Teacher self-care is one of the current buzz phrases floating around in the teaching profession.
As individuals in positions of service, educators often put others’ needs ahead of their own.
While admirable, this setup can eventually lead to…
- Unbearable stress
- Irrational jealousy
…just to name a few unappealing traits.
Because of this, it’s especially important that teachers take necessary time for themselves.
Related: To work smarter, see my page dedicated to work-life balance tips for teachers.
Actions to Adopt as Part of Your Teacher Self-Care Routine
Learn to Say “NO” More Often.
Sometimes we believe that the more we do, the more honorable we become in the eyes of others.
To make matters worse, those who appear to juggle 15 million things at once get the accolades for hard work and dedication.
But less is more.
There isn’t enough time in the day to impress everyone and be mentally balanced.
Pick your side.
While it’s nice to be involved in your school community, it takes just that –a community – to keep things going.
You can’t and shouldn’t attempt to pile up your calendar for the sake of appearing “involved”.
So say no, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Make a Commitment to Yourself.
Devote daily, weekly, and/or monthly time to teacher self-care.
To get the most benefits, you’ve got to be consistent.
Mark it in your calendar if you have to.
It doesn’t matter if it’s with your family, solo, or with your furry friends, just make that time to focus on you and the things you love.
Those bursts of energy and joy are very-much needed.
Define Your Boundaries.
I know, it’s tempting…
You get home from a long day at work and tell yourself that you’ll just peek at your school email.
That quickly turns into a rabbit hole … never-ending and just more consumption of school-related stuff.
Set some boundaries.
After a certain area, disconnect from work.
It’s hard because there’s limited time during the school day and you have an endless stream of grading, parent emails, report card comments, planning, etc.
Allot time to those tasks, and then call it quits for the day.
Angry parent write you an email at 7 p.m.?
Okay, that’s fine. They’ll hear from you in the morning.
Principal has a quick question about that one student.
He or she can wait, too.
After work hours, you manage your schedule, others don’t.
I understand if there’s an emergency, but let’s be honest…
School emergencies worth contacting you at home aren’t happening every day.
After a while, others will recognize your limits and come to respect them.
But you’ve got to be consistent and do your best to maintain those boundaries.
Shorten Your To-Do-List.
Cut unnecessary stuff, and focus instead on 3 main tasks per day.
You could even do 3 personal things and 3 professional tasks.
Prioritize the most important items of the day, focus on those 3 things, and when it’s done, enjoy the rest of your day.
Most certainly, the other tasks will be waiting for you the next day… and the next.
Enjoy Your Lunch Break.
A working-lunch is fine every now and then, but to make it a habit isn’t doing too much for your teacher self-care.
Done consistently, exercise does wonders not only for our physical form but for our minds.
A teacher self-care routine isn’t complete without some movement.
You’ve got lots of options:
- Bike Riding
Though I believe the best exercise is done outdoors in beautiful nature (because there’s a positive affect that nature has on us), indoor exercise is better than nothing at all.
Do you believe healthy food is medicine for the body and soul?
Healthy eating makes us feel alive, part of nature, calm, energized, and happier.
A healthy diet is an important element of teacher self-care.
Choose Your Surroundings Wisely.
Avoid toxic people and places.
Though schools are places of learning and collaboration, we know that not all staff have your best interest at heart.
Toxic colleagues are the worst.
And God forbid if your principal is just as bad!
When you can’t control with whom you work, do your best to distance yourself from the negativity.
And you may even have those colleagues who mean well, but they’re always complaining about something – a parent, a student, the principal, etc.
Don’t get sucked into the insanity.
Teacher self-care is about reaching for a level of tranquility that will give you the mental peace you deserve.
Let Others Have the Glory.
Speaking of dealing with toxic folks or people in general…
Do you know the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson?
One of my favorite books, it’s a simple read and a FANTASTIC choice to add to your teacher self-care book list.
There’s a chapter in the book called, Let Others Have the Glory.
Essentially, the author states that because of our constant need for attention as human beings, we seek to be the center of it all.
Maybe someone is talking to us, and instead of listening whole-heartedly, we’re really just waiting to interject with our own thoughts.
Or take that annoying coworker . . . the one who always thinks he’s right.
Don’t you just wanna shut him down really fast?
Well, there’s power in just letting it go and simply letting others have the glory.
After a moment, your head will be on to more important, pleasant thoughts.
Set the Tone Early in the Morning.
Our morning routines set the stage for the rest of the day.
That could mean a healthy breakfast, soft music, a cup of coffee, a favorite show, breakfast with the family etc.
What things help your morning get off to a good start?
Know Your Tolerance Levels + Preferences.
We all have different tolerance levels, and taking care of ourselves the best way we know how means being aware of what makes us tick.
Your stress level for a certain thing may be higher than someone else’s for that exact same thing.
If you have tolerance for something that is quirky or a no-go for most everyone else, who cares?
If it makes you feel great (and not harming anyone else of course), then do it.
Focus on the Things That Make You Happy.
Overall, teacher self-care is taking time to do those things that make you happy.
Being in a role of service is a great honor, but don’t lose yourself in the process and daily grind.
When you’re happier, you have more to give to others and that includes your students.
Wrapping Up: Teacher Self-Care
Feed your body, mind, soul, and spirit by nourishing your core.
Teacher self-care is essential.
Ironically, focusing on yourself allows you to give more attention and care to those who need you the most.