TEACHERS GUIDE TO SELF CARE
In order to make teaching a sustainable long term career, educators must learn how to take care of themselves so that they aren’t continuously pouring from an empty cup.
For many educators, teaching is much more than a job. It can become all-consuming, as you realize the systemic challenges in education, the endless needs of your students, and the family involvement teaching can require. Many people who find themselves in the teaching profession are naturally deeply empathetic people who give more than they receive. Since we love our students and want what is best for them, it seems like our energy needs to be endless in order to meet all of their needs. However, this is how many teachers find themselves burning out of the profession.
In order to make teaching a sustainable long term career, educators must learn how to take care of themselves so that they aren’t continuously pouring from an empty cup. We’ve compiled a list of self care tips for educators so that you can continue to do what you love in the classroom while taking better care of yourself.
This is one of the most crucial and difficult self care tools a teacher must learn. It can be so difficult to close your computer at the end of the day when you have papers to grade, parents to respond to, and report card grades due soon. But you must teach yourself that the work will always be there. You deserve to leave work in the classroom each day, and to go home to a personal life that is recharging and restful. Remember, teaching is not your only identity!
Ensure that your hours outside of school are filled with the other things that you love to do that bring you joy, excitement and fulfillment. The more you take care of yourself outside of work hours, the more energized you will return to work the next day.
Try to commit to always leaving work at the same time every day, regardless of how long your to-do list becomes. This can also help you become more time efficient during the work day, so that you can get more done during your work hours and have less to worry about when you head home.
Capitalize on the Joy & Gratitude
One of my favorite things I learned from my first year of teaching was to make a “shine” folder in my email inbox. Every time I get a nice note from a parent, a surprise email from a student, or a complimentary email from my principal, it goes into my “shine” folder for me to go back to and read if I’m having a hard moment in my work day.
That way, I always have a little boost for when things feel challenging, because as a teacher they often do! Also, take note of the joyful moments where you feel immense gratitude for what you do. You can write these moments down, put them on sticky notes on your desk, or keep them in a note on your phone.
Remind yourself of all the reasons that teaching makes you smile and return to those reminders whenever you need them.
Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Day
Mindfulness has endless benefits for you… and your students!
A sneaky way that I incorporate in some self care for both myself and my students each day is having students enter class as a mindfulness meditation is playing. This gives students a moment to settle into the new classroom environment, and it gives me a moment of pause to take a deep breath before beginning the next class. If this is not a possibility in your schedule, try to really take note of how your body feels throughout the day.
Is it feeling particularly overwhelmed or anxious about something? If so, see if you can take five minutes for yourself to take a walk, listen to a guided meditation, or tune into your breathing. A 5 minute reset can do wonders when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Schedule in You Time
I know! As a teacher it can seem impossible to think of one more thing that you need to schedule into your day.
However, scheduling in time for your self care is arguably the most important part of your day that you commit to. Whether this is a daily walk, time to read your favorite novel, or making a wonderful meal for yourself, commit to doing one thing every day that is entirely for you and your wellbeing.
Maybe it is a hobby that you don’t seem to find time for, a yoga class you love to attend, or coloring in your coloring book. Regardless of what it is, it is so important that you take that time for no one else but yourself. You spend SO much time thinking about everyone else- you deserve that intentionality and time too!
Meet Your Basic Needs
It may seem like a ridiculous thing to remind yourself, but seriously…
Are you drinking enough water every day? Getting 6-8 hours of sleep? Eating three meals and moving your body each day?
These health necessities ensure that your body is functioning effectively. When you are not sleeping enough or meeting these basic needs, everything else can feel a lot more difficult. So even though it seems obvious, I’m sure you can think of one of the areas we listed that you can try to be more intentional about getting enough of.
For me, it’s putting away my phone so that I can get more rest at night.
This profession is a difficult one, and not one for the faint of heart.
However, teaching is one of the most important careers you could choose, and the difference you make in your students’ lives every day is astronomical. Please, please take care of yourself.
You deserve all of the love and care that you give to your students every day. Although teaching can feel overwhelming, incorporating and prioritizing your self care (YES, sometimes even before GRADING!) can be a real game changer.
Any time you feel yourself starting to tire out, return to this list and remind yourself of the self care you deserve. You can do this, and we are cheering for you!