My news feed has been blasted lately with teacher mental health and wellbeing articles. Recently, ASCD posted this article, “Emotional Resilience: The Missing Ingredient,” about fostering emotional resilience in educators. EdWeek posted an opinion article this month, “Who Is Taking Care of Teachers?” that speaks to the emotional weights teachers are carrying day-to-day. Another great article to check out, in the form of a podcast or blog post, is Jennifer Gonzalez’s wisdom in “Why It’s So Hard for Teachers to Take Care of Themselves (and 4 Ways to Start)”
This topic, teacher wellness, is vitally important. So many great resources have recently popped up, like Elena Aguilar’s “Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators,” a book that helps teachers set monthly goals towards building resilience in a career where resilience is what gets you through the day.
So, in my own little way, this is a reminder to teachers out there to stop and take care of yourself EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s hard to give to kids who truly need you emotionally when you have nothing left, which so many of us learn the difficult way. I’m still growing, I’m still learning, I’m still figuring out this “self-care” thing, but I wanted to stop and check-in with you, too. Maybe we can hold each other up and remind each other we need to take care of ourselves? That’s how we’re going to get by and that’s how we’re going to inspire the little minds in our classrooms.
THINGS TO DO AT SCHOOL TO PRACTICE SELF-CARE
*Make these things part of your schedule. Maintain them. Get your happy on!*
- This may seem so small: bring a box of fabulous teas to school and at the beginning of your prep period, run to the teacher’s room and brew yourself a cup of tea. Honestly, when I’m feeling rushed, I throw my mug filled with water in the microwave for two minutes and then go back to my room and steep my tea on my desk. Grab relaxing tea blends and stock your room up…then make it a priority to set yourself up with a fresh steep because you’re worth warm sips of grounding tea.
- Stop in your teacher bestie’s room to just say hi. If you’re in a rush, set a “no more chatting” time on the clock and just pop in to share a few stories or picture of your kids (or cats, hi). This connection during the school day is key. I’m lucky to have so many friends at school and I hop into someone’s room daily. It fills me up!
- Eat lunch outside. In the sun. With some zen music on.
- Take 5-10 minutes during your reader’s workshop to read from your own joy book while your students are getting back into their stories. Not only does this set a GREAT example for your kiddos, but you get to have a quick book break during the day.
- Have a fair-trade, organic, dark chocolate bar hidden in your desk and break a piece off daily to munch on. This little bit brings a huge smile to my face. More interested in Sour Patch Kids? Eat a few of those instead. Just, treat yourself.
- During your lunch, take a quick walk around the outside of the building to get some fresh air, get your heart rate up, and let your mind calm down.
- Take the last few minutes of your prep or lunch to practice meditation. In just five minutes time, you can bring so much calm to your body and reset for the next part of your day. Need help? Apps like “Headspace” or “Calm.”
THINGS TO DO AFTER A SCHOOL DAY TO PRACTICE SELF-CARE
- YOGA. Practicing yoga has made such a difference in my life. Now, as a teacher, the nights I have yoga I fall asleep easier. I sleep deeper. That’s important.
- Eat healthy. I know how easy it is to “treat yourself” and indulge in rich foods. Honestly, I feel better and like I’m putting myself first when I eat a super healthy meal. There is a little health food cafe in my area that I stop at for dinner on tough days at school. I go there alone, I order a warm tea, and I order a smoothie bowl or a loaded salad. That sends my body the message I love it and it brings my energy up. Eating to fuel your body is serious self-care.
- Go home, turn up the music, and (a) get your restorative yoga on, (b) lay on your back and stare at nothing, (c) take care of a chore that is weighing on you (but just one or two, don’t overdo it).
- SIT ON THE COUCH AND DO NOTHING BUT WATCH TELEVISION FOR A BIT! This is OK to do and it’s something you should do to take care of yourself! On Friday nights…this is where I am. I am ready to give into my week on a Friday night because I want to be ready and excited when Monday rolls around. Don’t feel guilty about this.
THINGS TO DO ON THE WEEKEND TO PRACTICE SELF-CARE
TAKE THAT WEEKEND DAY TRIP! JUST DO IT! Just. Do. It.
Go with your loved ones.
THINGS TO DO OVER SUMMER BREAK TO PRACTICE SELF-CARE
- Separate your teacher Instagram account and your personal Instagram accounts. They should have different feeds. When you get home and you want to focus on your home life, you can’t really do that when your feeds jumbled with your friends’ posts and your Insta-famous teacher’s super inspiring ideas. The brain gets revving at a HIGH RATE when this happens and then…it just doesn’t stop. Separate these accounts.
- Say no. This goes for weeknights and weekends during the school year, too. It’s hard to do this when you want to do ALL the things…but, when your body is tired, let it have what it wants. A nap.
- Create a meditation space in your own home. Comfy pillows, soft blankets, inspirational quotes, whatever you need to settle in, set an intention, and rock with it. Theta waves, here you come.
- Spend time by your lonesome. This is easy for me to say, I do not have little me-people running around. Can Grammy take them one day a week? Can you send them to camp one day a week? Time with your thoughts is paramount (speaking of time with your thoughts…)
- TRY FLOATING! It’s super…super…relaxing.
- Take time to make your cleaning supplies and beauty products toxin-free. This is a huge step in self-care that has lasting benefits for your whole family. What a great message to send yourself that you don’t want to inundate your body with chemicals that are harmful to your body. Check out the app Think Dirty.
Set some goals for your next days at school. What are you going to do to practice self-care? Make those few things part of your routine and then add some more! You’re worth it!
Isabelle MacDonald is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for her to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.