As an educator, you spend a lot of the day thinking about others. Did that student complete their assignment? Did that parent send you another email? Did your administrator see that other email? And, of course, thinking about others doesn’t stop at the end of the school day.
The life of a teacher can be draining, and often, teachers don’t make enough time for themselves on any given day. Self-care isn’t just a trend on Instagram; it should be a priority for everyone. With the testing season approaching after a particularly challenging school year, take some time for yourself and know that self-care is the best gift you can give to yourself and to those around you. Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about what self-care can look like in your daily routine
Make time for yourself every day
Take a moment and read this first tip again. Make time for yourself every single day. Yes, that seems like an ambitious goal, but it is so important in your self-care routine. Go through your calendar, and schedule in time when you can fit some self-care into your day. Spending even just 10 minutes in your day centered around yourself can make a huge difference. Make a conscious and deliberate choice to do something that looks after you and your wellbeing. Learn to cherish these moments, and soon they will become a habit.
Spend time with others who make you feel positive
While spending lots of time around other people can be draining, it can also be uplifting! Surround yourself with those who bring you joy, lift you up, and encourage you. While this can be challenging to do while practicing social distancing, even a Zoom call or a quick FaceTime to catch up can make a difference. Creating a team of cheerleaders in your personal life—whether it is with friends, family, colleagues, and even other educators—can help you through the good times and the bad.
Build an encouragement box
Assemble a “rainy day” box of positive notes, thank-you cards, inspirational quotes, and anything else you’ve received from students, staff, parents, and others over the years to look over on days when you’re feeling down. This can be a great way to give you a bit of encouragement and help you to get through those difficult days. Encouragement boxes also make a great gift for a new teacher, a colleague who may be retiring, or anyone else who may need extra positivity in their life.
Relax and enjoy yourself
Self-care is all about doing something that makes you feel good physically, mentally, or emotionally. Take the time to relax and decompress from a stressful day by reading a good book, going for a walk, enjoying a cup of tea, or talking with a friend. Maybe you have a passion project you’ve been meaning to work on. Use your self-care time to pursue a hobby or a side project. Carving out that much-needed me time is important in approaching each day with a clear head and refreshed sense of purpose.
Ask for help when you need it
As much as you may like to think about it, you can’t do everything by yourself. It is absolutely OK to ask for help from a friend, colleague, or your family if you need it. Don’t try to take on the responsibility of handling everything on your own all the time; this can cause you to burn out. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you know your limits and know when to ask for the support of others.
Prioritize your mental health
Ensure you consciously prioritize your mental health. While it can be difficult to ask for help and put yourself first in a profession where you care for others, it is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. When your mental health is treated and cared for, you can focus on doing what you love most—teaching. WeAreTeachers has a fantastic resource for you to explore different mental health options and answers to some of the top challenges that many educators face when seeking care for mental health.