Educator Self-Care Tips
From creating and maintaining routines to making the most of planning periods, the challenges facing educators are enormous. It can be difficult to prioritize your own needs when you're taking care of so many others. That’s why it’s important to be intentional about carving out “me” time each day, if only for a few minutes. It’s critical for both your emotional and physical wellness.
Below are 10 ways to practice self-care.
1. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel them
The only way to deal with feelings is to recognize them, name them and work through them. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Whatever you feel is real and valid. Sometimes just acknowledging what we feel can provide a sense of control and reduce our stress.
2. Avoid comparing your feelings to others'
It’s common and normal to compare ourselves to other people, but that doesn’t make it helpful. Just as we encourage you not to minimize or dismiss your students’ grief, we encourage you to refrain from doing the same to yourself. Try to recognize that everyone’s situation is unique, and we’re all allowed to feel whatever we are feeling, moment to moment.
3. Practice healthy habits
It sounds simple enough, but practicing healthy habits can sometimes help prevent stress and helps us feel better. Try to prioritize eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting enough quality sleep and practicing healthy coping skills.
- Prepare healthy snacks and lunches to keep you energized throughout the school day.
- Try to turn off screens an hour before bed to ensure that you get quality sleep.
- Try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day—whether that’s for 30 minutes all at once or in smaller increments throughout the day.
- Try to make time each day to do something just for yourself: read, journal, meditate or catch up with a friend.
4. Follow a routine
Routines create predictability, and knowing what to expect can provide a sense of comfort and security. Try to maintain simple routines, such as going to bed at the same time each day or taking walks in the evening.
5. Give yourself a break
Things are not always going to go as planned, so we all need to have realistic expectations. Give yourself permission to bend where you need to—even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally do. It’s OK to make exceptions during uncertain times.
6. Set clear boundaries
It’s easy to fall into a habit of being connected 24/7 when so much in our lives is now virtual, but we need to set limits to prevent burnout. There’s nothing wrong with staying informed, but receiving continuous emails and notifications can make us feel even more anxious.
- Shutting down your computer at a set hour and committing to not checking email for the rest of the evening.
- Limiting the news to only a few updates per day and turning off the constant notifications.
7. Focus on what you can control
Our thoughts can quickly spiral and overwhelm us when we think about all the unknowns and possible worst-case scenarios. Try to focus on the present moment and what you do have control over. Even though you cannot control what others are doing, you can control your own actions, reactions and choices. Focusing your attention on what you can control can make it all feel a little less overwhelming.
8. Take 5
Many of us go into overdrive with increased uncertainty and stress—always thinking about the next lesson plan, how the pandemic is affecting learning or the fear of getting sick. Give yourself a break each day to do something that is only for you, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. There’s nothing selfish about it; it’s essential.
- Take an extra-long bath or shower.
- Do a quick workout.
- Close your eyes for a quiet moment.
- Practice a relaxation strategy.
9. Make time for laughter and joy
During times of stress, it can feel like a struggle to find joy. It may even feel inappropriate or insensitive to have fun while you or your students are also experiencing losses. But laughter can actually improve your mood, relieve stress and help your body relax.
- Make time for laughter and fun every day.
- Watch a funny video.
- Play fun games with your students.
- Video chat with a friend after work.
Physical distancing doesn’t mean we have to be socially isolated. Staying close to others during this time can help us feel more connected and less alone.
10. Practice gratitude
Even if it’s just one thing, taking the time to recognize what you are grateful for each day helps shift your focus to what you do have instead of what you don’t. It can be as simple as shifting “I’m stuck trying to manage and teach kids all day” to “I’m grateful that I get to be there for my students and help them through this challenging time.”