Self-care for teachers isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.
You are important. You are molding the minds and hearts of the next generation. It’s a rewarding job, but it will suck you dry if you let it. Take time for yourself and practice self care.
Why Self-Care Is Important for Teachers
You have devoted yourself to helping others, and that is commendable. You naturally put others first. The downside? You neglect yourself until you are at the breaking point.
You need to watch that you don’t fray physically or emotionally. You can’t help anyone else if you are depleted or distressed. That’s why airplanes tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help your child.
When you take care of yourself, you operate at your best. That benefits others because you can then offer them your best self. You can think calmly and clearly, and you have the energy to do what is set before you.
How Can I Practice Self-Care When I Have No Time?
Since you are naturally others-focused, you may feel guilty thinking of yourself or taking time for yourself. But remember, you can’t pour into others if your tank is dry.
Your day may be one long work session right now, and self-care may seem like an impossibility. But it is possible. Some self-care is just a change in thinking, or an activity that takes only a few minutes of time. You can practice self-care even if you are busy.
If your day is so jammed packed that you feel tired before you even get out of bed in the morning, it is time to lay down some boundaries. Give yourself permission to pare down on your work and activities. Schedule time for yourself each day. If you need to, write it down. Consider that time slot non-negotiable, and don’t let your to-dos take it over.
Having a Self-Care Mindset
You are always thinking of others, but you need to take the time to think of yourself. This can be as simple as:
Ask yourself how you are doing/feeling.
Often we don’t gauge our emotional or physical well-being until it is too late. If you slow down and take notice of yourself a few times a day, you can address your needs before they reach a breaking point. Are you thirsty? Drink a glass of water. Tired? Do some stretching or (if possible) take a short nap. Are you irritable? Do some deep breathing and take a minute to be mindful of your surroundings. These quick course corrections can help you enjoy your day.
Rethink the pitfalls in your day.
Every day has flops, missteps, and aggravations. Instead of piling them up mentally, give yourself a dose of grace. Do your best to shrug them off. At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What did I learn from this day’s challenges?” Struggle produces strength.
Remember you are worth it.
Repeat after me: “It is important that I take time for myself.” We can be our own worst critic, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be your own cheerleader. Being a positive and happy person doesn’t just happen–it’s something you pursue. Rewrite your thinking and remember your value.
Self-Care Tips for Teachers: Add Something
Here is a list of ideas for self care for teachers. What sparks joy for you? Read over these ideas and then make your own list.
- Bask in the sunshine. Sunlight boosts our happiness hormones and soothes our souls. Spend some time in the sunlight each day.
- Sleep. You know you need it; now defend your sleeping hours. Meantime a strict bedtime and wake time so you consistently get adequate sleep.
- Read for yourself. Put down the teaching books and read something that you enjoy. Read something that makes you laugh, whisks you away to another time/place, or gives you perspective on your own life. You know what you like–read it!
- Tidy and declutter. Self-care for teachers involves cleaning? It doesn’t for everyone, but you know who you are. Put on some music and dance while you clean out and clear out your space.
- Cuddle someone (or something) warm. Nothing feels better than snuggling with a warm body (whether it is your significant other or your cat). Time moves slower when you snuggle.
- Write or draw. Often we don’t feed our creative sides. Write a poem or journal entry, draw or paint, craft a scrapbook or bedazzle a barrette. Keep your spark of creativity alight.
- Take a bath. Who has time for this? You do. Thirty minutes in a tub with great-smelling soap or shower gel is always worth the time. (I like to do sudoku puzzles in the tub. Relax the body and stimulate the mind!)
- Make a playlist. Sign up for Spotify or Pandora (they have free versions) and create some self-care playlists that can turn your mood around. What songs would you put in these playlists? Sing Out Loud Happy Car Tunes, Mellow-Out Music, Music for Yoga or Fitness, or Blasts from the Past.
- Talk to yourself. No, you are not crazy. Give yourself pep talks, repeat meditative sentences, or write yourself positive messages on post-its and stick them to the things you see each day.
- Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down three things that you are thankful for. This simple practice can change your perspective on life.
- Take walks. Nature is peaceful, walking is beneficial, and endorphins from exercise do wonderful things to your mood.
- Practice yoga. Not only does the stretching feel wonderful (like a massage for your muscles), but you will gain strength and practice mindfulness in the process.
Self-Care Tips for Teachers: Subtract Something
Practicing self-care for teachers means more than adding something to your life. Consider cutting back or eliminating a habit in order to better take care of yourself.
- Social media. This can be worse than a time suck; it can leave us agitated and discontent. Take a periodic break from social media and focus on your surroundings.
- Caffeine. No one said this would be easy. Caffeine can get us going, but it can also leave us jittery, irritable, sleepless, and dependent. Cut back by a cup a day until you are in the normal range.
- Alcohol. As we get older, our bodies no longer process alcohol as efficiently. Not only is alcohol full of empty calories that can show up in your waistline, it also disrupts your sleep.
- Late-night snacks and sweets. When we are tired, we tend to eat sugar, salt, and fat to keep us going. Skip the nighttime snacking habit by scooching your bedtime forward to a healthy time.
Make a Plan for Self Care
When it comes to self-care for teachers, you need to plan it out. You’re a teacher–planning comes naturally! Make a list of ideas you want to try and write them down. Put them on your calendar and stick to them.
You are worth some time and care. Do for yourself what you do for others every day: take care.