If you hear self-care and your first thought is, “I don’t have time,” you definitely need some. Sure there are days that go off the rails when you just want a reset, but that shouldn’t be most days. Practicing regular teacher self care keeps us from burning out – and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
I challenge you to do something for yourself each day for the next 5 days. To join the challenge on Instagram for daily reminders to take care of you, follow me on Instagram.
5 Days of teacher self care
Meditating daily or getting a massage are lovely and helpful practices, but sometimes we need to get back to basics. That’s what this challenge is all about.
Try doing one of these things each day—or do one and then add another the next day, so that by day 5, you’re taking great care of yourself. Before you claim again that you don’t have time, check these out.
Day 1: Hydrate
Are you drinking enough water? It sounds simple, but being hydrated is important for health and feeling good. Dehydration can lead to headaches and feeling tired among other things. So self-care tip #1 is getting the recommended 8 glasses of water a day. Try to:
- Start your day with a glass of warm lemon water (yes, you can have your coffee or tea, too).
- Bring two 1-liter or 1-quart bottles of water to school with you. Grab sips throughout the day.
- Eat foods with high water content (cucumber, watermelon, berries).
- Add lemon, lime, or mint to your water to make it more interesting.
If you rarely drink during the day because you know you won’t get a bathroom break (see things I’ve learned as a teacher, tip 1), try adding small amounts of water to the school day and hydrating more at the end of the day.
Day 2: Eat well
Start your day fueled up. You’ll have more energy and be in a better frame of mind to deal with whatever comes your way in the classroom.
If you’re a muffin or donut and coffee person, try cutting back on the sugar and adding some protein: hard boiled egg and black bean breakfast burritos can be prepped ahead. Nuts or Greek yogurt (or both!) are easy additions to breakfast.
I’d love to tell you to take your lunch to eat, but I know most teachers are busy with meetings or grading or prep or emailing parents or meeting with students. If you can’t take lunch to just eat, make sure you have something you can eat while you work.
- Freeze a smoothie (use nut butter, yogurt, or protein powder to add protein). By lunchtime, it should be defrosted enough to drink. Sip it while you take care of other business.
- Bring a thick soup in a thermos, so you don’t have to reheat.
- Choose sandwiches – nut butter and jam or hummus and cucumber in pita – that aren’t too messy.
Make it easy for yourself to stay fed during the day. And make a dinner plan so that you can eat well even when you get home tired at the end of a long day.
Day 3: Get moving
We know exercise is important to health and that it can boost moods, but who has time? Try one of these:
- Start a walking club before or after school with another teacher.
- Have a surprise dance party with your students to burn off a little energy (Pro tip: set expectations about what is appropriate and coming back to work before you get started).
- Check to see if your school offers exercise classes for teachers (some schools offer classes periodically or regularly that are reasonably priced and conveniently timed).
If you feel like you never sit down, that’s probably true, but are you really moving? Try wearing a pedometer or FitBit to see how many steps you are taking. Challenge yourself to get 10,000 steps (or more) daily. Challenge other teachers for some friendly competition.
Day 4: Relax
Teaching is a stressful job and it’s critical that you find ways to release stress and relax. One technique you can use anywhere and in just a few minutes is deep breathing.
- Breathe deeply, filling your belly first and then your chest.
- Slowly release.
Take a minute (or 5) to breathe before your day starts, throughout the day after challenging situations, or when you are about to do something stressful. Take a little longer to breathe at the end of the day to reset and unwind (and if you can get a massage, totally go for that!).
Day 5: Have some fun!
Get out of your classroom, take a day off from prepping anything, and do something you love. Taking time for things we are passionate about (besides teaching) helps refill us so we have more to give and avoid burnout.
So hang out and laugh with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile. Go someplace you’ve never been. Read a book for pleasure. Get outside. Cook for the fun of it instead of as a chore. Ride your bike . . . What’s your definition of fun?
Make a list of 5 things you love to do that energize you. Pick one – do it today.
One of the most important things I’ve learned to do for myself as a teacher is to get support. You don’t have to do it all alone. Tapping into resources so you aren’t constantly recreating the wheel, connecting with other people who understand what teaching is really like, and learning from somebody who has been there . . . all of these things are good for our teacher well-being. And when you relax a little about your role as a teacher, you can take better care of yourself as a person (which makes you a better teacher . . . it’s a lovely cycle there).
Ready to take care of your teacher self?
Get beyond the basics with the New Teacher Support Program. You’ve got this – and I’m here to help.