Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
Are you overwhelmed by the sudden jump to teaching remotely? Do you find yourself stressfully checking the news various times a day? Take a moment and check in with yourself. What are you doing to cope?
As teachers, we aren’t so great about taking care of ourselves. We often work too many hours, don’t sleep enough, and don’t spend enough time doing things that refresh us. Teaching is also stressful and many of us don’t do enough to manage our stress.
Considering the current situation, it’s more important than ever to talk about self-care for teachers. We’ve outlined 9 tips for how to incorporate more self-care habits into your routines.
What is self-care and why is it important?
So what is self-care exactly? It means to look after yourself in a healthy way. This includes looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
Self-care could be doing active things like exercising, or small things, like taking vitamins. It also means that you continue doing the things important to you—seeing friends and family, doing hobbies and taking off the occasional day from work.
Experts recommend trying different self-care strategies until you have a full toolbox: something that energizes you, something that helps you unwind and something that helps you manage when you're having a tough time.
If you make taking care of yourself a priority, your overall health will be better. Many teachers find that they have more energy, less stress and a more positive outlook on life when they practice self-care.
Remember, it’s okay to take time for you and not feel guilty about it. Choose a self-care habit that fits your personality and needs, and remember to stick to it.
1. Engage Your Students’ Families
Sometimes we forget that we can reach out to families for positive things as well. Take advantage of this extra time to make a positive phone call to a parent. Not only would it make their day, but it could also lift up your spirits as well!
2. Write in a Journal
Don’t feel pressured to write the next great American novel. Therapeutic writing can be short and sweet. Record something positive or something you’re grateful for each day. You’ll enjoy looking back and reading them once things go back to normal.
3. Get Some Fresh Air
The expression ‘like a breath of fresh air’ exists for a reason. Fresh air can completely change your mood and level of energy. If you can, go for a walk outside. Besides feeling good, a change of scenery is a helpful way to reset. If you’re stuck at home, go out to your yard, take a balcony/porch coffee break, or open a window next to where you work.
4. Move Around
Teachers are so used to being on their feet throughout the day, that it might feel strange to sit for longer than 5 minutes. Be sure to make time for a little bit of exercise. There are a ton of online workout classes for all different levels and interests. A lot of gyms and studios are also offering free live classes online.
If you’re not really into doing that, there are many creative ways to stay active. Set-up your dining room table to play ping pong, use your pet as a weight (if anything you’ll get a good laugh out of it), or do some intense spring cleaning. Whatever it is, your body will thank you for it.
5. Have Video Calls
No, we don’t mean the ones you have to do with your colleagues or students. Check in with the people you love, like family and friends. Social distancing shouldn’t mean emotional distancing. You might find that you get a sense of solidarity from these chats. Sometimes it’s also helpful to commiserate. Either way, remember you’re not alone.
6. Create a Dedicated Workspace
You might feel a little lost not having your physical classroom. That’s why it’s important to create your own teaching space at home. Whether it’s a desk or the dining room table, make sure you clearly differentiate your ‘work life’ from your ‘home life.’ Try decorating your workspace like you would any desk with photos or nice stationary.
7. Eat Well
Besides trying to eat healthy, eat things you wouldn’t normally have. This is a good opportunity to make cooking fun again! Have a themed dinner, participate in a baking challenge, or do an online cooking class.
8. Watch Movies
The endless variety of content on streaming services can be overwhelming. Don’t feel pressured to catch up on all the latest shows if you don’t want to. Self-care is a perfect excuse to watch comforting films. Check out some of our favorite movies about teaching, if you’re looking to laugh or wanting some inspiration. Also, try hosting a mini film festival at home and award prizes for categories like ‘best film’ or ‘best soundtrack.’
9. Treat Yourself
You know that gift collection of toiletries and scented candles you’ve accumulated from students? Now’s the time to break it out. Take a bubble bath, do a face mask, or make your house smell like pumpkin spice. You work hard and you deserve some pampering!
Keep in mind that there’s no one way to take good care of yourself. Everyone's self-care might look a little different. Pick one that suits you and start giving back to yourself today!