Living in a time of pandemic is scary, and as a teacher, you know you are exposed to so many germs during the best of times. Handwashing, extra sanitizing, trying to figure out how to go online with your lessons or what you can send home with students if school shuts down. Maybe you’re already teaching online or wondering how you’ll catch up when you get back to class while sheltering in place, trying to stock up on supplies or keep your own kids happy and at home without friends.
First, take a deep breath. And another. Set reminders on your phone to do this daily.
We need to take care of ourselves. We need teacher self-care whether we are at home or at school.
Basic teacher self-care is critical – like sleep, eating well, drinking enough water, and regular exercise. Even, perhaps, especially, during chaos and shutdowns. Teacher self-care may look like time to yourself to do things you love or that reduce stress. If you suddenly have more time, make a plan of what you want to do with it. Is there a stack of books you want to catch up on? Is there a house project you can finally get off the list? Have you been meaning to go through that pile that greets you at the front door or clean out your school bag? Would an online yoga class help? What can you do at home that would make you feel good?
Take a minute to ask yourself: What do I need in this situation? What feels right, right now?
Make time for teacher self-care even when the world goes sideways
Sometimes when life or the world gets chaotic, we drop self-care completely, even though it is when we need it most. Self-care can take a different shape as our daily lives change. Try not to get too hung up on what’s “normal”, but look for things that help you each day. Some simple things you can do:
- Get outside
Fresh air and sunshine do you a world of good, and even on a gray day, getting out has benefits
Even in a time of social distancing, there are lots of ways to connect. Spread out a little, but keep up your morning walk with a colleague. Text a friend to see how they are doing. Check in on your neighbors.
- Take a break from social media & news
Yes, it’s good to stay informed and things may change rapidly, but that doesn’t mean you need to be “on” all the time. Take a break for your own mental well being.
- Practice gratitude
Can you find some good in every day? It’s amazing what a mindset reset can do. Start noticing little moments of joy or beauty or kindness.
Use this time of disruption to notice what you need, what works for you, and what you might like to change when things get back to “normal”. What kinds of teacher self-care do you want to carry forward? Make a plan for now—and sketch out ideas for later.
1. Know what and why
Start by knowing what you need. This may change from time to time, but take a look at where you are right now, what your week looks like, and what would help. Do you need basics like water and food to function better? Do you need some downtime or some inspiration? Knowing what you need and why you are making time for it gives you more motivation than simply taking on somebody else’s list of should do self-care.
2. Know when
Schedule it. You’ve probably heard this before, but put teacher self-care on your calendar. Make it a serious non-negotiable appointment with yourself. It’s so easy to mean to do things that make you feel good but have them get pushed off your list every day. Schedule and stick with it. The more you do it, the easier it gets to hold that space for yourself.
3. Know how
But how do you make that time? I know it always seems like there isn’t enough time in the day for all the things that need to be done, nevermind teacher self-care. First, set yourself up for success. Need to eat better, stock up on healthy foods and prep over the weekend to make packing your lunch quick as you’re hustling out the door. Know you have trouble motivating yourself to move more? Ask a colleague to walk with you before or after school.
Then make the time. If you have extra time now, choose how to use it. Some of it simply comes down to prioritizing, but it helps to cut something out. How about this—save time on prepping or finding resources for your classroom?
The Top Notch Teaching Members Club can save you time and reduce stress (that’s self-care right there!). With resources covering curriculum areas including literacy, math, science, phys ed, plus classroom management tools, you’ll be able to cut your prep time. And we take teacher self-care seriously, so you’ll also find tips to help you fit teacher self-care into your day.
Each month, we’ll add new resources, some of them exclusive to club members, to meet your needs. No more googling and checking a million sites for ideas. No more starting from scratch when creating your own worksheets and games. Think of the time that will save. Go block it out on your calendar and schedule something just for you.
Oh, but one thing first—join the club here to get all the time-saving benefits: Top Notch Teaching Members Club.