need to try to think positively in everything we do. I believe that if we think positively, positive things happen in our lives. I also believe that if we say these things enough over and over, we really start to believe them and that’s not something we want. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a child, a friend, a stranger, a love interest, your pet, or a stranger that is struggling. Have compassion for yourself. Let any past mistakes go. Try not to hold on to any regret, guilt, or remorse. Avoid bottling up your frustrations and anger. This actually makes things worse. Have a way to let it out, an outlet, whether that is a friend you privately vent to, a counselor, writing it in a journal, or exercising.
3.) Set Boundaries Instead of Pleasing People- Including Yourself
When it comes to teacher self-care, this is a big one. We are quick to say “yes” to things when we really don’t have room on our plate. We want to see people happy, we want to help wherever we can. The best place to start is with you. Say “no” when you just can’t. Go with what your gut is saying. And as long as we are here talking about boundaries- including yourself. Set boundaries within yourself. That means knowing what you can do and not do. Set reasonable expectations within yourself.
4.) Ask for Help
It’s completely acceptable and okay to ask for help when we need it. There’s nothing wrong with needing help and it doesn’t mean you are less of a person or a teacher. We all need help from time to time. You help students in your classroom- why? Because they need it and you want to see them achieve. You want to achieve too- so ask for help when you need it. You are amazing, but you can’t do everything all the time.
5.) Find Time to Be Childlike
One of the best things in life is being a child. A child is carefree, naive, and curious. They have no major responsibilities, and they are happy nearly all of the time. Try to make time once in a while to find your inner child. Life is too short to be serious all the time. Once in a while act a little childlike by blowing bubbles, skipping through your yard, trying doing a cartwheel, dancing in your living room, laughing at cat videos on youtube, reading a joke book, or doing something fun and childish. You’ll be amazed at how good it’ll make you feel for a few moments. When was the last time you lay in the grass and watched the clouds roll by or looked at the stars at night?
6.) Take a Time-Out or a Break
Another teacher self-care idea is to straight up, flat out avoid all things teacher related for a full 24 hours. If you can’t do 24, then try 12 and work up to it. “Accidentally” leave your teacher bag at school one night. What if one set of papers doesn’t get graded and they “accidentally” fell in the trash or coffee “spilled” on them? Whoops! What’s the worst thing that can happen? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Enjoy the night off and don’t spend it thinking about all that you need to do.
7.) Check-In With Yourself
Your feelings of frustration, stress, overwhelm, and burnout is completely valid. You work hard and never give up on the things you believe in most. But you need to check in with yourself and your feelings too. Listen to your body. We have these “signals” from our body as a way of telling us “whoa, you need to do something before it gets worse!” Consider asking yourself these questions when those “signals” pop up:
- How are you feeling right now?
- What are your goals for the day?
- Are your needs being met?
- What are you grateful for?
- Are you making decisions based on fear or love?
- How does your body feel?
- What thoughts are happening right now?
8.) Have a Support System
When all your energy is being sapped from you, you need to have a support system that understands, inspires, encourages, loves you, lifts you up, and helps you. Someone that is there for you when you need to talk, need reminders, and most importantly to hold you accountable with teacher self-care.
Grab Your Freebie!
Take the teacher self-care challenge. Click here to download this freebie and get started. Can you complete at least 5 in a row? Can you complete the entire sheet? You can do this! Believe in Yourself!